It will be lovely when it’s finished


As I walk, with every step, there is a small cloud that rises ahead of me, a cloud of crickets or grasshoppers, butterflies, moths, flies and other creatures. The clay is damp but not wet – any more.

I have the wrong sort of shoes. Why didn’t I bring my blue dog-walking shoes with me, I wonder? Because they are split on the sole and no good in the rain – which is why they can remain dog-walking shoes now I live in Milan.

We are going down, always down. This has no aim, this is just because it is there. I am reminded of Herefordshire, reminded of when I was a kid – but a proper kid – with the walks on my own, solitude, silence.

Only not really silence. I hear the chirp of the crickets/grasshoppers except it’s not a chirp at all really, I think. It’s like someone with a paper and comb but playing it badly, it would be out of tune if there were a tune to begin with.

I hear the tractors in the field, two or three fields away and how they always seem to be in too high a gear. I hear a blackbird and another bird – a thrush, maybe? I used to know these things. What happened to that?

I watch the cloud of rising insects with each pace, them rising before, it seems, my foot has even touched the ground as if they are driven by some instinct that stops the giant treading on them and squishing them into the soft but hardening mud. I look at the plants I am treading on. They seem familiar but not familiar enough. I see something that looks like cow parsley but isn’t (the leaves are wrong), something with a yellow flower, again, I should know what that was – not the Latin but the common name. I see some thistles, except they aren’t.

I wonder why, here, the blackberries are so small, so unappealing. I decide it is because there is not enough rain for them. I remember blackberry picking – when I was young and when I was older – young, when my mother would make blackberry and apple pie and older when I would or, I would be a little more adventurous and do blackberry and apple crumble or somesuch thing.

The sun is on my back as we walk down and it is hot enough for me to take my T-shirt off. Well, it was given to me as a T-shirt but V explained that it wasn’t really, it was a vest but it was simple and white and thin and would double as a T-shirt for me. And it does. But now it has to come off. We are a long way from civilisation so no one will see my old flesh that was hidden beneath this young clothing. Except we’re not actually a long way. 2 minutes from the house on the hill, with the glorious view over the hills around. And the valleys. This could be Herefordshire but they haven’t quite finished it yet. There are some things missing, as if it’s a ‘work in progress'; a beta copy.

I turn for a moment to look at the house on the hill, just down from the owner’s father’s place (which has a tower, so it must have been important). The house looks all wrong – as it is, here, perched on this hill. It should be more Tuscan, even if we-re not in Tuscany. Or like the one I’m heading for, all red brick with the red/orange roof made of half terracotta drain pipes (or that is how it seems).

No, this house is grey. Grey stone, beautifully finished and yet as incongruous in this scene as if it were made of corrugated iron. At the side they have a ‘guest suite’, where I am staying. The guest suite looking as if it was tacked on as an afterthought, it being only wood and grey wood at that and square and ugly and squat. And I wondered why they did that and who thought that would be a good idea. Afterwards I think that the guest suite looks more like a prison than anything else.

And I imagined the locals talking about before, during and after it was built, as they would do in Herefordshire. Saying how it didn’t seem right, that it didn’t fit in, etc. But I doubt if that happened here. I look to the left and see another ugly house. Even the father’s house, with the tower, looks wrong.

But this house, with the huge picture windows, the decks (which I could call terraces, since we are in Italy, but since the woman is American and since they are wooden, are, in fact, really decks) with some metal fencing/netting that seems almost as if it could be barbed wire – to keep them in or keep others out? – this house, somehow it’s all wrong, in spite of it’s ‘fabulousness’.

Dino, not used to these type of walks, stops and looks back, checking that I’m still going on, coming on; Rufus, seemingly uncaring about whether I am coming or not but he would be back soon enough if I turned tail. I continue. Dino waits to make sure I really am coming and then lopes off towards Rufus.

I think, idly, about the fact that this is downhill and, at some point I have to come back again, meaning up hill and that I wished it were the other way around.

I see some pretty pink flower. It’s an orchid, I’m sure. I feel I should regret the fact that the knowledge I once had has gone but don’t, knowing that was a different time, a different life – it might as well be a different century. I am different from that. I think of my ‘love’ and wish I could share it with him but know that I cannot and could not.

We hit the ‘road’. Not a road but a dirt track, the sort where only a tractor or 4×4 would pass. They hit the road first. The sun still on my back and warming and pleasant. I watch a Red Admiral on the ground except I know that it is not, too orange and the spots, too many and in the wrong place. I had a book once……

I pass the sign that says this is a private road, having to turn round to look behind me at what it says. This is their land anyway. We turn right at the ‘junction’. The road continues down, slightly better now. More gravely, less muddy, flatter with fewer gorges carved out by the rains. We make our way down to the building that looks like a house. I cannot see the house on the hill now. It is only me and the dogs and the nature. So much nature. Too much?

I hear the screech of a buzzard or kite or something and scan the sky, shielding my eyes from the full glare of the sun, to find the black thing in the sky but unable to tell what it is, having lost that knowledge too. It’s only been a few years!

I feel the urge to pee and wonder if that is because we are hidden from almost everyone, alone, secret – or, if it because I really need to pee. I decide it is the former in the same way as, earlier, I thought how good it would be to take all my clothes off and walk naked even if I would not, for fear of meeting someone, by chance on the same walk as me. I don’t pee.

The red brick place beckons. I was told it was a place for storing tractors but, as we near the place, it is a little too tidy for that. There is a fence round, not a pretty fence or hedge, as there would be in Herefordshire, but an ugly, green, link fence, high and just to keep things out or in, who knows? It will be nice when it’s finished.

The garden, although hidden by trees, is a garden, I’m sure. I have a sense about it. Maybe it’s the pruned rose bush just outside. This cannot be just a place to store tractors even if that’s what I was told, I decide.

The dogs are ahead and hidden, behind the link fence. I wait, knowing that they will come back, not wanting to shout them and make our presence known. Dino appears. I knew he would be first. We wait for Rufus, only because, if he doesn’t see me, he might get frightened and disappear back up the hill to the house.

We walk down, into the field and round the front of the house/store. I look up. The reddy/brown, paint-peeled shutters are closed but there are geraniums in their vivid red glory up at one of the windows. The left part of the house is, indeed, a store – for hay – although the hay looks several years old, falling from the first floor like the store is some sort of scarecrow, badly stuffed.

Between us and the house/store is the vegetable patch, sunk below the site of the house and everything covered in netting but large enough that you can walk underneath it.

We reach a line of trees, a border to the house. The house is proper for this place, the red brick, the brown/red shutters, the red pipe-tile roof. This is Italy. I could live here when they’ve finished it. When the ugly fence is replaced with hedges and everything seems neater and more in order.

The trees hide a gully, a gully without water but there must be water sometimes, lots of water. It is steep to go down. My feet, already feeling the effects of not having the right shoes on this impromptu walk, are not for climbing down the gully, however inviting it might look.

We skirt the gully, following its path down the hill, towards the wood. Still in the sun, still in the warmth. We reach the bottom and there is, through the trees, another field. Rufus is already there, Dino following close behind.

It goes further down and I think this is nearly enough. I stop and they come back.

I think of how V never really liked the countryside, never understood, never was amazed by the wonder of it. It is something I would have liked but another of those things which, even if he did come with me, we never really shared. I think of someone else. And, at that point I realise that I will, probably, almost certainly, never share it with him either but for very different reasons even if, in my mind at least, it would be possible to share and wonder at it all.

We start our trek back. I regret, for a moment, that it is all uphill. I contemplate lying on the grass, in the sun, smoking a cigarette, enjoying the peace and the noise. But this land isn’t quite finished yet, and there is no nice place just to sit or lie. In a few years, perhaps? No, never. It will never be quite ready for me.

I think of the house. The dining table and chairs, from, maybe the 1800s, with the modernistic fantasticnous of the house – all wrong, not thought out and, yet, probably not seen that way, not understood – in the same way as the countryside is not understood since money doesn’t need to understand this stuff, just to tame it and get other people to make it theirs. Marvelling at the view without actually seeing the Red Admiral that wasn’t, the gully cut through the earth by such power, the blackbird singing in the tree, the crickets creating this moving walkway.

As we walk back onto the second “road” and up, the trees, I hadn’t noticed them before, rustling with the wind I hadn’t noticed before, and creating a green silver shimmer that I hadn’t noticed before.

We cut across to the house. The guest suite with the shower that is as big as my whole bathroom, where the temperature set was constant and the shower head, huge, in the centre of the room, making rain on me. The splashes from my body, at home seeming to go through the shower curtain to dampen everything within reach, here hardly touching the walls of the shower.

I think of the villages and towns we passed through or round and how pretty they should be but there is that slightly unkempt feel to everything as if they are working on it but haven’t quite finished it yet. Oh, won’t it look so pretty in a few years?

We reach the house, traipsing through the almost-dry mud to get there, the house almost finished, the ‘garden’ certainly not. It will be a nice house when it’s finished. Not to live in, of course, just to come and stay for a few days, marvel at the view, at the vacuum system that is central, just hoses to plug into the walls, at the shower room ‘as big as my house’, at the hob that can’t work unless you know the secret way to use it, at the huge beam, supporting the house, that wasn’t seasoned before it was used, so drips resin on the wooden floors with their grey eco-coating, at the blandness but expense of it all as if it were trying to be understated but, simply by its design, cannot be.

Yes, Italy, it will be lovely when it’s finished. I must come back again when everything is right.

Decisions, decisions


The problem is that, probably, we don’t make them, really. So many decisions we make are based on the decisions that someone else does or doesn’t make.

So, someone I know is waiting for someone to make a decision, the result of which will, likely, have very far-reaching effects on the person I know.

And, FfI has sent an email, leaving the decision to the guy.

When V & I split up, the decision to move was made by me and, until that point, it seemed, V had not really made the decision to move.

So, we wait for others’ decisions to make our own or to set our path, often with ultimatums and, once the other decision is made we find ourselves on the path, not chosen by us, but chosen by someone else.

I suppose it gives us someone to blame, other than ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong, I do it too but, at the moment, I don’t believe I am waiting on any decision from anyone else and, in a way, that is a harder path since it is up to me and I can blame no one but myself if whatever path I take goes horribly wrong.

Obviously, some things I would like to happen do depend upon others and what they do but I am not relying on them to take any decisions, getting on with my own life as it is and, now that I’m over my rather frightening crisis, although not fully disappeared, I can get on with things, or leave them as they are, or change something or whatever I decide. At the end of it all, it’s up to me.

I did suggest that, perhaps, in the first case I mentioned, the person I know should not be waiting for the other person to make a decision but, rather, just taking a decision themselves and assume that the other person won’t make any decision because I do feel that people (me included) don’t actually like taking decisions and yet, when I have made firm, positive and, sometimes radical decisions it has, overall, worked out quite well.

It’s just difficult to remember that when you have to take the decision or if, on taking the decision, you have some sort of set-back. I do understand that.

And, yet again!


Isn’t it a shame the way we cheat each other, treat each other,
beat each other?
It’s a shame the way we use one other, abuse one another,
and screw one another

Make You Crazy – Brett Dennen (featuring: Femi Kuti)

I know it’s not actually true but since I moved into the perfect flat, I seem to have been speaking to Telecom Italia more often than using their service!

And, so, again, this morning. Apparently the whole of Milan and the Hinterland has a problem. It will be fixed within 24 hours. Or, maybe, 48 or, maybe, in my case, after it is fixed it will be another 2 or 3 days before I can actually get access.

Except that I will, probably, go away on Sunday for a few days and they don’t work over the weekend and it’s the holiday period and I won’t be here Monday or Tuesday so I will have to ring them again on Wednesday and then the will tell me that they will fix it within 3 days (which will be Friday) and then it won’t be fixed and then I will have to phone them again on Friday but because it’s Ferragosto on Sunday, it would be, probably Tuesday before they could come out except that I will probably be away again and then Best Mate will be here when I get back so it will all be too difficult and I ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY FUCKING HATE THEM, THE BASTARDS!

Oh, yeah, and so I may not be online for about 2 weeks.

Did I say that I didn’t like Telecom Italia very much?

Update: Well, as I’m writing this update on Friday, just after 6, you can tell that they did get it fixed and it did not require an engineer to come out.  I hate them a little less than I did (but only a little) and this one time that they were as good as their word hardly makes up for the most times when they aren’t.

Driving in Italy – part 2001


I’m driving along, slowing down because a) the traffic lights ahead are red and b) there is a van in front indicating that it is turning left. It is, in fact, turning into a parking place. It is not ‘racing’ into the parking place, rather, it almost stops and then starts to move into the space.

A scooter comes and tries to pass between the van, the parking place and the other parked cars. The van, already moving onto the parking space hits the front wheel of the scooter as the van driver didn’t spot the scooter trying to race through before it had parked (the scooter rider obviously in a great hurry – and, maybe, blind as he didn’t see the indicators nor the fact the van was clearly turning into his path).

The scooter fell over and slid into a parked car. The guy on the scooter (now on the ground), started shaking his fist at the driver of the van.

The car in front of me (the one directly behind the van) stopped. I would have liked to have stopped but my Italian really isn’t up to it. However, I hope the van driver gets the support he needs from the other motorists for the mad-cap scooter driver’s actions. And, whilst I wouldn’t want an accident to happen to anyone, scooter rider or not, this guy was, as are quite a lot of scooter drivers, a bloody idiot.

True, a lot of drivers don’t indicate or, worse, indicate one way and then move in the other direction but, if you have someone indicating, I am always a bit wary in case they actually do what they are indicating they are going to do!

The Final Resting Place


It’s white wings fluttered as if it would take flight at any moment or that it was resting and the breeze (although I felt none) was moving the soft, fragile, white, gossamer blades like it would hair or grass.

It moved a few centimetres along the ground, the small troughs and peaks, though barely noticeable to me, huge and daunting and tiring to descend and climb. It seemed as if it were trying to escape the shade and make for the full sun as if that would give it the energy enough to fly off to a distant flower or plant.

But, it was obviously having difficulty and I thought – your struggle seems so pointless as you’re obviously dying’.

I continued to watch its struggle as I drew, again, on my cigarette. I wondered why this place, this car port, seemed to be such a magnet for the dead and dying. Certainly this place has more than its fair share. The flying ants, discarding their wings the moment they have landed in the large ashtray with its vertical, shiny, slippery sides, so there is no way out; the bees, the wasps, the flies and butterflies. ‘Why here?’, I thought, and then I thought that, as I have been smoking for so many years now, it was fitting that I should be there too, with another cigarette, another death-stick.

As I watched, it stopped. I watched it still, wondering if this, in fact, was the end. A moment later it seemed to separate from its wings, the body moving away, slightly and then turning to look back as if to say ‘what happened to you guys?’. And then I realised that the body moving away was, in fact, an ant, hidden previously by the wings, hidden by their opacity – this was the killer and its prey.

So now the picture was different. The moth already dead (probably), the ant not dying at all but seeming to take a breather. In this heat you could hardly blame him. His prey larger than him even just in body; with the wings a seemingly impossible task.

He tried again, going underneath to lift or pull or push the huge lunch towards the nest. The breeze was a problem though, catching the fine wings and pushing him back, sideways, over – making the whole task much more difficult.

He stopped again. I could see him, as if he was in the film Antz, rubbing his head, exclaiming that this was too difficult and how the hell was he going to get this home.

Then he seemed to remember that, actually, only the body was required and that the wings were surplus to requirements. He went back to the lifeless form. A wing seemed to be thrown away, caught by the wind it fluttered inches away and looking like a discarded petal from some small, white flower.

Another wing landed near the first. A third wing somewhere else. The ant was now in control although, at this point, he seemed exhausted by his fight with the (now) inanimate lunch. I watched him try to take it this way and that, now without a goal in mind.

I had finished my cigarette.

The final act of the play – I looked up to see a bee fly in, hit one of the pillars, somersault through the air and land, upside down, lifeless. I watched for a few moments more, amazed. I guess they were waiting for applause.  None came nor would come.

Sometimes I can be quite happy


For some very inexplicable reason I feel quite happy today. I have no idea why. Perhaps it is the thought of a 2-week break from work? Perhaps it is the thought of seeing some friends over that period?

Or perhaps it is the car. I know, strange. However, over the next two weeks it is likely that I shall have people to take to places (other than Best Mate) and I thought it might be a good idea if the car was not like some sort of rubbish bin for this. I think V cleaned it once.

Living in a flat, it’s not so easy to clean the car myself and I really don’t like using the ones at the garage (it’s a bit like dentists, doctors, etc. for me), so I needed to get it cleaned by someone else.

Someone recommended a place here, in the town where I work. I went this morning. A rather cute guy, who was the petrol attendant told me that when the guys come in they can do it within about half an hour and it will cost €12.

Really? I asked him three times. He assured me that that was the price and that it included inside and out. I mean, it may not be the best clean but, trust me, after about 2 years, any ‘clean’ will do and, if it’s that cheap, I could do it more often. Say every year :-).

As I was expecting about €40 – €50, perhaps it’s that making me feel happy.

I’m obviously easily pleased.

Edit Apr 2015 – Link removed since it doesn’t work. It was quite funny, apparently.

Thoughts of a random nature


The fan, one of the tall ones (free-standing I guess we would call it) is useless.

She has moved it closer but I had to go up to it to check. If you put your hand right in front of it you could feel a very gentle breeze but you can’t feel it if you’re further than 6 inches away. It is hot and I am sweating but only because I had to run for the train, which was annoying as it had said, on the board, that it was going to be 2 minutes late, so I wasn’t rushing and then it came in on time and stopped, as they always do, at the furthest end of the platform from me. Past experience tells me that for anything less than a full run, they will not wait.

This was unfortunate because as soon as I was in the carriage it started. It only starts when I stop. And it is marking the front of my T-shirt. I pull forward at the neck and blow down my chest. It serves no purpose nor is it effective.

Worse still is this is one of the old trains without air conditioning. Damn.

And, even though I have to go and get cigarettes (for her, not me) and I walk slowly and try to cheat my body into thinking that it can stop sweating now, by the time I arrive, I am, shall we say, very moist.

They’re not really listening, most of the time. I do wonder if I am like that too. Sometimes, in the midst of a conversation I catch myself ‘not listening’ just waiting for the moment that I can change the subject back to me. But, sometimes, these people seem to do it all the time.

Or, perhaps, it’s because I’m really boring?

And so it was, I was talking and no one was listening. It doesn’t matter, really. What I was saying had no real importance it just seemed right that I should, at least, make an effort, pretend that I have something interesting to say that doesn’t involve some TV star, film star or other small celebrity. I.e. Gossip. Which I really am not very good at anyway. I think the problem here is that I don’t care so much and V is not here to do the talking for me.

They tell me (at some bit that they were listening to) that, at least, I’m still alive. But they don’t get it really. That’s OK. I’m not really telling them for them, I’m telling it for me, as if by telling it out loud it will put it all in perspective – although it does seem to get more stupid with each telling.

Still, I’m grateful for their attention even if the span is short.

I go home, grateful also to be going.

On another night, another friend who was attentive as only she can be, gave me good advice. Talk to people! Making me swap numbers with some guy who a) wasn’t gay and b) was only interested in whether he could sell me furniture. Still, she has a point. It’s just that I didn’t expect and, certainly, don’t want to be doing this all over again (not that I ever did it well) at my age. It all seems far too much effort.

Memorable Weddings

There are only three weddings I have been to that remain stuck in mind for being different – so much so that you remember them.

But, if I were ever to get married, this would be such a wonderful way to make it memorable for you and everyone else, don’t you think? Although, how you top that for the rest of the day beats me.


20 years = 20 seconds for the gays?

20 years = 20 seconds for the gays?

‘Of course, that’s the thing with gay relationships, they don’t last so long’

Said to me today when I confirmed that V & I were no longer together. I don’t know but 10 years (with M) followed by 20 years (with V) seem fairly long and, certainly, much, much longer than quite a lot of straight relationships I have known. I realise it’s not quite forever but I do wonder what the hell goes through some people’s head when they say this kind of crap to me.

Anyway, it’s not the length of time but the quality of time.

But it does get me a little irritated when people say things without thinking.

Typical bloody stereotyping again. One expects better from people that reckon to know me.

It’s much worse than the expectation that A seemed to have that now V & I are over ‘were you thinking about a woman this time?’

Fucking A as N would say.