The first day of August and it was warm and sunny. I ate blackberries and porridge at the kitchen table with a shaft of sunshine lighting up my oats. Then I put on a bikini. Don’t panic – this is not webcam.
The only way I can be espied is if somebody on the golf course downs clubs, shuffles their balls and looks at me through a telescope. So I felt fairly safe as I took the mower out of the top shed and prepared the garden for the first mow of August. Not many bees a-buzzing this year, which is worrying, but a lot of ants. I hoovered up the daisies, shredded the dandelion leaves, gave short shrift to the occasional buttercup and trimmed the comfry. Then I started to think about my life, and all that goes with it and had a fleeting thought that I had better be careful about the electric cable because if I mowed over it, and cut it, one of two things could happen. One, I could die, and two, I could die as Jim would feed me to the jaguar that’s meant to roam the Ashdown Forest. In the event I didn’t cut the lead but I did get it caught up on an azalea bush and the last cut – which really is the deepest – came unstuck from Jim’s bodged gaffer tape. The bloody machine stopped. Just like that.
The power of thought, I thought. If I hadn’t had thought it, it wouldn’t have happened. But I did and before I had time to rethink my thoughts, the cable was in bits and I became a for-lawn mower.
It was so frustrating as there was only a handkerchief piece of grass left to trim. So I went next door to Vic, who is a psychiatrist and very pretty. Not that her looks have any bearing on her ability to read people, but she intuited my distress, abandoned her lunch, leaving her cleaner and the cleaner’s baby to finish their salad and marched me towards her garden shed. Wearing her white bathrobe, she entered the dusty shed, shifted two bicycles and pulled out the mother of all petrol driven mowers. It is to gardeners what a Harley Davidson twin carbed, silver low slung jobby is to a Hell’s Angel.
I managed to get it up a big stone step and into my garden, pulled the cord and manually pushed and pulled it through the grass. I thought – well, you know what thought had just landed me into -if I depressed the bar that made it accelerate automatically, it would do just that and I would end up with a birdie on the 18th hole.
The smell of the petrol fumes made me think of my father who spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get his old mower to start rather than mowing the lawn. I think that all men prefer to fiddle rather than actually do any work.
So, not knowing how to reverse it, I took my hand off the bar, stopped the machine and pulled the cord again. The behemoth chugged into action. Fumes started billowing out over my potentilla. It took very little time to finish the job, although I was rather hot and sweaty at the end as I had tied a lurid green and scarlet shawl around my thighs so as not to disturb the natives with my bikini line. I managed to manoeuvre the beast back into its shed without catching the shawl’s fringe in its blades.
With the grass short and neat, I settled down for lunch, at the garden table but not before the hound and I had walked down to the garage to buy the daily papers. I think a little research is necessary for LBC otherwise I will be broadcasting hot air on thin air and that would never do.
During my trout salad lunch I threw bits of fish to Jackson and snipped up favourite articles. One of them being the astronomy column in the Independent. Apparently way back before Patrick Moore needed a monocle there was a geezer called Lawrence who was put to death because he was a religious leader. For centuries his tears have pierced the sky and come raining down on us poor mortals. Well, Lawrence’s tears are actually meteorites that occur like ‘celestial confetti’ at this time of year. So, I have put out my deck chair and when it’s past midnight and into the wee small hours, I shall lie back and think of Lawrence as he weeps, shoots and leaves the August sky.
I also read the other papers, working down from the Indy through the Mirror into the Mail. They all say the same thing with different vocabulary. If we believe everything we read, the end is nigh and the only people that will survive wil be Gloria Gaynor, Jordan and Peter, sorry, Katie Price and Mr. Andre. Then I had a call from Luce the producer from LBC. We talked though lots of ideas and then I fell asleep on the swing set. The sun woke me up with its hot rays.
I made fresh spinach and garlic for supper, with two beautifully fried eggs on top. The butter and garlic were delicious together. Then I decided to walk the dog. I put on my red headphones. (They’re not the ones you put in your ears. I have such tiny ear holes that earplug-type earphones fall out. I was going to say something about the size of my orifices but that got me sacked 25 years ago so I’m not about to repeat that blunder.) I plugged up my Walkman, which I haven’t used in ages, and listened to Will Smith’s funny half hour on Radio 4. WIll is Ollie’s older brother and they both have the same senses of humour. It’s kind of indiscreet public school.
As Will was talking we came through the avenue and I noticed a big red hot air balloon hovering in the sky. It just hung in the sky like a big red balloon which is, of course, exactly what it was.
I once filmed in a hot air balloon. As we ascended, blasts of hot air and wind willing, we silently wafted over the tree tops. When the sound man announced that he was scared of heights he panicked, the camera man panicked, the producer/director panicked but we had to remain stock still in case we tipped the basket. He was holding the boom mike, which was shaking. I thought it was the wind, but it was in fact the sound man’s very own methane gas.
I remained calm and neutral, locked into the corner of the basket until I heard my own voice saying ‘This is Jeni Barnett, in a hot air balloon two thousand feet in the air’. My knees starting knocking and, like all codependents, somebody else’s life flashed before me.
Our landing was text book, which was handy, as the BBC are rubbish at paying out compensation.
As the music started for the Archers, I arrived home, washed and dressed and took myself off to the cinema. I met a woman I hadn’t seen for at least two years who kissed me on either side of my face and said, ‘I’ve had a boob job.’
It’s funny. Whenever women have breast surgery, they feel the need to tell all and sundry. They’ve probably spent their life savings and need somebody to help justify the expenditure. They do it for men but it’s the women who always notice. The transformed women proceed to massage, hoik, separate and present their new appendages like two ripe cantaloupes being weighed in the market. I had no desire to know that she had been 36FF and that now she felt so much better. I hadn’t spoken to her since 2005 and suddenly she was sharing her intimate mammories with me.
Still, I went and saw ‘Hairspray’ with John Travolta. Well, not with him. He was in it, and I loved it. The music, the content, the performances. All the other women in cinema number five agreed with me. We all screamed at Christopher Walkens’ daddy role and loved the bitchiness of Michelle Pffffeifffer, not to mention the sexy black boys who had me winding up me waist in my seat. I said not to mention them. I am going to see it again and buy the soundtrack.
When I got back I re-read my astronomy timetable but I don’t need to lie under the stars until August 13th when the moon is new. So it’s off to bed to get some shut eye and I think I may have good dreams tonight. ‘I think therefore I am’, or as the old spot from Berkshire oinked, ‘I’m pink, therefore I’m spam’.
Night night and cusoon.