Year of the Pig

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 17 January 2019

I'm bewitched by the birds on the feeder outside my bedroom window.

I'm bothered by Donald Fartypants, and his dismantling of the United States of America.

I'm bewildered by the antics of the British First Lady, who appears to be so out of touch with everything, that words literally fail me

My lawn is covered in leaves. The moles have decimated the end of the garden, I saw one magpie on my way through Ashdown Forest - an omen I thought - One for sorrow, two for joy. I'm still looking for the second one.

And now I'm hatching a cold.

I've got cashmere sox on, a Christmas present. The old git's lit the stove, so the house is toasty warm. It is smokeless fuel I hasten to add.

I've had acupuncture, homeopathic remedies, meditated, chanted, sung with an Indian Guru, and have looked at flights to Florence. I'm joining a choir and starting Tai Chi. I've given up coffee but nibble on Granny Beevers Christmas cake which is infused with brandy and the Yorkshire Dales.

I'm enjoying Les Mis, and tolerating Sheryl Smith's cleaner, I'm reading and writing and watching films.

I'm holding the 'oosbinds hand in bed and sleeping in the soft dent in my pillow.

2019 has begun, but I am Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, by the ahh! Souls in charge.

Happy new Year.

Permalink | Comments (0)

March 24th.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 4 January 2019

In 79 days I will be 70.

Florence maybe?

Or Bali?

Or Tunbridge Wells for tea.

Three dawters and an artist are making a surprise for me.

Will it be in London?

In Brighton?

Or Tunbridge Wells for tea?

I'm not renewing my vows.

Or having Botox.

I'm not going away on a spa day.

But I am considering Tunbridge Wells for tea.

When I was born in 1949

Who'd have thought that 2019 would rock up so soon.

My mother can't come.

My father can't come.

Too many of my friends can't come.

They're all busying themselves in the ether.

Had I known I'd have organised a farewell tea in Tunbridge Wells.

They say that Tunbridge Wells is the ninth best place to live in the UK

BUT Come on

I think a coffee break in La Loggia degli Albizi, in Florence is slightly more frivolous

For 4 score years and ten.

And then?

Permalink | Comments (1)

2018 Baubles

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 25 December 2018

Lucky I am to have a full calendar.

Lucky to have a fridge full of food.

Lucky to have a clean cooker to cook it in.

Lucky to have family and friends.

Grateful for it all.

Grateful for the cat, who's lying on the table next to me.

Grateful for the Irises given to me by one of B's friends.

Grateful for hot water and a flushing lavatorio.

Grateful for my life, and humbled by the needs of so many people. From Anna our Big Issue seller outside the supermarket, to the Donkeys in our local rescue centre.

Christmas feels different this year. Trump buffooning, Brexit Looming, conversations always turning to the dark side.

So with a huge hurrumph I kiss goodbye to another year. I'm not daft enough to think all our troubles will be out of sight, but lets hope in 2019 it's WE not ME and that the change that is coming finally arrives.

I wish all my FB friends a peaceful, calm, warm and fuzzy Christmas Night. And may your crackers be full of fortune.

Permalink | Comments (2)

Quantum Fizzicks

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 8 December 2018

It's cold innit?

About which I'm delighted - too warm and I'm reminded there's warming issues on this ball of earth we call home..

We've raked the leaves so many times not one single forest fire will beset us until 2022.

I've bought misshapen apples, cos they were cheaper.

So after my yoga, which was mostly spent on my back trying to figure out how to push my left leg through my right arm and balancing my body whilst attempting to watch the teacher, who speaks so softly it was impossible to hear her instructions over the crashing dumbbells above us in the newly refurbished gym. This Yogarini has body issues, pain issues, hearing issues and issue issues. The class ended with most of us saying Namaste ( not me though ) but I did give the instructor, with her toe ring, a tiny little clap. Slid into my car and drove the long way round so the heater would warm up. I went to the flower shop where the farmer breeds chickens that lay double yoked eggs every time. They are so obese, the eggs not the hens, that they just fit into my fancy egg cup.If they could they would spill over the edge rather like my muffin top. I've just finished two of them, boiled for 3 and a half minutes, with two slices of some kind of healthy toasted bread, loadsabutta, and a smattering of green stems from some giant spring onions alongside a cafetier of coffee.

Last night I could not quiet my mind, having watched Spike Lees' Blackkklansman' so I climbed out of bed, leaving my husbands Afro on the pillow, and ended up watching 'Dumplin' Jennifer Aniston's vanity project. She both produced it and stars in it. The perfect antidote to insomnia. Cant help but compare Jen to her younger self. What am I like? The film was cliche ridden, unnecessary but quite the best sleeping draft. I fell asleep right in the middle of a deeply irritating story line that was so obvious my 117 year old cat could have meowed the outcome.

Now I've got to do the Christmas Tree. I say got to, actually I don't have to do anything I don't want because I AM OLD. There are no demands on my time except organising treats, doing the occasional professional job, attend a party here and a mosh up there. A train ride there and a drive to the coast with my patient husband, who has such healthy blood pressure that he puts all the butchers dogs in Leeds to shame.

So how does he deal with the onslaught of seniority? Well he chops wood, lays the fire, lights the fire, sits in front of the fire, sweeps up the ashes when the fire is done, empties the grate, then does it all over again the following morning; You may say what's the 'effin point? And indeed it is a philosophical conundrum that philosophers have been grappling with since before the first dinosaurs grunted there way into Jurrasic park.

If everything we do is temporary why do it in the first place? If we're gonna die anyway what's the 'effin point in living? If Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy was to be believed, given the inevitability of death, there is no rational justification for saying that life is meaningful.

So how meaningful is meaningful, you may ask? If everything is temporary, like that lovely toffee chocolate hanging on the tree that can be scoffed in 11 seconds, what was the point of eating it in the first place. Eleven seconds of pleasure on the lips, a fortnight of aggravation on the hips, was it worth it?. And when you can see the light glimpsing at the end of the tunnel, and Paris is falling, and Brexit is ailing and Trump is lying, what the BeJeesus do we do, and how do we do it? Watch it crumble or exclaim loudly 'Damn it all' and treasure every second of exquisite living. Be grateful for every crumb of food, every beat of the heart, every sensory pleasure that makes us human, is that how to do it?

50 years ago I was working on a theatre show in Israel. Early in the morning I would sit on the beach and contemplate my pippick ( Yiddish for navel) and breathe in the Mediterranean Sea air whilst the sand of time ran through my fingers. As the sun rose I felt a light tap on my arm, I looked up at a beautiful young man who told me I had Yemenite shoulders. He could have been right, he could have been wrong but given what's happening to 'my' people - your people - everybody's people - It's time to take stock and rattle the cage of inhumanity and selfishness that is trolling the world, whether or not my shoulders are Yemenite or not.

Everything is and everything isn't, and since everything is, and everything isn't we might just as well indulge the IS as opposed to the ISN'T. And if we're all just molecules bouncing around along with porridge, soup and the occasional oyster, what the bleep does it matter? Cos when the inevitable happens, we'll know what it was all about and then it will all make sense won't it? Not that I'm suggesting we should all jump off a cliff, to find out the answer, but whilst we're all bobbing around until doomsday perhaps we should have something of a good time whilst we're doing it. Shouldn't we?

I'm going to ask the old git what he thinks because, whilst he's still alive he'll have an answer. I'm off to the woodshed.

Permalink | Comments (4)

Strange Times

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 22 November 2018

Brazil has voted in a heartless Devil, Sri Lankans are throwing chairs at each other in Parliament. Trump is a noxious shitty stain. China is burning coal around the world. Brexit is back firing like a monumental fart. Davide Attenborough does his best, young folk are 'woke', but there is an exhaustion with the magnitude of it all.

Who do we turn to for leadership?

Whilst we all know that the end of cycles can be brutal, somehow I have to remind myself that endings are also beginnings.

When the late night news tells us that scientists are calling for a radical repositioning otherwise in 30 years our little earth will be scorched and dead, just what do we do?

I went to the gym today and ran on the treadmill for 30 minutes listening to 'Snarky Puppy.' Walked, ran, walked, ran. I wore my swimsuit underneath a long black sweatshirt, so that after the cardio I could just slip into the pool. Fifteen minutes of affirmations and spluttering water out of my mouth.

Then the jacuzzi and a series of sitting positions so that the jets of warm water pummelled me bits. Then the steam room, and finally the sauna. In the middle of all that it came to me that women could be our salvation.

I had to read Aristophanes' 'Lysistrata' when I was at Drama School.

It is the comic account of one woman's extraordinary mission to end the Peloponnesian War, as Lysistrata convinces the women of Greece to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands as a means of forcing the men to negotiate a peace. She had them swear an oath that they would withhold sex from their husbands until both sides signed a treaty of peace.

As I swum my lengths I wondered whether it could work now. It's a possibility that is not so far fetched. I imagined women of all faiths, races, continents, seducing their men, then tying their hands together, and gently taking over the world. Not with guns and bulldozers, but with quiet female rationality.

'You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one' - thank you JOHN LENNON - Men sure as Hell have mismanaged our little planet. 'But what of Theresa May and Hilary Clinton?' said the woman sitting in clouds of steam in the steam room, 'We have to start somewhere' I said.

What is the way forward?

Climate change, plastic, deforestation, animal cruelty, austerity, greed, we've been here before with knobs on.

My tree in the avenue tells me not to worry, that good will out. The old git says it's a purging. But I worry for the dawters generation and the ones after her.

I have a warm little cottage, food in the fridge, a roof that doesn't leak, all the material trappings of the 21st Century, I have friends and family. I wish that for every soul on earth. The first step is to get everyone reading 'Lysistrata', or as Mr. Lennon also said "Give Peace a Chance.

Permalink | Comments (4)

Forest Row-ing

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 3 November 2018

There's something about the silence of the lambs, and sheep and cows. The silence of a frosty morning. The crisp moment when a dead leaf tumbles and spins, they say it's lucky if you catch one. I held out my hands and a brown sycamore leaf landed in my palm.

I often wear my pj's, boots, hoodie and zip up puffy thingy, to walk down the hill, through the avenue, round to the chickens and then home again.

Yesterday I did my circuit, then still clothed in leisure ware the old git drove us to the charity stores of T'Wells.

We're making short films with our writer/director/poet/genius friend and we needed Dickensian garb. I found a great skirt in The Weald of Kent, a top in Dr.Barnados, and the 'oosbind found a white scarf by Helping the Aged.

So with a bag for life stuffed with old clothes we walked to the car-park, next to which was RUSTIC, a caff run by a mother and daughter. I had a delicious black coffee in a rogue blue mug and Jimbo had an Americano and a block of something sweet with caramel, chocolate and memories. They've been opposite the Cafe Du Vin for five years. Who knew? AXA insurance staff keep them alive - they come and buy their freshly made lunch. It was a delightful serendipitous experience.

When we got home the cat was given her last antibiotics - she'd had an abscess - quite frankly disgusting only a mother could love her - and the fire had been laid. We settled down for Friday night telly, which if you're not careful is a flaming marathon, what with Having got News for ya and Lying to ya, and Graham Norton and, Gawd knows what else tucked away in the schedules. Anyway bed beckoned and I went out like a light.

This morning the sun shone brightly, through my window, it was hanging so low I could barely see the screen in my room. The leaves have gathered under the Magnolia tree, the wood is stacked in the wood shed, and the neighbours are off playing croquet.

Jim's monocle and three cornered hat arrived, I'm waiting for my mob cap, skirt hoop and the Beagles frock coat to fly through the door. I also ordered Alan Bennett's ALLELUJAH, we saw the streaming, from The Bridge Theatre. at the Uckfield Picture House. We got the last two seats, coincidentally next to a Green Party activist that I canvassed for last year. The play is timely, the play is prescient, the play is funny, sad and just what the doctor ordered, literally since its about old age and the NHS. Some of the audience left, not funny enough, too Socialist. Bugger the Sussex elite with their private health insurance, padded gillets and smug disdain for the likes of yours truly.

So whilst Jim made a drawing screen for the fire - we used newspaper! - I took myself off through the Ashdown Forest to TABLEHURST FARM. Never been before, Through Forest Row, past the bath on a pedestal, right off the main road, down to the end of a track, past pigs rootling and cows in a stall, past fields and gates and into a car parking place opposite a kids play area, next to an open air pizza oven and underneath a pigeon loft. The murmur of pigeons vroo vrooing is the dawters favourite sound. Made me think of Jack Duckworth on Corrie, my how times have changed.

I bought chicken legs in the bio-dynamic, organic farm shop, dirty carrots, massive chard leaves, gluten free cookies and bulbs of fresh garlic.

The beautiful setting, and kindly people made my heart sing. If we've only got thirteen years to get the planet right then meat once a week and seasonal veg is the answer. I know I'm preaching but come on how hard can it be for ALL OF US to have a go at turning it round.

I parked underneath the bath on a stick and walked up the stairs to MARIA'S caff at Blenheim Studios. So pretty, so calm. I ordered a toasted cheese and mushroom sarnie and a cup of Americano coffee with hot milk on the side. Let me tell you it was the best toasted sandwich I have ever tasted. I don't know how she made it but Maria's cheese and mushrooms completed my day.

I drove home through the steep hills of the forest, honked at the rudest van driver who was tailgating me then like, a speedy Tom Cruise, overtook me. I followed him, prepared to take him on, he stopped, I took a breath ready for a barney, he must have thought twice, an old lady on her own in a car, with a face like a rolled up umbrella. The coward fled off. Actually I was relieved.

Got home, and decided such beautiful produce needed a clean home, so I blitzed the fridge, and made a chicken casserole with a bed of carrots and sweet potatoes, smokey paprika on top and rosewater for the liquid. In the oven, on a very low light util the travelling dawter and husband arrive home.

It's not like me to get overwhelmed with gratitude, well not openly anyway, but this evening, as my eye heals ever faster, and the Dickensian clobber spins in a 30 degree wash, and the smell of delicious food wafting over the kitchen, I'm grateful for it all.

If only I could singlehandedly pinch Trump on his fat arse, make him live on a rubbish tip in Brazil for a month, take away his spray tan and overturn Brexit life would be perfect.

Permalink | Comments (3)

Golden slumbers

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 25 October 2018

Ok so I don't sleep.

Most of the time it doesn't matter, my life's my own, I don't have to work to anybody else's timetable, and like many nimble footed alpha females I have existed on little sleep for years.

And then along comes The Michael Mosley's of the world, and Facebook adverts, and Tabloid speculations, and all of sudden I'm told that if I don't sleep I will die from everything from Adverse Childhood Experiences to Zygomycosis.

Can this be true? After all bi-phasic sleeping has been with us since we bedded down with our domestic pets. Having a kip - getting up, getting on down with the drowsy donkey, then back to the straw pallias till the family cock a-doodled us a-wake.

Really ever since I made peace with my nocturnal shenanigans I have had a passable existence. I go to bed at 2.00. Then if the sleep fairy doesn't descend I'll get up again and write or read or watch a film or eat some oats or drink something - hot - Bouillon or Rooibosh or even snack on the left overs boxed up in the fridge.

Then I'll slip betwixt the covers and get up three to four hours later.

Hot water bottles are a good bet to get me off, but if my mind is whirring, not even the warmth of a Northern Git or two rubber bottles can do it.

Having conquered my fear of insomnia I have a rich and varied night life.

And then, before you could say Valerian tea-bags, my body gave up -or in - depending on where you're lying - or laying - if you're a chicken.

I worked last Friday and didn't get into bed until 5.00a.m. And then my brain would not calm down.

I woke up on Saturday felt a little peaky. 'Strictly' was hazy and the telly didn't have its normal appeal.

Went to bed on Sunday, had about 5 hours kip and then on Monday the old git drove me to the station.

11.39 to Charing Cross.

Bafta for lunch

Fortnum and Masons for coffee, which by the way was not worth 17pounds, unless you are a Japanese Tourist.

No 19 to Chelsea.

No 22 back to the station.

6.45 train home.

Bang went my head, thump went my temples,Pink went the conjunctiva, itch, itch, itch went the rest of the eye. Puffiness, pain, possible paranoia.

The 'oosbind made me an eye patch, the Tuina man, made me go to bed, and there I stayed till yesterday. My eye still matches The Duchess of Sussex's puce ensemble, and I feel like I have taken a kick from a wild Hampshire horse.

My feet are cold, my fingers are freezing, my patience is tested, but now that the plumber has fixed the pipes, I can have a bath.

So do I put this down to lack of sleep?

Stress - said the neighbour.

Stress - said the dawter.

Stress - said the homeopath.

What a pain - said the 'oosbind, who has been running round after me like a three legged Collie.

I'm off to run an Epsom Salt bath, lie down in clean sheets, listen to the news, turn the radio off, since that is the cause of my stress, and make a mug of soup.

Will I drift off? Who knows, but as Avery Sawyer says:

'I think insomnia is a sign that a person is interesting.'

Yeah, and the rest!

Permalink | Comments (1)

Our very own spiny mammal

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 17 October 2018

By the pots of Dahlias and Petunias a breathless hedgehog was rescued by the old git and our pretty neighbour. Into a cardboard box it went, with a saucer of milk and some cat food. The hedgehog rescuers arrived and the pretty neighbour, wearing thick rubber gloves, carried the poorly little grunter to the rescue van. If it gets better we get to keep him/her in our hedgehog house which the 'oosbind built a few months ago.

Its behind the studio where, assorted dogs and cats have been buried.

Hedgehogs are spiny mammals of the subfamily Erinaceinae, in the eulipotyphlan family Erinaceidae. There are seventeen species of hedgehog, I'm told by Wikipedia.

Now in the middle of this drama the plumber came. We can't use the sink in the bathroom because two washers have worn so every time we brush our teeth, wash our face or flannel our Finnoula's the water drips through the ceiling into the kitchen. The Observer magazine has been absorbing the drips. We have to wait till a washer arrives from a supplier somewhere in Eastern Europe. Thank heavens this has happened before Brexit, Lord knows but life is tricky enough isn't it?

And on top of all that our pretty neighbour located a bees nest in their roof. Out came an expert and smoked out a whole colony of buzzing bees.

All quiet on The South Eastern front until the pretty neighbour and her very tall husband and cherubic child heard;




Well bugger me if those bumbly bees hadn't gone and made a load of honey which is now dripping, deliciously all over the pretty neighbour's cotton sheets.

We don't live out of London we love out-out, which means we have different bus stops, rhododendron hedges, 15th century pubs and hedgehogs.

Time it was though, wasn't it, that we all saw a Tiggywinkle rooting around the hedgerows.

I pity my dawter's generation who will have to clean up the plastic, grow more trees, stop the oil, harness solar power, bring down the American penal system, build more schools, save the hospitals, repair the roads, re-nationalise the railways, save the oceans, control the internet, vote in an honest PM, build more houses, bring down the alt/right, give artists a decent living wage, grow organic food, teach dancing in schools, abolish university fees, stop the arms trade, legalise pot, make breastfeeding perfectly legal and do it all in 13years before we become a little brown ball spinning round in a space that President Shlumph has already got his beady eyes on.

Of course I haven't stopped fighting, but the energy this turn around is gonna take is more than I can do on my own. From the cradle to the graveyard shift I have tried to be of use. To be effective. But I am considered, mad, bad and pretty much unemployable.

I spend a good deal of time coming up with ideas, then falling at the first hurdle because they are all considered too radical.

Shall I give up? Not on your Nelly. Whilst I've still got teeth in my head, a jolly good hairdresser and the ability to do the downward dog I shall be mumbling and poking my nose in, just like our dear old hedgehog.

Send it your healing love if you like.

Permalink | Comments (1)

Copyright 2007, Jeni Barnett. Website produced by Chopstix.