Bitter Kola

My feet are cold.
My nose is cold.
The ends of my fingers are like ice cubes.
The old git has just lit the stove and the house smells of a Victorian blacksmiths.
I bought hanging chocolates for the Christmas tree. I’ve eaten six of them; well, the tree isn’t up and I deserve a treat because I’ve put myself on a sleeping course ‘SLEEPIO’.
Each week (I’m on week 3) you have to address your bedroom habits – your bed, your ‘before bedtime’ regime and then fill out a diary every morning; What time did you get in to bed? When did you fall asleep? How many times did you get up in the night and for how long? Then, the last awakening and the final crawling out of bed.
The third week makes for an interesting shape in a girl’s day. After calculating my nocturnal capers the computer created my very own sleeping timetable: 1. I must finish whatever I’m doing by 11.00pm. 2. Take an hour and a half relaxation time, music, tv or reading. 3. Do my night time ablutions before slipping into bed at 1.00a.m. on the dot. Then whatever befalls during the night I have to get out of bed at 7.00a.m. No negotiation – the computer has said,” NO”, and decided that I am to have 6 hours of shut eye. It can change over the next three weeks but for now 7.00a.m. is my start time.
I managed four hours before the pips went on the radio, the ‘oosbind grunted and I slithered out of bed.
On with my warm pj’s, fed Dennis, did my Transcendental Meditation, put on my walking boots, rolled up my Wincyette trouser legs, and took a brisk walk round the houses. Ooh, but it was nippy, the earth wet and dark, the leaves staining the paths, the farmer in his barn, and it was still only eight a bloody clock.
Back to a Deepak Chopra and the Oprah Winfrey talk, then an hour on the internet buying Christmas gifts. Then I did me Wim Hof breathing, took a hot shower ending with an icy splash, dressed and made up my face to look like a cheery elf, put on my mask and drove to the shops to buy ‘Lux Soap Flakes’ so I could use them as fake snow in the video we were about to shoot. Unless I bought a pack of plastic covered washing gel I would have to think again as ‘Lux’ was not stocked, and throwing blue ‘Persil’ capsules, however you lob it, doth not look like snow.
Home for the dawter to record me in the studio putting down the Christmas poem for the voice over agent. Then onto the kitchen chair in front of the logs and the stove where the old git had arranged Christmas lights so we could film the very same poem minus snow. It was all done and dusted in an hour then pinged off in an email. There was still four hours of daylight – is this regime going to work? I ask myself cos I’m fucking knackered and we still dont know if I’ll sleep tonight.
My high energy may have something to do with the West African Bitter Kola nuts I’ve been nibbling. Recommended by the dawter’s friend from Sierra Leone you just nibble and watch the health benefits reveal themselves, so sayeth the Nigerian vloggers, from bringing down your blood sugar to helping the immune system. So, after chewing my first ever West African nuts I could have climbed on the roof, run a marathon and cleaned the oven and it wasn’t even teatime.
It’s now 17.41 and the stove has warmed the cottage. Jimbo’s watching a documentary on farming with a voice over from my childhood, it brought to mind when I started at the Grammar School. I would walk down the hill past glittering spiders webs, marvelling at the mere motion of my legs. I remember thinking how lucky I was that I could put one foot in front of the other without any obvious conscious imput. I had a penpal, a trainee teacher, who read my adolescent ramblings and wrote back delicious philosophical letters in beautiful cursive handwriting. He drowned in a bath from a leaky gas boiler – he was stoned at the time.
I would take my glasses off and let the air to my face – blind to the hedgerows which were full of ancient plants that I could not have known. Hawthorn, beech, dog roses, blackberries; the wonders of nature were lost on this short sighted kid from Aldgate. Then, set back from the road was the farmhouse. Milk churns, kittens and the smell of baking bread. I would collect bottles of fresh milk and chase the pussies. It’s a housing estate now. But for the girl from the hood farmyards and bonny aproned wives were a thing of fiction.
I am of the generation that had a mangle and a built-in kitchen dresser, the generation that walked or grabbed a lift from anybody driving past – there was no fear. The generation that smoked freely, loved loudly and only used the telephone when the sun went down and Hughie Green was on the 23″ tellybox.
I am a cliche…..I don’t feel my age, so I don’t act my age. There’s so much information now that sometimes I think my brain might explode with all the instant gratification and wikid knowledge. I had a complex childhood that included the smells of clean air and the screams of domestic violence. I was chased by boys from the estate round the corner and the farmer for climbing on his haystacks. I learnt to ride a bicycle under ancient oaks and saw wild daffodils for the first time. Though income was erratic, boxes of fruit and bags of nuts materialised round Christmas.
The smell of my childhood is wet asphalt after summer showers, tangerines at Christmas and new leather shoes for the start of the autumn term. Christmas came but once a year and presents were packed in old cardboard boxes that had held soap powder. So the smell of clean washing speaks of Christmas.
This year we’ll be tiered, teary and totally plant based. No turkey, no pigs in or out of blankets and no gammon steaks. Instead we’ll have vegetables cooked in unusual ways with roast potatoes, sweet carrots and red cabbage chucked in.
Change is upon us as another veil falls before our very eyes and we watch the manipulators hand the receipt of Covid to the poorest citizens.
Lock down, schmock down.
Christmas is coming the geeks are getting fat.
Please put a vaccine in the old mans hat.
If you haven’t got a vaccine an old mask will do.
If you refuse to wear a mask then God bless you.

1 thought on “Bitter Kola”

  1. Miss Barnett…… you know we love you………thankyou for all your blogs!
    I’m now furloughed…….. as of Monday…….we’re on a roter system, there’s only seven of us….. but my rich, arrogant boss, who lives in a big house on Bidborough Ridge, has finally succumbed and taken the governments offerings!
    He won’t have to pay my minimum wage for a few days!
    He didn’t even pay the 20%, me and my family will be missing!
    To be honest…….. I’m thankful for the rest………I’ve done nothing but deliver
    Food to people in Tunbridge Wells and beyond, this whole year……… I realised I helped the rich get richer!
    Whilst I was out driving a shitty van, in this pandemic, my wife, unable to find the time and negotiate the queues, with two hungry little kids, nibbling at her ankles, to buy some pasta…… my boss offered us nothing……..Tunbridge Wells didn’t even say thankyou to me!
    Do people of Tunbridge Wells really need a take out coffee on the Pantiles, in a pandemic!?
    Do they realise the shit the poor man has to go through to deliver those, unforgiving, polluting cups and plastic sachets, filled with the red stuff?
    Thank god for this lock down……. it gave a working man a break….it made my rich boss realise, he might be poor too!
    I want him to sweat, as I do everyday, on minimum wage…… worrying if he can feed his family!
    I’m sure, the people of Tunbridge Wells, can do without a bag of Egyptian chips and a takeout coffee for a wee while!
    I’m gonna enjoy my first Furlough…….. have a coffee with the wifey and walk the school run and kiss my kids on the cheek, as they try and gain some education!
    Might pop into our local garden centre……… oh wait……… the wifey has just told me that they might knock it down and build more silly, ugly, unaffordable houses on the land!
    I’ll stick to my coffee at home for the while then!
    Big love, as always,
    The Borowski Family xxxx

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