Venice beach

Alex Baldwin is on the telly talking about parental alienation. Sybil the soothsayer is having a lie down. Maggie, my hostess, is in the kitchen and the last remnants of the gecko have been retrieved from behind the armchair. Sam the cat has just entered the room but mercifully his mouth is empty.

Sybil took me to Venice Beach. I have never, in all my life, seen a more seedy, ugly, unfortunate area. The palm trees line the walkway. The sand dunes lead down to the Pacific Ocean. All sounds good so far, but back on dry land we have:

  1. very bad musicians playing very bad music for a donation
  2. not very good artists doing not very good paintings for donations
  3. wasted men sitting cross-legged holding hand-painted cardboard signs with the legend ‘We will **** for marijuana’
  4. a jolly good juggler, so I did leave a donation
  5. okay jewellers making okay jewellery, for a donation
  6. tarot readers reading tarot for, you’ve guessed it…

There is a 26 mile bicycle track that runs parallel to the ocean, which I’m sure is a great ride, but the walkway is so depressing, whilst the food is reflected in several large human beings who have partaken of too much sea(side) food.

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Well, finally I am able to get into the site. It has taken three days and countless long distance phone calls and emails, but I think we are there. Here’s hoping.

It’s 10.10am my time, 6pm your time.

I’m forever counting eight fingers to find out what time it is back home.

I am nearly over my jet lag. My homoeopath gave me a remedy which I keep popping. I wake at 1.15am (9am in blighty) – then at 3.15 then 7.15. This morning I got up at 6.30 and called Jim. He told me to stop ringing him. I called B who told me stop ringing her. I called my mother who said ‘Hello, goodbye!’ And then I hung up. My hosts have a deal with a telephone company so the bill is tiny.

The journey out on Thursday morning could not have been simpler. Jim kicked me out of bed at 6.30. I was all packed, if a little nervous. Oh, come on… it’s a trip to a retreat thousands of miles away with nobody to talk to and no bread to comfort me. Jim waved me off. I felt like I was going off to a new school, which I suppose I am.

The driver was a fascinating Algerian geezer who spoke French, English, Algerian and a lot of sense. As we sat in a traffic jam on the way to Heathrow, we talked about exile, cooking and the Sahara desert. He told me about the Bedouins, their hand-crafted shoes to keep their feet cool in the sand, and the exodus of the young into the cities.

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The night before the morning after.

Well, just how quickly does it come round? One minute you’re booking the tickets on e-mail and wondering whether it really is too much money to be spending on three weeks away in a ridiculous clinic in the desert, being starved and having a nightly date with an anal pipe, and the next minute you’re … Read more

Pack up your troubles

Well, it comes to a pretty pass when your husband marks your spelling in front of the Nation. That deffinattelee is not the done thing, Jim! Dear brighton Beau, forgive my assumptions, and for God’s sake, Crawford, lay off the Valium. Michael Kelpie, thank you for making me cry. You finally cracked my shell. It’s … Read more

Tuesday, the dustbin day

Ah! Marmite girl, marmite girl, you are as rare as seawater pearl.The big apple eh? You are nothing but a gad about girl. Darling Maria Elia – if you don’t go to her restaurant in Borough Market you don’t deserve the cruets your salt stands up in. She is both delightful and fabulous with her … Read more

The Bard’s birthday

I’ve had my fix of ‘Corrie’ and eaten last night’s left overs. I’ve talked with Jim, who’s in the flat, and written up a treatment for a new show so now it’s time to reflect on Sunday and today.

I spent all weekend cooking. I made so many curries that I swear my underarms smell of Madras chicken. I took BB back to halls last night, then drove across London to the flat and delivered Jim his bag of clothes and goodies. He drove up to town on his motorbike.

Now before you think ‘how grand are they with a flat in town and a country residence’, the truth is that when I worked at GFL the studio rented me a flat so that I could work 5 days a week. Since I started at sparrows fart and knocked off anywhere between lights out and ‘time gentlemen please’ it was eminently sensible to stay in town.

I used to have a wonderful driver called Flav, who collected me every morning at 6.00 and took me home every afternoon. But four hours travelling, every day, took it’s toll and soon Flav was as exhausted as I was. We agreed that his money would become my expenses, that he would go off to pastures new and I would stay in London Town.

Uncle ‘Eo, my lovely floor manager, knew the area, so he came out flat hunting with me. The second property i saw was overlooking the wonderful Thames, opposite Chelsea harbour. Very posh with 2 bedrooms, a kitchen and a little utility room that got so hot my smalls dried in 10 minutes. My larges took a little longer.

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Just about Saturday

I know it’s late but BB called and asked me if I was tired. When I said no, and I should have seen it coming, she asked me to collect her from her University halls so she could finish her essay at home tomorrow. I couldn’t say no, had no excuse, and anyway – it’s lovely to be asked and good to see her. So, off I went in my little red Nellie. Half way down the M25 the frigging roof blew off.

I felt like I was in a cartoon with a big massive falcon snatching me from above.
In the event it was just the catches that had come undone. I don’t know why or how, although I was travelling a bit fast. Alright, maybe a little faster, but I had a girl to collect, a petrol tank to fill and three programmes on the telly to watch. No, not ‘Marmshjeyg Krapklposefuteb’!

When I hit Lewisham, there was a huge traffic jam – at 9.30 at night! By the time we got home and had eaten my rather marvellous curry, it was ten before midnight.

I mixed lamb and beef in a marinade of yoghurt, hot chilli, coriander and garlic, then sweated down some onions, browned the meat and added water. Thank you, Manju Mahli. Her recipes are brilliant, simple and easy to follow. Check out her recipe books ‘Brit Spice’ and ‘India with Passion’. Well worth the money.

By the time I arrived home with the child and all of her smelly washing, Jim had put the rice on, Patsy Kensit was sitting on Jonathan Ross’s stomach, and the curry was perfectly cooked.

But now it’s over to you.

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Mow that lawn

To all of you wonderful people in Australia, I can’t tell you what it means to have your sunshine on my blog. Thank you so much for bothering to write to me. And to you, Dear Marmite Girl, my ulcers are fine now. I have never had them before, but I will remember to rub … Read more

Buggered from Brugger

I am back. It’s 23.02 English time. Out there in Belgium it would be 00.02. All them noughts. And yes, it was me in Brugger. I know we say Brughe, but they don’t. Lovely to hear from Cutesy, my wonderful camera op, and lovely to get all your comments – they’re still thrilling me. But … Read more

Friday 13th

Right, first things first.

Thank you for the cat pee suggestions. Especially Vinegar John in Shotts. Jim said he thought of it first, and told me to pour vinegar on it last week. I don’t think he did but then he says I never listen to a word he says. At least, that’s what I think he said. When I get the magical spray from the geezer in Penshurst I’ll let you know.

Secondly, I do the ‘Heat’ magazine adverts. At least, I did for a long time then they changed the campaign. But now, just when I need it, I may have another batch to do.

Voiceovers are a funny business. Most of the sound studios are centred around Soho, so it’s great if you want to buy fruit from Berwick Street Market or books from Walkers Court. Given that the book store is next to Raymond’s Revue bar, you will understand that the kind of library they stock is not quite to my taste although Ed Baines’ ‘Auburn and Randell’ is just round the corner, so if there’s time you can slip down an oyster.

Having arrived at the studio, there’s always a very lavish couch to sit on. A runner will appear immediately, offering refreshments, fruit, chocolate lollipops. They are a favourite since a dry mouth is fatal when voicing an ad. Listen for dry lips sticking together – they haven’t had a long enough suck.

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