Visa Vee

it’s 18 minutes past 2.00 and I’m still in my winceyette pj’s.
I’ve been diving into my days since the last programme – which as many of you know was extremely emotional.
It was also indulgent, funny, spirited, busy, musical, fattening but most of all e-e-e-e-e-motional.
Thank you so much for all my touching emails and messages.
So life now takes a different turn.
Monday I was shredded. I could hardly walk. Even though I knew my time at the Beeb was coming to an end it still hit me hared. Life -as we know it – had come to an end.
Although I am still covering at the end of October, and have just been asked to do Christmas and the new Year. All to be negotiated around the Old Git’s dates.

On Tuesday I slid into my car to drive to London, when the heavens opened. My little red car bounced through ever growing puddles. My windscreen wipers working at double quick time.
I was on my way to visit an Irish mystic in Surbiton. I knew the route inside out but the my head had mosched into apple snow. How I got lost is beyond me but 59 miles later I finally pulled up outside her door.
We hugged and talked for thirty minutes then I was off to Clapham south.
After which I drove to Brixton parked outside a little house – near the prison – unloaded and entered a world of bubbling children, bubbling sweet potato soup, painted floorboards and intelligent conversation.
I baby-sat whilst trying to watch ‘The Bake Off’, thank heavens for the pause button, I ended up running up and down the stairs, reading, cajoling, comforting, water carrying until 2 hours later when the eldest said;
“Sorry Jeni to be giving you such a hard time.’
Had she not been seven I may well have minded.
On Wednesday I left the house early and walked down to Brixton tube. Decided to take the No. 3 bus instead.
Oh! The joys of London buses. Watched life in Kennington and The Oval sashey down on the street.
Past Lambeth Palace, and Horseferry road, where Channel 4 is.
Through Parliament Square, full of tourists. The autumn sun beating through the big windows on the top deck of the Number 3.
Trafalgar Square, the sharp sunlight highlighting the fountains, down Regent Street, which in another few weeks will be full of hanging Christmas decorations, and off at Oxford Circus.
Had a twang as Aunty Beeb overlooked the Lanyards of Langham Place.
Walked to the American Embassy to check out where it was, then marched back to Great Titchfield Street to visit the Barry in his television company. Told him I needed a job and left fifteen minutes later.
Sauntered to MONTY’S, a neat little Italian restaurant on Wells Street, where I was treated to lunch by a potential employer. I ate exquisite little squid bites, shaved Brasola with Parmesan, the best home made Foccacia dipped in syrupy olive oil, Gnocci with peppery homemade tomato sauce, and then completed the meal with a shared Almafi lemon tart. I left Monty’s pogged, stuffed, sated and momentarily guilty….
Jumped on the No. 19 to Chelsea where I sat in on a rehearsal with the dawter and her guitarist.
Left with an easy hour to spare. The 137 bus dropping me back in Oxford Circus, where I calmly walked to The Aldwych, for supper with my host. We were going to see A Midsummers Nights Dream.
That hour turned into a walking, running, sprinting, panting nightmare. I had gone to the wrong theatre. Got myself back to St. Martins Lane, where my friend was waiting as were the whole cast and crew in the Noel Coward Theatre, not the Duchess. I had just enough time to have a Ginseng drink and a bag of Wasibi popcorn. HORRIBLE.
The play was saved by David Walliams. Sorry but the direction was missing and the cast were too young to know that posing in your underpants and petticoats is not enough to keep an old dogged thesp entertained.
We walkd to Tottenham Court Road – God but I miss The Astoria, what have they done? The mess of it all. collected her car and drove back to Brixton. Feasted on more bubbling vegetable stew then bed.
I could not sleep.l had set my alarm for 6.00. Woke every 20 minutes. Crept up the painted wooden stairs to the bathroom, crept down again. Read, watched old progs on my laptop. crept up the painted wooden stairs again and crept down again. Tried to sleep. Finally falling off and 4.20a.m.
I woke with a start just before the alarm. Left the house at 6.20. Walked purposefully to the tube.
Nodded off till Oxford Circus, only six stops, and walked down towards Bond Street Tube. Just before I got to Duke Street, I was thinking about filming in Oregon when the pavement gave way to something else and before you could say. ‘GOD ARE YOU OKAY’ I was on the ground. My left knee grazed like a 10 year old skateboarding chump. My palms scraped and my dignity somewhere in the gutter.
“You’re limping’ said a helpful woman, the only other person on the street, ‘It’s okay.’ *I mumbled ‘It’s only a graze. Which is was. I didn’t account for the hole in my new leggings, or the swelling that turned into a tennis ball that even Andy Murray could have bounced.
Hobbled down Duke Street, turned right into Grosvenor Square, and took my place. Number 8, outside the American Embassy. We were queuing the wrong way, we turned around, like a formation dancing team, and somehow I ended up being Number 11.
Olly tuned up.
He of Olly Smith fame, Olly with the blond hair and heart of gold, who drinks wine with his comedian brother, writes about it for The Daily Mail, and lives in Barkham just down the road from my cottage. We hugged and handed over our forms. We were both ticked off, which I mean literally, as we had done nothing wrong.
Then into security. Handbags in a blue tray, through the arch of technology. The man in front of me beeped loudly. He pulled his trouser up to reveal a false metal leg.
Follow the arrows for VISA, said the signs. Out into the air, up the steps and into a big room. They were putting out coffee and opening up the bar at the end of the room. Olly sat next to me. He number 12 me number 8. Waited for the screen on the far wall to reveal which window to go to.
Then cashier number 12 please, where I handed over my passport, my 2×2 pics of me looking like a Mexican bandit, all the paper work then took my seat again. I was next to an old colleague from LBC who had just been turned down for her visa because she didn’t have enough info.
Olly and I swapped information, to cover our tracks, then it was up and out of the big room, down the corridor to another line. I had to wait for window 19 to clear.
There I was. On tip toe, trying to match the fingerprints on my left hand, the fingerprints on my right hand and my two thumbs in a glowing green machine. I am small. The machine was a little too high for my height. My hands were cold. So between pressings I had to rub my palms together, yep those very palms that were still smarting from my fall.
‘So what are doing in America.’ said the suited girl behind the window.
‘I’m going out with a production company, and Olly Smith…..’
Who was smiling up from his passport picture by her left hand. He looked like an English public school boy, which he sort of is, he made my Mexican bandit look almost legitimate….
‘We are filming the Western Vineyards of Oregan and California for the Travel Channel.’
To add to my case I reeled off that Barak Obama had funded some of it with his Brand USA money to encourage tourists to visit that little ol country of there’s.
The girl behind window 19 came from that very region, and before you could say: ‘I don’t drink actually but a ten day road trip with Olly in an open topped car pretending to be Thelma and Louise’ the besuited beaurocrat had stamed me bits and I was off out – limping into the early morning sunshine.
I had arrived at 7.09 and was Visa’d by 9.12.
Olly texted my from his phone, which he had left in the chemist cos you cant take in anything electronic, to say he was through to. I nipped into The Salvation Army and borrowed their landline to book myself an appointment with my osteopath. So that I can actually walk by October 6th when we will fly out to America and film grapes, people, wine and vineyards.
Lucky me.
Got back to Brixton and had a Portuguese breakfast in Brixton Village which comprised of two overly fried eggs and a roll bigger than Lisbon High Street. The coffee was terrific and the butter, which I requested, was not really butter at all. I left half the roll and Brixton Village..
Walked, slowly, up the hill to my car. Cancelled a meet with a producer as my body was now hurting, packed my little red boot, and left for home.
Walked into my kitchen all clean and sparkly, my cat, all purry and furry, took off my clothes, unpacked and ran a bath. Loads of Epsom Salts and smelly oils, slid into the bubbles and fell fast asleep. I was woken by my daughter who was brrring from the telephone sitting on the window sill.
I watched SMASH, then went to bed without even writing my journal.
This morning my knee looks like a nobbly Jerusalem artichoke but that didn’t stop me from limping into the garden and picking a lettuce, some kale, the runner beans, broad beans and all the wind-fallen apples, making a huge salad, and a white creamy soup out of cauliflower, celery, onions and garlic, and half a Scotch Bonnet,which has given it a real kick.
I watched the 1 o’clock news, slurping my soup from a big blue cup and nibbling on me crunchy salad.
I am now about to run a bath. Heave my aching body into it, start a new book, and relax for the first time in weeks.
Thank you for all your support. Watch this space there is so much about to happen I’m actually excited.
And I haven’t said that in years.

3 thoughts on “Visa Vee”

  1. See I knew you would bounce back !! But not off the pavement !! Sounds like things are looking up. One door closes and all the windows fly open. Yes you can !!! Xxhugxx

  2. Ah Jeni so sorry your time has come to an end at the beeb, i could never catch you at that time so looking forward to seeing where you’ll be next, cause you will be somewhere, that’s a definite. I find myself redundant this week, what a horrid word, and am looking at what next. Hope like you i have exciting things coming my way. Well done Jeni and all the best x

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