I’m Jenny Pellett. To be honest, I usually feel awkward taking centre stage and talking about myself. It reminds me of training courses I was sent on in my early career – you know, where you have to stand up, introduce yourself then spend the rest of the day in a team situation creating a bivouac from a single sheet of newspaper and a few cocktail sticks. I prefer to watch and observe. I write, you see. I record and jot things down that might be useful: threads of conversations, odd words (I love words), how someone is dressed; the cut of their hair; anything that amuses me. Lots of things amuse me. My cup is always at least half full and not a day goes by without something or someone making me laugh. I was brought up in a happy household; we were taught to ‘find the funny’ – the best lesson I ever learned.
I’ve always written. Fiction, articles, diaries, essays. I started blogging at Charactersfromthekitchen as a means to anchor all the characters whizzing around in my head, to give them a platform. I soon discovered that to post equals publishing, so I don’t post stories any more – I blog about all sorts- anything that comes into my head – but that’s the reason behind my blog’s misleading name. I do a lot of thinking in my kitchen – it takes my mind off the boring other stuff that has to go on there. I hate cooking.
I live in the south-east of England with my husband and son, surrounded by beautiful countryside yet only an hour from London. I’ve always lived in the country but have a hankering for the city and all its treasures. I commuted there for fifteen years, had a career in publicity and loved every minute (except the training courses). Nowadays I work in a local mainstream school as a support teacher to mainly autistic students, helping them make sense of the world. I love their point of view; find humour and wisdom in their comments and have learned to be patient as well as one step ahead.
I have synaesthesia. I see things in colour that other people don’t. Days of the week, months of the year; my number line is a like a DNA spiral strand in glorious technicolour. It never occurred to me until a couple of years ago that this was unusual but now I feel privileged to encounter these heightened sensory experiences. Something to do with the brain’s unique wiring – it’s quite exciting.
Travelling has always been a passion – back in the day, (BC – before children) we journeyed to the Far East, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka and have seen an awful lot of Europe. (Some of it literally awful…). The Americas, apart from New York City, remain unconquered. I‘m looking forward, in the next few years, to having more time to travel and to pursue some of my other interests – theatre, rambling (on foot and verbally), visiting museums, galleries and places in the UK that I’ve always meant to go.
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow … but for now, I’d like to thank Jill for allowing me this space and crack on with answering her questions.
If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?
Without hesitation – Grayson Perry, the eccentric cross-dressing English potter and artist extraordinaire. He has won the Turner Prize; has presented an insightful television documentary about the British class system inspired by his series of brightly woven tapestries depicting a modern Rake’s Progress; has ridden his psychedelic motor bike all around Bavaria accompanied by his boyhood Teddy Bear, Alan Measles. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy, has curated a major exhibition at the British museum and has delivered a series of entertaining talks for BBC Radio Four’s prestigious Reith Lectures slot. I saw him hold forth at the British Museum and he was inspiring. He is funny, engaging and outspoken. I like to think we’d get along like a house on fire.
If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
A miracle, that’s what it would be. Old dogs and new tricks are words that immediately spring to mind. I think my days of learning are gone – memory like the proverbial sieve, concentration span of a gnat. What I would have liked to learn and master perfectly is the French language – I’d like to be fluent. I understand and speak it ok, but I’d love to be able to jabber on all evening intelligently to a load of French intellectuals. No idea why – it’s not as if I know any English ones. Failing that, playing the piano would be an achievement.
What do you miss most about being a kid?
The thrill of one’s birthday. Birthdays were a wonderful event: the anticipation, the treats. Arranging the party and making a guest list; the presents, wrapped and ribboned, attached to a well-wishing card; the birthday song sung at school; the embarrassment and discomfort of the bumps; not being told off; chocolate for breakfast; the cake, the candles – oh the list for what’s good about youthful birthdays is virtually endless. Nowadays I gloss over a particular annual date which, like time’s winged chariot, seems to hurtle round ever quicker.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Give birth. Anyone who says that you forget the pain and the unpleasant bits is lying, however wonderful your infant is. And mine was – and is – pretty wonderful actually, especially when he remembers to take the rubbish out and put his plates in the dishwasher.
Is there anything about the opposite sex you just don’t understand or comprehend?
Pretty much everything. Understanding the opposite gender is a work in progress – likely to last a lifetime. Why, for instance, don’t men like browsing? They go shopping, yes – but they go straight to what they want, buy it and head for home. No comparison shopping, no checking out alternatives – so boring.
Why can’t they ever find anything? Why do they shout from upstairs, before they’ve even opened a cupboard “where is my …………..?” Or worse: “What have you done with my …………?” And when they do open the cupboard or drawer, they just stand there waiting for whatever it is to leap out at them.
Why don’t they ever throw anything away? Why do they leave torn-open envelopes on the hall table, having retrieved the post that they need? Why are they always mislaying their wallets/car-keys/passport/tickets? Why do they panic when this happens instead of putting these items somewhere they’ll remember? Why can’t they do gift-wrapping? Appreciate your map-reading skills? Sleep without snoring or hogging the duvet?
Why do we love them?
Thanks for taking the spotlight, Jenny! ‘Finding the funny’ I love that! Up next week is Johanna Bradley.