Rippety Offedy

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 21 October 2020

I went to the dentist.

I had chipped my left front tooth and wanted it filed down so it was the same size as the right front tooth.

I went to the dentist and sat in the empty souless waiting room. No magazines just a big screen slide-showing adverts flogging teeth whitener, cosmetic dentistry and expensive implants.

The nurse came and collected me. We all had our masks on. I sat down and removed my mask. I revealed my incisor whose sharp edge, to help me bite into food, was no longer chisel like, more cracked, like an old bone china teacup that had been left in a chest somewhere in Surbiton. Call it vanity, but I wanted my smile to be radiant not flawed.

The dentist - new to me - sat behind me and looked at my chipped front tooth.

"How did you do it?" he enquired.

"On a date pip."

He asked the nurse to get him the required bonding instruments and materials.

"Hold on" I said "I don't want it bonded I want it filed."

The dentist asked the nurse to give me a hand mirror. Like sleeping beauty I stared at my face in the little round glass. Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the most gullible of them all?

The dentist then told me that he couldn't vouch for other dentists but given his prolific experience bonding was the answer. I told him that bonding doesn't last.

"Nothing lasts." he said "Motor cars.... anything mechanical."

"I don't want it bonded" I said with a little broken smile.

I asked him how much filing the tooth down would cost. He warned me that if he filed it it wouldn't look anatomically correct and that the tooth next to it was smaller than it should be compared to a filed down version of my left front tooth. He told me that if he were to file it down he would be worried about my nerves and hurting me. I didn't tell him that I never have injections when I have any kind of dentistry and that he didn't realise he was dealing with 'Marathon Woman' and that Dustin Hoffman isn't the only actor that is able to withstand pain whether Sir Laurence Olivier or even Michael Gove are drilling into their heads. I didn't tell him anything cos my mouth was open. Gave him back the hand mirror and said firmly, not aggressively not even boldly just affirmatively that I would prefer to have my left front tooth filed to look like my right front tooth and that he had frightened the fuck out of me. I apologised to the nurse for swearing.

Then I asked how much was it to have it filed down.

"Twenty five maybe thirty pounds." he said.

"And how much to have it bonded?"

"One hundred pounds." he said without a hint shame.

I gulped, my mouth was now shut.

"Sorry I can't afford that," said I. "It's not working is it?" and got up out of the chair and left.

Walked to my car, in the pouring rain, and drove off.

May mobile brrringed. It was the dental surgery.

"I'm sorry you're probably driving" said the dental receptionist with the sunniest of inflections that wouldn't go amiss in an Australian soap opera. " But it will cost twenty five pounds for the...." I didn't let her finish.

"I'm sorry." said I in a clipped voice with an inflection that would't go amiss in an episode of EastEnders, "But I'm not paying." I was matter of fact, not aggressive, not even bold, just wearily direct. "I'm sorry but it didn't work out so I'm not paying twenty five quid for a mistake."

I drove through the rain. I had been in the dentist chair for less than five minutes.

When I woke this morning - Mercury still in retrograde - I stood at the sink to brush my teeth before going to the dentist, and a huge splat of water landed on my right shoulder. The bathroom roof was/is leaking.

Now I didn't know I was about to be ripped off by the dentist but I did know that we had been ripped off by JOE COSTER, I say his name in capital letters should anybody else think of using the little scum bag.

We paid him loadsamoney to fix our roof. He never completed the job. He told us his mother had died to cover his absence. He told us family members were ill to get out of wiping off the mess he had made on my plants, our path the next door neighbours butlers sink which is full of ferns. He lied about all sorts - the result is that we have a leaking roof that should have been mended by JOE COSTER.

That was rippety offedy number two.

Two downright disgraces in one day. And it's happening all around.

I have no desire to partner Angela Rippon, Gloria Honeyford or Julia Somerville in their consumer affairs programme, but I do have a sense of fairness so when dentists try and stick it on you, or roofers try and take the mickey, somebody has to speak up.

I still have a chipped tooth, and the rain is still leaking in the bathroom, all over my lovely new carpet, which was rippedy offedy number three.

The bloke who laid the bathroom carpet didn't realise that I would notice the raggedy edges round the bath. It looked like a chimpanzee had been let loose with a pair of blunt scissors. I called the shop, was firm, not aggressive, not jokey just straight. They sent us a new carpet and a man with know how who laid it beautifully and gave us the offcuts. I now have a bathroom carpet in the cellar upon which i stand when I do the ironing.

Have standards slipped or am I imagining it? I wonder whether the dentist was telling me the truth or not. Was he just wanting to make a few extra quid or was he right about my anatomically inadequate mouth? Was the roofer genuinely in mourning over his dying mother or was he just a lying pillock who thought he could pull the wool over the eyes of two old fuckers?

I'll never know but as the rain drip drops into a yellow bucket strategically placed near the bidet, and as I carefully manoeuvre the dental floss round my chipped front tooth, I am seriously wondering whether to call Gloria or Angela to get them to investigate the malpractices of people who tamper with the roof of my mouth and the roof of my cottage.

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Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 17 October 2020

They call Gaffer tape Duct Tape in the US.

We used it when we had a band. Strong, durable and perfect for covering up cables and sticking together battered instruments. It comes in many colours and if you bite into it it rips into a nice, straight line.

The 45th commander in sheath could use some Duct tape for sticking together his crumbling regime.

Our cottage has been the recipient of an awful lot of gaffer. It has been through many incarnations. Part of Mr. Fenner's Blacksmith business many years ago, the old forge is still to the left of us, and the view to the right. The cellar is from 1690, the cottage burnt down in the 30's, was rebuilt, we added a bit here and there and now it is the very model of a modern major general overhaul. It was called 'Prosperity' cottage for a bit, in the hope that by renaming it it would attract prosperity.

Did it fuck?

We've had two Feng Shui masters come and clear it; hang crystals, display pot plants and place Bagua mirrors in strategic places to fend off the evil eye. We face north/north east which is just about as bad as you can get when building a house. It's called a HUNGRY GHOST, tell me about it if we were a Chinese bank we would have gone bankrupt in the Ming Dynasty. We've had energy clearers and psychics who've got rid of metal angels hanging by the door because they were full of malevolence, and cleared Mr. Fenner from the cellar who was banging on his anvil at all hours.

I am now thinking of renaming it Gaffer Mansions, or Duct Hall. We've lived here for thirty six years next week. And over that time we've had parties and floods, babies and chimney fires. We've had a new kitchen and bathroom, new furniture and new windows. Over thirty six years we have seen the walls shift due to subsidence, the roof leak due to faulty tiles. We've seen light switches crumble and shower heads droop. We've watched the garage deconstruct itself and the graveyard behind the shed fill up with dead cats and dogs.

Living here, as an East Ender, has been an education. Who'd have thought I would learn how to lay a fire, prune a euonymous, cope with total blackouts and live without internet in the garden. Who'd have thought a bint from Aldgate would live two miles from anywhere and learn how to walk and shop carefully so she could carry celery and chick pea tins in a back pack and still walk home. But best of all who would have thought that a girl with Hollywood pretensions would end up living with an old git who is a bodger extraordinaire.

I have long wanted him to create a little DIY book with all his suggestions. A strip of gaffer here - keeping the shower up. A strip of gaffer there - shielding us from the icy blasts coming through the window frame. A strip of gaffer to hold up the cellar ceiling and a roll of gaffer to secure the vacuum cleaner case which holds the pipes and accessories.

Our cottage now has an idiosyncratic life of its own; here's half a dozen to be getting on with.

  1. Count to six to light the front right gas ring.
  2. One bum push to close the fridge.
  3. A hefty thrust to the heavens and a full left lock to close the front door.
  4. A dummy light pully for the bathroom.
  5. A defunct light switch in the bedroom.
  6. A swift drop kick to open my cupboard door in the attic.

Since we've been here, next door have have had three different occupiers, the new ones have extended their kitchen to the size of a Hackney warehouse. The other side has built another house and moved out. The other-other side have rebuilt on the old footprint and installed a hot tub. The lodge has new owners. Up the lane another new comer has just arrived with six dogs and a barrow of artichoke plants. Down the hill have attracted new inmates, across the road have built a house opposite their old one and sold their old one to a family with three children. A dentist, a doctor an artist and a family of South Africans have all moved into three other properties, the pub has different landlords and the farm down the back road now sells organic veg and dead pig. All since we moved here in 1984.

My friends in Devon have moved seven times since we've been here. My friends in Monmouth have moved twice. My friend in Goudhurst lived out the back of her car for fourteen of the 36 years that we've been here whilst our friends in Sweden have had heart attacks, three marriages, run a theatre and become grandparents, all whilst we've been gaffering our life together.

Our friends in Chatham have an allotment and perennial flowering shrubs, bee hives and rather healthy retirement pensions, our friends in East Sussex, have moved three times, had their showroom burgled on countless occasions and have renovated a barn that is even bigger than the big kitchen next door which is as big as a big warehouse in Hackney, all while we have taped our lives together with duct tape and blind optimism. Coming from such uncertainty, as I did, the cottage has been the one constant since I was thirty five years of age. I've never seen it as a money maker, quite the opposite, but as the world tumbled around our ears our little cottage has been a sanctuary.

This little cottage has seen breakdowns, births, deaths and marriages, it withstood the storm of '87, the Beast from the East and now provides shelter for the lockdown.

Why only today DIY SOS OLD GIT has unpeeled the gaffer on the raiser rail in the shower installed a new shower head bracket and plugged in a brilliant CORK from our last bottle of bubbly, to complete the look. I sprayed the cork with white paint and the shower looks as good as new.

Now if we count the longevity in my family I should be here until 2045, and him a little less, so by my reckoning the gaffering that is now in place should last until I'm at least 91, and then if all goes to plan the dawter will have some kids who will take after their grandfather and continue the tradition of bodging to keep it all together. That's as long as the climate change deniers are silenced, the deforesters are incarcerated, the selfish short sighted pillocks are removed from office and our little spinning globe hasn't gone the way of the dodo's. If we are still around, along with little ladybirds and horned puffins, if the planet is delivered into safe hands and we haven't snuffed out our own existence I trust that the gaffer factories will still be in tact.

'Men make history.' said Mr. Truman. 'And not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better', wielding a roll of gaffer of course.

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Mr. Frisby. For Sarah

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 13 October 2020

I put on an old blue anorak, pulled up the hood, tugged on thick socks that were a gift from a Portland contributor when we filmed there, squeezed into my heavy walking boots, took my glasses off, snuck them in the front pocket of me anorak, and set off for a walk.

The rain pushing the branches down on the fir trees, the drops splattering on orange Pine needles. The air was clean and clear. Round past the boulder and down to the giant horse chestnut tree. Handfuls of wet, shiny conkers the colour of polished russet lay in the mud. The wet earth claggy and aromatic. The squirrels delight, bisquey acorns, scattered over the newly ploughed field. An aeroplane flew overhead interrupting the silence.

The rain tip tapped on big, yellowy Sycamore leaves and pit patted on my hood. By the time I got to the top field the rain sounded like a BBC sound artist scrunching crisp packets. Five sheep stood among 37 mole hills. They were little rams. I knew they weren't ewes when I realised the dangly bits weren't udders. We eyeballed each other for a while. I have a friend John whose sister had a farm in Derwent, Derbyshire. She named a cow after me. John had the ability to make sheep piss. He only had to stand and look at them and off they went. These rams, big heads and an indifferent stare, just looked at me munching the grass round the mole hills, not a tinkle in sight.

Round onto the stony road, tiptoeing over the sweet chestnuts, their shells split open like bawdy starfish. Then down to the avenue. The beeches and birches soaking up the rain.

I hugged my tree and Terry Frisby came to mind. He does every time I walk down the avenue. Terry wrote 'There's a Girl in my Soup', a massive hit in the 70's. The film starred Goldie Hawn and Peter Sellers and Terry made his name. The son of a railwayman, Terry went to drama school, had an actors voice, was a staunch Social Democrat, and was even more nit-picky than the old git. I met Frizz - as he was called - in 1971. We made two films together about the history of Pantomime and the History of Sadlers Wells and we made each other laugh.

He asked me to move in with him. I was a young actress just starting out so the offer of a room in a house on Fulham Palace Road was irresistible. He never took rent. He wanted me to stand behind him and encourage him to write. I refused. Now I would have obliged knowing how lonely the writing process can be. Mr. Frisby introduced me to bijou bistros in Chelsea, taught me how to order fancy French food, showed me how to make the perfect omelette which he had learnt how to cook in Canne, took me to the cinema and got me my first proper theatre job at The Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square. 'Sense of Detachment' was written by John Osborne. Denise Coffey and Rachel Kempson starred in it and I understudied them both. Frisby and I sat in the front row. We were cast as a middle class couple whose job it was to heckle the actors on stage. We were very nearly fired for corpsing, which is the term for those hysterical giggles actors get that are uncontrollable. We corpsed our way through the run.

Terry was a pro-am golfer. His stories were typical of the tales that golfers tell. Like the time he was playing with Roy Castle in a tournament for charity. Terry hit a shot then retired into the bushes to relieve himself. When he returned to the game he had dribbled onto his beige trousers. So embarrassed was he that he concentrated on taking his next putt. It was a magnificent shot, coming to rest on the rim of the hole. The crowd sighed a collective sigh. Roy Castle, was electrified by Frisby's performance and said under his breath;

"Thank God he didn't shit himself."

When I left his house in Fulham, I went on the road, on Terry's advice, and so started my career. We always kept in contact. I watched his hands wrinkle and his voice deepen. Even as we both grew older we still made each other laugh. And then I decided to have a baby. I have a photograph of me pregnant, walking down the avenue, Terry holding my right hand and my mother holding my left. Every time I get to my tree I stop and think about them. Today felt melancholy, surrounded by brown - the colour of the Earth was comforting and nurturing

He died on April 23rd, aged 87. Fitting it was Shakespeares birthday. Covid meant I couldn't go to the funeral, but his son posted a video of the service over his ecological coffin.

I miss him.

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Driving Ambition

Posted by Jeni in | 11 October 2020

When I was in my very early thirties I decided to learn to drive.

My first instructor was a chauvinist pig.

"That's the trouble with women drivers" he would sigh, "If something drops on the floor they cant leave it alone. They have to bend down to pick it up, they stop concentrating and blah blah blah."

The dreadful truth is he was right, well with me certainly.

So I changed to a female instructress.

"Drive as if you have a glass of water on the bonnet." She would say as we drove through Waterloo and she stroked the back of my neck and cooed into my left ear. I had no idea she was gay I just thought she was being supportive.

I took my test and failed, not sure on what but the failure hit me badly. We had a little mustard Mini that was waiting for me to drive through the streets of London Town. We lived in Wapping at the time, all cobbled streets and river views. Sixteen quid a week for a housing association flat that was on an estate where we all knew each other, and our politics were mostly co-ordinated. When we moved out in 1984 we handed the flat back to the organisation not knowing that all the other inmates were buying theirs. They are all worth somewhere in the region of half a million.

After my failed attempt the old git offered to teach me to drive. When we got to a T-Junction he told me to look left and right and left again. I could do that easily.

"LOOK at what's cooming " he would scream. "Don't just go through the fooking motions, for fooks sake ( remember he's from Leeds) LOOK at the fooking road."

So I learned how to properly look at the fooking road. And we argued. Of course we argued. We've always argued. Not a day goes by that we don't argue about something; how to boil an egg, how to mow the lawn, how to put the cutlery back in the drawer. Whether Trump is a twat or an arsehole, should we have a gradual revolution or a proper ruck and just take the fuckers down. We don't trade insults just literary put downs like 'Well, well, well, well. If it isn't fat, stinking billygoat Billy-Boy in poison. How art thou, thy globby bottle of cheap, stinking chip-oil? Come and get one in the garbles, if you have any garbles, you eunuch jelly thou', or "The simplicity of your character makes you exquisitely incomprehensible to me." We do still hold hands in bed - that's if we are in bed together given my insomnia and his wearisome need for sleep, and we sit real close to each other whilst watching the telly. Although living with somebody for forty four years does have its drawbacks. What once were delightful idiosyncrasies are now irritatingly irritating, what once were charming peculiarities are now just peculiar. Still he taught me how to drive with precision and care.

Whilst teaching me I had the temerity to criticise him. Sitting at our little table by the window watching the Thames go by I accused him of being a bad teacher. He accused me of being a bad pupil.

"How long have you thought that I asked?" "Three years." he said.

I was mortified that for the whole of our relationship he had thought so ill of me. He told me I was allowed to be angry so I didn't talk to him for three days, smashed my favourite plate on the floor and went off to Rickmansworth to take my second test.

My instructress decided to send me where there was little traffic, some roundabouts and a squadron of slow drivers. I passed. When I said to the examiner "You're joking" he turned to me sternly and said

"I'm not in the habit of making jokes."

I climbed into the little mustard Mini - all alone - and perspiring profusely drove up Wapping High Street to the 'Town of Ramsgate'. Did a nifty three point turn and drove back to the flat.

I progressed to my very own car it was a Toyota Starlet. Given to me by an artist friend. It was used in a LWT telly programme where our cars were a reflection of who we were. I had to park it outside 'Stringfellows' in Covent Garden . The interviewer told me that the car would die before I did and that it had about as much status as a 'Stannah Stairlift.' In fact so square was my little grey car that the bouncers asked me to remove it from outside club as it wasn't doing their reputation any favours.

I gave it away to a bass playing friend.

When I bought and paid for my very own little red Mazda. I had arrived. For fifteen years I drove around with its fancy stereo and a selection or red lipsticks in the glove department. My brother bought me the Z3 BMW I now drive. She's scratched to buggery, has a multifunctional knob that raises the seat, so I can see out of the window, moves the seat forward, so I can reach the pedals, as well as a lever to make the back straight. I don't drive fast in the rain and have to hold onto the door frame when I fall in. It's lower than is healthy. White van men shout at me, the last one said it was a sporty little number as I slid into it. I have a selection of caps behind the drivers seat. One red one says 'Piss Off', which I wear when the going gets tough.

Since my little mustard Mini I have driven to most of my gigs. Clocking up thousands of miles over years of location work. One of my researchers told me I drove like a man, which I took as compliment, and when I started on my Advanced Driving lessons, the young female instructress told me I was surprisingly confident but could I ever adhere to the speeding limit? I did think that was just a little bit sexist.

I am confident in my driving although the old git would argue with that. He holds the dash board when he's my passenger and I make mistakes because he sits to the left of me judging my manoeuvres.

I share the car now with the dawter who drives the car like the Londoner she has become. She has to raise the seat, move the chair for more leg space and drops the back down so she looks like she's driving a getaway car in Hackney.

Now I play the lottery so I can buy a hybrid two seater for a mere twenty four thousand pounds. What a liberty.

I keep wondering whether I'm going to have to take another test now that I'm over the age of consent, I guarantee I will fail because my knowledge of the Highway Code is limited. When I had to go on a speed awareness course in Brighton I ended up sucking the end of my pencil and doodling at the back of the class. When asked what had I learnt I said that sitting for a whole day rediscovering the need to adhere to speed limits without them offering us biscuits was a disgrace. And that since I drove like a man with the confidence of a rally driver they could at least have given us the choice of 'Bourbons' or 'Custard Creams.'

The old git argued with me and said I should have asked for 'Eccles cakes' or 'Bakewell tarts.' I pulled out my little red cap and pissed off.

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Village People

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 6 October 2020

The Global village is too damn big.

None of us know what we should be doing in this massive overgrown village of ours.

I don't think there should be systematic killing or genocide or enforced sterilisation I just think we have to start thinking small.

Not so small that a mouses squeak is a roar.

But small as in the village that raises all of its children. A village where everybody plays their part.

The gossip.

The cobbler.

The dentist.

The teacher.

The drummer.

The healer.

The postman.

The mechanic.

The singer.

The cabinet maker.

The horse whisperer.

The baker.

The farmer.

The dancer.

The artist.

The gardener.

The writer.

The vet.

The surgeon.

The midwife.

The storyteller.

And so it goes on, people finding their talent and giving it back to the village.

It gives space to the creativity of each individual.

And then singing together, and dancing together, and playing cards. Sharing dinner, and juicing apples, caring and co-operating and helping each other.

A village that would laugh at Potus for his big fat lies. A village that would gently take our prime minister and escort him to the door. A village that would sit Priti down and remind her that all human beings have souls and that p'raps she might need some help in finding hers. A village that takes smart phones, lap tops, computers and smart watches away from the young and gives them plasticine and putty, pottery teachers and shepherds, chickens to raise and scientific geniuses to show them how to make apple explosions with baking powder. A village that keeps its land clean so that everybody can see the sky. A village that is a community, because when a village gets so damn big nobody cares about anybody else, nobody remembers anybody else. And when there are lots of villages all bumbling along pleasantly they can talk to other villages and exchange views and melons.

When a man with a virus lands on a lawn and steps out of a helicopter wearing a mask and tells 328.2 million people that he is a walking miracle and that his country will be the greatest in the world if they listen to his fables and homespun rhetoric there has to be something skewed about his truth. I dislike this man and feel responsible that I'm not doing enough to trip him up so the world is a safer place. How weary I am of liars peddling their self serving bollox.

I would have been the cleaner in my village. Spitting on my cloth to clean the stains. Polishing the windows to let the light in. Sweeping the floors and clearing the ground so that children could lie flat on their backs staring at the stars. And I would be honoured for my work, and respected for my labour and I would sing with the rest of the village and dance round the tables filled with homegrown food, and I would honour the shit shovelers and they would feel just as valued as the fire fighters and doctors.

When a village gets too big it doesn't know itself any more and all sorts of mischief happens when the wrong people take the keys to the big house. That's when all the villagers need to rise up and say no 'We're mad as Hell and we're not taking anymore." And they wrestle back the keys so that the seers and judges the orators and wise ones ALONG WITH THE VILLAGERS decide what to do with the vile, greedy fuckers who are turning their village into a fetid cesspit, and everybody would go to bed with a smile on their face and hope in their heart knowing that the village was in safe hands not in the greasy, grubby paws of a dying elite.

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Heads Up

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 1 October 2020

I've just been informed by my historical friend that Elizabethan hats were an essential part of clothing for men in the 'Peacock Age'. That they were, in fact, required to wear their headpieces, along with their codpieces, at dinner.

The old git has a panoply of hats; straw hats, deerstalkers, Russian military ushankas, a collection of woolly bobble creations, a Tilly hat given as a gift, tweedy caps, a Panama with a leather hatband, Swedish fur trappers, berets, buckets, and the ubiquitous beanie, not to mention a novelty Tricorn which he wears for acting in a spoof Dickens series written by our friend John. Coincidentally our neighbour has just given him a navy blue golfing cap. Today, however, he's sporting a Harry Hall's triple crown riding hat like what the Duke of Edinburgh wears at horsey events. It looks like a bowler but it has a reinforced crown just in case he falls off his horse - that's the old git not the Prince of Darkness - not that he has a horse but, ever the one for caution, my husband of thirty three thousand years, who is outside loading logs into the woodshed, has taken precautions just in case a lump of Silver Birch falls on his noggin, or a hefty lump of Ash dislodges itself and heads for his sizeable brain - Harry Hall's helmet has got his back or should I say, 'head'.

Many years ago I had a makeup artist who painted my face on a daily basis for 'Good Food Live'. She was a feisty mother of three who wore expensive cardigans and designer frocks, folded her clothes every change of season and stored them in a wooden chest. She was traditional, a devout Catholic, and not a little in thrall with the 'oosbind. She was fascinated by his range of headgear and would ring up and ask what titfer he was sporting. The Yorkshireman wears his head dresses both inside and out of the house. In fact, he is known more for his indoor millinery than his outdoor wardrobe.

In the attic we have a selection of Chinese silk conical caps - one has even got a black pigtail attached. On his bed head he has two velvet skull caps just in case he decides to convert to Judaism. In the cellar there is an Apache War Bonnet bought for his 70th birthday and a miner's hard hat from the last open pit in Rhondda. There are two baseball caps in the car, a boater in the studio and a Spanish cowboy hat; an array of porkpie hats given to him by our friendly homeopath and a hand crocheted thing from my mother. He is, however, on the lookout for a sombrero, sou'wester and Stetson and has recently declared an interest in a stovepipe hat for his Dickensian period wardrobe, a tam-o'-shanter for Hogmanay, a top hat for his impersonation of Fred Astaire, and a turban or two.

Years ago I filmed in 'Lock and Co's Hatters' in St. James'. The exact circumference of my head was measured using a contraption with pins and my bald bust was placed on a shelf alongside notable customers including Admiral Lord Nelson, Eric Clapton and the Duke of Windsor. LWT, may she rest in peace.

Two years ago today the world lost Charles Aznavour. When my husband played a military man in a touring production in small scale venues he went to 'Burmans and Nathans' to hire himself a costume. Bugger me if the name on the inside of the waistband wasn't that of Monsieur A. The French chanteur was 5ft 2" with a small waist. The old git was at least four inches taller although his waistline was the same, not now of course since Charles is but a cadaver in the Cemetery of Montfort-l'Amaury.

Those days of thespian scullwaggery, and televisual mischief are gone, I'm considered too old to be seen on the tarnished screen and the 'oosbind is 'resting'. Theatres and performance venues are closing down faster than it takes Boris Todger to change his mind whilst the likes of 'The Greyhound' pub are long gone. But society needs its actors and commentators, its critics and talking heads, for who is to hold the mirror up to society if culture is being dismantled. Who is to point out our weaknesses and strengths.

Take the recent American debate, with the noisiest iterations coming from the 45th arsewipe, sounding like the squawking of the noisy White Bell End - sorry White Bell Bird - we are left wondering what a Presidential performance should look like, certainly not what we witnessed this week.

Cliche though it is, united we stand and divided we open the gates to Proud Boys, white hoods and fascism. If we don't scream louder than a Moluccan cockatoo then the empty vessels will make the most noise. Even the Dames, in their pantomime crinolines, marched on Westminster with their pompadour's held high.

Oh no they didn't

Oh yes they fucking did.

It should matter to everybody that local theatres are being left dark. It should matter to everybody that regional playhouses are not part of any rescue package. It should matter to the nation that actors, dancers, musicians, set designers, prop makers, sound engineers, lighting designers, riggers, runners and the whole world of entertainment are being sent to the dogs.

I did think I would buy the old man a balaclava or a military style Sesto Senso Unisex Beanie Camouflage Thermo Winter Cap Windproof Ski Snowboard Cycling Cap, but he said when the insurrection comes he'll pull a stocking over his face and disguise himself as Ray Winston. So I say up with 15 denier tights, not only do they serve the rebellion but they can double up as part of his Widow Twanky costume.

Oh no they can't

Oh yes they fucking can.

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A scattalogical story

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 21 September 2020

A coffee in the park.

Breakfast in the garden.

The tomatoes are beginning to turn red.

The dawter is cooking dinner.

The old git's car is still in the garage, it'll cost the same as a fleet of Skoda Karoq's.

I walked the orchard and found a golden delicious windfall, sweet and crunchy.

But there's a heavy silence like the earth has disappeared up its own fundament.

Yesterday I collected the 'oosbinds car whilst he was trying to install a new internet hub. We are supposed to have even faster broad band, although I couldn't give a monkeys about the speed of the signal, isn't that part of the fall out of Covid? A day is as long as a day is long, a night as long as a night. Fill those hours how you may, but make sure they are serving your soul. My day ends at 2.00a.m and begins again around 8.00a.m. Sometimes 9.00. But when there's nothing pressing to get up for my super king sized mattress can hold me in its thrall.

This morning, however, was a trip to Nigel's farm. Nigel has a stable, is married to Jennifer, and is a very well intentioned gentleman. Thirty years ago, when the old git was a young git and we had what is laughingly called disposable income, the thespian decided to stop lying on his CV and actually learn how to ride a horse. He was very good and he and Nigel got on famously. Nigel only has two horses now but enough land upon which they can graze and deliver dung on a daily basis, which is just what we need for our depleted garden.

So we jumped into the 'oobinds new/old car, the seats turned down at the back. We drove to the roundabout, left down the hill, across the main road and down the lane to turn left at the pub then right past the school, garage and camping-site before parking by two metal gates. Nigel was there on his tractor, showed us how to unlock the gate, strung with barbed wire, and left us to shovel seven sacks of shit.

The car laden with warm manure, got us to the shops and back incident free. The garage had succeeded in repairing the old motor. I unloaded the shopping whilst the 'oosbind unloaded the seven sacks of horsy doo-doo, by which time the weather had caught up with the forecast. The heavens opened - as my mother would say - but that did not deter the ancient gardener from cultivating and dressing the double dug plots with warm manure.

Now according to those who know the moisture content determines how hot a pile of shite can get. Too much moisture drowns the bacteria before they generate much heat. A combination of temperature, moisture, and air can create a pile that heats rapidly and spontaneously combusts. Of course the bilge pouring out of the Palace of Westminster should have prepared me for the possibility of spontaneous combustion caused by all that bullshit and hot-air.

Who knew that dung could be so dangerous?

So now as the clouds hang heavy, and the news hangs even heavier, I await tonights dinner of portobello mushrooms and a root bake. I will now sip on my filtered coffee whilst munching on a couple of dates of sweetness. The candles are lit so the kitchen has a gentle glow, my co-habitee just asked whether I wanted a stove or fire tonight, worra choice, but has left the kitchen to peruse the plots and see what effect the rain has had on the ordure.

It's Thursday, Anna was outside the supermarket so I thought it was Friday. She's doing three days now. Times are hard. The rain is a steady tap tap on the sky light, Autumn has set in and I'm wearing my big pink sox reserved for chilly nights. Dennis wants biscuits but he's got a big fat belly from my Jewish mothering so he's been put on a diet and will have to wait for his dinner when we have ours. Then the old git will put on our superfast broadband and we'll watch episode three of 'Ratched' and frighten ourselves to death, having already frightened ourselves to death with the ten-o'clock-news.

My partner has just read this blog and said 'good.'

I said 'Only good?'

And he said 'Yeah, nothing revolutionary, just a nice story about shite.'

That's my boy.

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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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