DRUSILLAS ZOO

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 11 July 2019

My dear bloggers

The end of a weeeeeeek, a long long weeeeeek.

Culminating in four hours at Drusilla's zoo.

On the radio I've talked to doctors, story consultants, an uninformed gay black-man who suggested that the two lesbians that got mugged on the bus brought it on themselves SCUSE ME!!!!

I talked to green festival makers and the green goddess talking about exercising for the over fifties - she is eighty and her exercise regime made me feel like a bloated Rubinesque life model without the old style of Italian Renaissance or Baroque aesthetics more like the before pictures from Slimming World.

But at Drusilla's today I stroked a chinchilla, a snake and an armadillo - its' belly felt like a rubber dingy. It clung to his keeper James, who has been at the zoo for 17 years - it made me cry, it's little face buried into James' right armpit.

I stared at a sloth, at snowy white owls, fed two camels and genuinely felt the weight of climate change since all the little animals were being rescued and conserved. I marvelled at the anteater who's tail looked like a feather duster and its nose like a hoover nozzle, he was just a very charming household appliance. I crouched down with North American beavers and fed them sweet potatoes, I allowed my arms to be clung on by black limas and was transfixed by the pink flamingoes who stand on one leg until they get tired then stand on the other. I was as close to a red panda as you can get without turning into bamboo - which by the way is what Panda means, an animal that eats bamboo.

I met the keepers who hand-reared the camels. Two delicious creatures from Mongolia displaying their summer coats a velvety, smooth Farrow and Ball greyish beige, when the winter sets in they grow a pile of fur that looks like Ian McShane's curly locks.

I cried at the monkeys who had lost their habitat, and the parrots that were sold for profit, or the animals that were poached. The animal known as man is a misguided idiot, and fracking proves it. I ate lunch with my step-daughter and grandaughter who came along and were given a fab day in Eastbourne.

It has been a wonderful experience, tomorrow I am to my cranial osteopath to be rebalanced

Today I decided to wear a bra and some knickers, trousers and a tee shirt. WHAT AN IDIOT. It was 23 degrees so now my body is indented with vicious elastic lines and a red waistband. Today of all days was dungaree weather. I got too responsible for me own good. I now have my sarong loosely slung around my pinched middle, and tomorrow I intend wearing nothing for as long as possible.

I do not like the idea of animals being locked away but at Drusilla's they care and coax, breed and heal. The helpers are so kind and the food is right healthy too.

I've done a lot of things in my little old life but today hurt my heart. The fact that we need zoos in the East Sussex countryside to help Madagascan Lima's stay alive says it all.

Daddy Attenborough says he is optimistic because the young are getting it. I think all of us should be concerned, all of us should be prepared to lay off meat, throw the fish back in the sea, cradle butterflies and throw as many bee bombs around as we can so that our little island is covered in poppies and cornflowers, caterpillars and dormice.

I have been humbled by the keepers at Drusilla's, their kindness, generosity and sense of humour.

May the frackers fail and may the frackers fighters be supported by all and sundry.

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June brings tulips, lilies roses......

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 1 July 2019

June happened in the blinking of an eye. We watched the honey bees slurp the nectar out of all the blue flowers and counted the worm holes in the lawn. I planted up radishes, rocket, spinach and two tomato plants, refugees from Devon.

There were birthdays galore; surrogate sons, nephews, granddaughters, godchildren, brothers. They all got cards which I bought from the little shop in the village. I buy them en masse. Write them up, leave them on the dresser beside the succulents then post them in chronological order. July is even more packed; the 2nd is my oldest boy friend from college, 3rd the man that changed my life who doesn't talk to me any more, 4th one of my favourite bosses, 5th two of my dearest girlfriends, 7th my wonderful German acupuncturist, 9th an actor, 12th a musical director who introduced me to Billy Holiday and told me to stand still when I sung, and then a respite before the onslaught of August.

So in between my visits to the Post Office we drove to Devon, then Cornwall, back to Devon again then on to Goudhurst. Our first Devonian stop off was in an American diner where they served hamburgers to a soundtrack of Buddy Holly against a backdrop of black and white photos of the Rat Pack. We arrived in the garden of an artist who paints delicious water colours and remembers the past. She sways with music and bemoans the arthritis in her spine, she has a new telly from her son that's big enough to see without my Varifocals and a big bed with a soft mattress where we slept under cool cotton sheets. We left Devon after a breakfast of soft wholemeal bread, home made marmalade and cherished hugs. On Midsummers day we drove past Stonehenge, as the sun moved up in the sky and the crowds built up. We sped past them arriving at the Eden project by noon.

The car-parks have fruit names, we backed into a space in Plum 2, then walked down the winding path to the Biodomes. A sound check for Nile Rogers echoed through the potato plots and herby crops. The Rain Forest biome was hot and steamy. The higher we got the the warmer it became - over a swinging bridge into the canopy, and a moment of standing over jets that pumped out 'clouds' of cool water. A group of Philippine women had travelled from California to their forest in the middle of Cornwall. They talked of flowers and traditions back home and giggled over their homeland being brought to the English West Country. We drunk Baobab juice and had lunch in the Mediterranean biome. Sitting next to a sign that told us not to feed the birds that hopped between the tables. The old git put crumbs on his shoulder until I scolded him....

We took the land train, open carriages pulled by a tractor, then the bus to Plum 2. We drove to a delicious hotel run by an Italian Basil Fawlty. We paid an extra tenner for a room bigger than our cottage with a carpeted bathroom and windows that opened into Virginia Creeper. We went out for dinner in the highest pub in Cornwall, back to some telly then slumbered in a bed the size of Dartmoor. Breakfast was continental unless we added eggs and bacon which cost extra.

The sat-nav took us to Bigbury-by-the-sea back in Devon, where the parking machines were broke, the cash machines non-existent, and the locals unwilling to help. So we drove off to our second lot of Devon friends. Through high hedges and into a village 7 miles from Totnes, we ate nibbles under an umbrella in the garden, then home made curry in the kitchen and then set about playing Bananagrams all night. Four adults cheating and screaming - dodging death.

After a barnstorming breakfast of bacon between fresh sour dough bread we opened the Bananagram bag and shouted at each other until we left to visit the first Devonians' art exhibition in Totnes, back to her partners house which strained under mountains of objet d'art, a very loud stereo system and magnificent potted plants. We ate scones with jam and cream put on simultaneously thus bypassing the argument of what comes first the dairy or the conserve. Then at four thirty we slipped out of the West Country and arrived in Goudhurst at 9.30, collecting the daughter from her godmother and arrived home in time for some herbal tea and a family chat.

Today me and him hooked up with the grandchildren and their mother for a casting in London. Lots of noisy actors all looking like grans and grandpas, with well groomed hair and pretty children, and us looking as scruffy as you like. We left having improvised in front of the camera for a job that nobody has a clue about. We had tea in Soho then raced each other home. We got the 5.58 from Charing Cross, they caught the 5.57 from Victoria. They put the key in the lock as we put the key in our lock. And so today finished with a draw.

We have had a perfect bustling June, even though the leaders of the free world are playing silly buggers. I think Stormzy should be Prime Minister, Sir David Attenborough King and Leila Parker should be made queen of everything because she lives next door, is a wonderful mother has created an amazing charity 'Baby 2 BaBy' for families without and is part of the younger generation who care. Oh that bungling Boris and hopping Hunt really cared but enough like my delicious neighbour. It's July now, a new moon tomorrow and new beginnings.

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Cast not a clout till May

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 15 June 2019

I take great exception at having a new Prime Minister foisted upon me again.

I cannot believe that I will be governed by a politician that is taken from the list of rent-a-twat.

If I try and recall them it is with a sinking heart. I mean look at who they are, look who is going to represent us. I say us, for there are those amongst us who will be drooling into their daily expresso as they chow down on their devilled kidneys, who are positively fired up by this leadership contest. Those who are positively in thrall to the likes of Jeremy Runt, sorry I spelt his name wrong, Dominic Raaaaaab, Michael Hove Actually, the rabid Sajid Javid, Rory, the love child of the Adams Family and Boris Trump.

Their combined wealth could rebuild Corby, Port Talbot and the entire South Bank of Teeside. They have as much interest in my wellbeing as a Lorraine Kelly has in an Esther Oy Vey.

The Conservative party, our very own GOP, does not represent me, or indeed millions of others like me, and yet they cling onto power like a rat clinging on with their whiskers. For nine years the United Kingdom has been on a slippery slope of polarisation. For nearly a decade we have been part of the growing divide. When once seven per cent of the population owned eighty-four percent of the wealth the figure is now one-ninety six. Just one percent of the idle rich demonstrating their power over the rest of us serfs. They could care less about my bus service being cut, about my high street dwindling, about my hospital closing. They could give a monkeys about my oak trees dying, about my trains stalling about my graveyard crumbling. They really really say they care, they really do, but if actions speak louder than words then I must have blinked and missed it. We are witnessing The Great British Fake Off, where the lies are so glittery, so garish, so spangly that the poor old truth is standing in the shadows. In 1949 George Orwell described a nightmarish future in his dystopian novel '1984', he wrote 'In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.'

So as the old order huddles in corners, baring it's teeth, they growl as they are quietly terrified of the articulate young 'uns who are sprouting up like grass through concrete. I declare my deep respect for those that silence my cynicism, that shout down my tired old moans, I love that Stormzy and Akala and Greta and the placard carrying members of the newly formed Extinction Rebels, stick their fingers up to the so-called elite. I applaud their courage. For make no mistake, when the bookies stop their speculating, whoever gets in we will be left with a Prime Minister who does not want to change anything, other than their own status.

I don't understand the workings of proportional representation and I don't understand the confusion about democracy, all I do know is that if people hold the power then whoever the new PM is they had better watch out because I, for one, want my voice heard, and the voices of the young ring louder and sweeter than the xenophobic croaking of the frightened crusties.

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Hello June

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 1 June 2019

May came and went, and I'm not just talking about the month.

My brother got married, we had our wedding anniversary and a pile of birthdays to celebrate - seven Taurus's in a row. Some got cards, some got texts, a good many phone calls were made.

We had German friends staying for a week, young friends visiting from Bali, new friends sleeping all over the house.

I cooked vegan feasts, vegetarian breakfasts and plant based dinners. I walked a lot and cooked some more.

And so now it's June.

The sage has purple flowers for the first time ever. Blue, pink and raspberry coloured aquilegia have self seeded all over the garden. The strawberries are flowering, the jasmine is throwing out new leaves and the comfrey has gone flaming mad. The bees love it; the butterflies have been fluttering by the daisies and buttercups and tomorrow I'm planting my bee-bomb- a wonderful bag of wild flowers to encourage even more bees, potting on lupins and geraniums ( gifts from friends ) and awaiting my delphiniums top arrive in the post.

In go the spinach and rocket, in go the beans and courgettes, in go the radishes and lettuces. I'm conscious that I'm getting glimpses of the light at the end of the tunnel, so I'm trying not to waste my time.

I've had new photos taken, I've had meetings with old allies and ideas a plenty. I'm developing my first novel and have finally got into my routine of meditation and exercising before I can tell myself not to. Tricking myself as I wake up. Throwing out the yoga mat before the other voice interferes and tells me to go downstairs and wait till tomorrow.

Today I mowed the lawn, gives me time to think, instant gratification as the grass looks so neat and tidy in an instant. And as the sun shone my shoulders turned brown.

This evening I tided my cupboard in the attic and found all the letters from the old git from the 70's. Hand written, in blue ink. He sent me homegrown leeks, which we later discovered was a fancy french love token. Forty two years down the line we argue regularly, snap more readily, laugh and hold hands a lot. We prefer to be with each other as opposed to being without, sometimes I shake him when he's sleeping just to make sure he hasn't died mid dream. We should plan for our future, but we don't. We should be thinking about money in the bank, but we don't, we should be doing all sorts of bucket list things, but we don't, which is why our garden is now looking like an entry for Hampton and Chelsea flower shows.

We should be doing all sorts of grown up things but to tell you the truth neither of us can be bothered. He stands end eats breakfast whilst I make my celery juice. We wander through a sunny French market and enjoy the fact that we can stay up till ever so late because we haven't got any mad dead lines. Tis true that you never retire in our business but winding down is inevitable, as is ageing. Sometimes I want to scream at my missed opportunities but it is what it is.

Last week my hygienist said to me "It wasn't any kind of stalking, but I looked you up on Google, what an interesting life you've had."

"Itsch not o'er gyet." I attempted to say , as i dribbled into my bib. And it isn't.

So happy June everybody and let not Trump destroy our humour.

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Am I bovvered

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 11 May 2019

It's a funny old thing how subtly life changes.

Having been a political animal for most of my adult life i've arrived at a point where I fear I can't be bothered.

I can't be bothered to listen Nigel Farage ranting like a loon. His appropriation of rational debate, his ranting, his misogyny, his condescension, his arrogance, his growing support. I can't be bothered to care whether Theresa May stays or goes. I can't be bothered to entertain Esther McVey as the new Tory leader, she with the fascinating hair and policies of poison. I can't be bothered to watch Jeremy Corbyn become a shadow of a shadow PM. I can't be bothered to look at the orange buffoon who is single handedly battering American democracy. i say single handedly, he has the likes of the Altright right behind him nudging that huge country into a chaotic mess. Can I be bothered that the European elections are coming? Can I be bothered that 'Question Time' has become so facile that the BBC need to replace the head girl who is posing as a chairwoman. She of the mewing inflections, taking prompts in her earpiece then regurgitating them with about as much authority as a limp biscuit. Can I be bothered?

My politics came from a Utopian dream that we were all equal, that kindness and truth prevailed. Am I bothered that social media has concocted a world where we believe everything for an instant then forget it forthwith? Can I be bothered? Am I appalled at the vomit of news that spews out every day? Am I appalled by the state of our schools, our hospitals, our parks, our philosophy?

Of course I am bothered by everything but so overwhelmed by it all that I am like a child moving tiny toys around their desk when a whole room needs tidying. I am overwhelmed, but I guess we are all overwhelmed by our leaders not leading, our governments not governing and the newly funded energy of the Populists who want to destabilise us so they can replace decent society with their disgusting selfish, self serving, short sighted, individualistic, greedy life plan.

Can I still be bothered to care? Should I just hand it over to a Scandinavian child with plaits. Should I continue being outraged or leave the mess to a 93 year old TV naturalist? Should I just roll over and leave it in the hands of the next generations?

If I see one more post about abandoned children, dogs, elephants, seals, trees, peoples, countries, bees I think I might just explode. So how do I regain a sense of optimism and hope? Where to begin - well there are the scientists who are developing a way to re-freeze the melting ice. The rebels who care enough to lie down in the road for me. The swathes of activists picking up plastic, fighting fracking, saving whales, planting trees. To save our planet and our souls, we need to dismantle the very thing that got us into this state. Haven't I to be the change I wish to see?

Can I be bothered?

I have no choice.

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Pesach intentions

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 17 April 2019

So, having hit 70 I have no excuses.

The gym beckons

Gardening beckons.

Walking beckons.

Crabs, or should I say carbs, sugar and dairy have gone the way of the duckbilled platypus.

I'm having new publicity pics taken.

I have a new agent.

I've written all my thank you letters.

I've had my roots done.

I've booked the gardener for tomorrow to re-plant all the roses next to the Japonica.

I've bought a Passion Flower to climb the walls.

Bought a Gardenia to make me think of Billy Holiday

I've bought Jasmine to make the kitchen wall smell nice

I've bought a load of Delphiniums to pretend I have a thriving cottage garden.

Today I spring cleaned half the kitchen. Cant reach the ceiling in the other half, so all guests will have to turn North North east.

Planted a scented Viola that the dawter bought me for mothers day.

Tonight I shall watch the telly after picking up the old git from the station.

I applaud the extinction rebels. If I were thirty years younger I would be on the street too.

I've just had a cookie and a latte, carbs and sugar.

Blimy my intention only last half a page. Happy easter y'all

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Three Score Years and Ten.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 27 March 2019

70, Seventy, Seven Tea, however you cut it 70 looks less like that and more like this. What with everything going on in the world; climate change, dolphins dying, bees buzzing off, what with everything we all have to deal with like early springs and unmitigated summers, hitting 70 seems more like a blessing than any kind of problem.

So the skin thins, and lines deepen. Hair greys and bending double aint as easy as it was last year, but what with everything else going on 70 seems more like a blessing than a shame.

Our next door neighbour drove me and him and the dawters Godma to the 18.12 train, and handed us a paper carrier bag with Champagne, Beer, crudites, chocolate and a tea cup and glass, we were sozzled by the time we reached Charing Cross. After two changes on the tube we reached Brixton by 7.00

One hundred people were invited to a surprise party. Some couldn't make it; driving, working, lying in hospital, celebrating elsewhere, so whilst the 40 sent their best wishes the other 60 turned up from all corners of the Cosmos. And I knew nothing about it. Not one thing. We were instructed to just wear fancy for Friday, cottage wear for Saturday and something for sleeping in. Well that was easy both me and him sleep in our birthday suits, so I took mine along to my birthday party. The 'oosbind knew nothing, The Godmother did, as did everybody else, they all lied to us. From friends in Kent to nephews in Belgium. They all lied through their teeth, and I'm so happy they did.

When I was allowed in under the shutters, I dropped my bag and eyeballed a room full of well-wishers, all brought together by my organisationally gifted daughter and her sibling team. It looked like an old Dutch oil paining, a huge canvas of people leaning forward, eyes gleaming, teeth bared, back lighting in a perfectly choreographed moment of love.

People from my early, middle and late past. There were more tears than a room full of babies waiting for their first feed. Hugging and wailing, squealing and weeping, after an evening of celebrations and greeting everybody that had bothered I blew out the candles on the dawters blueberry sponge with purple icing. I dropped birthday cake on my fancy patent leather boots and fell onto a bunch of balloons, my body so full of Prosecco and delight.

She had organised taxi's and food, timings and booze. We were shipped out to a fancy house in Stoke Newington. Nine of us sleeping from front room to attic amid a house full of cushions and bathrooms. The street lined with white and pink cherry blossom as impressive as Hanami in Japan, as beautiful as a Gozomatsu Tree painted by Hokisai, although he didn't paint Stoke Newington, he was the Mount Fuji geezer who painted 'The Wave' that hangs in every alternative practitioners surgery from here to Kyoto.

Whilst everybody settled into their new bedrooms I looked at my telephone, texts and stuff and the time. It was 2.20a.m. The exact time of my birth. I figured my mother was flapping around the room enjoying the event.

Gifts and cards and an abundance of memories. Blissful exhaustion. Face cracked from smiling. We lazed around most of Saturday then a car took us to the dawters pub where we mingled with the locals, nibbled on dry roasted nuts and then drove back to the Cherry Blossom house. The dawter made her pasta and eleven of us sat round a table for six on garden benches and bean bags we laughed so hard veins strained and bladders spilled. Then, when the sun came up, I prepared breakfast for 2 vegans, and 8 omnivores.

Those that left for America and Sweden missed out on delicious mushrooms, and the best scrambled eggs this side of Bill Grangers caff in Sydney, those that left for the West Country and Wales, missed out on delicious smoked salmon, cream cheese and bagels, those that left for Wiltshire and Herefordshire missed out on the tidying up. The gathering together of all our things, plumping the cushions, dishes in the washer, chairs back in their place, the alarm set, 30 seconds wait, then the key hidden behind the dustbins, and we were gone.

Then another taxi took me and him and her and her Godma to London bridge with our bags of gifts and booze, flowers and ribbons. 15.34 on time took us to Tunbridge Wells where our next door neighbour turned up to take us home. More flowers and bottles of mirth planted outside the door, as the old git lost his key down the inside of his jacket and we had to use the spare key hidden where nobody can ever remember.

And then the unpacking, the cards put in a bag and the presents put in their rightful place, Tulips in one jug, Lilies in another, Daffodils on the table and a pink Primula left as a gift, a huge bunch of Roses that had been sent from America put in our cracked wedding vase and placed in front of the fireplace, a box of bulbs to plant, sent from Devon and from an artist cousin in Sussex, a hand penned picture of me to frame that makes me look like I'm 28 not the old crone I am.

It feels utterly indulgent to even write about this, ridiculously self absorbed, but normality will return and I will become my old Ashkenazy self, all doom, gloom and culturally obsessed. The dawter will go back to her normal life, the 'oosbind will start to mend things and prune, and I will start my 71st year with a spring in my step, although after all that Prosecco, my spring is more of a slump and my step more of a limp.

But I am alive and flattered, and reminded that when I die all the ones, still alive, will turn up for a shindig, a booze up and a communal hug completed by a ridiculously wild celebration of life.

What a way to go.

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Firenze on the Arno.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 8 March 2019

So all the friends dropped in envelopes filled with money and birthday cards. Even though it's not my birthday till after we leave the European Union, that's if we do leave the European Union, whether we ought to leave the European Union is another question, whether we should leave the European union, and all the other permutations of Euro frenzy is yet another debate. But please do not talk to me about democracy, we are about as democratic as a pack of hyenas at the watering hole of a confusion of wildebeest. However, when the shit hits the fan lessons will be learned. Whose shit and which fan, I wouldn't venture to say.

Having got that off me chest here's the thing, we Easyjetted off to Florence, really easy given that we are all euro citizens at the mo, on the back of a stash off money from friends and family. Better to have that kind of memory than presents that will gather dust on the mantlepiece, and I'm not interested in shoes, bags, jewellery or tickets to go and see a coming back, comeback tour of four hairless men singing songs from their youth in an arena the size of the Duomo's dome - see what I did there? - better that everybody chipped in for our very own Grand tour....

And grand it was. There was David in his naked glory. A synagogue worth its weight in copper. A science museum full of astrolabes and scientific children from Sweden. There were feasts under arches, dinners under glass, breakfast in caffs, lunches in trattorias, ice creams, bridges, walking and a good deal of coffee. There were tram rides, Japanese tourists, warm weather, there were train rides and Chinese tourists, there was free entry for Culture week and murmurations of children from Italian high schools. There was a lot of noise, chiming bells, beggars and walking.

We walked so far my right big toe turned the colour of a red cabbage and hurt so bad I had to take off my trainers and bathe it in Epsom salts.

We didn't 'do' Florence in any way at all. We went for three days cramming in as much as is humanly possible given that I am 70 and he is older. We followed the suggestions from The Rough Guide to get us to recommended restaurants which made homemade pasta and cubes of focaccia with home cured meat and bottles of organic local wine.

We stayed in an apartment that was dark, cool, with a broken Jacuzzi and a plug less bath. We slept in a bed, up ten steps, that were so noisy I ended up sleeping on the down stairs sofa bed. I wrapped meself in bath towels to keep off the Tuscan cold, whilst the old git snored in the eaves.

We're home now, after three days in Florence, which felt like ten. I have medical Manuka honey on my big toe which is no longer as red as cabbage more a dull purple like a wizened radish. It's good to know that the old git is as good company as he's ever been. It's nice to say that we have actually been to Florence. It's terrific that we saw a bit of the River Arno a lot of pizzas, a fantastic amount of leather ware, a delight that we could talk to each other without interruption, it's so nice to go travelling to Florence, Pisa or Rome, it's so nice to go travelling but it's oh so nicerer to be home.

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