Life and times

The TV pre­sen­ter and au­thor on ca­nine com­pan­ion­ship and feel­ing the pull of two houses

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - Contents -

Tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter Janet El­lis

THIS TIME LAST WEEK, my hus­band, John, and I were in Si­cily, on a train from Mod­ica. It was early morn­ing but the next train didn’t leave un­til after three. We’d had a hasty break­fast, watched as usual by the colony of stray cats that Maria, our neigh­bour in Mod­ica, feeds twice daily. Their ex­pres­sions sug­gested that their meal­time should, ideally, be brought for­ward.

We’ve only owned the house for nine months but al­ready it feels like home – it was an im­pulse buy and the best thing we ever did. Tiny, spar­tan, sim­ple and proof that I can be a min­i­mal­ist – although there is still time to in­tro­duce what oth­ers call ‘clut­ter’, and I think of as ‘jew­ellery for the house’.

The train had only two car­riages, and six oc­cu­pants. As we stared at the fields, the twisty trees, the farm­houses and the sea, it felt as if we were learn­ing the ways of a lover and had to com­mit ev­ery­thing to mem­ory for when we parted. And it was like be­ing un­faith­ful – we’ll see you soon, we crooned, as we shut the door on our Lon­don house, and the bus­tle and daily rou­tine. We won’t be long, we told the Mod­i­can cot­tage, hold­ing back the vine from its face. If they ever find out about each other, we might have to choose.

I RECORDED AN EPISODE of Older and Wider, the pod­cast Jenny Eclair makes with Ju­dith Holder. I’ve known Jenny slightly for years. We have some lit­tle things in com­mon: our daugh­ters were at univer­sity to­gether; we have mu­tual friends; we have crossed over at events, but I haven’t spent much proper time in her com­pany. Each time I see her, I like her more.

I make friends quickly and I was lucky to go into a pro­fes­sion – act­ing – where you meet po­ten­tial chums all the time. Work­ing to­gether over only a few weeks, friend­ships are ac­cel­er­ated. My ad­dress book is a happy aide-memoire of past em­ploy­ment and gathered friend­ships. It’s con­ceiv­able that Jenny doesn’t share my am­bi­tion to be her new best friend but I’m tena­cious, so this is fair warn­ing if she needs any ex­cuses ready over the next few months.

MY HUS­BAND JOHN has cancer and is hav­ing three-weekly cy­cles of chemo­ther­apy, which has left him feel­ing, as he puts it, ‘un­re­li­able’. He chooses to de­vote his time to study. To the un­tu­tored eye it looks more like watch­ing co­pi­ous amounts of day­time TV, mostly in­volv­ing peo­ple stand­ing in bare rooms in sunny sea­side towns say­ing, ‘This hasn’t got the wow fac­tor.’ But I’m not qual­i­fied.

How­ever, it leaves my Ital­ian Spinone, An­gela, and me free to break­fast at leisure, walk four miles of Thames tow­path and spend the rest of the day ly­ing down be­side John (her) and work­ing (me). We have walked this route in rain and shine, or that bizarre com­bi­na­tion of the two known as sum­mer. We never tire of that walk, ei­ther of us. The river is a beau­ti­ful, re­as­sur­ing pres­ence. An­gela ex­plores and chases things. I work out tricky bits of plot or have con­ver­sa­tions with my­self about what’s go­ing on.

Ital­ian Spinones are loyal, friendly and stoic. She likes com­pany, and she’s a good mate. I try to fol­low John’s lead in the bril­liant, phleg­matic way he copes with cancer, but I could do worse than learn about un­ques­tion­ing, lov­ing friend­ship from our dog.

Jenny Eclair had bet­ter watch out. How It Was, by Janet El­lis, is pub­lished on Thurs­day (Two Roads, £16.99)

I could do worse than learn about un­ques­tion­ing, lov­ing friend­ship from our dog, An­gela

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.