Mono Brew.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 27 July 2018

The air feels like a water bed. Like a foam mattress that takes on the shape of your body when you've left it. And my body at the moment is cool. I don't mean it in a narcissistic, vain kinda way, I mean it in a purely Celsius/Fahrenheit kinda way.

Today I drove to Deer Park to have lunch with a young German Fraulein. After my salad I texted her, realising that we had miscommunicated.

'Let's meet at 2.00 at our place' she'd written.

I assumed that 'our place' was Deer Park. In fact it meant 'her' place, 'our' place referring to her home she shares with her German husband.

So I drove in the searing heat to her cool flat, and I mean that in all senses of the word. I parked the car in the shade and opened the wooden door. Up two and half flights of stairs into her fastidious hall.

The kitchen, granite and dark grey, with a wooden table, and a balcony, canopy tree high, was filled with freshly cut flowers, a musical box, and a cupboard full of delicious teas. We sat at a little wooden table, on the balcony, near the chattering birds. I chose Earl Grey. On a little plate sat a chewy Brownie, and an Apricot Custardy thingy. She had strawberries and cream and a juice.

My tea was made in a Mono tea pot. An elegant, decadent glass contraption that has a sieve for the leaves, and a metal base for a candle. They can cost as much as 179 pounds, I'm tempted.

Her flat is German, sparse, calm and deliciously minimal. The teapot suits her decor. My cottage is not sparse, rarely calm and deliciously maximal. I'm not sure the Mono tea pot would sit happily in my kitchen which has a dresser, cups, mugs, mirrors, bowls and not a grain of granite in sight.

She is quite the best company, conversation opening and closing in just the right order. When I left I gave her my new business card. YEEEES. it's red, with my details on it and a green circle that says 'TRYOOMPH' the name of my next enterprise. Teaching presenting skills and giving of my 500-year-old work experience.

She put my little red card on her minimalist mantlepiece next to a photograph of Charlotte Rampling holding a dog.

"I went to school with her" I said casually. Of all the actresses in all the world eh?

Then I asked if she would wind up the musical box. A delightfully pastel painted boy and girl holding hands, and flowers, moved sedately round in a circle. It was made by a famous toy maker in Bavaria, a friend of her father who was also a maker of toys. The tinkly music played, an old German song.

Unexpectedly tears came.

It was the very song my mother used to sing, in German, about a rose, and thorns, in the hedgerow, and love.....and I thought of all the songs in all the world eh?

When I got home my phone pinged, and there was a little video of the musical box playing my mother's tune.

The Jew and The Kraut, taking tea in the clouds, as harmoniously as you please.

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There's No Business Like Fake Business

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 20 July 2018

So dear blogger 'L' it is not good to have a businessman as the Commander in Chief, it is not good to have a buffoon in charge who knows as much about diplomacy as a hyena.

Why?

Because 'L', business is not based on compassion and fairness, business is based on profit and loss, it's about who can make the most out of the least input, as they pocket the booty, leaving just 1% with the spoils, whilst the remaining 99% scrabble around to survive.

Not that I wish to appropriate The Labour Party's slogan, 'For The Many Not The Few', but egalitarianism started way before politicians got hold of it. T'was the genius of Thatcher to declare there is no such thing as society as she callously set about dismantling it.

As a species we instinctively care and protect each other, we shelter the wounded and embrace the weak, we have learned to curb out impulses and communally support the vulnerable and disadvantaged. Only when we get threatened do we lash out to protect our cave, or tree or whatever habitat we find ourselves in. The more we have the more we feel the need to protect it, but if what we have is at the expense of humanity, at the expense of decency then we have nothing.

But lets be grown up about this, the profiteers need us to be at each others throats so they can divide us, confuse us and ultimately conquer us - what for?

You tell me.

I refuse to be frightened by the dissemblers. I refuse to be intimidated by the ignorant. I will not be brow beaten by self serving egotists. And I will not be silenced by the likes of the MP for Crickhowell or the imbecilic rantings of the so-called President.

There is no place for destructive liars. For the Bannons or the Farages, The McVays or
the Johnson's.

So here's to you

Tommy Robinson

Jesus loves you more than you will know

Woah woah woah

God bless you please

Tommy Robinson

Heaven holds a place for those who pray

Hey hey hey, hey hey hey

And I pray that the malevolent forces in todays society are mellowed by the kind hearted goodness of the millions of souls who choose Peace and Harmony.

Of course I'm an old hippy. I hug trees and know how to spell quinoa, I know that life goes in cycles. The sun rises and sets, the moon waxes and wanes, the seasons change, and despite how clever we think we are time and tide awaits no WO-man. So there is, to quote a good old cliche, no time like the present to raise our voices.

Everytime the orange baboon opens his mouth I despair, my mouth goes dry and I fantasise about him being made to live on a dime a day in a refugee camp, sleeping next to an open sewer with only Sarah Huckabee as a bedfellow. Okay so he's spawned a resistance movement, but the sooner he is flushed down the latrine of time the better it will be for all of us.

God Bless America, God bless us, and God bless God whatever - or whoever He/She or It may be.

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Just saying

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 13 July 2018

I do not like bigotry.

I do not like hypocrisy.

I do not like liars.

I do not like selfishness.

I do not like greed.

I do not like bullies.

I do not like racists.

I do not like manipulators.

Protesting any of the above is necessary, whether it's with a big orange balloon or a placard that says 'Not In My Name'.

As we face more bunkum from our elected leaders more protesting is necessary, Whether it's shouting from the roof tops or placards that say 'Give Peace a Chance'.

I do not like a world where a handful of gluttons claw the food out of the mouths of babes.

There are some that will express delight in a voice that causes dissent, but this is the 21st century and the time for negotiating with Narcissists should have died in 1945 when millions lost their lives fighting for decency.

When the last butterfly flaps it's weary wings, when the last bumblebee ceases its buzzing, when the rhinos and cows, horses and hedgehogs are but copper plates in old encyclopaedias, that's when the undeserving entitled will be brought to book, and not a moment too soon.

Protesting on behalf of humanity is only just beginning. Now is not the time for climbing into bed with ignoramuses.

Trump is but an overblown bombast with delusions of grandeur. He is neither a statesman nor a man of principle. He is an ugly boil on the arse of the world that needs to be lanced. There is no place for his arrogant ignorance in such a fragile world.

As Mr. Lennon would say ALL WE NEED IS LOVE.

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Life goes on....

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 10 July 2018

The man with a basket of food let me go ahead of him to pay for my six pack of bagels.

'I can't believe I'm talking about football to a complete stranger.' I said as I pontificated over Gareth Southgate, 'our' young team, the possibility of beating Croatia and - heaven forfend - football coming home.

I will, of course, be glued to the old man's armchair at 7 o'clock tomorrow night being seduced by the opium of the people....

God forbid we lose.

I am also all Wimbledonned out. Federer, Williams, Rafa, not to mention Djokovitch, who for some reason I nearly don't like, I'm sure he's a delightful man but I prefer the dignity of die Schweizer, and the ticks of the Spaniard.

Apart from my eating regime, which has changed since I watched the two parter about diabetes on ITV, life goes on pretty much as it does every summer, give or take a Russian World Cup and an unusually hot heat wave. So I've sacheted and souped, shaken and stirred for 23 days getting my blood pressure, blood sugar, and subcutaneous fat into a healthier zone, whilst salivating as others consume home made burgers and sensational salads, covered my ears when the crisp crunching starts, and turned my head when the food adverts appear on the box. Then I take my readings and there is evidence that reducing EVERYTHING really does work, I am able to continue until The Glorious Twelfth day of August, when I can then start shooting red grouse (Lagopus lagopus scotica), and to a lesser extent the ptarmigan (Lagopus mute).

JOKE....although on the 12th of August I may well start shooting myself in the foot if I haven't lost at least another 10 pounds.

And then there's the weather. I've sat, laid, sprawled, walked and sweltered along with the rest of the UK, scratching my bites, beating the bugs and watching the birds flap around in the bird bath. The old git has been watering the courgettes, runner beans, black currants, blueberries and herby pots, whilst the bleeding wild life have snaffled all the strawberries even though they're covered in netting....that's the strawberries not the critters.

So I'll be on Radio Sussex throughout the next few weeks, whilst writing me bits, reading new books and watching lots of television.

My seasonal attire has consisted of cloth wrapped around my (r)aging body. One sarong has been confined to the bin, weathered and worn out from years of wear, one is full of holes, one doesn't cover my modesty whilst the one from Africa needs a stitch or two. So apart from Maybots cabinet falling apart, like a freying old pullover, and Melania's liability, fishing for her hand as he dissembles his deceitful way to Brussels, nothing has changed - except everything has and will continue to do so until we all realise that things can't go on the way they are with a bunch of corrupt, ill-equipped, self serving egotistical so-called compassionate conservators in charge.

Whilst shouting at the News I very gently sliced off part of my thumb whilst attempting to put the blade into my food processor to shred a carrot, I did instead shred my thumb. I managed to stem the flow of blood my pressing on some kitchen roll very firmly then creating a cradle of plaster to contain the sanguinity. I am now typing with the good part of my thumb and nine perfectly healthy digits.

I'm off to the attic to write a love story about libraries. Why not it's overdue, and wonder how any government can think about closing monuments to learning as well as denying the majority of children arts, crafts and anything that will make them think out of the box. But I josh, as millions of us slope off to food banks, whilst they laugh all the way to theirs, lets just settle down and rejoice in the democratic process (that was bequeathed to us by Cambridge Analytica), and marvel at the mesmerising chaos that is ensuing whilst 101 RAF jets provide a colourful smoke screen and Meghan's custom made Dior frock uses up the entire music budget of East Sussex County Council., But fear not we have a new health secretary Mr Hancock, who doesn't have Mr. Hunt's rhyming possibility, but does contain a useful syllable which will, I'm sure be used in the weeks to come.

Here's to the man in the waistcoat, may his humility and grace continue.

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Hot Stuff.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 27 June 2018

I stood with my back to a cool wall waiting for the Angel of Mercy.

First the battery light came on.

Then the dial on the heating went into the red - dangerously.

Then the steering wheel wouldn't work.

Then the old git, scratching his head said get onto the pavement. Without power steering getting onto the pavement was like me getting off a bean bag - exactly.

Finally I got it up. Put on the parking lights and the elderly gentleman, who I've slept with for nigh on 41 years, called the AA.

They estimated an hour, but in the event Ben turned up within fifteen minutes.

'It's the belt, it's come off.' he said, as well as a great deal more, but trying to remember mechanical talk is like asking for breakfast in Japanese. You may learn it by rote but God Fobid they then want a conversation with you.

BTW this is what 'A full English please' looks like in Japanese.

完全な英語をしてください

Anyway Ben took twenty minutes pulling out metal thingies, and strapping on towing whatnots, guided my little silver car onto the pick up truck, we climbed into the front seat and we set off to a designated garage near High Brooms station.

Colin, the gaffer, is from Stockport. An army man who doesn't mince his words. He called over a delightful Spanish boy who took out his phone, shone a light into the engine and said it was the water pump.

Forgive our Mancunian because Colin said.

'That boy's got the eyes of a sh-t-house rat.'

We got the call today to say the AA have had so many calls, because of the heat, that it will take 48 hours before we get my little German Fraulein back.

So now the 'oosbind is ferrying me round to the dentist, the hairdresser, the charity shop, the stationary emporium, and the local coffee shop.

We went to Deer Park, and sat in the sun whilst rehearsing our lines for two more ikkle films about the NHS.

If you get a chance please watch HEALTH SHOTS PRODUCTIONS, on You Tube. Me and the acting spouse have made 6 tiny films that will make your hair stand on end.

The truth about the NHS. PLEASE SHARE THEM.

It's now 20.21. Can't be bothered with the football. So I shall lie on my back, hold onto my big toes, stick my legs in the air, straighten 'em up then try to get off the floor like a German car whose power steering has gone.

Auf Wiedersehen.

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Pearly Kings and Queens.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 28 May 2018

Sometimes, when the noise ceases, and the outside is jet black, when the cat is snoring on the bean bag and the old man has gone up to bed, sometimes when it's dead quiet, and all around are asleep, I wake up. I know it's bad not to sleep, but sometimes when the day has been full and I've not satisfied my physical, or mental self for that matter, I just cant sleep. Tonight is one of those nights. I'm tired but not yet ready for bed, even though the sheets smell of fresh air from drying on the line

So this weekend was worth noting. On Saturday I sat with my Caribbean cookbook to create a menu for Sunday. It was off to the Spice Shop to buy plantains and cashews, a box of frozen samosas - which didn't get used - gungo peas and an Indian sweet that flakes and melts in the mouth. Then a drive, with the roof down, on the top road, past the turn off to Penshurst Place, down the hill past Groombridge Place, over the mini roundabout to the Organic farm shop.

Spring onions, salad leaves, potatoes and carrots, then a slow turn onto the empty road to the final stop. For bread and avocados, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and cream. Meringues and apples and black juicy grapes.

I had coffee in the garden then, in the silence, cooked. Chopping and peeling, slicing and nibbling. I made a huge I-Tal curry. A Rastafarian meal of uncommon goodness.

On the back burner, bubbled the Scotch Bonnet peppers, garlic and onions, root veg, red peppers then the cauliflower and green beans in last to keep their colour and crunch. Marinaded the chicken in lemon and lime. Soaked the brown rice in water, made a dish of quinoa, and prepped the pumpkin and broad beans. The big green pods, all furry and soft into the compost.

Up early on Sunday to make pineapple and warm cabbage stir fry. The pumpkin and plantain coconut stew in the big wok, and the brown rice cooked to perfection and the tiny sausages for the kids spluttering in the frying pan.

All done in silence.

Then 11.15 and David Baddiel on Desert Island Discs, he cried at his daughter Dolly singing an Elton John song, I cried along with him, my tears plopping into the red kidney bean and gongo pea salad.

I met Jim in 1976 - having seen him on stage 6 years earlier - it was common courtesy to keep our unit small until my biological clock ticked so loudly I needed ear plugs. The dawter was born in 1987. Fear at her status, should I die before her father, forced me to the Register Office, to put up the Banns of marriage, and get hitched to the old git on May 25th 1988.

So we've been together now for 40 years ( and it don't seem a day too long.... but do add one more year for accuracy) 11 years unhitched, so on May 25th this year, it was our 30th wedding anniversary.

We spent it on the beach in Brighton eating fish and chips, me shooing off the gulls whilst the idiot 'oosbind fed them with our anniversary potatoes. The Caribbean feast, however, was for Sunday, a hot gathering of 12 of us, and an infant.

Everybody arrived at the same time. 1.45, tulips, noise, Champagne, cake, noise, children, hugs, tears, red potted geraniums, and the Pearly anniversary begun.

The sun shone, the round table was set under the trees, the food displayed on the long table, and the corks popped. The food was gobbled down, the neighbours came in, the fizzy flowed. The meringues got chucked in the whipped cream over the soft fruit, sprinkled with vanilla and lavender sugar, then for the first time that afternoon everybody sat down together, at the round table, nobody spoke as mouths were full of sweetness.

After the last strawberry was swallowed madness resumed. Then slowly the mob dispersed, by 8.00 p.m peace reigned. Just me and him and the dawter. Glasses in the dishwasher, all the bowls washed and put away. Hugh Grant on the telly then bed. I did sleep.

Today we drove to Olympia for the Mind Body Spirit Festival. I was interviewing Lorna Byrne, talking about her new book - a book of Prayers - and what is to become of us.

We must teach empathy, we must listen to our inner voice and each other, we must speak up and 'Give Out' to God and our Guardian Angels. We must make a difference by caring so that our children don't lose the birds and butterflies. We must keep praying on behalf of humanity and even love the evil ones. We must love and heal the selfish ones, we must embrace ourselves, and as 500 people queued for Lorna to give them her blessing, I was touched by her humility, her power, her innocence. She blessed me when we had finished our two hour interview. I accepted it with full grace.

The roads were clear when we drove home, the 'oosbind heated up the Caribbean vegetables, the evening air still heavy with warmth.

It's nearly 2.00 and apart from my typing there's not a sound in the house.

The tulips have opened, blowsy and crisp, the ceramic tile that Jim bought me for our anniversary is now hanging on the wall. It reads:

THE BEST THING TO HOLD ONTO IN LIFE IS EACH OTHER

Here's to the next 30.

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Nanna Wobble

Posted by Jeni in | 11 May 2018

What is it about sagging arms. My mum, my bubba, me. Sugar gliders, wings of flesh, that hang under the arms and are soft and perfect to play with. My mother had a comfortable, soft set, of two . That is until she got cancer and they removed her lymph nodes. We found out later she need not have had a mastectomy, but hey ho - we did what we were told then. Her lovely soft arm grew big and fat, she wore a sleeve to reduce the swelling, which it never did, but we still had her left arm to play with.

My bubba's were hung bigger, like an old cows udders. She'd had four children, a husband fighting in a secret war somewhere in Egypt and a kitchen table that served as an ironing board, chopping block and central meeting place. Her lovely Nan Flaps, were there for her 8 grandchildren to stroke and flick. She also had one ear which had two lobes, one of her children had pulled on an earring when they were a baby and tore the ear lobe in two. She had no vanity, it didn't matter to her, just something else for us to play with.

My daughter stroked and flapped my mothers arms, you could see the delight in my small daughters face, and the acceptance in my mothers.

Overtime my arms have taken on the female family characteristic. My grandchildren do to me what I did to Bubba Sophie and my daughter did to my mother, and now to me. And so, now everytime I scrub my kitchen table, I think of my grandmother.

I have a very large wooden table in my attic. Made of railway sleepers, bought from a friend when they divorced. It takes three grown men to move it. It's been in Hampstead, Battersea, the piano room, and now my writing room. It is heavy and smells of fancy wax polish I use regularly. But there was a time when it was exiled. Sold to a man in a pine-furniture shop who couldn't understand why I was getting rid of it. I swapped it for a 50's angular wooden hat stand, which lives in the cellar loaded with anoraks, bags and motorbike leggings. A beautiful iron cylindrical Danish stove from Odense, which the old git lights every year, puts a fan in front of to waft the warm air round the cottage, and I clean, using tubes of black grate polish to give it a dull shine, and this 'ere table, in the kitchen, which has my lap top on, a bowl of lemon and limes, another bowl of apples, a little pot of pencils and pens, and a flat slate tile which we stand pepper and salt jars on.

The abandonment of my big sleeping table was so painful that friends from around the world contacted me. Swedish musicians, American writers, Irish poets, all demanded what the hell was I doing getting rid of the table that had seen so many feasts, so much laughter, had witnessed baby changing, political discussions and endless cups of coffee. So sad was I, were we, that I went back to the furniture shop and bought the big table back for 500 quid.

The furniture man was not surprised to see me, he said he wouldn't have been able to get rid of it either. He'd cleaned it up and polished it to perfection. It was a little too sterile but over the years I've got back candle stains and the imprint of hard pressed pens and pencils.

My swapped pine kitchen table, has a long drawer with candles in, always a safe bet to buy me candles for birthdays and anniversaries. We eat and argue by candlelight. It seats a comfortable six, but at a push, we can get 12 round it. I have no idea how we do it, but the piano stool, the adjustable three legged stool, chairs from the shed and the red kick step, are positioned strategically. It does mean that somebody is always sitting lower than the rest, usually me. At my age I prefer to be nearer the floor.

When the the sun comes out the tiled kitchen floor gets a good mopping. I have a system. A mop, an ecological sponge, very hot water, three different types of cleaner and I'm off. I take all the chairs into the sitting room, hoover the kitchen floor and mop and scrub until you can eat off the floor. My Bubba's criteria for keeping a good home.

Before I do the floor I empty the table of detritus, put on the radio and scrub. With a wood cleaner. And that's when I can see my Bubba scrubbing her kitchen table with a hard brush. Two hands, pushing forwards, putting her weight into it. A 'dish cloth' to wipe away the mess. A bucket of water she dipped the scrubbing brush into, and her arms flapping. Her apron wrapped round her belly, her platinum blonde hair up in a scarf. And her insistence that cleanliness was paramount. Not because it was next to Godliness but because living in a slum required extra fastidiousness. Not that she would have used that word, she would have said that the rats, bugs and germs needed to be exterminated. Not a word that hung prettily in the homes of us Jewish refugees.

But my Nan kept a good home. Even though there was no inside toilet, or running water, even though there wasn't enough space to swing a mouse - which was a regular occurence. In my memory there was always a bubbling stew-pot hanging on the range in the tiny kitchen. If my cousins read this they may remember her, and it, differently, but my Bubba had the lungs of a street-seller, the guts of an immigrant and the best bingo wings this side of Minsk.

She would have been proud of my housewifery. Time it was I had a wonderful 'Treasure' called Gaye, but how life changes. Me and the 'oosbind have no disposable income so we do what we do when we need to do it, without the help of Gaye. The Buddhists say cleaning is an exercise in acceptance.

That we benefit from accepting that we have to do things we do not like on occasion, and that by doing them we silence the nagging inner monologue. My Bubba got in there first this morning, not so much a nagging monologue as a fecking great big noisy conversation about our Nanna Wobbles.

I'm off now to marinate some chicken in lime and lemon, Soy sauce, garlic and olive oil. My Bubba would be stoking the stove in readiness.

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Watermelon

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 9 May 2018

The lawn looked as smooth as a billiard table until the petals started falling off the Tulip tree. But thats ok, the apple blossom is out on one tree and the other two are bursting their buds.

The pink azalea is resplendent next to the sage, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Which have all profited from the wet, wet, wet time we had.

Out came the lounger, red cushion in tact. Out came the swing set cushions, all have been left out over night because rain is not predicted - yet.

The courgettes have gone in, the pac choi, the spinach, runner beans and loads of lettuces. The old git made a may pole out of string and things so that the beans have a chance to climb. The peonies. raspberries, lilies and roses are waiting, just waiting for their time.

I've planted seeds in little green trays, I'll spray them every morning and have placed them next to a big flower pot of rerouted mint.

This morning I took three quarters of a watermelon into the garden. I had a clean tea-towel tucked into my sarong, as the watermelon juice went awol.

The last time I had a whole watermelon to myself was in 1971. I was on tour in Israel. We stayed in a fancy schmancy hotel in Tel Aviv. The breakfast buffet was fresh fruit, dates, more fruit and watermelons as big as Netanyahu's head.
I had never seen anything like it. The exoticism of it all.

The heat on the beach, the pink of the earth, I went wandering and ended up in a brick garden with chickens scratching around and a woman on her haunches kneading bread.

This morning, in my garden, the watermelon as sweet as nectar, the queen bumble bees buzzing, the fountain playing, the birds singing, and before you could say Trump's an ass, 42 years had passed.

And I can still remember the drive to Jordan, the one man in one room selling crystal clear water from one single tap, by his one single bed, the icy water sold in one single glass. He had Jericho eye, a condition brought on by some sort of insect bite.

I remember the theatre in Jerusalem and the smell of grilled meat in the old town. I remember the Sea of Galilee and the reviews I got because I was a young, Jewish girl, playing the piano for a group of anarchic troubadours who smoked, drunk and knew as much about gentility as I did Hebrew.

I remember the Wailing Wall and the cardboard boxes outside a shop in Nazareth selling crowns of thorns. I bought a tiny plastic bottle of Nazareth earth, which still sits on my bathroom dresser. The red earth as dry as the Wilderness.

I remember feeling confused at the sectarianism of the Jews and the Arabs, then the extraordinary generosity of the mixed groups in a Kibutz in Haifa.

I remember being tapped on the shoulder as I sat on the beach. Early morning, tapped on the shoulder to be told I had the shoulders of a Yemenite. Then the walk back to the hotel and the smell of watermelons at breakfast.

Tomorrow I may have yoghurt and apple sprinkled with hazel nuts, but that's another breakfast from a lifetime away.

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