Maybe it’s not what it seemed?

It’s an up-market restaurant. I have described it before. Most of the men wore suits and normally with a tie, in spite of the weather outside being close to 30 degrees; the women wearing evening/cocktail dresses – often black since, in spite of fashion trends, ‘black’ will always be the new ‘black’.

F recognised someone who owned a shop near Jil Sander in Milan. The clientèle being of that calibre – wealthy! The tables are really too close together – and too many and the acoustics are terrible – not enough soft furnishings to quieten the noise from the diners. The place was full – you could say heaving.  And, yet …………

The food was divine. As a antipasto, I had three large pieces of octopus sunk into a bowl of purée but coloured with saffron – very hot; the octopus meaty and yet not tough, not chewy. The portion was more than generous. We knew it would be and, so, opted to skip the primo. For secondo I had manzo – entrecôte steak – cooked to perfection and as you cut it, like butter – as you eat it – the texture of properly done liver – so soft and nice. But the sweets – I had pastry tart filled with crema (like custard) and topped with wild strawberries which were so sweet; F had the same base but filled with a kind of thick chocolate cream (but really chocolatey) topped with pistachio – we had half and half of course and the chocolate desert was to die for.

Sure we (or rather, I, since it was my birthday) paid a hefty sum for this meal – not far from €200 – but it was worth it – the food being divine. And we talked. Not about anything in particular but, still, it was talking and laughing and having fun and it was lovely.

As we were there, ‘one’ table of about 6 people finished and the left. The waiters then split the table in two and on one there were three ‘business’ men and the other was a couple.

Well, I say ‘couple’. The man, probably in his 40s but looking older, ugly and very overweight, dressed in a dark grey suit sat opposite a guy who was, probably in his thirties. As a couple they looked very out of place. The younger guy looked so out of place in this restaurant. I mean to say, we were not in suits but rather jeans and shirts – casual but smart. But we were both the same – dressed at the same level. The younger guy in this situation was in jeans and a check shirt and wore a baseball cap (the wrong way round as is the norm for teenagers – and he was no teenager) which he continued to wear whilst he ate. He spent some time on his mobile telephone; he was laid back in his chair like he was being over-casual about everything; when he got to eating he ate in a way that indicated he had never been shown how to use a knife and fork – he just didn’t belong there!

Except, of course, probably, he was there as the ‘guest’ of the fat, ugly guy and later, once he had eaten his expensive meal, there would be something in it for the FUG.

It’s just that you don’t see it so often. Again it makes me grateful for the life I’ve lead and the partner I now have and that I have never had to resort to ‘buying’ my partner, even short-term. Even so, there was something almost paedophilic about it, even if, in reality, it wasn’t since we weren’t talking young kids or, in fact, in spite of the baseball cap, kids of any kind. Still it was, sort of, disgusting.

Of course, maybe I got the wrong idea – but then, that would be both of us and, probably, most of the restaurant.

The restaurant being Ristorante di Giacomo.

Why do they hound those MPs who tell the truth?

Let me say, for the record, that I do not vote any more. I see no point. My one vote will not elect the people I want and, anyway, they aren’t much better than a bunch of scumbags.

After all, they never tell the truth – they tell you (like any good salesman) what you want to hear so that you will vote for them. I suspect that, given the amount of money the UK Government had to ‘create’ to save themselves and the banks from the crisis, that, in order to pay back that created money, they will need to make severe cuts in expenditure and increase taxes. But none of them actually tell you that. Not even the people that I would vote for if, for a moment, I thought they were worth the effort.

So, this story made me stop and think for a moment.

It goes like this:- Man who is (and would still be, if he gets the votes) the Prime Minister meets normal old lady who reads the Daily Star or some similar paper (I would say the Daily Mail – but we know they’re all crazy right-wing fascists). Normal old lady, brought up in a normal working class environment, who knows bugger all about the world at large, does as her parents undoubtedly did and blames those bloody foreigners for being the cause of all problems in her neck of the woods (I should say here that, apart from the piece I read, I don’t know the full details of their conversation). Current Prime Minister says all the right things to her as one would expect from a sleazy (sorry, normal) politician and everyone goes away happy.

Except, since this was a set-up anyway, he’s not happy that they set him up with some bigoted old lady like that and says so, on microphone, which he didn’t take off! He calls her bigoted. Press have a field day.

For one moment, it made me think that, perhaps, I should register for a vote and vote for him as he is probably the only politician who has actually spoken his mind and spoken the truth. Unfortunately:

a) it was an unguarded moment and he now apologises for calling a bigoted old lady ‘bigoted';

b) he apologised for it later whereas really he should have stuck by it (for it was true) and

c) he helped to bring about this crisis in the first place and then, when he could have done something radical and noble (like fixing the banks and getting rid of this illusion that we can all get richer even as the resources decline) he panders to the big banking industry and now we are back to where we were – i.e. no change.

Anyway, he’s Labour and I would never vote for them. I always think of Animal Farm when I think of Labour politicians.

But I admire the fact, for once, I heard a truth being spoken by a politician. Can’t wait until we can mind-read. It’ll save so much shit being spoken and leave most politicians without a job except perhaps as furniture salesmen.

The Good Things

There are, as there always are, many good things happening right now, in spite of some other things that are not so good.

The weather is warmer, in general. Currently it has to be above 25 degrees and, as I am now at home, I have, for the first time this year, got out and am wearing, my sandals. OK so maybe not a big deal to you it is one of ‘those things’ that makes living here such a wonderful dream. To explain (although I may have explained before), in the UK I could wear sandals for only a few days a year – probably some days during June, July or August but hardly ever for more than the actual day, needing to put socks and shoes on in the evening. Although it is too early to be wearing sandals for the evening, it was with great joy that I went into the cupboard and dusted off my favourite sandals and put them on this afternoon. This time of year makes me so happy – knowing that, in a few more weeks just sandals, shorts and a T-shirt will be needed day and night. It makes me feel free and, although I know that is an illusion, it’s a good illusion.

And the reason I am home early is that I went for the results of the test. At first, because they spoke to me in Italian (not realising I didn’t really understand) I thought they had said that something was not good. Me, being me, had gone through the various scenarios before today. I was ready for the bad news even if, in my heart, I didn’t believe there would be any. But, when they realised I hadn’t understood, they told me that every test was fine. They wondered why I had worried and I had to explain (because it was a different doctor) but it was all good. To be honest, I would have been shocked if it had not been fine but it was nice to hear and nice to see it written down. So, thanks for your help, Lola.

And, of course, the other good thing is F. We are becoming more ‘together’ as time goes on, in spite of my previous post. As those of you who read my blog often enough know, I am always full of doubts and uncertainties but even if we don’t seem to talk about anything important, of F I am certain and I thought I should tell you, lest you get the wrong idea.

And now I shall write a post on the current political happenings in the UK – just by way of a change.

Ice treading

We don’t talk about it.

And here, my reader, you may be wondering what it is that we aren’t talking about. Well there’s nothing specific – it’s just anything that is difficult. We don’t discuss. And it’s not one-sided either. We skirt around a subject and only talk about it when it is absolutely necessary. And, when we talk about it we use the minimum of words and don’t discuss the implications or anything deeper than a conversation with an acquaintance.

I don’t know why. Or why we both do this.

An example. One thing I must do is earn more money. For various reasons my income, so far this year, has been less than I had planned for or expenses have been greater than expected or completely unexpected or unplanned. As a result I need more.

Therefore I must get more work – part-time work. This means teaching English again. In one way I don’t really mind. I had been worried that my English was disappearing; changing into the Ital-English spoken here. Me saying ‘We are in three’ instead of ‘There are three of us’ as an example; struggling to find the correct word to describe something and knowing that I know the word – I just haven’t used it nor heard it for so long. If I teach English my English will return to its proper level quickly because I will be reading more newspapers, books, etc. This is a very good thing.

It will also give me the money I need. So all good. Well, yes but…..

It will change some things. I will have to work evenings and weekends – which I don’t mind in itself although I had tried to keep them free – free for relaxing, etc. This, in turn, will curb the amount of time we are together. It will mean that going to bed at near midnight most evenings will not be acceptable. It will mean a lot of work outside the time I am teaching. It will mean my life will be mostly about work

For the last two or three nights I have promised myself that I will explain this to F as it will mean so much change for us. I know he won’t have a problem with it but it is almost as if, by saying it, I am making such a big deal of it and making it into a huge problem since we don’t really talk of these things.

And so, I have yet to tell him anything. It bugs me because it seems, by holding out, when I do tell him it will be such a huge thing, even if, although it is important, it’s only a change in the time we are together and nothing more.

I steel myself, before we see each other at night, that I WILL mention it tonight. I will force myself to say something. Instead, I don’t. Either I forget because, on seeing him, being with him is the only thing or I remember but think that ‘now is not the right time…..later’.

It is stupid and irresponsible and makes no sense at all – even to me!

This is just an example. There are many more – even some from his side!

It’s almost as if we feel like we are treading on thin ice, even after quite a time together and even if it is not or, rather, should not be. And we are, after all, grown up enough to know how to react. Maybe it’s just that we don’t know how the other will react?

I got my own shit to deal with.

It is going to be bad news, apparently. Nothing I should worry about but I would be upset if I wasn’t told.

There are three things it could be: money, health or giving up.

Money is too obvious and, anyway, there would be no reason to be upset if I wasn’t told. Giving up and going back to the UK would be another thing that wouldn’t really upset me (although he might think it would). It would be strange though. I mean, we came together on this ‘big adventure’ and it would be cutting some sort of tie (even if we haven’t even emailed each other for over a month).

Health would only upset me because I hate it when other people tell me something and expect me to know. Come to think of it that would be the same for the Giving Up option.

So, yes, it’s better to tell me.

My bet is on health but I shouldn’t be surprised by anything at all! In fact, I should be prepared to hear something unexpected – after all, I no longer know what his life is about, nor do I understand it or him. It could well be something else entirely. We shall see.

But I have my own worries right now so I certainly don’t need his.

Get a grip!

Still more posts, half-written, not finished, not posted.

Still nothing to say.

But that’s not the real reason. The real reason is something different. I knew it was coming. I’ve known almost since this time last year but I had hoped for something different; an alternative solution. I hoped.

And, as usual, in hoping, I hid it all from myself. And, any time now will be ‘the shock’. The expected shock; the inevitable shock.

And, even if it’s inevitable and expected, it’s still a shock.

But I need to get a grip and actually DO SOMETHING about it. There are things I can do; things I SHOULD do. And I must do for I have no choice now given that the things I was hoping for (vain hopes; stupid hopes) didn’t turn out to be quite as expected. Damn!

I did, however, do the thing that Lola helped me with and on Wednesday I go back. Either it will be a nice birthday or not but I think it will be nice. Now, if it isn’t nice that would be a real shock.

So I can do the one thing but not this other.

Even writing this is not what I should be doing. I should be writing something else.

I need to get a grip!

In the event that a volcano erupts, please panic!

When I was young, so less than half a century ago, we went abroad once. I was 14. Actually, that’s not entirely true. When I was about 5, my parents took me and my sister to Guernsey. I remember it because we had a thing called ‘High Tea’ about 5 p.m. This was for kids only and was something like beans on toast. I guess we didn’t have ‘Dinner’ later but I don’t really remember.

Anyway, I digress. Our holiday, when I was 14, involved a caravan trip. My parents reckoned (and they were right) that this would be the last holiday that we would go on as a ‘family’.

The six of us, with the caravan trailing behind us, overloaded with the awning in which the kids would sleep, made our way to Portsmouth (or maybe Weymouth) on the south coast and then, by ferry to France. We then motored through France to the south west, somewhere near Bordeaux.

It was before package holidays took off.

Before that, when I was about 10 or 12, I remember my father going to the USA on a business trip. I remember it because he brought back a gonk for each of us kids


and a pair of bright purple loons for me!

Loons - but not mine

Which I loved, by the way. And, anyway, no one in the backwater of Hereford had them, fashion not quite having reached Hereford by then (has it now?).

Certainly, when we went to Guernsey, we flew. This must have been very expensive as this was the days before package holidays and easy air travel. It was all more ‘exclusive’ then. a little bit special.

How different is it now? Now, we think nothing of hopping on a plane to go to the other side of the world. In fact, we consider air travel first when we think of going abroad – just like we shall be going to the UK at the end of July. It never even crossed my mind to go by rail or coach or any other means. It was just a matter of searching for the cheapest flight.

Which, of course, leads us to now. Now, with a volcano erupting and throwing ash everywhere. How very inconsiderate it is?

I feel sorry for the people ‘stranded’ far away from home. I know some that are. It is difficult. However, it is also an adventure! The adventure being to find another way home or to find something to do or somewhere to sleep or eke out savings or credit cards. It could be fun, if you put your mind to it.

I also feel sorry for those whose businesses rely on people being able to fly in and out of any country they wish – hotels, restaurants, the general hospitality industry. Then are those flower sellers in Nigeria (isn’t that close to some countries where people are currently close to starvation?) having to throw away all the flowers because they can’t fly them to Europe. Then, of course, there are the providers of exotic, perishable goods – with warnings that the shops will soon experience shortages (I’m sure it won’t make much of a dent in Tesco’s record profits for next year). Yes, all these people whose lives and businesses are affected – it’s really dreadful for them.

But, those of you who do read my blog often enough will know there’s always a ‘but’, lets’ take a little step back from this.

No one actually MADE these people go abroad for their holiday. If you have a business, think how it was done back in the 60s – one rarely flew abroad for business then, did one? So, if you ARE stranded, before getting angry that no one has yet come to save you, think, perhaps about why you are there and get on with getting back. There are ways. They still have ships plying between New York and the UK, for example! And, apparently, you can book from (anywhere) on board some freighter ships!

If you’re stuck in the EU or the USA, remember these are civilised countries and there will be help available, if you look hard enough. If you’re stuck in some shit-hole, please try to remember that you CHOSE to go there. If it’s not ‘civilised’ – well, what was the point in going there if all you were going to do was stay in a four-star hotel and sip drinks on the terrace?

And then there is the coincidental loss of business.  I do feel sorry for the Nigerian ‘farmers’ forced to throw away all those exotic flowers they grow so that (said in voice using received pronunciation – i.e. like what the Queen speaks) ‘one can have a rather glorious flower arrangement for one’s table’ – but I just can’t quite get my head round the fact that, on the same continent, there are people dying for want of food!

No, there’s something wrong somewhere, for certain.

To be honest, our little experience was all rather fun and interesting – but, then, it wasn’t me with the problem – I was just helping. And, as I write this, I see that flights are, again, coming in to Malpensa and Linate and, in fact, flying all over Europe!

But the things I have written above was brought about because people are starting to get angry, it would seem. Angry? Are you joking? 40 or 50 years ago only the rich would be in this position. Now everyone is at it but still they expect it to be ‘handled’ by the government. They expect that they shouldn’t be ‘ripped off’. The world is a crazy, crazy place.

But I kept thinking about the air safety drill, given on board aircraft before you take off. You know?

In the event of a loss of cabin pressure, masks like this one will come down from the panel above your head.

In the event of us landing on water, you will find the lifebelt under your seat.

In the event that a volcano erupts, please panic!

>p.s. I just want to add that there are some people for whom I feel genuinely sorry. Not everyone has a credit card to enable them to get home or family or friends who will help. It’s just the people that get so angry about it all and I keep on thinking – but no one actually MADE you go there in the first place!

Very, very spoilt.

“They don’t have small animals, do they?”, he asks as he is brushing the bed cover.

It takes me a moment to realise what he means. “Oh, fleas?”, I query and then carry on as it’s rhetorical really, “No, certainly not. I give them drops every month”. Well, I have been since the beginning of April, anyway.

I laugh, though. The time to have asked me was about 6 months ago, one would have thought. They had had a small cake each and then, later, they were allowed on the bed. But, this time both of them, thereby squeezing us to the either side of the bed. Meanwhile F was playing with and singing to Dino – Dino, meanwhile, lapping up the attention and lying on his back being stroked and played with as if it were a small child playing with the dog! “Aren’t you embarrassed”, I said to him, at one point. I actually said this to Dino but, of course, it was for F really.

“They are very, very spoilt”, I said this morning over the Facebook chat, after I had got to work.

An important ‘first’

I had given them a stern warning – before we left the house and whilst we were in the lift going up. Not that it really made any difference and it was stupid really but, still………….

This morning, I caught Rufus on the sofa. When I told F via Facebook chat, this morning, his response was – ‘He’s not stupid’ – which, indeed, he’s not. Of course, Rufus, on seeing me come out of the bedroom was off the sofa almost immediately!

It took them a while to settle. All was new although, last night, on arrival, as we walked through the door, Dino was overly excited. After all, for him, the whole flat smelt of F and so he was looking round for him. F, meanwhile, was hiding behind the door.

Then they had to smell and investigate every corner. Rufus settling much earlier than Dino, which was to be expected.

It’s not really that dog-friendly. F moved a vase with a rose in it. A little too catchable by the odd tail wag. And, of course, F has wooden floors so the clip-clip of them walking through was a bit loud but we managed. And so, it’s done. The first time there and we stayed overnight. Providing F is still OK with it, it should be fine for the future.

Of course, I shall always be worried – well, at least, for a while. That is to be expected. It will be up to F now as to how often it all happens.