Inevitable.

Inevitable

Have I ever mentioned that I’ve been smoking for over 46 years?

And that I smoke around 30 cigarettes a day? (Although, obviously, I didn’t start by smoking 30 a day – but I’ve probably been smoking 30 a day for about 35 years.)

And, yes, of course I should have given up by now. in fact, I rue the day I started and wish I never had.

But, such is the way of things.

So, at some point, probably, I’m going to suffer some disease as a result of all this smoking. And, at some point, I shall tell you that I have said disease, like, for example, lung cancer. Being the nice person that you are, you would, no doubt say how sorry you were and how dreadful it was, wouldn’t you? And, assuming I had treatment, you would hope that I would recover and, as they say (although I don’t feel it is the right word), “beat” it.

But, if you’re being honest with yourself, you would also think, “I’m not really surprised.” In fact, you might say this to anyone you talk to about it, although, probably, not say this to me. You might even think/say, “Well, it had to happen sooner or later.”

And you would, of course, be right.

And I would “only have myself to blame” so, really, I should not look for nor expect much real sympathy.

So, this thing that is “only a matter of time” has actually happened to a friend who is about 10 years older than me.

And, of course, it’s an awful thing and I hope it can be treated and that he comes out of it OK.

And, yet, of course, I am not surprised and it was only a matter of time and living long enough and was bound to happen sooner or later – none of which I could actually say to his wife and nor would I say to him.

But, it is/was inevitable, wasn’t it?

But in order that this isn’t too maudlin, there’s a nice picture of Brad Pitt at the top :-D

An unexpected happening

An unexpected happening

It should have been nice but he just wouldn’t talk about what I wanted to hear about. Instead he’s boring me to death with photos of restaurants that I’ll probably never go to and castles and churches and stuff.

What I wanted to hear about was his feelings about how it went. His relationship with M, his relationship with M’s parents, etc. But he was reticent (which makes me think that there’s more to it, of course.)

So I was bored (a bit – it’s not fair to say it was terrible – anyway, we were having a few pints which is always a good thing and he had only come back from his holidays a few hours before and he is really into the photography thing so it’s fair enough.)

We were at Bar Blanco, just across the piazza near our flat. It is one of the few bars open at the moment (most open next week when everyone is back.) It’s renowned as a place that gay people go to. It’s not a “gay bar” as such but a lot of gay people go there – mainly the younger, hipper ones.

I noticed a guy stood up near our table. He had the most dreadful shorts on. Or they looked dreadful on him anyway. He was reasonably tall, slim body, a half-grown hipster-style beard and he was probably in his mid-thirties. These details I noticed later. The only details I did notice were these dreadful shorts. I am unable to explain to you why they were so dreadful. They looked like “little boy” shorts being worn by a grown man.

I went to interrupt the photo show by telling A that this guy had the most dreadful shorts on when I saw the guy looking at me.

The next thing and he was flouncing behind A (so directly in front of me), between the tables, then round behind me and back to where he started. And, out of the corner of my eye, I could see that he was staring at me. He was actually hitting on me!

Of course, I told A, adding “unless he’s hitting on you?” It was my little joke. I then added “but that’s unlikely.” A responded that he hoped he wasn’t but, secretly, maybe, he was a bit jealous? ;-)

Anyway, although I wasn’t (am not) interested as I have F, it gave me something of a thrill and some delight that, at my very advanced age, a guy of under 40 should actually be hitting on me!

Soon afterwards, we left. A walked me to my flat even though his car, blocked in by a Ferrari, was parked right by the pub. Afterwards, I wondered if A was going back to see if it was really him that the guy was hitting on (not really …….. maybe?)

The holiday – beaches, food, drink and a day-trip to Portovenere

Well, if you’ve been following, most of my holiday posts have been about the books I was reading (am still reading).

But that wasn’t really the whole story. I mean, we did things other than me sitting on the beach and reading.

I picked Best Mate (BM) up from the airport on the Thursday evening. We spent the night in Milan and then drove down to Carrara the next day. F had already gone down with the dogs.

We spent the weekend together and then F came back to Milan on Sunday afternoon as he was working.

Time with BM was great. She did spend a lot of time sleeping, especially on the beach, but that was OK and expected.

One night we went to Sarzzana (unfortunately the antique fair that fills the narrow streets wasn’t up and running until the following week) and had a lovely time (apart from the worst pizza in the world – see previous post).

Another night was Carrara itself. But, apart from going to the beach and eating, that was about it. It was relaxing and lovely. The following Friday, we drove back to Milan, leaving the dogs in Carrara. We made a stop to see F who was working in Fidenza Village (one of those outlet villages where they have a shop) as he was on his way down to Carrara to stay with the dogs. The next morning, early, I took BM to the airport and then drove straight from there back to Carrara.

Most of the time we spent on the beach (during the day) apart from a couple of days when the weather was bad and one particular day (last Saturday) when one of F’s friends, A2, drove us to Portovenere.

Apart from the time with BM, this was truly the highlight of the holiday. Portovenere is a small town on the Ligurian coast. It is typically Italian, the harbour lined by houses painted in the reds, yellows and oranges one would expect in Italy. We left early (around 8 a.m.) so that we would get there early enough to find parking.

We (well, A2) drove to La Spezia, a large harbour town that receives cruise ships (there were 2 docked) and from there we followed the twisting road around the coast to the town of Portovenere.

We parked the car and then walked onto the harbour to find somewhere to have breakfast.

After that we strolled up towards the church, sited seemingly precariously on top of the headland overlooking the straits between that and the island opposite the harbour. But, instead of going to the church, we cut off just before and went through an archway onto some rocks in a small cove. Now, here’s the thing about Portovenere. It does have a couple of very small beaches located within the harbour but, like much of Liguria, so I’m led to believe, most of the bathing takes place off rocks. The advantage this has is that the sea is not “polluted” by drawing up sand into the water.

We found a place to lay our towels on the flatter rocks and went swimming. The water was warm and so, so clear. It almost didn’t feel like the sea at all. But, although I can swim, I’m not what you would call a confident swimmer. Plus, I have a real problem with getting water in my eyes, even normal tap water. If water gets in my eyes, I just cannot open them again until I can dry my lids. As a result of this, I don’t like going out of my depth. And this was not gradually sloping sand but rocks so, one minute OK, the next not. I didn’t stay long, to be honest – it was just a little bit scary for me. And, yet, beautiful to swim in.

We lay on the rocks, the sun breaching the walls behind us. The cove became packed and, about 11 or so when we decided to move, people couldn’t wait to take over our place on the rocks.

We went up to next to the church where we could look out from the top of what looked like an old fort (or, maybe the roof of the church?) Then we walked back through the town. F wanted to buy some pesto since he loves it. He chose a shop with the idea that we would come back later. It was really quaint. Narrow streets, as you would expect with a small harbour town built on the hillside. We reached the square from where we had started in the morning and then walked along the harbour to pick somewhere for lunch. Lunch was simple but nice. By the time we had finished lunch the place was really packed. That afternoon they were closing off the channel (by the church) to water traffic and allowing people to swim across the channel. Every space on the rocks was taken, people (mainly young adults) waiting for the signal that the channel was open.

But F and A2 weren’t so keen on staying. To be honest, I’d have like to see it start but, at the end of the day, I had enjoyed the day so much, I wasn’t going to let a little thing make it bad.

So, we walked back into the town and got the pesto and then walked to the car and came home. All day the sun shone and I have to say it was one of the nicest days I’ve had for a long time.

F realised that I had enjoyed it. “Next year, we’ll go for days out like this,” he said. “Maybe a couple of times a week.”

I told him that I’d like that even if it was only a couple of times during the holiday.

I’ll try and put some pictures up tomorrow of Portovenere.

Express Train

There are just 2 weekends to go and then it’s almost our holiday. I say “our” meaning mine, since F won’t be with me the first week.

Instead, Best Mate will be.

I am just so ready for this holiday. The problem is that I know that the holiday will also pass like an express train so, although I can’t wait for it to come, I also don’t want it to come, if you see what I mean. For as soon as it starts, it will seem to end.

There is also the weather. As usual, it is incredibly hot. It is July and this is normal. The problem is that last year, the end of July also triggered a significant change in the weather, for the worse. I’m hoping this year is not the case.

People are, as usual, complaining that it’s too hot – although the temperatures are only in the mid-thirties °C (although the temperature felt is closer to the forties.) The rain which my forecast keeps promising is due in the next 10 days (for about the last three weeks) has failed to materialise – but today does seem as if it might rain.

Over the next couple of weekends, we’re going to try out a few restaurants nearby, so that I have places to take Best Mate who will be with me for just over a week. Obviously, we have some – Bati Bati (lardo and asparagus pizza), Venezia (fish), La Brace (meat) – but we need more. I have also thought that, maybe, one night we do a barbecue in the garden. We’ll see how it goes. I’m very easy-going about it all tbh.

So, only 17 days to go until I pick BM up from the airport and start my hols! Yeah!!

How To Be Both/Citadel

So, it seems I’m back to normal in that I finished How To Be Both, by Ali Smith, yesterday evening – so, a couple of days, more or less.

It’s won lots of awards, including the Bailey’s Prize (formerly the Orange Prize for Fiction). But, although clever and interesting, it doesn’t match A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing from last year. Nor does it make me want to rush out to read other books by her.

So, I have the next book which is one of a couple or series, I’m not sure which. Except I picked up the wrong one. It’s not the first. Damn. The first is back at the house. So I trudge back to our cabin to swap it for the other book I brought today – Citadel by Kate Mosse.

And here, I should confess, I read her books because I know her. I mean, know to speak to – from the Hay Festival days and the early days of the Orange Prize when we used to get invited to the party where they announced the winner.

She probably doesn’t remember me. But that’s ok. She’s a lovely lady and so I read her stuff. Sometimes I really like her stuff, so we shall see with this one.

Hang on in there!

Hang on in there!

I am exhausted, to be honest. The holiday, in a little more than 4 weeks, can’t come soon enough. It seems I never stop.

Take last night. I rush home from work, park the car, walk to the supermarket, momentarily forgetting that it’s about 34°C and therefore walking down the street with full sun on my back rather than a slightly longer way, mostly in the shade. I buy the minimum of stuff and walk back home down the shady streets.

Arriving home, as soon as I step through the door, having stopped “doing something”, I do my Niagara Falls impression. I put away the milk and stuff, change out of my suit (I had customers at work), put on shorts and a T-shirt. Within a second my T-shirt is soaked but there’s not really much I can do. I need to take the dogs out as I need to be back by 7.

I take them out. We do a slightly shorter walk in the heat. It’s too hot for them. I get home and Niagara starts again. Half an hour later, I change my T-shirt as the Falls have stopped (thank God) but the T-shirt is completely soaked. I could manage it better if I didn’t have to rush – but I have no choice but to rush.

After my appointment, I get to read the document that someone has sent me to look at. It seems serious. I text to say that we need to talk. She asks if now is possible and I agree (I shall be busy tomorrow and I want to pack for the weekend) so we meet at Bar Blanco, the nearest bar to my house. I tell her how bad it could be but that I’ve managed to find someone who may be able to help. It’s going to cost her anyway. She is grateful, for sure, but we end up having a drink which means I’m late taking the dogs out and so late to bed.

With less that 5 hours sleep, I feel like shit. But, I feel I have to help her and cannot just walk away.

But, it costs. The cost being my tiredness.

I don’t really need the appointment tonight but it has to be. Then pack. Then the dogs. Then bed – early, I really hope. I don’t want to drive all the way down there and then spend the whole of the weekend asleep! Not that I CAN sleep on the beach, but “sleepy mode”, if I’m tired, can mean a subdued and exhausting weekend.

But, F is being “made” to take 2 weeks holiday. That’s fair enough, since for over a month he has been home for about 4 days in total. He, too, is exhausted. He is with his mother for this time, with us going down for this weekend and next.

But it’s hard for me too. I have to do everything and there’s no time and the heat means I can’t take my time – although I much prefer this heat to the cold and, if I could just take things more slowly, I’d be fine!

But, only just over a week to go before he’s back home and we can share the dog walking. And just over 4 weeks an I shall be with Best Mate AND on holiday.

Hang on in there, I tell myself.

A night at Blue Note and the thoughts in my head; downloading a video from Facebook

I can’t help but stare at him.

He’s young, probably about 25. He has that “floppy” hair that seems in favour, certainly with the gay people, here, in Milan, and he has a “kind of” beard. He plays the violin.

I stare at him because of the thoughts in my head. They race through, from one thing to another.

How lives are different; when I was his age; I could have been in this world; I’m envious that I’m not in this world; how fascinating to be creative; I wonder how much he practices; assuming he’s gay, I wonder what his boyfriend’s like; or maybe he has no time for that; always practising; up late every night performing; no money; no, I couldn’t have done that – no willpower to keep practising; how much do the whole band practise; he doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the band, they are much older, like “this is where not-famous musicians go to die”; but he’s too young for that – he has still to “make it”; so why is he here on stage with the oldies (none of them will be under 40); I wonder what his life’s really like; does he really have another job and this is only a hobby he wishes were something more; I wish I could do something creative; but I’m good with people; but that’s not really creative, is it; I wonder if I could do something creative with that skill; I would like to be on stage again; how did I get here – listening to this, in a foreign land, in a foreign tongue; am I lucky and will it always feel strange?

And so on, and so on.

That’s one thing.

There’s another.

We are at the concert of a “friend”. I mean, she’s not really a close friend but a friend of one of F’s colleagues, I. And she is a florist. And she sings. Good enough to have the stage at Blue Note in Milan – the kind of jazz/blues venue. And she was a student of mine once, for about 6 lessons.

We, in the audience, are a group of 5. There’s I, another girl, S, who is a very close friend and also works in one of the shops, and E who I’ve never met before. But they all know R, the singer. We don’t have a great place to see, being at the side of the stage but R has to walk past us to the stage and gives F her mobile asking him to take some pictures.

So, during the whole thing, F, E, S and I are taking videos and photos with her phone and theirs and then checking the photos and checking with each other for the best photos.

About the second song into the set, I am struck by the fact that, if I look around the place, everyone is watching R sing – except all the people in our group, who are, instead, checking their phones. OK, so R asked them for some photos but, really, even if all these people are friends of R, how come our world is now only really seen through the small screen of a telephone?

I find it a shame, really. People, as last night, are so busy with the technology, they forget to enjoy the experience.

I ate almost the whole plate of chips. And had two beers. And, after the concert, we went for an Indian. And, after a while, R and the entourage came too. But without the guy I mentioned at the beginning.

Of course.

Anyway, I’ve found out how to download a video from Facebook – that is, 1. Open the video in a new tab; 2. Change the part of the url from “www” to “m” and press enter; 3. As the video is playing, right click and “Save target as …..” which will save a copy to your hard disk.

Unfortunately, it seems the video doesn’t work (on this page – although I can play it on my desktop).  Damn the problem with browsers not supporting certain formats, etc.  Still working on it though.

Lies, damned lies or much, much worse.

Another of those draft posts written but never published. This from July 2014. Maybe now the blog is more “secret” I feel better about posting it?

_________________________________________________________________

Of course, you never really know anyone, do you?

You have to trust. Or not.

And, then, there’s what someone tells you. Is it always true? If not, is it because they’re trying not to hurt your feelings – a “white” lie. Or, sometimes, is it more sinister than that.

There’ve been cases recently, in the newspapers, for example the girl who accused her boyfriend of rape and later admitted she had made it up just for attention.

Sometimes, it’s for attention. Sometimes, it’s because someone lives in their created world.

I employed a salesman who was like that, once. Later, when we learnt that everything had been a complete fabrication, everything started to fit into place. Unfortunately, by then, he had married one of our other employees and she ended up being taken for a ride too. But she was a strong lady and now lives happily (I think) with their rather delightful son. He, on the other hand, continues on separately from them.

Sometimes, I think it’s malicious. And those are the worst kind of people. They do it for spite, for jealousy, or just to be evil.

So, if, years later, you find out that something you had been told had been a fabrication but, as a result of that something, it had taken you down a road that affected, not only you but others as well, what should you do? How can that purposeful, vicious lie be undone?

Of course, first things first – maybe it wasn’t a lie? Maybe the lies are being told now? How the hell do you find out? Should you find out?

Or, perhaps, in any event, it’s better to leave things as they are? After all, many years have passed, many rivers crossed, many mountains climbed. And what possible good would it do to try and repair something broken by the vindictiveness of someone who’s now dead? What purpose would it serve?

The end is nigh

This was a draft post from June 2013. It still applies. I don’t think it was properly finished but, no matter. This (and I wish to make it clear in case it is read by someone going through some issues now, in May of 2015) is not about you but about someone else. Remember this post was written in June of 2013 – 2 years ago!

Of course, there’s got to be give and take.

It’s a trade-off, really. One doesn’t get everything one wants – or, not usually.

You may think that you have the same goals but, often, we project the goals we want to on our partner and only look for the signs of confirmation, ignoring those that go against what we think.

Let’s get this straight. I’m not talking about me, here. Although what I’ve said is, in fact, true for me also, the rest of this post is not. Part of the problem is that I don’t really have any goals to project. I leave that to F. He has plans. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know, for certain, that any of those plans include me although there are hints that some of them do. But, it’s not really important to me. I have this “fatalist gene”, of which I am aware and which, in reality, suits me just fine, thanks. Sure, as time passes, I think more of the future – the future together – but I’m not talking about a future as far as, say, when I reach 70 but rather the future as far as, say, Christmas. This future involves the presents I will get him since he is so difficult to buy for. So, I am working on the present for our anniversary (in October) and I have the plan for one of the presents for Christmas. And that’s it. It doesn’t worry me, it’s just the way I think.

So, back to the purpose of this post.

In two days, two different people’s world has been turned a little upside down. And the problem is their relationship with their partner.

But, I have a little experience in relationships and what happens. I give my advice, unasked for, knowing that they will, almost certainly, ignore it but knowing that it is valid and clear advice.

For one person, I suggested that they not search for something on the basis that eventually you will find something and it won’t make things better. Search, by all means but know that it is the end of the relationship as you know it. In fact, the very act of the searching means that the relationship is doomed. It may not result in being single but it will change the relationship to a point that is irrecoverable. Of course, what may then happen is that “a relationship” continues but it is not the same as the relationship you had. There is no “going back” and “undiscovering” the facts that have changed everything.

So, I advised against it but said that, if she were to continue, be aware of the fact that it will all change ……. forever.

She ignored that advice and continued to search and, unsurprisingly, find the facts and was, on Friday, just about holding it together. But that won’t last. And I felt sorry for her even though I knew that the very act of searching could only lead to this result.

The future for her is uncertain. It will depend upon how she and he react. At the moment, he doesn’t know that she has evidence. Or, rather, on Friday he didn’t know. But it’s hard to keep the evidence hidden and not to say something. And then what? Even if there are promises made and a reconciliation done, if it lasts, it won’t be what she had. And will she be happy enough with that?