Happy Jewish New Year 5781.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 18 September 2020

It takes one hour and thirty six minutes to travel twenty miles from Crawley to our local Waitrose.

Every Friday, come rain or shine, Anna makes that journey to stand outside the back doors of Waitrose - used to be the front doors but Covid closed them - and wearing her headscarf and an engaging smile, she sells 'Big Issue' magazines. Some people give the basic three pounds, others more. Some bring gifts of household necessities, or personal toiletries from soap to shampoo. Everybody knows her name many talk to her. Anna is a symbol of tenacity, courage, Eastern European grit and deep gratitude. She has two children which she leaves at home whilst she makes the long journey from Crawley. Her job, to feed her family, is to sit patiently outside the supermarket. Benni, the security guard from Kosovo who counts the punters going in, has given Anna a chair.

Anna never complains even though she has plenty to complain about. She tells me life is hard, and even harder with the onset of Corona, she sells less issues as many of her regulars' are unemployed their income decimated by the virus. I have a shameful etiquette when talking with Anna; eye to eye when I know I'm giving her money. Staring at the ground when I know I'm going to pay her but haven't got any immediate cash on me or looking into the middle distance avoiding her gaze, when I've forgotten to go to the hole in the wall.

I really like Anna, she reminds me that life goes on, that being a victim is not an option and that humility is one of the most gracious of attributes.

As unemployment rises and the job market shrinks to four hundred job applications for one cleaning job, as Xenophobia infects swathes of natives, and as a second wave of Covid threatens, what's going to happen to Anna and her kids? 'Big Issue' leads with a story about the true cost of hygiene, saying that for many washing hands and faces is a privilege. My eldest stepdaughter would wave that privilege in a heartbeat. She has severe OCD. I'm sure many people know somebody who knows somebody who has the silent killer. My daughter has been isolated in her flat since March, having to wash her hands and face all the time is just about as bad as it gets.

The virus has wreaked havoc, and damn those pesky testing kits. Allegedly millions of pounds spent on shipping them in from China only to find they didn't work. Good old Dame Dido Hardheart couldn't give a monkeys. She has single handedly manifested the 'Peters Principal - Rising to the Level of her own Incompetence.' Incompetence covering more incompetence, incompetent actions masking incompetent decisions, incompetent claims and incompetent evasions.

Bumbling Boris mouthing empty platitudes, the sycophantic Gove waffling his cover ups, the abomination that is the Pricki Patel forgetting her own identity in the rush for political status. The shit is so going to hit the fan when the Brexit boil bursts and Boris has to cancel Christmas.

I wonder whether this cycle of misery isn't long overdue, inevitable in the scheme of humanity?

When my mother made her famous chicken soup she would stand over the saucepan, the whole kosher chicken immersed in water, when the water started to boil the scum came to the surface. My mother using a big metal spoon would 'shah' it off, my mothers word. I've got the very spoon in my kitchen drawer and I use it for shahhing my soup. Adding more cold water my mother would wait for the bubbles and scum to resurface and skim it again. Over and over until not a speck of fat was left. You needed some schmaltz though, after all the Gentiles spread dripping on their bread so we Jews spread schmaltz on our cholla. P'raps that's what's happening in society the old way is bubbling to the surface and the grubby, nasty bits have to be shahhed off. We need to take the big metal spoon of sanity and justice and skim off the unwanted shit. Shahhing and skimming until the broth is clear and golden. Discarding the impurities to let the unctuous penicillin sooth the soul.

This weekend we should have been celebrating Rosh Hashanah. Over 60 of us gathering in the house and garden for the annual 'Jew Do'. Friends, pets, relatives and neighbours arriving with food and drink. A good deal of hugging and kissing, talking and eating. Noise and merriment. An annual gathering of our 'framily'. 2020 has bowled us a googley, but we won't be beaten. Like Anna we'll patiently take our seat and sit it out.

Shona Tava. Happy New Year.

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Pater

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 15 September 2020

I have come to the conclusion that I am lazy. Indolence, of course, is the prevaricators excuse for fear. I do loads of things but they're all displacement activities. I meditate, on rising, and put any thoughts of anything out of my head.

I listen to Deepak Chopra and imagine that my world is unutterably different as he counts me down, minds the time and steers me on a road to abundance. I think, however, I may have stumbled into a cul-de-sac.

I do Yoga with a woman who has thirty different practice leotards and has no idea that arm balances and head balances are not for the feint bicepped. When she gets into her seventies just let her try and reach for the stars when she has a 71-year-old sciatic nerve that's screaming and a 71-year-old mind that's about as calm as a Trump tweet after he's been fact checked and found to be lacking in any kind of decency. But I digress.

I eat plant based, low fat, high carb food in the hope that I will survive another few years. I wait for the lentils to release their fanfare of flatulence, and when I complain to the dawter and reveal my impatience she says I'm chatting out of my arsehole - literally.

I watch some telly, I listen to some radio, I read some words, but in the main I'm just lazing around complaining that I'm not Vanessa Feltz who has just had a pay rise. Claudia Winkleman who doesn't need a pay rise or Emily Maitliss who would like a pay rise. I complain I am not Ruby Wax, Juliet Blake our Melania Trump - ok not Melania - all women who have made a staggering amount of money, are doing good work and are as successful as any female can be.

So why do they get to me? Because they are all Jewish, and as I'm the daughter of a Jewish Bolshevik where the fuck did I go wrong that I've ended up out of sight, out of mind and out of pocket.

The clue is in my Bela Rusic roots. My father, an illiterate pugilist who liked nothing better than whacking a right-winger in Wapping, brought me up with the same values he had inherited from his peasant forefathers.

  1. If you steal make sure you don't get caught.

  2. If you get knocked down remember a boxing ring has four corners and you're only in one of them.

  3. If things get tough blame the toffs.

  4. If things don't work out you can't change what's been in other words if 'Aunty Becky had Bollox'.

  5. There's nothing that a smoked salmon Bagel can't cure.

The head of my household was a compulsive liar, a bully, a bigot and a bastard, with a vicious sense of humour and charm oozing out of his opportunist pores. If my mother wanted to scold me she said I was exactly like him. So, you can imagine, my opinion of myself was less than satisfactory. I grew up surviving by the seat of my pants with a fuck-you attitude, firmly in place, learnt at my father's bespoke suited knee.

After some forays into therapy I have removed much of the aforementioned attitude, but, you may well ask, what am I left with, apart from a desire to change the world, overturn Capitalism and see Boris bundled out of the palace of Westminster ASAP.

Well clearly I have a deep rooted angst about, intelligence, fame and of course money. Counting blessings, is good, but counting bank notes is better. Or is it?

'Money can't buy you love' - or can it?

'Money is the root of all evil' - or is it?

'Money, Money, Money' belongs in a rich man's world' At least that's what Benny Andersson says.

So you may ask why didn't I know I would get old, run out of work and invest in lucrative pension schemes. Because I am the sum total of all my decisions, some good some bad and some totally ineffectual, all genetically passed down from my profligate parent.

Still I wish all my female comrades well. I am not so much jealous of them, as deeply curious as to what they came from that enabled them to go to Oxbridge, hold onto their jobs and cling onto the greasy pole of success. I thank them all as they have reminded me that now is the time to let my ancestral legacy go. Look it's not over till the fat lady sings, but who is she and how long do we have to wait for her and since I'm banking on my plant-based, low-fat, high carb diet working I shall have to turn to a different metaphor.

It ain't over till it's over.

OR learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.

OR it's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.

OR I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work - or should that read don't work -because however broken I feel at the moment I will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes and start all over again, just like my fucking father.

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Confusion

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 14 September 2020

I've talked to my nephew and niece, I've talked to my oldest girlfriends, I've talked to the old git and I've just come in from sitting in the sun, on a bench in the garden talking to my next door neighbour about confusion.

Are we not all confused?

Are we not victims of governmental decisions that seem crazy, convoluted, chaotic and muddled.

Wear a mask, dont wear a mask. Go to school, don't go to school. Drink in pubs in groups of six, go to university in groups of 60. Is Covid being used as a weapon of mass control, from a group of elite power-brokers who make decisions based on the megalomaniacal ramblings of a shirt wearing adviser, or is Covid worse than the Bubonic Plague?

Am I frightened, cos I'm 71 years old and the old git is 77? No. Am I prepared to whisk my mask off in the supermarket as a protest against all the bullshit, or do I toe the line because it's easier and safer, even though there are those who say a mask is scant protection against this mutating virus. Am I cowed by the continual barrage of bad news? Or do I choose my sources and rest easy in the knowledge that fear is as crippling as the virus itself.

Am I aware that this confusion is reigning down on us like acid rain? Am I conscious that we are going through a monumental shift in consciousness and habituation. Am I sad that my dawter and her generation have their lives on hold and that those at the bottom of the pile will have shit kicked into their faces by those at the top of the pile, what do you think? Conspiracy theories abound; one percent of the population owns all the wealth and they couldn't give a box of farts for the untermenches. Some say it's science fiction others say that the oil barons in the Middle East have bought up all the high ground in the Seychelles because they know what's coming.

Which is what precisely? Global warming, extinction, aliens? My next door neighbour says what's the point of having a few quid if there's nothing to spend it on and nowhere to go.

Living in the moment is so easy when you have a house in the Maldives and some kind of future. But what if you're living on the social with hungry kids and a crumbing reality. Isn't that all we have? Living in the moment is the only thing we can do in thIS moment, yesterday is gone, the future is precarious so enjoy the rosebuds while you may for rheumatism may set in any day.

The dawter and her friends see sunight in muddy puddles. The 'oosbind carries on gardening and mending. I carry on with my yoga and meditation and plunge into my own insane philosophy believing that the unified field will win and that Mother Nature is greater than you, me or Chernobyl.

Do I detest Trump and his narcisstic meltdowns, do I detest this government's bullyboy tactics, do I think that the new normal is not normal because nobody knows what normal is anymore, do I cry with frustration, what do you think?

I interviewed the delicious Ruby Wax on Saturday for the 'Mind Body Spirit' festival. She of the wicked wit and an OBE for her work with mental health. And people zoomed in and thanked her for her 'frazzled cafe.org' a community of people who listen and help each other. And she spoke of her new book 'And Now For The Good News...: To the Future with Love.' She made me cry with her optimism and dedication to a future with community. A future that cares for each other and isn't nailed to the floor by greed and ambition.

She is loved for her vulnerability and honesty, she asked me what did being 71 feel like, and I told her no different from being 31, 51, 61, only now my overhang hangs lower and my hips are thicker. My hair is grey and my memory not as slick. Age cannot whither me nor her, she gave her audience a sense of hope and a sense of wonder. For isn't that all we have? If we allow ourselves to be crippled by the bunglers we will give up.

There's food to be grown, books to be read, walks to be ambled and bodies to be hugged. Turn the other way if your frightened of lickspittles.

If 90-year-old Sir David Attenborough can carry on fighting for weasles and turtles, if Sir David is still able to enthuse about the planet without dripping dread all over the place then why cant we?

My nephew and I have been having a mighty debate, he in Oxford me in the garden, we tore apart theories and when we remembered we listened to each other. He says be the change you want to see and by fuck if that's not what he's doing. He has opened his house, mind, heart and home to people who want and need a hug and can't get it. He doesn't wear a mask because he believes that though the pandemic is real it's being used as a tool of terror. He may be right, he may be wrong but he is living in the now. He is young, and he is my future.

Long live curiosity and enquiry and down with bumbling Bureaucrats who have about as much life in them as a pair of airtex knickers that have been thrown onto the scrap heap of yellowing underwear in the mangled Laundromat of time.

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Singalong

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 5 September 2020

My little golden Maneki-neko is waving her arm backwards and forwards. I always thought she was Chinese but I've since learnt that Maneki-neko is Japanese in origin, at any rate she sits on the left speaker on the shelf in front of the window. She's meant to wave in good luck. At the moment she's the only sound in the room as the battery in my wall clock has run out, the ticking clock usually accompanies Maneki creating a gentle rhythmic pattern. Most guests shove the cat in the cupboard and put the clock outside the door.

There's a dark silence tonight - no wind, no rain, Dennis the cat is snoring on the armchair downstairs, the old Git is making the sound of ocean waves in our marital bed, whilst the dawter is listening to Bob James on headphones in her room - I'm typing through heavy lids. All my plants need watering but I'll attend to that tomorrow.

Right now I'm reeling over Trumps' comments about US military heroes who he deems losers, reeling over Johnsons' excitement over the new HS2 rail link which will destroy, or irreparably damage, five internationally protected wildlife sites, 693 local wildlife sites, 108 ancient woodlands and 33 legally protected sites of special scientific interest, and that's according to them that know and care. But I am also reeling over the possibility that border controls are in such a mess that if/when we do leave the EU the traffic queues of lorries carrying essential life saving food and drugs will stretch from here to eternity.

Which is how long it feels since I did any meaningful paid work. Today though, the 'oosbind set up, in the piano room, an old school desk, the piano stool, Linda's shawl as a table cover, the mic, a little lamp, my lap-top, my big coffee cup, two duvets held together with kilt pins and bugger me if the cohabiting genius didn't create our very own remote studio. The old git slung the duvets over his hand made wooden frame, which he knocked up in his shed, and at exactly 12.30 it was on with the head phones. The producer, director, client, and engineer zoomed their way into the cottage and we were off. I love it. Slipping under the duvet for an hours tonsil work, then slipping out again. I know we should all be rushing back to the big smoke to record our voice/overs in Soho, but when you have a man with many talents and a virtual work force it's the perfect job.

Then I shopped for fruit, filled up with petrol gave the car to the dawter, and set about doing my yoga. Today I learnt how to do the crow pose, to be more precise I listened to American Jess do the crow pose as I lay on my back in Savasana the corpse pose and decided that since Yoga is a practice that's exactly what I'll do until I can make it perfect. American Jess said herself it may take days, months or even years to perfect such a difficult position, in my case it will take a fucking lifetime before I can perch on my arms with my feet in the air. I have appalling balance and my legs can only open so far, I admit they do open wider than most but not nearly as wide as say Daisy giggle my porn star friend, who can manage do things with her hip openings that only a well oiled contortionist on crack can do.

And then it's 5.00 of the clock and everybody says in unison where's the day gone?

Round here we have local Facebook groups, neighbourhood pages and local apps. Blow me down if I haven't had four enquires about teaching piano and singing after my next door neighbour recommended me to an acquaintance. And here's me saying I haven't done anything meaningful in ages. So as well as teaching a ten year old Indian drumming patterns and feeding her hot chocolate, I'm meeting a four year old tomorrow who wants to learn the piano.

I was taken back to Toynbee Hall in Aldgate. I was five and having watched my brother learn the piano was itching to emulate him. As five year olds go I was good so my parents hired in a private teacher who came to our flat in Watney Street. They had bought me a piano which was in my bed room next to my pink candlewick bedspreaded bed.

The teacher wore a tweed jacket, carried a brown leather briefcase, sat beside me hovering over my left hand, set me off on my five finger exercises as he dove into his briefcase and pulled out a tin of peppermints. The lesson lasted half an hour as did his sweets, which he sucked loudly for the duration.

We slum dwellers were rehoused and I advanced onto Mrs. Lylie who lived in a big house at the end of the road. I had to stand on tiptoe to pull on the Victorian door bell. It was the time of Hammer Horror. I would run up the sweeping staircase into her sitting room which had hand painted murals on the walls, black silhouetted trees with branches that stretched round to huge double hung windows.

When I arrived at the Watford School of Music Mr. Churchill took over. He had perfect pitch and could't help himself shouting out the notes of passing cars.

"A flat"

Or motorbikes

"F sharp".

He ate bananas and told me I was psychic didn't care about my piano playing but was obsessed by my dreams, which I had to relate in detail.

"Whack down the loud pedal" he would roar "Play with panache, and nobody will ever notice the mistakes."

I graduated to Miss Spottiswood who taught me in the big room, on a grand piano. She sat behind me peeling hard boiled eggs and berating me for listening to Jaques Loussier who she said bastardised Bach. But it was Debussy that did for me, I didn't practice, I didn't care, the notes flew out of my head, i galloped up and down the keyboard smashing out nonsense. The adjudicators gave me a pitiful mark for turning up.

I knew then that being a concert pianist was not my calling but I love my piano, a Boudoir Grand, which I bought off an old geezer in Surbiton. It has served me well, I still have enough books of music from my youth which can turn me into a quivering jelly when i play Chopin to accompany my thoughts or Bach to accompany my memories. Every child should be given the gift of music. I'll say that again to any Tory Politician who wants to close down Music Services or remove music education from the curriculum. We need music. We need creativity we need children to sing and dance and join choirs so they can bellow in the new age. Okay not necessarily with 'Land of Hope and Glory', but certainly with their version of a rousing belter.

I invite you to supply the song of your choice - 'Any dream will do.'

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September

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 1 September 2020

The blueberry bush, of thirty years, was singed by the hot sun as was my ancient camellia, their leaves papery and curled. There are brown patches on the lawn and my two new rose clippings that were doing so well have turned a deeper shade of pale.

The blackberries are now shrivelled, the spinach wan and the runner beans wilted. The courgettes, peas, leeks and onions didn't even show up, and whilst the potatoes offered themselves up for a couple of Sunday roasts, in the main this year's horticultural efforts have been a wash out, or to be more precise a burn out.

2020 promised so much didn't it? It looked so good - perfect vision, a different decade, new beginnings and then along came a viral onslaught that has ben so mismanaged I don't know whether I'll ever work again. In the absence of common sense and intelligent planning, office workers don't know whether to stay at home or travel to Cannon Street to help save our coffee shops. School children don't know whether to stay at home or sit at the back of the class. Boris should most definitely stay at home. As for me I don't know whether to wear a mask, socially isolate, distance myself, fist bump or stay down in the cellar with the ironing board and freezer.

Burnt out cars in Keshona, the backdrop to an unwelcome president, Extinction rebels the backdrop to an empty Parliament. The Prime Minister geeing us up, winding us up, fucking us up. His team of incompetents plotting to sell us down the river, make us pay for the Corona cock-up, turfing the homeless back out onto the streets, stitching up the NHS with sutures bought from a company owned by one of Hancocks hapless pals, and now the possibility that the BBC will be tampered with so that any semblance of satire will be buried. 'Have I Got News For You.' 'Mock The Week.' Nish, Romesh, Mo and Jo will be banished to the archives and we'll be left with somnambulant sit-coms that speak of 'Terry and June.'

Yesterday we drove to Groombridge Place, a moated Manor House, for the old git to receive his birthday present. A day of owls and buzzards, kites and Steppe Eagles. He and the dawter threw down their gauntlets and picked up catapults to fire bits of dead chicken up in the air for Sienna and Foxtrot - the kites - to catch. I took photographs. We all wore masks. The magnificent grounds were jammed with people and their children, hand sanitisers, printed arrows and masked teenagers serving us cold coffee whilst the Zonkey waited to be stroked by noisy toddlers. The air felt clear but the new normal felt anything but.

Today I listened to the radio in the car as I drove in the sunshine back from Clapham. Instead of the news I listened to Radio 3, a bit of Bach a bit of Beethoven a bit of a Baritone, and it occurred to me that nothing is forever. Everything has its time. And we are living through some kind of purge. Bach lived through wars, Beethoven lived through wars and yet there was always a baritone that survived. Change brings chaos/opportunities/devastation/renewal. Call it what you will nothing stays the same and we have to bravely face the outcome. Do we stand with the climate change activists, or the anachronistic dissembler. Do we fight for the right to exist or do we support the manipulators of the weak? Now is the time to make choices and take a position. Do we let our Government of the people, by the people, for the people, piss on the people or do we hide behind our masks and wash our sanitised hands of it all?

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You Never Promised Me a Rose Garden

Posted by Jeni in | 26 August 2020

The White House Rose Garden was established in 1913 by Ellen Louise Axson Wilson the wife of Woodrow Wilson. It was on the site of a previous 'colonial' garden established by First Lady Edith Roosevelt, those roses took a lot of tending and a good deal of horse shit. Then a rumour reached me that Melania Trump had pulled up all the historic roses whilst redesigning the plot for the future and her husbands legacy. So vigilant as ever I fact checked the green fingered Melania and her muck spreading and unfortunately it isn't true.

I so wanted the digging up of history to be true.

I was desperate for Melania's actions to be wicked.

I was chomping at the bit for Mrs.Trump to be the Alan TITmarsh of Washington DC.

But she ain't. I was wrong. I am so, so sad that I cannot throw barrows of manure at her, I will, however, not apologise for spreading shit about her, she has an over-inflated sense of herself and it is my duty to draw attention to that.

So I will talk about Melania's choice of dress that she wore last night at the Republican Convention. She displayed the legs of a model as she sashayed towards the rose garden, the steady-cam capturing every artful footfall. She arrived at the auto-cue looking like a South Korean concubine. A dress, with a belt like a Bandolier, a khaki ensemble that looked like she was about to make a rousing speech or sing a song to the troops. Vera Lynn she ain't, but as the face of Novo Mesto, her home town, the Slovenian slapper, smiled as her oleagenous husband clapped his small, sweaty hands together whilst the small, sweaty audience applauded and hooted, hollered and whooped, as if this election depended on it. :(

Lest we forget Melania Trump is an ex hooker - wait let me fact check this - yup she was a sex worker. I have no issue with women of the night but I do take issue with hypocritical trash mouths who pretend to be something they aren't. I spent some time living with sex workers in Rotherham. I tried to talk them out of their life style choices, but it became clear that I was a gobby do-gooder and they were independent women who made - not a lot - of money to feed their families.

Mr. and Mrs. Donald Trump are an expression of our times. He's an obese, wobbly piece of crap and she's a plastic, gold digging tramp, I have a psychotic reaction to the First Lady selling me holier-than-thou, sanctimonious drivel written by the Jewish fascist - Stephen Miller, Trumps senior advisor.

Miller's politics are as far-right as his predecessor the fraudster Bannon. Miller, the audacious speech writer for the presidential couple is penning words that are reeking havoc on a country in the grip of the orange Cock-Womble, the very creature who sees nothing of sending in federal troops to shoot protesters who are demonstrating on behalf of Jacob Blake, George Floyd and fuck knows how many more innocents who have been gunned down, whilst this inept Colonel in Chief deploys yet more federal forces.

I sit late into the night watching the likes of Kimberly Guilfoyle scream at me, harangue me or bully me into keeping America great again as her slash mouth spews our hatred about the left, about socialism. Put aside 'isms', put aside party politics, let's just speak of justice and humanitarian issues. I am terrified that the ignorant son of KKK parents will get a second term. I pray that Biden and Harris have the dream ticket to get most of the country to vote for them.

But it is by no means a done deal. Trump will lie and connive, his team of low lives will do whatever they can to survive. Democracy, deschmockracy, if that team of crooks get back in you can kiss any future we hold dear goodbye.

So I'm doing everything I can to help.

I pray.

I meditate

I visualise

I sign petitions

I remain positive.

I know it's hard. I have no idea whether there is a God(dess) type energy up there to help us but if there is I'm giving out to him/her to take the fat-fuck down.

Let me make it clear I am not fat shaming I am fat-fuck shaming, an entirely different kettle of blubber.

It's hard ain't it? Cos none of us know anything - not even the people who see into the future - even they don't have a definitive picture of what will play out on November 3rd, and beyond, since Trump is threatening to ignore the outcome, already declaring the election rigged, perhaps he should be accidentally-on-purpose buried underneath all those metal mail boxes he has had removed.

I heard a story of a little girl who, in an art class, was asked by the teacher what she was drawing.

'God.' She said.

'But nobody knows who God looks like." Said the teacher.

'They will when I've finished this.' said the little artist.

Hurrah for youthful certainty.

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Blowing in the Wind

Posted by Jeni in | 22 August 2020

8.15 and it's dark.

There are those who complain about shorter days and the onset of winter, but I like the sniff of autumn, and the crunch of curled leaves. Our cottage is designed to be cool in the summer and cosy in the winter, those damn peasants knew what they were doing building granite walls to keep out the heat and keep in the warmth. But I have finally realised that I'm better with the bookends of darkness. Endless light and I'm as louche as Eva Gabor on a sun lounger on Lake Balaton, when the temptation of sunshine is removed all sorts of chores get accomplished from polishing the piano to alphabetasizing the CD's.

Today we walked in Kings Standing, in the Ashdown Forest full of ferns, heather and gorse, the earth soft from the recent rain. The wind was blowing so loudly the old git had to adjust his earpieces. He used his smart phone to get the optimum setting - music, restaurant or TV - he opted for music. My intention of walking with a conversational companion was shot with every gust as his three thousand pound hearholes were about as useful as Donald Trump's girdle.

'Can't 'ear you luv.' said the old git happy in his silence.

The 'oosbind, now comfortable in the windless car - windless since the passenger window doesn't work and neither does the air con - drove us to a garden centre with a four hundred year old tree. Three dogs, two young women, an elderly couple almost as old as the tree, and us waited in the warm sunshine for our coffee. When it finally arrived it was cold, so I sent it back. His Cherry Bakewell tart was too sweet and dry whilst my Flapjack was like a day old 'Metro' as opposed to a crisp 'Tatler.' The newly heated coffee ended up being delicious.

Our little sojourn was a welcome break in the self isolating world in which we find ourselves. We are lucky to have space and green around us so most of the time I don't even think about Corona, I carry my face mask in the pocket of my dungarees whipping it out when necessary. Some say the second wave is coming, some say Covid will be around forever some say it'll be gone in two years. Sweden seems to have conquered it. So, to celebrate I called our oldest friend in Malmo. We agreed that when all this nonsense is over he and his wife will jump into their old Volvo and drive over here with a bagful of knackerbread and several bottles of Gamel Dansk, a time honoured Scandinavian anaesthetic.

So now the cat is splayed out on the armchair snoring like an old sailor.

The old git is washing up and the dawter's upstairs, chilling.

My feet are finally warm after a buttery corn on the cob, baked potato and left over salad supper. There's nothing on the telly box and the 'oosbind categorically refuses to play 'Scrabble' saying it makes him feel like we're in an old peoples' home, just waiting to die. I've got a thousand piece jigsaw somebody loaned me at the start of lock down, which I haven't even opened cos that makes me think I'm in a nursing home and I've lost the power of recall.

Dennis has refined his snoring; he now sounds like the old git. I shall watch the news then put on the Spanish series 'Money Heist' which is good but it's been so long since we watched it it'll inevitably turn into a heated discussion about who did what to whom and why. He'll suggest that I've got early onset dementia and I'll eat yet another slab of left over cherry cake. Maybe I'll start that jigsaw after all.

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Ode to Joy

Posted by Jeni in | 21 August 2020

Don't we accumulate friends over a lifetime.

A posse of like minded pals, or even unlikely chums that crop up year after year when their birthdays come round.

January is lean for me, I do know about three folk with their birthdays in the bleak month. But I'm too overwhelmed by Christmas to remember them.

February is the time for an ex boyfriend, a schoolmate from Bushey and two musicians who are both itinerant troubadours which means I can't send them cards as they don't have permanent addresses.

We get into family time when March comes around, the dawter, me, two natal twins and my first beau.

April flies past until we hit the 30th then May has a straight flush of 7/9/10/11/12/1318/19 my grandaughter, my Irish friend and my mother who have left this realm. One who has disappeared from my radar, an Irish dipsomaniac and our long standing Swedish muso who died on stage with a bottle of beer in his hand and was revived by a crack medical team who flew him to safety and bunged a digital pacemaker in his musical chest. All the others get the obligatory emoji overload of hearts and posies, lipstick kisses and virtual gifs.

My granddaughter, Goddaughter, homeopath, brother, surrogate son, and wife of an ex-bass player straddle June and then we get to July.

1/2/3/4/5&5/7/8/9/10/12/24/29; Germans. Poets. Writers. Producers. Actors. Acupuncturists. Babies. Artists. Gardeners. July is a month I clearly resonate with.

But yesterday started the right Royal flush.

It was the 52nd wedding anniversary of one of my oldest friends. We knew each other when PVC jackets were all the rage and Vidal Sassoon was shaping the five point haircut. I was one of his models in one of his shops somewhere in London, she was at art school and I was heading to drama school. I went into my world and she became a head teacher. She was always really clever and an accomplished artist. I have at least five of her pictures dotted about the house. She and her bee-keeping husband of over 50 years, thats her husband of fifty years not the bees, went to Winchelsea to have fish and chips on the beach. She ate mackerel with gooseberry sauce and he had calamari and chips.

Today we celebrated our next doors neighbours birthday. The old git gifted him a harmonica, from his ancient collection, and I gave him a tiny little clockwork train with a five-piece track and a plastic tree. He sat on the floor assembling the railway whilst accompanying himself with the suck and blow method the old git taught him. Our neighbour is three years old and says 'scuse me' a lot which he figures can get him out of a deal of trouble, which it does.

I cooked a delicious black bean salad with quinoa, red onions, tomatoes and a spicy dressing, the dawter made tagliatelle with a pesto, mushroom, garlic and pea topping. She also made a cherry cake with housed 25 whole cherries, each slice had a little black cherry in it with the stalk still in tact, perfect for pulling out the luscious fruit. The feast was to celebrate the birthday of the dawters Godmother, which is tomorrow. I've known the woman since she was a Bunny in the 60's, and England won the World Cup. She's been everything from a school matron to a peace campaigner in Bosnia and a 'Cordon Bleu' Chef in Devon. She arrived as the wind was trying to tear down the eucalyptus tree and blow up her anorak. She landed in the kitchen laden with peach liqueur, bottles of bubbly and a healthy appetite. We drunk too much champagne and ate way too many slices of olive bread with newly churned butter, until we all collapsed at the table.

On Sunday it is the day that my 'oosbind was born 77 years ago.

The child of a glass blower, he grew up oop north, went to the same grammar school as Brian Turner the chef, attended Loughborough College, worked in Leeds, his hometown, met me in 1976, and it was down south/hill from there. We've bought him a surprise gift which I can't reveal in case he reads this.

Monday is the birthday of another Godchild. She will be one year old and has formed a dominatrix relationship with Dennis the cat.

August gives us Buddhists and Artists, Therapists, Retired Theatre directors and a darling photographer.

By the time we have reached the end of September we will have celebrated 8/10/13/18/22/ which includes a publisher/writer friend of mine of over fifty years. We've shared the best part of a lifetime kvetching and complaining, analysing and putting the world to rights, in person, on the phone, on fax and now on e-mail. We even talk on Sykpe when her old man is playing bridge and the 'oosbind is watching 'How Things Work' on the box.

Then it's my beautiful nephew, my remarkable Swedish acupuncturist, my Japanese violinist and the surrogate sons partner.

I have professional friends in October, plus a delightful choral singing pal in Philly and my very own Yorkshire born mystic who lives in Hermosa Beach, California. What he doesn't know about Trump ain't worth knowing, if my clever clairvoyant is to be believed we will be rid of the orange Cock-Womble this November, which brings me to my two step daughters who are either end of the eleventh month, and then we finish with an American girlfriend in December, two days before Christmas.

We lived together in South Hampstead, she had lied to the authorities that she was older than she was so she could do what she wanted to do in London. We shared a house and the overweight landlady's yellow hardback cookbook that smelt of vanilla and was published by Weight Watchers - naturally we both lost loads of weight. I would haggle with the stall holders in Queens Crescent Market, and come home laden with free tomatoes and battered potatoes. She was on the divan bed when the old git and I decided that our relationship was over. When I came too she was holding my hand. She encouraged me to call him back. I did and forty three years later our marriage has endured as how friendship. She lives in Saratoga Springs, writes like a dream, cooks like a bon viveur, and laughs at all my jokes. Now ain't that what friends are for?

I was told if you can count your friends - and by that I mean real friends - on the fingers of one hand then you're doing well. I have a fear that nobody will turn up at my funeral and the eulogy will be said by a humanist to one mourner who has bothered to drive down from Luton. So I count my friends dear, and hold them close. As more arrive like our next door neighbour to the latest Godaughter, I ignore the rising cost of stationary and hunker down to do my job which is to remain sane, buy witty birthday cards, make the world a better place, keep up with with their music, understand their language, enjoy their fashion, commiserate with them about their future, talk into the wee small hours, advise them on acne, keep my own stories to myself unless asked, tell them the truth about politics and men and government, and politicians and geography and knitting, and how to bake perfect potatoes, so hopefully when I cut the mortal coil they will turn up at my funeral and sing a rousing chorus of Beethoven's 'Ode to joy' which the old git will have printed out, that's assuming I go first and he still has the ability to copy and paste.

'O Freunde, nicht diese Tone! Sondern lass uns angenehmere anstimmen, Und freudenvollere. Freude, schoner Gotterfunken, Tochter aus Elysium, Wir betreten feuertrunken, Himmlische, dein Heiligtum! Deine Zauber binden wieder, Was die Mode streng geteilt; Alle Menschen werden Bruder, Wo dein sanfter Flugel weilt. Wem der grosse Wurf gelungen, Eines Freundes Freund zu sein, Wer ein holdes Weib errungen, Mische seinen Jubel ein! Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele Sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund! Und wer's nie gekonnt, der stehle Weinend sich aus diesem Bund. Freude trinken alle Wesen An den Brusten der Natur; Alle Guten, alle Bosen Folgen ihrer Rosenspur. Kusse gab sie uns und Reben, Einen Freund, gepruft im Tod; Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben, Und der Cherub steht vor Gott! Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen Durch des Himmels pracht'gen Plan, laufet, Bruder, eure Bahn, Freudig, wie ein Held zum Siegen. Freude, schoner Gotterfunken, Tochter aus Elysium, Wir betreten feuertrunken, Himmlische, dein Heiligtum! Deine Zauber binden wieder, Was die Mode streng geteilt; Alle Menschen werden Bruder, Wo dein sanfter Flugel weilt.'

Here it is for you so you can translate it in your own time. I've omitted the umlauts because it makes for messy printing, if you don't speak German it won't matter and if you do speak German it won't matter since you know what it sounds like anyway.

Not that I'm thinking of dying soon but as the evenings draw in and the leaves are yellowing, I'm aware that I am in the autumn of my days, however, if I keep up with my regimen (Day 5) I've got at least another 20 summers to go, and you have enough time to learn your Beethoven.

Auf Wiedersehen, pet till then.

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