32 or is it 43?

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 24 May 2020

1976 was the hottest summer on record. 35 degrees and counting. I was working at the Leeds Playhouse rehearsing 'England Expects' a show that 'Belt and Braces', our theatre group, was relaunching.

Six years earlier I was at a Children's Theatre Festival in Harrogate. My first job, enthusiastic, eager and single. I saw an actor playing 'The Monkey' in 'The Tale of the Red Dragon'. The actor had a head of unforgettable red curls and was mesmeric.

When I got the call from his agent, half a dozen years later, I booked him on the spot. The Monkey is indeed the old git.

We sat outside the Leeds Playhouse, sweltering in the heatwave, talking about the resignation of Harold Wilson, the new music phenomenon called Punk and a geezer called Steve Jobs who was introducing an apple computer thingy. It'll never catch on we said.

And then we embarked on our first tour of Sweden. Eight of us and roadies, musical instruments, a collapsable set and the willingness of youth. We were taking revolution to Scandinavia. From Stockholm to Uppsala from Gothenburg to Malmo. The Monkey and I talked - in the truck, on the train, aboard boats, in coffee shops and theatrehusets - incessantly. I asked questions and he knew the answers. I did buy him a badge twelve years later that said 'I know everything' and the fucker actually wore it, in fact he still does only now it's got Suki's teeth marks on it where she tried to eat it.

We stayed up all night chewing the fat on the Orient Express from Umea, 250 kilometres from the Artic Circle, down to Skane. Our wooden banquettes left unruffled as the speeding train lurched and swayed and the sun came up over Lund a university city in the southernmost tip of Sweden. At 6.00 a.m we walked through the cobblestoned old town to Ralph's house where we ate toast and knackerbrod. A crumb caught the bottom of my lip and too embarrassed to move it I figured something was going on, had The Bleeding Monkey captured my heart?

And then we did a gig on the canals in Copenhagen. The egomaniacal director insulted and abused me and The Monkey witnessed it. After we'd done the get-out and the collapsable stage was loaded into the van the old git was seen chucking up into the gutter. The whole experience, watching another human being treat another human being so appallingly, made him sick. It was the first time anybody had ever chundered on my behalf. It must be love.

On February 7th 1977 a bronze Ford Cortina with a matt black bonnet swung into Queens Crescent. Thirty minutes after midnight we walked to the Greek restaurant opposite the Round House, I ordered Moussaka he had Kleftico, and then the row of all rows ensued. I've never eaten Moussaka since.

Now we fast forward to 1988; a cottage, a television, a boudoir grand piano, a garden, vinyl and CD's, a washing machine, a Chesterfield, two cars, a motorbike, regular jobs and an eighteen-month-old baby that needed legitimising. So on May 25th we went to the register office, me looking like his Aunty Amy and him looking like a solicitor, and we tied the knot. My Russian wedding ring got stuck the wrong way on my finger and my mother called out to the registrar that there was indeed a lawful impediment to our getting hitched, so the ceremony was paused only for my mother to shout "Just a joke. Just a joke.' We went to our next door 17th Century Inn and ate a meal off a lacy tablecloth that the landlady provided. My new husband smoked a fag then left the table and went swimming with the best man leaving me, the new mother-in-law and the now legitimate child to walk home.

Ten days later we had a party and all the telly folk guests bought us fancy, schmancy gifts. Last year the hand made ceramic bowl fell off the trolley and shattered; the terrarium got smashed in the bedroom and the red telephone box with a telephone stuck in it sits in the attic but the phone don't work. Other wedding gifts are scattered round the house.

I tell you this because tomorrow, on Bank Holiday Monday, we would have been married for 32 years, however, lock-down means no party, no cards, no celebratory curry at 'The Rose of Bengal', no guests, no concert, no theatre, no trip to the seaside - I know that Dominic Scumbag would encourage me to have a day out but.....it'll be me, the old git, the isolating dawter and a bottle of fizz. We've been together now for 43 years and it don't seem a day too long - which is a total fucking lie of course; forty-three years with a Northern actor who thinks he knows everything has been, dare I say it, challenging but I wouldn't have it any other way. The traditional gift for 32 years of wedded blitz is - wait for it -'Transportation', whatever that means. Now, if we include the eleven years when we were living ower t'brush we would have been cohabiting for 43 years and the traditional gift for 43 years of partnership would be - wait for it -Travel. What's the chances? Transportation instead of rubies or gold. No pearls, no silver, no ceramic bowls or tin but flaming travel in Covid Lockdown.

I repeat, 'would I change a thing?' Of course not. I love the old git as if it were yesterday, only it ain't. It is most definitely now, whatever the quantum physicists say. So here's to another 32 years with my Northern git of a husband, although I'll be 103 and he'll be monkeying around somewhere in a theatre in the cosmos.

Still, a very Happy Anniversary to my champ of a chimp.

The bustard has just waved his badge at me and told me that a chimp is an ape - not a monkey.

Fucking know-all.

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Cocooning.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 12 May 2020

On May 9th Marie Bernadette Maher would have been 72.

We met in Hampstead in 1969. She from the Wirral me from London.

We went to the Wimpy Bar in Golders Green and talked through the night. She puffing on a small cheroot and me mesmerised by her sophistication. She was a strawberry/reddish blonde, drove a Mini Clubman and was as sharp as a pin. If I brought a boy home to our shared flat, I was immediately dumped and she was asked out for a date. She was sassy and cool and on waking would suck her contact lenses clean and bung them in her eyes. When young she'd learnt the eye chart by heart fearing she would be thought dumb, and ended up nearly blind. She never left the flat without makeup and, along with her ridiculously handsome brother, turned heads .

Then she went to Manchester University to study how to work with the deaf, she met her husband at the bar. A donkey-jacketed fellow with the kind of looks that puts George Clooney to shame. They were the sublime couple that everybody envied. And why not indeed?

They moved to Galway, where he became an architect - designed and built their house whilst she brought up three children in a caravan.

Time passed and her brother died of leukaemia, when Marie got breast cancer she never told her mother, quietly had reconstructive surgery and took up the Tango.

She put on discos with a thumping bass and disco lights for her deaf pupils. When she retired she started writing poetry and true to form the woman won awards for her brilliant poems. I have a CD of her reading them.

Ten years after she'd been given the all clear her cancer returned and two years ago she put down her pen. We didn't make the funeral but we did visit Galway one month before she died. When I kissed her goodbye on her soft, cool cheek, I knew that would be the last time I saw her.

Her husband still lives in his hand-built house. He's retired but keeps as busy as ever. Swimming every day and replacing parts of his body that have broken down.

Three days ago we talked, East Sussex to Galway, we talked about the virus, the now grown up children, and life without his coffee mornings. Miley Cyrus has put a stop to them.

The road signs in Southern Ireland have a less authoritarian bent than ours. At a T-Junction the sign does not say STOP it says YIELD. And so it is with their language for Miley. It's not called SELF ISOLATION instead it's called COCOONING, by far a gentler way to keep people indoors. Maries husband described his approach as DISCRETIONARY COCOONING. Keeping his distance from his pals but still dipping into the empty waters of Galway Bay.

So many of us now know somebody who has had Number 19, knows somebody who knows somebody who has died from it. Marie Bernadette Maher would have written a scathing sonnet, or a plaintive poem, choosing the appropriate words then flying in the face of it all she would have sucked on her contact lenses, bunged them in her eyes, pumped up the music, danced a Tango and puffed on a small cheroot.

I shall play her CD and listen to her lovely voice. Happy Birthday Marie.

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For Reen.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 7 May 2020

'A fire on them.'

'I wouldn't give him the snot out of my nose.'

Two choice phrases from my well educated mother. She got a scholarship to Raines' girls school in the East End of London. I still have her gym slip and cloth badge. She was well clever my muvver, but like a lot of women of her generation she neither owned it or celebrated it.

She did crosswords easily, was fantastic at anagrams and had she known about '8 out of 10 cats do Countdown.' she would have spent every night watching Jimmy Carr and his panel of witty wordsmiths.

I mention my mother because she would have been in the very high risk category. This year she would have been 99, not an unfeasible age, but she died aged 90 years and three months in a Jewish care home in Brighton. She'd asked me to give up work and look after her but it wasn't an option. Well of course it was but I didn't know it at the time.

I'd flown out to Ibiza to run a quiz show for Groucho's, the actors club in Dean Street. 'The Prince of Soho.' Bernie Katz, had requested I officiated for him and what Bernie wants Bernie gets, well he did from me anyway. When Bernie died in 2017, the shock waves reverberated around Soho. Mourners came from far and wide. I still miss him hugely.

In 2012 I was on my way to Ibiza, "Look for a man in a vest." said Bernie. I waited in the airport lounge, in the searing sunshine, eyeing up every geezer wearing a singlet. Talk abut listening to your intuition, I followed my heart, sauntered through the building and stopped dead. A young man wearing a red vest looked at me, I to him, and fuck my arse and call me Wendy if it wasn't the very boy Bernie had sent. Bernie was not a man of many words, well he was a loud, shouty kind of bloke, but he never talked in sequence, not to my ears anyway. I intuited what he wanted and somehow we worked it out.

The Spanish boy drove us to a luxury village of pools and beds, tents and suites. He spoke no English, I had nula words of Spanish. But we made it. The drink flowed, the highfalutin banter wafted up through the warm air plaiting with the fog of cigar and ganja smoke. I stayed up listening to the moneyed, titled and successful inmates. I fell into my huge bed at 3.00a.m. and was woken four hours later by the noisy clang of my mobile telephone.

The carer, looking after my mother, was sobbing on the end of the line. My mother had died, cup of coffee in hand, the carer had turned away - "for one second' - when she turned back my mother had left the room to be with the mewing children she had spoken of hearing.

The moneyed, titled, successful inmates showed up. I was caught in a quandary what to do, I had never reneged on a professional assignment before. Bernie said 'It's your mother for God's sake.' So I accepted the generosity of the high born who pulled strings, arranged flights, paid for the singlet to drive me back to the airport, supplied cars to collect me from Heathrow, and organised my final train journey back to the cottage.

I don't remember the journey, only that I made it back to Sussex without a hitch. It took me three days to organise the funeral. Somebody told me the portals open and there's a sense of euphoria after a death. All I know is that everything fell into place, from the funeral director to the flowers. People came from all over to the little chapel. Lots of my friends who had grown up alongside her generosity , some relatives, poetry from my Irish poet, speeches from the extended family, boxes of sunflowers open for people to take and lay a bloom on top of her coffin. The old git made a slide show, the three daughters sung 'April Showers.' the number one hit of 1922 when she was born. Stevie Wonder sung her out and we cried a lot of tears, and then we all retired to 'The Setting Sun' pub in Hanover.

What she would have made of Myley Cyrus is anyones guess, but I can hear her calling out these Tory bastards. I can hear her shouting at the selfish swine who run the country for them not for her. I can hear her cursing them, crying for the young ones, I can hear her bemoaning the fact that she worked all her life for a fairer society and what have we got now.

'A fire on them.' She would have said. 'This plague is the making of those greedy self entitled Schmocks.'

She would have railed at them and apologised to anybody younger than 35 who was living in such an uncertain world.

She's been dead for eight years, her ashes scattered from behind 'The Waltzer' on Brighton Pier. Her chocolate teapot urn - courtesy of Paul Young superlative chocolatier - following her into the grey, cold sea.

Had she been buried she would, undoubtedly be turning in her grave at the duplicitous, careless opportunists who are running this country, she would still be writing her letters of complaint to any newspaper that would publish her. She would say how happy she was that she was at the end of her life as the world she was born into is being shredded like the end of a frayed Fair isle sweater.

Had she been alive now, and had she asked me to give up my job to look after her, I would say a resounding YES.

My mother would have been one of the vulnerable ones, she would not have walked round her garden 100 times as she wasn't up to it. She would, however, encourage all of us to get out there and make a noise, to fight and to silence the mad idiots. As for the likes of Trump she wouldn't have given him the snot out of her nose.

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It's not over till it's over

Posted by Jeni in | 25 April 2020

Forget-me-knots have taken over the garden, I pulled some of them out gently and have laid them in the log basket next to the fireplace. They won't last but they look beautiful.

Dandelions everywhere. A couple of buttercups. Bundles of bluebells.

Primroses pink and yellow have lined the path to the studio.
My Stauntonia, after three years, has finally decided to flower.

The magnolia has been and gone, but the Rhododendrons, pink and blousy, have opened up.

The grass seed has taken and is filling in the gaps where Suki ran amok.

Me and him and her are isolated in the cottage. We are very, very, very, very lucky. We have space, and quiet. The big bumble bees are buzzing from the comfrey to the lavender and orange tipped butterflies flutter by daily.

We've got perpetual spinach and dandelion leaves, mint and dill fronds for salads. We've got shelves full of dried beans and tins of tomatoes. The internet provides us with light bulbs and disinfectant - which we shan't inject or drink.

There's been a lot of baths and showers, there's been a heap of arsey behaviour, there's been suppers of beetroot pickled and beetroot raw, asparagus grilled and asparagus raw. There are apples in the bowl and grapefruits galore, deliveries from the neighbours from bananas to frozen peas. Tonight I found a bag of frozen prawns hidden in the freezer which I cooked in butter and olive oil, garlic, cayenne pepper and Chile flakes, alongside a soupy hot bowl of vegetables and tiny little potatoes from the farm shop which I sprinkled with mint and butter, thats the potatoes not the farm shop! Our suppers are three plates and a bowl accompanied by dinner jazz.

The fridge is groaning with cartons of plant milk, cans of beer, bottles of wine and containers of defrosting berries and fruits of the forest. I'm about to make my own yoghurt.

It is surreal. I open my eyes around 7.00, meditate, then snooze. Me and her are walking hard and fast for about an hour a day. My little legs can't keep up with hers, we smile at the yellow celandine and white anemones, we gather wild garlic by the stream and then, if they're amenable we stroke the lambs in the field. The old git stays behind to do his exercises for his damaged knee then organise the studio for voice overs - which him and her engineer whilst I do the yakking.

I know nature's having her way. I know she's having the last laugh. I trust that we will come through all this, and I believe that we will have changed enough to allow the coral reef to continue to renew itself. Robins and blackbirds, pigeons and magpies are visiting although for the third year running we haven't heard the cuckoo.

It's not so much suspended animation as a noisy silence. Making coffee for the neighbours, accepting parsnips in exchange. Planting potatoes and beans, tomorrow the peas and more. The old git has made a naked wig-wam of string for the runner beans and I've planted up trays of wheat grass and lettuce. Only three worms revealed themselves, so we've got a long way to go for the earth to really rally.

Moment by moment, step by step. It's taking one day at a time. Lighting candles at dinner time. Playing long forgotten albums. I've freckles on my shoulders from the sun, and today the apple blossom sprung their buds all pink and white.

My mother grew things from whatever she could lay her hands on - an East End girl with green fingers - lemons, tomatoes, cucumbers, pineapples - we've got a lemon plant on the window sill that the dawter grew from a pip. I started life in two rooms in Aldgate with mice and rats and black damp on the walls. I've lived in this cottage since 1984, always kept my Fenchurch Street bank account open, never giving up my birthplace needing to keep my feet in London. But now, when I sit on the swing set contemplating my next gardening task, I do not take for granted that it took one fucking little virus for me not to take anything for granted.

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News from the cottage.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 6 April 2020

Every body has an opinion.

Everybody knows someone who has it.

Everybody is doing what they can in their own way.

Everybody is living their best Sunday.

Unless you're not.

Unless you haven't got food, or neighbours, or the wherewithal, or the imagination, or the support, or family or friends or youth or the internet or space, or hope.

Oprah and Deepak or giving a 21 day free HOPE meditation, there are loads of things on the internet that are trying to help.

And the silence of the planes, and the buzzing of the bees, and the fortitude of somebody we know.

And the chirping of the birds, and the kindness of somebody else.

The bikers are speeding past on the main road, revving their engines and shattering the atmosphere. The calmness destroyed by helmeted self servers keeping their distance and getting their moment of exercise. Never noticed them before but the backdrop of peace was usurped and I found myself angry. Really angry. Feelings and emotions coming to the surface, why was I so angry? Because it felt like a selfish act and I felt like a miserable old toad even thinking such thoughts . But the heady ambience of quiet is making us all think and listen more and wonder what will happen next when more helmets try to bring back the old order.

I meditated, along with a million others, on Sunday night. Sitting cross legged on the carpet knowing that others were doing the same, my nephew did it in his woodland, my homeopath did it in her conservatory, my neighbour did it in the garden, all over the world self isolating individuals came together in the belief that a million minds could change things. Would change things, must change things, a million souls believed they will change the status quo.

Day whatever of quarantine and we are stocked up with love and patience and phone calls and FaceTime and from all over everywhere the reality of our short little lives slams home.

Posting positive quotes and chain mails of poetry are not my thing but trusting that an age of gentility is approaching. That generosity and kindness, opportunities and love are floating on the cleaner air. That debts are written off, that touching each other will never be taken for granted again and that every one of us will have a bath that we can sink into, and a warm bed that we can lie on. I know it's made me go dippy, but who cares. If you sneeze bless you, if you're afraid don't panic, remember the only constant is change and this too will pass.

So I wish us all health, wealth, love and perfect self expression.

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Blissful thinking

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 28 March 2020

The towels have been in a 60 degree cycle and are now blowing about on the washing line.

Magnolia petals are strewn over the lawn, and the newly laid grass seed has been eaten by the little birds pecking away at it.

A box of vegan cheeses have arrived, a packet of wire wool and four boxes of oaty milk are on their way. I await my Everfresh sprouted loaves to be delivered. Internet shopping is easy although my heart goes out to the delivery folk who stand a paths length away and place the boxes on the ground.

Then to wash or not to wash the hands after picking up the parcels, so to err on the side of the neurotic I opt to wash.

This morning the dawter and I kept our distance and walked down to the sheep who kept theirs. Through the avenue, round the chickens up to the gate, touched it, turned round and greeted a lovely couple of old wimmin with their ten year old dog. The wimmin have lived together for years and have the pink glowing cheeks of early morning porridge and knitting in front of the fireside whilst the wireless mumbles in the background. One now has a zimmer frame whilst the other holds the dogs' lead.

The wind blew away the cobwebs.

Got home and sat in the garden to meditate. By the time I came in for a banana and coffee my hands had turned into ten frozen fish fingers.

The air here is still and there is very little noise. My jeans are tight round the waist, that's what comes of coronavirus binge eating, I intend stepping out of the denims into some pj's after I've hung out the last load of washing.

The studio at the end of the garden has finally come into its own, the old git has set it up so we are now able to do voice overs for whomsoever needs them.

Conspiracy theories abound; solutions, confusions, timetables, longevity, comparisons. I'm surrendering. Every day feels like Sunday so I'm surrendering. Can't go shopping. so I'm surrendering. Can't see my friends or family, so I'm surrendering. We have bottles of champagne in the cellar, I never drink, but a glass of bubbly with him and her is a good way to end the day. When the fizz has all gone I'll do one of them dissolving vitamin c tablets in a pint of water, that'll do. This surrendering lark is the only way to go.

Appropriate behaviour for such times. No blame, no shame, just giving in and staying well. No advice, no judging, just giving in and staying well. No fear, no anxiety, just trying to stay cool. We have honey bees and bumble bees joining us every day, the butterflies have returned. We have worm casts and scudding clouds. We have young neighbours who are looking after us with remote shopping and pictures of puppies. We have American friends calling every day, family in different shires who call whilst their cooking. The dawter sits out in the dark at 8.o'clock, looking up at the stars and having virtual chats with her self isolating mates she calls it 'Drunk on the driveway'. First night there were five of them, last night fifteen....

I'm showering and bathing reading and cooking. I'm being good to myself and ignoring anything that makes me affeared. Little telly, little radio, lots of music and plenty of vacuuming to lift the gloom. I've just lit an incense cone and the old git has lit the stove. I've turned all the clocks an hour forward so that when I surrender tonight I wont have to wander round the house twiddling knobs.

The young left-hand neighbour will bring us our Sunday papers, and the young right- hand neighbour will deliver us some potatoes. Every day I send out affirmations to help heal us all, and genuinely collapse into a state of total gratitude. What more can we do in such times.

From North to South from East to West I wish you all the very best, I wish you health and hope and lots and lots of foamy soap. I wish us all the will to change, to exist in a consciousness back-upped with bliss. I wish you this.

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Miley Cyrus

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 17 March 2020

My heart is breaking for the lad, who opened a bar in Peckham, put every penny he had into it and then Boom.

My heart is breaking for the girl, who taught dance to disadvantaged kids in Rome, saved all her pennies to buy a ticket and then Boom.

My heart breaks for the shy boy, who had been supporting himself, as a musician for years, got his big break beginning of February, and now Boom all his gigs have been cancelled.

Aged 33 they're all having to move back to live with their parents - what's the alternative?

And so all the children of the 80's who wanted their own life are now lost. Pained and lost.

And I dont know how to blame the Tory Government - lack of investment over ten years, savage cuts, heartless policies - it's not even that that breaks my heart, what breaks my heart is that the Conservatives are mostly wealthy pubic school boys, without a finger on any kind of pulse, who don't engender any kind of trust - well not in me anyway - so I question their leadership, whilst still doing their bidding.

And since they are a bunch of career politicos I wonder whether we really are getting the right advice? How can we tell any more?. Trump says something on Monday contradicts himself on Tuesday, invents baloney on Wednesday, tweets on Thursday and by Friday we listen to more of his bollox and wish that he had tested positive for the virus. Oh come on we all thought it. Two scientists flank Johnson who stands behind a podium, and dizzy from U-turns leads us to lock down. Quietly the cock who brokered Brexit winces as getting drugs from Europe is now a faff since we are no longer part of the club, whilst his pregnant fiancee sits on the settee in Number 10 polishing the silver, and stroking her belly which holds his umpteenth child. Wearing nothing but white jockeys and a pair of threadbare socks our first minister schtupped his mistress whilst the virus was gestating and the stock markets were getting ready to tank. And tank they did, and are, and will continue to do so until Covid 19 has had her day.

'Utopia for Realists' a book by Rutger Bregman argues for a fare wage for all. America are thinking about a thousand dollars a month for families who are broke, will Boris do that here? Or will he continue to spend trillions on wars, on high Speed train tracks, or hiring beds from private hospitals who, unapologetically are accepting the NHS money whilst Richard Branson skips all the way to the investment bank.

There are those who are saying this is Mother natured pissed. There are those who are saying it's the Goddess up there who has had enough There are those who say pandemics come in 100 year cycles. There are those who say its the fault of the gays, the jews, the blacks the Janes. There are those who blame the old, the infirm the intergenerational families. There are those who just blame and blame and blame.

So now we are all in lock down. The over 70's will be curfewed in their homes for twelve weeks. Grandchildren will be forbidden access to their grandparents. Grandparents languishing from the loss of their grandkids.

And we follow orders lest we are slapped with a thousand pound fine, or get banged up.

And yes we have to protect the old, and the underlying unhealthy, so yes we have to look out for each other and split the pasta and learn to share again. so it is polite that we listen to our leaders isn't it?

But are they getting it right? We wonder, talking and arguing, pondering and complaining and criticising and despairing, but now is not the time to judge Johnson, or heckle Hancock, now is the time to hold them to account. They've squandered our money, spent it fraudulently, leaving us to fight each other for lavatory paper in Tesco's and battle for the last bottle of sanitiser in Sainsbury, and the Americans stand in line to buy yet more guns.

It's late and I'm in the kitchen knowing that I am lucky enough to have a garden to isolate in, worrying about the dawter who is giving up her unaffordable life in London, self isolating for seven days, before she too comes back home to rest and recuperate without having to find any rent which will enable her to ponder on what life holds for her after this debacle.

Idris Elba tells us he's tested positive and he didn't even have any symptoms, and when thems that are in the know say we we should all be tested, mouths agape we hiss there aren't enough tests to go round, or beds, or doctors, or nurses or hope.

For hope springs eternal, and hope is what we need. This insidious disease ain't forever, even if it feels like it is. Watch as the Italians, on their balconies, sing to each other, sending their voices into the viral air. And the Spanish star jump on their balconies whilst a lithe Catalonian demonstrates how to keep fit on the communal green. The Queen isolates herself in Balmoral, whist her immoral son laughs all the way to the Pizza Hut in Woking, and the world keeps turning, and even though we want to shout STOP we want to get off WE CAN'T.

We will weather this, we will help each other out and plant potatoes and tell our children stories of when old people fell ill way back in 2020, when the strange illness called Miley Cyrus by the cockneys (rhyming slang), when Miley struck and the folk in Wales had to deal with it in their flooded homes, and the Scousers cried as they watched their beloved team hang their heads in disappointment. And we will tell the story of Miley how she infected refugees who had no water and food whilst the children of the world watched when the elders stopped breathing.

But before our very eye the pollution levels fell because nobody drove their cars., The clouds parted and there was blue sky over the mountains and the birds sung. But we could only watch in splendid isolation.

For after the floods and plagues of locusts, after the dust storms and the death of all bees the cinemas closed then the theatres and the musicians practiced their scales in the silence of their own bedrooms. Writers wrote but the libraries were shut whilst the television played endless reruns of 'Yes Minister' and 'Only Fools and horses.'

Things had to change, and the change had to be brutal for us to sit up and listen, learn lessons in sharing whilst we bumped elbows.

This is the end and this is the beginning.

You wrecked us Miley but as you said so eloquently

'If you believe in yourself anything is possible.'

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International Woman's Day

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 8 March 2020

It was International Woman's Day today so I fulfilled my duties as a woman in as International a way as possible. I phoned Boston and Saratoga, Chatham and Hackney, Devon and Wales and even pinged a text to Togo. I think that's pretty International dont you?

Having lived with the old git for forty three and a half years our pink and blue jobs have never been demarcated. I cook, he washes up. Sometimes I cook AND wash up. Lots of times he cooks and I wash the dishes. He makes a pump for the cellar I mop up after him, I hand him the hammer and he uses it. That isn't to say that I dont know how to wield a hammer or that he's not half bad with a wok. Although I have to admit that sometimes he does mansplain - take today when he had the audacity to tell me how to mop - but did I complain? No I just told him to bugger off and carried on slopping out the carpet sludge like a Mexican housekeeper swinging her hips to the Danza de los Diablos. This year we had to spend International Woman's Day tending to our waterlogged cellar. For three days the rain seeped into the cellar from the front garden. The water tables are high, and even though we live on top of the second highest point around the sloppy water got in. Two rugs on the floor are ruined. The red 'Habitat' one, thats followed us from flat to cottage leaked beetroot coloured juice into the puddle and the Persian one has left little balls of authentic Persian wool all over the floor. Three sponge mops, two drying mops, buckets and a brain wave from the 'oosbind has done the trick. He concocted a make shift pump, when it stopped sucking up the water we chucked sheets and blankets and old cotton sweaters onto the floor, bunged them into the washing machine to spin-dry, unloaded them onto the floor again, spun them again and voila a damp but walkable room again. The two rugs are rolled up in buckets until they dry whilst the cellar now smells like a cow shed mixed with wet whippet and clammy Airtex knickers.

So this is how March 8th panned out. I went to get the papers and Coronavirus panic had hit 'Waitrose'. Most of the pasta had gone from the shelves and there wasn't a mellow and smooth 'Koko' yoghurt to be found anywhere, apparently there's a cock up in the supply chain.

Then I accompanied my husband, in a ladylike fashion sitting side saddle in the car, as we went to 'Homebase' to buy a bit of hose pipe for our aforementioned waterworks. Graham, an elderly assistant walked us to the plumbing aisle, we spent six pounds on a flimsy piece of rubber that the old git said should do the trick. I picked up four bunches of daffodils for two quid and carried the posy to the car. See pink jobs and blue jobs!

If I sound a little cynical don't get me wrong I've been shouting about women's rights since I could depilate - not something we ever talked about in the 70's - have stood on stage and fronted a band comprised of men - 70's men - who liked nothing better than to pinch my pert buttocks and sneak a peek as I changed in the lavatories in the endless stream of working mens clubs we performed in. I stood my ground and gave as good as I got, now I applaud young women who don't take any nonsense whilst I weep at the treatment of women in countries where lashings and beatings are still used as a form of control. International Woman's day 2020 and we watch homeless, stateless women attempting to shield their babies and children from the madness of cruel, power hungry bastardmen.

I applaud Scotland for recognising that women's sanitary products should be free, hurrah for our brave loud mouthed harridans. But I also think nappies should be free too after all babies only shit in them.

Which reminds me I went for a brisk 30 minuter. The sheep were in the field. 17 of them looking after 16 little lambs that did that lovely lamb thing of jumping up and down, I believe it's called gamboling. The dawter named one of the ewes Angela, so I called for her but couldn't remember her given name so called her Margery instead. A lovely old ewe with 12 painted on her wool stood looking at me, dropping pellets and eyeballing me in case I touched her babies which off course I didn't. I told her her little lambykins were safe with me as I don't eat anything with a face.

So, International Woman's Day came and went. I received lovely posts from Japanese activists and East End broads, Mancunian business women and Italian dancers. The 'oosbind made me a lovely cafetier of coffee as I read the papers and mused on how we'd saved our cottage from subsidence working together harmoniously. Him calling the shots and me ignoring them.

I enjoy being a girl, there aint nothing like a dame and if Billy Joel is correct I'll always be a woman to him. As for good old Bobby Dylan apparently I take just like a woman but break just like a little girl. There we go mansplaining again, let me tell you Bobby when I break it ain't like a little girl it's like a 48 thousand ton battle ship with all guns blaring. I do think, however, that every day should be International Woman's Day, and mens day and babies day and lambs day and tree day and cuckoo day......you get my drift we should honour everybody every day. On my walk I heard a woodpecker and talked to the chickens who always come running to say hello, maybe we should have an International Hen Day too.

Back in 1865 William Ross Wallace wrote a poem that praised motherhood as the preeminent force for change in the world. 'The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Is the Hand That Rules the World.'

So from mothers to sisters from nieces to daughters, from grannies to aunties and also to Nuns; God Bless us all.

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