I may not like them but they ARE rather good.

I may not like them but they ARE rather good

And, further, on my post below.

I really try NOT to buy using Amazon. But I can understand why they’re taking over the world.

First, they tend to be the cheapest supplier of “stuff”.

Second, they offer free delivery.

Third, so far (I’ve used them twice), they beat the customer expectations. They promise delivery within a week or so, when you place the order, and then deliver within 2 days! So, I placed the order two days ago, they promised it would be delivered Tuesday or Wednesday of next week and then they have delivered today!

I hate them more.

I would never pay for Amazon Prime since the delivery, in any case, is so good. You can see why everyone uses them.

But I will still only use them when I really need to. I get my books from Wordery, who have wonderful customer service. I like to book my hotel and flights directly (I phoned the hotel in Rome and got a much better deal than I would have online, for example). But, you know ……

Amazon ARE doing something right. Cheap and efficient.

I still hate them though :'(

Leave me be!

__leave_me_the_fuck_alone___by_alchimichi

I’m fairly easy going. I don’t need much and most of it I have already got.

But you know, leave me alone. I don’t want interferance from others and, in particular, governments and organisations. But, particularly, governments.

So, in the 1970s, the UK joined the EU. For most of my life after that, it didn’t really have a direct effect. And then I moved here. I was able to do so easily and, apart from the first couple of years, I didn’t and don’t need any sort of permission to stay here. It’s a right, guaranteed by the EU lawa and protections. In fact, right now, I can go anywhere within the EU to live and work (or not). It was granted to me by the governments of the EU and it’s a thing I like.

I have been here for over 12 years, living, working, paying my taxes, etc. I can go back, if I wanted to, or move somewhere else (as long as it’s warmer :-) ). I have true freedom of movement.

But now, because the UK are a bunch of arseholes, that current and future right is being put in doubt as with a load of other things. And Brexit hasn’t even happened yet! Almost daily, there are stories of people being threatened with deportation from the UK, people who can’t bring in their wife or husband because of an interpretation of the laws by the British courts, etc. And, still Brexit hasn’t happened!

And there are reports that, whereas the EU wants to ensure that it’s members’ people maintain the right of free movement to Britain, the British abroad are being excluded form that because the British government, to be frank, doesn’t really care about it’s small number of people abroad. On the other hand, I don’t care about much else except my continued right to stay and work here.

So, governments – LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!

Commenting allowed!

Commenting allowed!

After putting up my last post, I noticed that commenting was off, for some reason.

Not just on the last port – but all posts, at least for a while back.

I guess, at some point, an upgrade to WordPress made this setting and I had no idea.

Well, now I’ve corrected it. I needed to go to Posts, tick all titles, select Bulk Actions -> Edit and up came a window with various options including allowing people to comment.

Of course, to stop this happening in future, I also went to Settings -> Discussions and ticked some boxes to allow comments.

So, it wasn’t my fault and, it seems, was some common problem.

Glad I noticed it though. At least, now, people can comment on the stuff I write.

What’s happening to this world?

Tomorrow, Trump takes over one of the most powerful countries in the world and the world might end shortly afterwards. Or not.

Soon, the United Kingdom will leave the EU and the EU might start ending or the UK might crash and burn.

Turkey might be on its way to becoming a dictatorship. Syria is still in the middle of its civil war (which should really be called the first “Water War”) resulting in many refugees trying to escape.

There is the continuing war between the hard-line Islamic groups and the Western World.

It’s starting to look like a disaster and you’d think that the Western World would band together to fight the hard-line Islamic groups more effectively.

Except, of course, that’s not actually the war, even if it seems like it.

There are significant changes happening to our world (and economies and cultures) and, it seems, nobody really knows how to deal with it or (in some cases) what the real problem is.

So, let’s look at the real problems.

Water: Some areas of the world, maybe because of climate change, exacerbated by population explosions and, therefore, lack of water resource, are suffering from unexpected droughts. This means the people who live there have to move, creating internal (to the country) migration which, if too large causes the same problems as immigration – too many people and too few jobs and other resources. This causes friction between the indigenous population and the incomers and foments anger, discrimination and the rise of fanatical groups. That’s Syria but is also starting to happen (has happened?) elsewhere.

Globalisation: The rise of the truly international corporations and their wealth and power is transforming the whole world. Some companies now have the wealth of nations and can demand governments treat them as “special cases”. Global international companies want a) free and easy trade agreements between countries, b) freedom of movement (for both themselves and their employees and their money) and c) reductions in taxes and other payments. If they don’t get these things they move out. If they get these things because of a promise to “stay where they are” or “invest more”, they can, quite easily break these promises …. and they do. They really have no “national pride” as their only motive is to increase profit and shareholder value. With the increasing beneficial (to them) trade agreements, they can move parts of their business, manufacturing or services elsewhere quite easily. (As an aside, I’ve just broken off from this and seen that Theresa May has been saying something about this at Davos – and asking multinational companies for “help” in making it right. This should be interesting.)

Money: Of course, money is actually (originally) debt, created by the banks. The problem is not money itself but the fact that, like a river, it flows and sometimes gets caught up in certain places (forming lakes of water) and sometimes disappears from elsewhere (the debt part of it). If you have it, it’s all right; if you don’t, it’s a bit of a problem. Countries used to have it (sort of) but now they have massive debt and multinationals and the super-rich have it all. This puts countries and most ordinary people at a huge disadvantage (see also globalisation above.)

Technology: Just like in the Industrial Revolution at the end of the 18th and into the 19th centuries, is changing everything we are used to, from a social and cultural sense to work – what it is, who does it and, more importantly, who doesn’t. Just like the change from everything being done by hand to automation and mass production, it is having an enormous effect in terms of employment and is growing globalisation faster than ever.

So there are the problems. The question is, what do we do about them. And no one really knows what to do. Countries, for a couple of centuries, our (more or less) stable units of groups of people, certainly aren’t sure and certain countries are trying different things. The EU has been (and currently still is) trying to “keep control” using laws and benefits. Recently some countries have put forward the idea of a universal income – where everyone gets a basic amount whether they’re working or not. Therefore these people can still buy the food they need, live in a house or flat and have some basic necessities. Those at work would have more money and can spend that money creating more employment. However, in my opinion, this will only work if those in employment either pay much more in tax or take lower pay, allowing their company to make more profit and pay more tax. At the end of it, the countries doing this kind of thing need more money to make it work.

An alternative, and the one that Trump seems to be banking on, is to ensure that companies create more jobs. The problem with this course would seem, at the moment, to do away with trade agreements and free trade – something that the multinationals desire and need.

Another alternative is to “encourage” companies to come to your country to create employment. This is what the EU (and America too) have been doing up to now. The unfortunate bit (as I mentioned in the globalisation paragraph) is that multinationals don’t feel so patriotic and will happily break any promises they make or move when they get a better offer. So, I think it’s possible to conclude that this method just isn’t really working, although it will take a bit of time for countries to get this.

Of course, in the meantime, the blame for all these world problems is being put on a) immigration and/or b) fanatics (which for Western countries is synonymous with hard-line Islamic groups.)

In the meantime, we are approaching World War III as countries and blocks around the world try to ensure (as it was for Communism v Capitalism) their brand of solution is the right one. Of course, as we’re seeing, it won’t necessarily be physical war. It will also include Digital War and an Ideals War (as for Communism v Capitalism). It’s impossible to tell who will win right now but, in the meantime, the fun game for the last few (20?) years has to be to pin the blame on someone else. And this has, largely, been successful, unlike in the war between Capitalism and Communism when, obviously, the enemy was the other side. Either the politicians and/or the media have a) not known who to blame (which is terrible) or they b) knew they were blaming the wrong people/groups but either didn’t care as it was a quick way to gain power or it was deliberate (which is also terrible).

The blame has been put on a) immigrants, b) those people not working, c) those people not paying their “fair share of tax” and, occasionally, d) banks and e) corporations.

But, in the main, it’s been a) and b). Those are the people that will HAVE to be looked after under the new EU-type model of the economy or completely abandoned under the new USA-type economic model although, under that model, the people in group b) may have some chance of working (but, possibly, in a gig economy – meaning that, although they will no longer in that group, they will have no future.)

Whichever way the world goes and whichever economic model the countries take, expect a lot of fall out and, I would say, most people in the world will suffer until the economic winner becomes clear.

So, basically, whether you live in the Syria, Turkey, Russia, the EU, post-Brexit Britain or the USA (or anywhere else?) you can expect, over the next 10 years or more, to be completely fucked.

Oh, yes. And happy new year!

Car break-ins, Cancer or Not to Cancer, iPhone software bugs.

It is about 7.15 a.m.

I am, as usual, hardly what I could term as “awake”. However, as usual, expecting something bad, as I do often, surprised to see the car where I left it.

As I walk towards it, I press the button on the fob and the indicator lights blink, as they usually do, to inform me that the car is now unlocked. Now, unlike yesterday at about 6.30 p.m., there are no “youths” hanging around in front of the car. Last night, as always, after locking the car (using the fob and not the key), I had checked that I had locked it properly by trying to open the back door as I passed. Only last night, I had made sure I had done it (it’s such an automatic thing that sometimes I cannot, within a few seconds, remember if I have checked my locking by this method) because of the group of four of five youths in front of the car. They were innocuous enough but, you know, I’m an old man now and you can’t ever be too careful, can you? And, anyway, I’m British and youths hanging around with little to do are always a bad sign.

I get to the car and open the door, taking my bag off my shoulder as I do so to slip it into the passenger footwell.

And I noticed something slightly strange. On the front passenger seat is the emergency first aid box that is permanently in the car. The reason it was strange is that I had not moved it from under the front seats and so it was completely out of place. I looked behind my seat where I put various thing, most of them in some cheap yellow shopping-style bag. And sure enough it was a little in disarray, and the umbrella could have been moved and my “summer driving shoes” had almost certainly been moved.

I checked each of the windows of the car. No, none had been smashed.

So, someone had got into to a car that I absolutely, certainly KNOW was locked without having to break any windows. They had rummaged around a bit and, from what I can tell, took two or three lighters (that I get for free anyway) but nothing else.

Not that there was anything to take. The yellow bag holding things like a bottle of water for the dogs, some additive for the windscreen wiper water and some other fairly crap items that are only useful when making car trips.

However, it did give me a slightly weird feeling. It’s not as if I can really report anything? I mean, what could I possibly say? But now I doubt the security of the car, of course.

And the reason I was parking in that particular place was that I had been to the doctor. And I don’t have cancer, of the lungs, at least, although I’m not entirely convinced I haven’t got it. However, because the heart doctor had panicked, I’m now on pills for blood pressure, which doesn’t really please me, and I have some further tests to do next year (the first booking I could get). So bugger a bit but relief as well.

The doctor suggested that I try and cut down my smoking. She also added that I was a “lucky man” – but, then, I’ve always said that, haven’t I?

In other news, Apple phones are just as crap and unreliable as other phones. iMessage doesn’t work with phones that aren’t other Apple phones. A long conversation with Apple Help, which included resetting my telephone, didn’t help and they told me it must be my provider. It didn’t really make sense as it HAD been working and, then, sometime around April/May it stopped working – which, for a while I thought was because the phones I was trying to text were in the UK and I thought it was a UK problem – until a colleague had a problem sending a message to me.

I’ve now found that this is a known problem (well, known to the world except for Apple, it seems) and, although I’ve tried every trick given to sort the problem – so far, no good. Which doesn’t please me much. It’s something to do with an update to the operating system that they did a while ago, it seems. Let’s hope the next update fixes this. I thought the guy from Apple who was helping me was quite OK – until afterwards when I realised that he, like nearly all helplines, actually knew nothing and was just doing the equivalent of “switch it off and then back on again”

So bugger.

I will add a photo later or tomorrow.

The Joy Is Back

The Joy Is Back

He’s away. Again.

This time it’s for at least 10 days. He left on Friday morning for London and then on Saturday flew to China. 10 days is a very long time, made worse by the fact that, this weekend just gone, was a long weekend – Monday and Tuesday were holidays.

But I had plans to make sure that I wasn’t stuck in the house all day by myself. Or, as it could be, lonely.

Plans of things to do. Some of which I did do and some I didn’t – of course, as this is me.

Things that I did do include: finishing all the Christmas cards (they are now with the daughter of the woman who works at the main post office in Milan as the Christmas stamps (see a post below) do not even cover the postage to other European countries, let alone American and Australia or New Zealand); buying of presents; wrapping of presents for overseas to be boxed up and posted today (more on that later); the usual stuff such as washing and tidying up; getting the winter tyres put on the car.

Things that I didn’t do include: cleaning the silver; painting the bathroom shower area; brushing the dogs.

I didn’t quite finish the wrapping of presents to be posted because I forgot to buy things for Best Mate’s dogs. So that means that I will have to go out this lunchtime to get things – which is actually OK because I can also buy the food to keep our dogs going over Christmas. So the parcels will actually be sent tomorrow. This is not so bad and they should reach there in plenty of time.

The cards should also reach most destinations in time. I hope. Obviously, they won’t actually be sent until tomorrow but as it’s only the 9th today, it should be OK, I think – I mean it’s 2 weeks!

I also went to Il Salvegente (a kind of Designer Outlet store – the oldest in Milan) to see if there was anything for BM and J (there was) and to buy some jeans and a jumper and, maybe, something for F. There wasn’t – but I did pick up a pair of shoes that I liked (but certainly didn’t need – unlike the jeans and jumper). As they didn’t open until 11 a.m. yesterday (it being a public holiday here), I took a longer, more meandering route and managed to find a shop (unfortunately closed) that sold Shaun the Sheep stuff – so I’ll be going back there on Saturday to pick something else up for F.

I also got a call from V’s Dad. Ay had told him that we had really looked after her well when she came over. He was ringing to thank me. I told him that he didn’t need to thank me as this was Ay and I would do anything for her – but I think his ringing me was a lovely thing to do.

Next weekend, I still have time to paint the bathroom (but probably won’t) and time to brush the dogs (I will possibly do that) but I’ve decided to forget the silver. It’s better to do that on 24th when F will, almost certainly, be cleaning the house like it’s spring or like the Queen is coming. At least it will give me something to do other than being in the way (and in the cold as the windows will certainly be open throughout the house). Obviously, even cleaning the silver, I will certainly be in the way (and in the cold) but he will understand that I’m doing something – with any luck.

Among other things that I did over the weekend was get some tickets for The Cure (next November) which F wants to go and see. This, I’ve decided, will be his birthday present. I have also ordered tickets for the ballet at La Scala for 30th December – which will be his main Christmas present, as they are quite expensive. I also thought it would be a nice thing to go to – sort of Festive and dressy-uppy and, as it’s Cinderella, both a story I can follow (I’m not that much into ballet) and right for the Christmas period.

What I also did was wrap all the presents for him, so that’s good. I still have the Cinderella tickets to come and one other present which should be on its way soon and, of course, the Shaun the Sheep thing. Then I’ve done.

And, for those of you who’ve been reading this blog over the years, you will know that this is totally unlike me. This is NOT to say that I won’t do some last-minute shopping on 24th as you will know I like that. But I really don’t need to as I have enough. It’s like the old days when I was prepared and ready. F has given me the joy back and I really like that.

So, although I miss him, I AM busy and am doing lots of things and the time is going quickly and so it’s OK. I will be very happy when he’s back, safe and sound though.

Hopeful

Hopeful

Shhhhh!

Say this quietly.

It’s possible the trip won’t take in China (well, apart from Hong Kong) and that he’ll be back on Monday.

One can hope. It would mean just over two weeks away instead of three.

I don’t know why or what’s changed. And, at the moment, it’s not definite.

So, I’m whispering this.

And, crossing my fingers.

And, hoping (as is he.)

I’ll miss you too

I'll miss you too.jpg

“I will miss you.”

Things rarely said become more effective when said.

“And I’ll miss the bambini.”

Well, of course, but that gets said more often.

We’re now into day 3 of at least 16 days. At least 16 because, as yet, we don’t know (or, rather, I don’t know and he may or may not know … yet) if he’ll be required to stay in London for a day or two when he gets back there.

I followed the flight. Most of the flight was over Russia. Russia is a very big country which, although I knew that, following the flight and hours and hours of flying over terrain without towns and hardly any names to rivers and lakes (or seas), I appreciated it more.

Apparently he slept little and watched four films. The flight was over 11 hours. He is seven hours or so in front. As I write, it’s about 6.30 p.m. for him and not even lunchtime for me.

Of course, I’ve been busy. His cousin’s son and his girlfriend came to see Expo and stayed with us. Except he was only there for the Thursday night when they arrived. They stayed until Sunday. So, really, they stayed with me and not us. It was OK. They were at Expo all day Friday and then all day and into the evening on Saturday.

On Sunday, after breakfast, I tried to tell them how to go to the new Porta Nuova area but it was difficult to explain with my bad Italian so I offered to take them. I did my usual walk from there down Corso Como, Corso Garibaldi and into Brera – then we took a tram to the centre of Milan and I left them there. I think they were grateful.

F just phoned me. He has to phone when he can which is not that often since he doesn’t want to run up a huge telephone bill. It’s OK. These snatches of conversation are better than nothing.

I will be quite busy over the next few weeks – also because he’s not here – and that will make the time go really fast. Plus I have a load of films to watch so it’s not all bad. It just gets a bit exhausting – getting up earlier to take the dogs out, doing everything that needs doing, etc. But it’s OK.

He is working too and won’t get so much time to go and visit the cities he will be in. It won’t really be a walk in the park for him.

But, I will be so happy when he’s back and, from his comment, so will he.

And, as I replied to him – “I’ll miss you too.”

Which hat do I want?

Sometimes I feel I should have taken a Hippocratic Oath. Or that it should be a requirement of the job. Or that it should fall under the Confessions to a Priest thing.

For, at times, I am advisor, office assistant, writer of fine words, solver of problems, sounding board and priest-like listener doling out tea and sympathy (metaphorically speaking.)

Of course, there are the “straight” students. The ones for whom it is a matter of grammar and vocabulary. But there are the occasional ones where you get, over a period of weeks and months, to be let in on the most secret of secrets. And, I take it seriously. I don’t tell anyone, not even F.

But, tonight, possibly, comes the role of “voice coach”. I don’t actually know yet. Someone (who is a “someone important” for an important Italian company) has to make a presentation. It was originally thought to have to be in Italian but, at the last minute this person learned that it was to be in English.

It might be a writing of a presentation in English. Or, it might have already been written and it’s a matter of pronunciation and cadence and inflection. I don’t know. Yet.

Of course, one single hour is not enough time for whatever it is, but it’s all I have so it will have to do. It will be better than nothing, I suppose. We shall see. And, of course, it’s for a friend of a friend/student so I couldn’t really say “no”, could I?

But I wonder which hat, of the many hats I use, I should don tonight?

Same thing, different country.

“Not one of them is Italian!”

“None of them?”

It seems not. Except the “foreman” or someone like that. Or, at least, he speaks Italian.

I ask what they are. I am told Romanian. Ah yes, of course.

There are lots of tut-tutting and shaking of heads. What is the world coming to?

I say that this is similar to the UK. A lot of builders are Polish or Romanian (I have read).

Except that, as an immigrant myself, I don’t tut-tut nor shake my head. I also know that there are many Italians who would rather not do this type of work – carrying heavy windows up the stairs, balancing precariously on the ledge where the old window was whilst fitting the new window. And, anyway, these people will be cheaper, I’m sure.

It’s not a job that I’d like to do and quite possibly, I would be crap at it anyway.

My old hairdresser was Romanian. I doubt if he could have gone round fitting windows either. A waitress (until the end of the month when she goes to be an air hostess) in one of the local restaurants that we like is Romanian. Romanians are everywhere and in all sorts of service jobs. It doesn’t make them bad people.

Still, the reaction from the Italians is much the same as I’ve seen from the British.

I am saddened by it.