I wish ……. kind of

A Younger Me?

It’s hot here. We’re in the middle of some sort of heatwave. I really do like it but would obviously prefer it if I were on the beach, under the umbrella, reading a good book.

But I’d forgotten this thing that comes with it. Where you are almost breaking out in a sweat all the time. Having a shower helps – but just for the time under the shower. After that, you actually break into a sweat before reverting back to this almost sweating – where the skin feels like it’s about to burst into full-on flooding. It’s not really comfortable but I’d much rather this than feeling cold.

Having just been out for a cigarette, checking the weather forecast, it’s supposed to be a real temperature of 37°C at the moment but feeling like 43°! Tomorrow will be hotter still. And this weekend, we should go down to Carrara, which will be lovely. It will be our first time on the beach this year (the weather up to about 2 weeks ago being pretty dire) and I’m looking forward to getting some sun and reading a book.

In the meantime, yesterday, someone sent me a picture of one of the models at the recent Paris Fashion Week shows who, apparently, reminded him of me – a younger me, of course, hence the picture at the top. And you see the lips? Similar, for sure, hence the horrible nickname I had at my first secondary school.

And, last night at the bar, I was looking at other, younger people, and wondering if they realise what they have because I didn’t. If I had known I was so “beautiful” maybe I could have had a different life. But only kind of, since I’m happy with my life, more or less, to date and wouldn’t really want to change it. But, obviously, I don’t know how it would have been so, just for a moment, last night, in the bar, I wondered …

The Boiler Room

The Boiler Room

Things I remember.

I remember it’s dark. I remember it’s cold. I remember the hods, the coke, the ashes, the metal bucket used to carry the hot ashes to a place further away to tip them on the growing heap of cold ashes. I remember the smell, how the ash rose in a cloud in that small room, breathing in that cloud and the acrid, hot ash hitting your throat, getting everywhere – in your hair, in your nose, on your clothes and, if you weren’t careful or if you were unlucky, in your eyes.

But there was a sanctuary in that small, windowless, airless room full of ash and smell, for there was heat.

Every morning and every evening, clean out the ash that had fallen, scraping it out into the bucket, using a brush to get it clean; carrying said bucket away to tip onto the pile (at the end of the garden, I think), then shovelling the hod into the bottom of the pile of coke, filling up the hod as much as possible – you wanted to do this as few times as possible, carrying the hod over (was the coke in a different room/place?) and tipping it into the feeder. It was heavy. You were tired. Sick and tired.

But at least there was heat.

Was I eight? Or older? Did they replace it with one fired by oil, needing a large tank nearby? The door to this room was next to the kitchen door, at the back of the bungalow.

I felt like Cinderella – without the Fairy Godmother, or the Prince, or the glass slipper. I got up before everyone else to make sure that everyone had heating. It was early. Possibly 6? Often dark. Or, probably, I was awoken to do this in the morning. In the evening, possibly, straight after school. Nobody else did this job – only me. And I had forgotten about it – but the smell I can still smell, the heat I can still feel, the dust in every pore, I still remember. And I would shut the door to the room and I could pretend that I wasn’t there, in that world, I could be anywhere I wanted to be …. as long as it also had a boiler room!

p.s. In case you didn’t know what I was talking about:
Hod
A hod – although I seem to remember I used plastic ones.

Coke
Not the type of coke you may have initially thought about!

Everything happened at 8

Something happened at 8

Well, I really know that not everything happened at 8. Some things happened before and some afterwards but, for most of them, it seems that 8 was the magic number.

That was the year that many bad things happened. And, yet, it cannot possibly be.

So, at around 2 a.m., as I’m lying in bed and thinking why it seems that so much happened when I was eight years old, I realised there was one event that definitely, without question, happened during that year.

I can remember the date of the birthdays of most of my family. My mother, my youngest brother, my nan, my grandfather, my sister ……. but not my father nor my middle brother (or my paternal grandparents – but that’s a whole different thing). I can’t even remember the month for either of them, let alone the actual day. And the middle brother was born in the same year that I was 8. Was that it? Or is there something else? Did something happen before or after he was born that explains my justification for all bad things being when I was 8?

These thoughts came to me because, just before this I remembered “The Boiler Room”. Honestly, I don’t know why. But, it came to me and I started to remember some of the detail. And that led me to try and remember when it started. I do know it was before I was 14 but I can’t remember when it began and that’s when “8” came into my mind. But, maybe I was 10 or 12? I don’t actually remember, so “8” has claimed it as its own.

It doesn’t really matter. I thought that I would like to write a post about it and so I will. Maybe during the writing of some of these things from the past, I’ll get a handle on what the real problem with “8” is?

So, future planned posts are:
The Boiler Room
The Garden
The Birthday Present
The Hospital
The Wasps in the Window
Fencing.

There may be more that will come to me. I’ll try to cover them in the next few weeks.

And …… relax – well, maybe.

It’s really difficult to explain (here or in person), my feelings regarding Brexit and how it might affect me.

But I felt a little bit better today to read this. Of course, my distrust of things that are said or written, especially by Governments, is high but, you know, this gives me a little hope.

What isn’t entirely clear is if the pension rules, currently in place, will actually be the same after 29th March. But there is nothing I can actually do about that.

But it’s a kind of Christmas present and gives me some calm, so better than nothing.

And, speaking of Christmas, here is our tree:
Our Christmas Tree

Last Saturday, we had people coming round for an aperitivo. Nothing grand – but, of course, the house had to be sparkling and there had to be lots of food and drink. So, late Saturday afternoon, around 5, we went to get some last-minute things. And on our way back, at the Piazza just by our house, I heard singing – as in, carol singing. Now, in all the years I’ve been here, I have never, ever seen or heard carol singers. A big thing in the UK with the chances of not hearing them around zero, here, just like Christmas cards, it is definitely NOT a thing. Sadly, as we had guests coming, we couldn’t stay but, as I hadn’t heard any for so long, it was kind of wonderful and we stopped for a moment. I recorded a short video which might or might not work:

So, on that note (pun intended), I’ll wish you all a very Merry Christmas now. I hope it’s a good one for you.

Christmas is coming … and so are the stamps!

Well, it’s nearly Christmas and, as usual, one has to do Christmas cards.

And, for that, one needs stamps. And they have been released and I should get them on Thursday – which means this weekend will be writing cards.

The options are, as always, 2. The non-religious one is the one needed to send cards withing Europe and it’s this one:

Non-religious Italian Christmas Stamp 2018

The other is the religious one which I don’t get:

Religious Italian Christmas Stamp 2018

To be honest, I don’t rate this year’s choice very much but, as I say, there are only two.

So, this (long) weekend will be writing cards, eating minced pies and watching some sort of Christmas film. I’m looking forward to it!

The death of ……. the postcard

The death of the .......postcard

This world changes so fast, driven in the main by new technology.

And, this weekend I discovered another thing that is on its last legs. The postcard.

There we are, at a seaside town, full of tourists during August. So much so, that it transforms the town – as is the case with many seaside towns, I guess.

And, A, my Italian friend, has this thing about postcards. He always sends one (even if he’s away for a weekend) and, for summer, I reciprocate. I also like to send one to BM and to J.

So, I needed three postcards – an easy thing you would think, especially in a tourist town. But, this year, surprisingly difficult. We did find one shop, eventually, thank goodness, but it didn’t used to be so difficult. And that got me to thinking of whether anyone actually sends postcards any more? I mean, I don’t send letters very often (and I’m racking my brains to think of the last time I did) – now we’ve got instant messaging and social media to keep in touch with people. And I guess most people under the age of about 30 would even consider sending postcards. So if there’s no call for them, it is likely that over the next few years, it will become impossible to find them.

It’s a sad thing but, I guess, inevitable.

For younger people, it won’t make any difference since they’ve never done it.

NB. The image is, apparently, a 1960s postcard from Death Valley!

Let’s do it!

Let's do it!

There’s a glimmer of light at the end of this particular tunnel.

Or, possibly, it’s a slight crack in the paradise of life, showing the fiery core of the earth – hell.

I feel uncomfortable and, yet, still interested enough to go along with it. This is someone who may not have the preconceptions of others. And I don’t have a history with them so I, too, should have no preconceptions. And, still, I am wary.

But I should probably do it. After all, it’s not like I’m going to the gallows.

And I wonder what is going through his head. For I am someone that he doesn’t know. Someone who may have been spoken of occasionally – if ever. I am the mystery.

And what will he find? How will I be. I mean, will I be able to be “normal” given who he is?

I don’t know. I guess there’s only one way to find out …..

Let’s do it!

I did it cause I love you

I did it cause I love you

I didn’t get drunk. Well, maybe a little right at the end, around 2 to 3 a.m.

And people did come. Not everyone who said they would, but many, most. And they brought presents which, for some reason, I didn’t expect – and some very nice presents too!

And there was more than enough food, thanks to Le Madeleine. They arrived when they said they would and set up in the half an hour they said it would take. I had ordered food for 50. In fact, around 35 came and there was a mountain of food left over – even after we foisted food on everyone that would take it. The food was good and I particularly loved the Lasagne.

People came and went – but I didn’t stop for a moment and neither did F who worked tirelessly to make the whole event go so well. At midnight we cut the cake and opened a bottle of champagne and then people danced. And it was a fantastic, perfect party and so much better than I could have hoped for. The people who didn’t come, who had said they would, weren’t really missed although I did wonder about it afterwards. The people who were there made it a great party.

And, now I am over 60. And I still can’t quite believe I’m still here, alive. But I’m grateful that I am.

And the icing on the cake, so to speak, was when I texted F to thank him for making the whole weekend so good – and he texted back, “I did it cause I love you”, which really made my weekend.

As long as I don’t get drunk!

As long as I don't get drunk!

I wrote this several days ago.
_______________________________________________________________________________________

It’s a stressful time.

It shouldn’t be – well, maybe it should be, but only for me.

So, the party is being held in the flat. There’s the buffet to organise, glasses, etc. We bought the booze but, now, it doesn’t seem enough so we might get some more.

The buffet will consist of some catered stuff and, just in case, some small bite-sized stuff that we’ve ordered from the bread shop. The cake has been ordered from our breakfast cake shop, as has the ice.

But then there’s the house. F is already talking to me about it. “This should be here”, “The table should be in the centre so people can walk around to get the food.”, etc.

And then there’s the cleaning. And the moving of stuff. It started after we got the booze on Sunday morning. Within a couple of hours, because I asked him a question, there was shouting and tantrums and the usual crap.

I cleaned the silver – as I do when he gets like this. And took the dogs out. And we haven’t really talked since because AS flew in from Vienna and was staying with us (with her daughter).

But I’m not stressed at all. Today, I’m ordering the glasses and the buffet. Everything will be fine.

Since I started writing this, some people have pulled out and I’m still not sure if FfC will appear or will only appear briefly (since she’s a friend of FfI and FfI will be determined to organise something to try and fuck it all up). But, it doesn’t matter. It will still be fine and I know that certain people will be there.

But, as you know, I’m a bit of a secret hypochondriac – so I keep wondering if I’ll even reach Saturday/Sunday? I feel “not quite right” which leads to, “perhaps this is the end and I’ll have a heart attack or something?” I know, crazy isn’t it?

Then I keep wondering if my mother will think about me on this day since she will, almost certainly, remember that I will be 60. Not that it makes me want to get in touch, so don’t take this the wrong way. It doesn’t change anything – it just keeps crossing my mind.

I just hope that F doesn’t get too snipey with the stuff beforehand – the cleaning (we’ve already had the one outburst, so I cleaned the silver), the organising, the arranging of furniture, etc. There was a moment during the silver cleaning when I almost wished I hadn’t bothered. But, I’m sure it will be fine.

As long as I don’t get drunk! But I have a plan ……

UPDATE: The buffet is ordered. Glasses are got. Pictures have been cleaned. Saturday will be tight (the dogs have to be cleaned as well, of course). But it will be OK, I’m sure. FfC is coming and, I’ve heard, FfI will be going away, so at least she won’t be trying to fuck it all up.

It’s my party …

She texts me to ask if I can talk.

I finish my cigarette and text her back to say I’m out of the office, so, yes.

I light another cigarette and just as I’m finished, she calls.

She calls to tell me that she has been feeling very rough over the weekend (she’s currently having a course of chemo) and didn’t want to go out (also because it rained all weekend) but she didn’t have any food in the house – except rice. Is this why she’s called, I wonder?

She berates FfC who, apparently, didn’t call to check on her. I suspect that is a sideswipe at me but I ignore it. I guess she’d say the same to FfC but, this time, it would be me in the frame.

But it makes me feel a little bad. I tell her she should have texted me and I would have come over with stuff for her. She says that she didn’t want to bother anyone – but then, why mention it at all if that were the case?

She says that her hair might fall out soon, like this week. I ask if she has a wig. She says no, she’ll wear headscarves and hats. But, as we talk, she says she’ll think about it.

We talk about the rain at the weekend and the dogs (hers doesn’t like the rain either) and towelling the dogs. Was this what she’s called about, I wonder?

She then tells me that FfC had told her that I’m doing some sort of party (for my birthday – it’s a special). Now, firstly, I had told FfC that I hadn’t told anyone else yet and that I was checking with her because I was going to hold it on her birthday, which is the day before mine. Although I tried to imply that I didn’t want to tell anyone else yet, I knew that she would tell FfI. And, so she did.

So, I try to explain that I am starting to think about what to do but she doesn’t really seem to be listening. But, is this what she wants to speak to me about?

She tells me that she can’t come if H2 is invited. They were, for many years, best friends and every party, H2 was there. But, possibly for the last year or so, H2 has been nowhere to be seen. I say that I’ll have to invite her. She asks why. I say because I’ve been friends with her for years (although really through FfI) and I couldn’t not.

Then, like a recording from the time that few Christmasses ago, she says that she wouldn’t invite that fucking prick of a boyfriend/not-boyfriend if I was coming to her place and then adds that she wouldn’t come if H2 were there. I said, well, that would a choice for you. She then says that perhaps she’ll do something at her place then, just a quiet little something even if she would really like to come. So just like a few Christmasses ago then! And, of course, that means she’ll invite FfC so that FfC has to choose and so, just like that New Year’s Eve, will do neither properly and so it will all be botched up and no one will be really happy.

And now I know that THIS is why she phoned.

I say I’ve got to go back into work now and she basically cuts me off. She is angry and, just like that time those Christmasses ago, she just pisses me off. Again.

But it’s OK because it’s my birthday and, as the song goes, I’ll cry if I want to :-D