Vanessa Feltz was unwell. I got the call on Wednesday night.
Dressed myself in jeans and jacket and took the early morning train to London Bridge. Mangled brain slowed down for a minute and reminded me to take the Jubilee Line to Bond Street.
Walked in the rain to Laura Miller – the producer – and the lovely team to do Thursdays show.
Thank you all for contributing. Can’t remember what we talked about now.
I was then asked to sit in on Friday. Can’t remember what we talked about now…..
So I hot footed it to Groucho’s and booked myself a room.
Singletons lunch in a Vietnamese restaurant where I ate hot and sour soup, turnip fritters and 1,000 year old eggs. Well however old they were they tasted like the paper you find in the drawers in an old chest of drawers.
Lounged around with Barry until it was time to get to Turnham Green for GFL’s ten year reunion.
Me, and the editors, me and the exec. producers and controllers – cameramen, floor managers, chefs, writers and runners, producers, makeup , production managers, directors, young that were all grown up, mature that looked older. Mary Berry and Hollywood from ‘The Bake off’ turned up. Paul Young from his chocolate factory, turned up, home economisses with babies, even Ollie Smith turned up.
Loads couldn’t make it but the ones that did chattered and cooed, hugged and howled.
It was a lovely evening. Pictures were taken and phone numbers exchanged, promises made and liaisons confirmed.
I travelled back on the tube-train with Paul Young and we reminisced about the opening of his shop in Islington, then the one in The City, now Soho and soon New York.
We alighted at Covent Garden he went to his flat and I went to Dean Street.
It felt like all my foodie babies had grown up and flown the nest.
Got into Grouchos and there was Louis, who I had known since he was a foetus, now a cub, club member he was flashing the cash and splashing the flash.
A lot of embracing and drinking went on and then I took to my bed on the second floor.
Read the paper until 3.18 a.m. as I dipped into a jar of gourmet chocolate covered raisins.
Jumped out of bed, 3 hours later, missed breakfast, walked down Dean Street, through Soho, do you know I can’t remember how I got there, and tackled the Friday show. Laura Miller and Hayley, Phil and Amy, Ola and Sarah a complete dream team, got me through even though I didn’t have one brain cell between me.
At Midday I took the Jubilee line to West Hampstead and the overland to my Mother.
If I could type in dark sombre colours I would. Her flat was less than fab, her own self was unhappy and neglected. The organisation of her visiting hours had gone to pot because she had been in and out of hospital so many times nobody knew where she was. Including the hospital.
The ambulance nurse told us that he was appalled. She was being treated like a piece of meat he said.
I ended up stripping her, and her bed, whilst my brother brought up a hoover that screamed every five minutes. We left her confused but clean. Three hours later she was on the phone to the paramedics and back in hospital.
This time my brother threatened to break their legs, necks, stethoscopes if they let her out gain. At four o’clock on Friday afternoon we found out we had funding for my mum to go into a home. I broke down. The social worker called back to find out whether I was OK, never mind my mother….
I blubbed on the train all the way back to West Hampstead. Fifteen minutes of snotty bawling.
At ‘The Arts Theatre’ I hung out for The Barry, rung out and strung out. We were there to see ‘A BRITISH SUBJECT’ ( very good what little I saw as I fell into a vodka induced stupor) I had drunk more vodka than a girl should reveal. I needed something to kill the images of my mother. Grabbed the 9.30 train home and collapsed into bed without even saying good night. The world was spinning both inside and outside of my head.
Saturday was a slow affair until the bonfire party in the evening.
I bought 16 cans of Heinze tomato soup and warmed it in a massive saucepan. I baked 13 huge potatoes and grilled fourteen thousand sausages. Bought packets of doughnuts and chocolate covered apples that were disgusting, and bagged a dozen left over halloween popcorn bags. We had fireworks that went off like damp squibs – which is exactly what they were, three years old and nibbled by mice – the laughter over cheap bangers with their coitus interruptus – covered the failing rockets.
I laid out the soup tureen, the potatoes, the sausages, all the doughnuts and the food that next door brought, shouted ‘Come and get it.’ and before you could say knives an Fawkes 8 children and 13 adults dived into the food as if their lives depended on it. The bonfire flames licked the sky, the children licked their chocolate apples, the adults licked their lips and the head fell off the guy.
After the bonfire, we sat on an old rug and sung camp fire songs, Christian anthems and harmonious rounds.
As the fire sputtered the kids got raucous, the adults got squiffy and when the rain came down Bonfire Night drew to a close.
Sunday morning I struggled out of bed at 6.15 and made it over Waterloo Bridge for my 42nd show on BBC 94.9
Sarah Ryan is a wonderful producer, calm and Estherlike. they train em well at the beeb, we covered everything from eating cheese and pickle sandwiches to the Pitman Painters and socialism in the 21st century.
Turned the car round and got home by 2.00 although I nearly had to stop for a nap as I couldnt keep my eyes open.
Lay on my back on the floor put both legs up on an armchair, four hours later I un-peeled myself from the carpet, had a bath and then watched telly with dancers and prancers and X rated singers form hell.
Early start yesterday for my last sit in for Vanessa. Little did Producer Miller know that I was dealing with the very subject we covered. We talked Alzheimers. At one point I had to stifle my own tears. But the experts and the callers, were utterly supportive of each other and me.
I had lunch with my literary agent in a little Vietnamese caff, where we slurped soup, talked my book and the nature of the publishing industry which is why he handed me back my manuscript and told me he didn’t have either the time or money to flog it and that had I been Jordan….
We supped Vietnamese coffee, which is brown with condensed milk in the bottom, a quick swirl and it tasted lush, and as compensation for this failed project I made him pay.
He is in fact adorable.
Then a slow train to Clapham for Monica, my Swedish acupunturist, to stab me in my extremities to get my pulses down, calm me spirit and get me breathing again, she managed all three.
I could feel my whole body re-balance as the needles took their affect.
Then it was back to Groucho’s where I interviewed the magnificent Howard Jacobson, he is a literary giant. I wanted to stay for supper and a sleep over but I had to get back for today.
This morning, in the damp, murky mist, I drove the dawter to the station. I was still in my shlomper suit, had I broken down the fire services would have seen a tousled Merlinmaid.
Showered – for a very long time – and then the ‘oosbind and me drove to Brighton to look at a home for my mother.
Its a tough call. I cried in the very clean lavatory. The home is brilliant, with sitting rooms, a sea view, a lovely eating area. Carers who care and managers who keep their doors wide open. Wooden floors that smell of polish and jigsaws half done. We await the funds and go aheads, okays and approvals. All this time my mother has been in and out of hospital, in and out of ambulances, in and out of controversy. My brother and I have finally screamed loudly enough for the consultants, doctors, junior doctors and occupational therapists to realise that my mother was NOT FIT to be on her own.
I walked into the home, sea on one side, caring faces on the other. A synagogue on site with the most beautiful curtains, each door with a mazuah, so the jewish residents can bless themselves, I looked at each room airy and sweet smelling garden, I relaxed at the Kosher food, entertainment and the spare room that my mother would be in alongside 58 other elderly members of the community and smiled.
That my mothers life has come to this is hard enough but with the help of Jewish Care and the most industrious social worker we may be able to give my mother some good years to go out on.
I do not get on my knees that often but I did when I got home, begging and praying the powers that be to get my old ma a bed so that she can spend the last years of her life, laughing, with like minded souls, and me only 45 minutes down the road.
I will accept your prayers should you wish to send em!
Its now 13.56.
The clouds are pewter grey. I have a new cleaner trying to make sense of all our detritus. I am scrabblng together the money so I can get on with writing and being some semblence of me.
I loved Howard jacobson, I loved sitting in for Vaneesa, I loved my messages from ‘L’ and all of you. I love my husband and daughter and surprsingly as she gets frailer and frailer I can at last say – after years of independent rivalry – that I love my dear old mum, who, if she only knew, has more people fighting for her than the Allied forces at Dunkirk.
I’m knackered, bloated, impossibly out of shape, but it looks like we may be coming to the end of this troublesome period.
As my acupuncturist would say, the only thing that is certain is that everything changes – this too will pass.
Only she says it with a Swedish accent….rock on Monica….