Wild garlic

The weather was so fresh. The old geezer and I went for a walk. Jackson on the lead. Over the main road. In through the gate and there’s the orchard. The trees are budding quite late so there is no blossom.

I had a copy of ‘The Merchant of Venice’, and tested Jim whilst he did his lines. We were both declaiming the bard quite loudly when two women pruners stopped and smiled at us. ‘Bloody exhibitionists!’, I bet they thought.

Down through the apple and pear trees, right at the sign post, left a bit and then down the grassy bank to the gate. Jackson sits very patiently until his masters voice tells him to get a bloody move on (please read that in a Leeds accent).

Down the hill, where BB lost her phone as she and her mate rolled down through the long grass, helplessly sceraming with laughter. Past the mole hills, which Jackson poked his nose in, and down towards the stream.

The water moves gently and Jackson cannot resist it. Even at 94 he can’t stop himself from jumping in, scrambling out and finding some deer dung to roll in. He gets so excited rolling around. I hope I can do that at 94!

Through the big field, past the cut corn and there it is, all along the river bank – lush green leaves. Bunch after bunch of wild garlic.

I don’t know why I am so taken by it. Perhaps because it’s so removed from my birth place in the East End. I love wild flowers and I eat tons of garlic so it’s like two for the price of one. The elegant floppy green leaves, with as pungent a smell as you will find anywhere, will forever remind me of Martin Blunos – he with the viking moustache and Bath burr. He would bring wild garlic up from Bristol in a plastic carrier bag.

I picked a little bunch and wrapped it in a tissue. Then Jim and I shared the load. One minute he, holding it like a posy, shouted his lines at me. Or I would carry it like a little green love token as Jackson shook his wet fur all over me. I was wearing a sarong, tied up at the top and a pair of trainers. That’s all, folks.

Over the road and the up the back road, the birds twittering, Jim and I chattering. It was as close to Bliss as you can get given that the accounts had to be done and the cat had relieved herself on the rug. Darling Emmy. She had a brother called Oscar who died of fight and ever since she is the orginal scaredy cat. She sleeps on the swing set in the garden and brings in little hairy presents whenever she can find them.

I have called a cleaning firm who are sending me some magical stuff to get rid of the smell of cat pee. I bet there’s an old wives remedy to clear the smell. If you know one, please tell me.

The clock on the chapel said it was 1.45 as we wandered through ‘Bowles’ outdoor pursuit centre, where the rocks are as high as an elephants thigh. Well, higher actually. Climbers come from all over to scale the rocks. Today there was a group from the Home Office. A very well intentioned fellow on a bicycle rode towards us. Jim shouted ‘Hello, Gordon Brown!’, which made me laugh, but went right over the cyclist’s head.

Through the avenue and there stands my tree.

For 23 years I have hugged one particular beech tree. From behind It looks like it’s got two bums. From the front, three knots give it a real face. In times of need I have cried on it, laughed on it, talked to it and listened to it. I kiss the same spot on his trunk every time I pass it. I do think of it as a ‘him’. My lipstick marks the spot.

I have a friend who thinks I have a lipstick gene. No matter what I’m wearing, whether I am clean or not, whether I am depressed or euphoric, I always apply me lippy.
It’s because of Catherine Deneuve who, many years ago, appeared in movies. She ran away with a man taking nothing with her but a tiny cluctch bag containing her lipstick. I vowed to do the same. So now, though I don’t have a cell of Deneurve in me, I always travel light – just my charge card and lipstick.

My car has its own lipstick. My bag has at least three. Wherever I am there is always a tube of something red hidden away. And yes, I am that dreadful woman in front of you in the car fixing her makeup in the driver’s mirror. Although, to be fair, I can apply it perfectly well without the need of a looking glass.

By the time we got back home, Jackson had dried off, Jim had learnt two pages of his script and I was ready for some re-organising. So many books, not enough space. So I went into town to buy a set of secondhand bookshelves from the Charity Shop. All the money goes to Burrswood, a wonderful place in Groombrige. It’s a Christian healing centre. I like giving them my money.

‘I’ll have that one’, I said, pointing to a shiny mahogany set. ‘No, they belong to us’, said the assistant. ‘Okay, that one’, I said, pointing to another set of shiny wooden shelves. ‘Nope, them too’, she said. She sounded bored. ‘What about them?’, I said, gleefully pointing to a formicary looking set filled with ancient VHS’s. ‘Done’, she said. I gave her six quid. I got my car whilst she took the video’s off the shelves. The roof was down so I hauled them onto the front seat.

When I got home, I slid them past Jim. I knew he would complain, but after I had finished all my reorganising, the little cottage looked swell. Nigel Slater now sits next to a little book on lavender and Elizabeth Luard’s book on truffles. Forget the Dewey system – I was never cut out to be a librarian. They are in no particular order but the last book next to Brian Turner is my favourite book of old tarts. I rest my book-case!

I am sleepy now. The stress is coming out.

Tomorrow I am having lunch with a telly exec and my adorable agent, who has conveniently forgotten to tell me where we’re meeting. Then there’s a voice over.

It’s 9.41pm, so I’ve missed ‘Hotel Babylon’, although one moment in the armchair and that’ll be it – my eyes will close and I’ll be away with the fairies.

Tottenham are playing football on ITV. I am only a supporter by dint of the men in my family, but if I were at the studios now, the Gooners would be insulting me. For the uninitiated, the Gooners are The Gunners – Arsenal supporters. I don’t care about the rivalry between the two North London teams. I just like watching them boys running around in little shorts.

I still have the taste of wild garlic in my mouth. I made a Mexican meal with a wild garlic salad. Something rubbed off from GFL then!

It’s nearly time for the news and a cuppa in the chair. Well, in a cup. But you know what I mean. Have a peaceful night. Cu2morrer.

14 thoughts on “Wild garlic”

  1. Hi Jeni,Oh boy am I missing you, cant belive you are not on TV any more– The best thing on the tv has been taken off! I used to watch it while creating my art in my kitchen-now Ive lost my inspiration! The colours in the food helped me create some of my best work-you can see my work on http://www.dianetheartist.com
    I shall miss you terribly–come back soon!

  2. Keep smiling, Jeni, and have a great time in San Diego. Remember that your audience is ready and raring to watch you as soon as you’re back on TV. Like so many others, I will certainly NOT be watching Market Kitchen or UK TV Food channel after the last of the GFL highlights on Friday.

  3. How could you miss the last Hotel Babylon?!
    After reading this, all I can think of now is Max Beesley running around in a pair of little shorts!!

  4. The cat pee problem is a difficult one – we have a marauding cat that very occasionally scares ours silly, and pees on the hall rug. The amonia smell is sometimes overpowering, and I have tried numerous products to little avail. Lemon juice works, but ruins your carpets, but the best results came from professional (read expensive) products. It would be interesting to hear how you stop other cats from getting in without resorting to magnetic collars etc (which Gin, the cat, can’t abide) – we take the cat food up from the kitchen two floors to the landing on the second floor, and while it means the food remains for Gin to eat, it hasn’t really sorted out the visiting cat problem.
    We love the idea of you running away with just a charge card and some lippy – now that’s style!

  5. Hi Jeni
    Sounds like you are starting to chill out a bit. I am missing you loads – I feel like my life has changed somehow. No GFL and Jeni to look forward to when I get home from work. By the way if you find out anything magic for cat’s pee please let me know. I have a blind cat that seems to have taken to one particular piece of the dining room carpet and no matter how I try I can’t get the smell out – even tried shutting the door to keep her out but she still seems to get in! Keep enjoying the good weather. I envy you your trip to California – it sounds just what you need. You can recharge your batteries in time to come back on our screens again. I can’t wait for that.
    Keep on writing – your lovely sense of fun comes through and makes me laugh.
    Lots of love
    Jenny Blanchard

  6. The way you write, it’s like having a conversation with you! I think I’d really like to read this memoir if you write it.
    Wild garlic? I could almost smell it! Then again, I have jut made a batch of meatballs for my family, so theres garlic in my kitchen as well as on my mind! And wild garlic is in all the hedgerows in Pembroke. I was there for a few weeks last year and the year before and I was continually assaulted by this incredible smell.
    India will be good for you one day, but with your feller along side, not a solo trip, eh? I think you’ll have a great time in America. No more sadness, yeah? Tomorrows waiting for all of us, who knows whats next? An old pal of mine always says “I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.” Smile and be sure of yourself, girl.

  7. Hi Jeni
    We subscribed to satellite tv just over two years ago and within a few weeks GFL became the only reason we continued to pay our subscription. My wife and I will really miss you and the show.
    I wish you and your colleagues at GFL all the best for the future.

  8. Jeni
    Like so many others I am missing GFL and yourself so much. I never thought I would be so upset at a programme going off air. Hope you have a ball in San Diego. What voice overs have you been doing?

  9. Six o’clock is not the same any more and I am not watching UK TV Food until you come back. But we want you to be rested and well, thinking of you and wishing you every thing you want in life.

  10. Hi Jeni,
    After returning from the wilderness that is…….the Norfolk Broads (apologies to any native folk) we just had to let you know how much we miss you. We watched the last show (twice) and we both cried (twice). We have boycotted (is that a word?) UKTV Food, without you, it’s just not worth watching. As for Market Kitchen, I’m sure you can guess the well known place they can shove that!! Enjoy your break, and please come back to us soon xx

  11. Jeni!
    Keep it coming – you’re a breath of fresh air.”Country Diary of a GFL Lady”. Go for it…………

  12. Bio wash powder solution works well for dog pee so should work for cats. The new Ariel bio also contains febreze. Missing you on tv watched that new programme – dire. Keep up the blog we have so many similar characteristics I think I may find you in my family tree one day!!

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