Finally, we shall be going!

Half-written posts about the UK – I will get round to posting something – maybe next week.

Anyway, it was great!

And, we talked about going to the home-town here. And now, this weekend, we are. Finally!

I am so excited about it. Also, I think, it is to sort out the problem with the shared flat and, maybe, means that we shall come to the flat for a few days before heading off to Umbria in a couple of weeks – another thing I’m looking forward to.

Normally, at this time of year, as I see the people packing up and leaving for their summer break, I don’t really think about it much except, perhaps, I’m looking forward to the beautifully quiet Milan. This time I’m thinking that we shall be doing the same and I am really looking forward to it. Even the driving is not a worry this year.

With Dino always having travel problems, we are going to cover the back of the car with a sheet and then he can drool and be sick all he likes.

To mitigate the problem there’ll be no food after tonight and we’ll see how it goes. It’s about a 2 to 3 hour drive and we’ll stop, at least once, on the way. Dino is fine when he does it often enough, it’s just the first time. In theory, the way back should be easier.

But this weekend, we shall be staying with Johnny Depp; meeting with the sister and the parents and, hopefully, meeting the best friend with whom I’ve spoken on Facebook. There will also be time at the beach and I will see how that goes – maybe it will be fine, being with F and all.

Still, it doesn’t really matter. I am just so excited to be going.

A tourist ………… almost!

I am, strangely and unexpectedly, excited.

Is it really ‘going back to the ole country’? Or showing it off to F? Is it the wedding or is it meeting some old friends? I just don’t know but it is unexpected and strange. The weather will be, almost, cold with, maybe, some rain. Maximum temperatures predicted are 22° – more than 10° less than here. No sandals or shorts then.

But……there will be beer; there will be lamb; there will be roast beef; there will be custard; there will be the Herefordshire countryside; there will be driving on the left (actually, I am a little worried about that and forgetting to drive on the left all the time – having to think when I get to roundabouts and junctions); there will be miles; there will be pub food (maybe a ploughman’s lunch, for example); there will be Tetley’s T bags and chance to top up; there will be bacon sarnies; there will be roast pork with apple sauce and stuffing; etc.

OK, so mostly food then. I will go to places that I remember and be shocked how much it has all changed. I will shake my head with horror at how England’s green and pleasant land is being destroyed, bit by bit.  It will make me miss some things and make me glad that I’m missing others. Overall, I am expecting that I will be glad to get home to here, again.

It feels like I am going to be a real visitor – a tourist….almost.

Too fast? Too slow, more like

“It’s all too fast”, he states.

“Not for me, it isn’t”, I reply.

“At our age you have to take things more slowly”.

“Really? Why?”

And I mean it. Really? Why? Why does one have to take it slowly? Surely, one should take it slowly when you’re very young – when there really IS enough time. Now, we should be rushing and going as fast as possible.

He suggests it is because of experience but concedes that that’s not in my experience – so outside my knowledge. Later, I think that I should have said that, more or less, when I was his age, I started a relationship with the guy I just spent over 20 years with – and, if I had my life over again, I would do exactly the same.

“But it’s been over nine months”, I attempt to justify to him. He has this habit of not looking at me. Of moving his head in such a way as to appear blind – like blind people do – looking into the air and moving their head from left to right – see Stevie Wonder, for example.

He doesn’t look at me when he says, “C’mon Andrew, 9 months is very short”.

I won’t argue with him. He doesn’t understand. To be, possibly, meeting the family after 9 months together is not fast. It’s slightly more than snail’s pace.

But then, as I pointed out to him, no one in the UK at the age of 30+ (or, even 20+) would consider spending the two/three weeks of their holiday at their parent’s house. Christmas, probably. Easter, maybe. But your summer holiday? Going home and spending all that time with your parents? Are you crazy?

So we may look the same but, mentally, we’re very, very different.

Even in little things. We got to the bar and there were empty tables at the far end, outside. I sat with my back to a huge fan they had going. A sat opposite me. The fan turned and, at one point in its cycle, the air blew, quite strongly, on to my back and the the back of my neck.

“I can’t sit here”, he says. “The fan will mean that I will get a [stiff] neck”, he says, rubbing his hand over the back of his neck, the part not being affected by the wind from the fan. Still, he got the waiter to adjust it, all the same. I’ve only ever really seen that here. No one in the UK gets that bothered by a bit of air movement. How can we? It’s so windy so often!

And, talking of the UK, I’m wondering what to take F to see and what to avoid. Should I go to my parent’s house (just to look where it is, not for any other reason); or just stick to Worcester – walk round a bit – Hereford we can do after the wedding. I will go to my Grandfather’s grave – just for a few moments – he was/is still my hero.

But, I want him to see where I’ve ‘come from’, so to speak. I don’t know why. But it might be boring. I have to be careful. We shall, hopefully, meet up with the bride and groom the day before and some other friends just afterwards and then, I hope, providing she can do it, go and stay with Best Mate for a few days.

I would like to go and see V’s Dad – but probably won’t get the chance. I would like to see Corrine but, again, it might be a bit much for F.

Or, perhaps, we should just suck it and see?

Jealousy – yes but no but yes but no …… oh, I don’t know. What do you want me to say?

Yes but no but yes but no

There is the usual shaking of the head. And the usual “you’re not jealous?”, said with an incredulous voice.

“No, why should I be?”, I normally reply, continuing with “and anyway, I trust him”.

Of course, this is so. I do trust him. I think this relationship is more important to him than anything else. He expresses things by actions, as he has always pointed out. He doesn’t go down to his home town because of me and the dogs. I get invited to almost anything he goes to. He stays at my messy place even if it must irritate him a lot – his place being so perfectly tidy and all.

He doesn’t really do words. He’s a visual person. An action type of guy. Words, to him, are meaningless if the actions say something different – so he chooses to express everything by action rather than using words.

I keep it all under control. But, still, sometimes it’s difficult.

After all, the response I give is usually, 99% of the time, true.

But, occasionally it isn’t. But that’s a little like the exchange – ‘How are you?” – “I’m fine thanks”. It’s the way I am. I have to project happiness and be positive. Negativity annoys me.

But, as you, my dear reader, will know by now, what goes on inside is not the same as the projected Andy. The inside Andy is full of doubt and insecurity and, yes, jealousy!

“Some people said ‘But what about Andy?'”, he reports.

Yes, indeed. What about Andy? Do you honestly think he feels nothing? Do you think that comments like ‘It’s only sex and as long as he comes back to me and doesn’t fall in love” or “I don’t care” make him feel better?

The other thing is – what did he see in them? Or is it that I am just the different one? I am a reaction to the ‘norm’.

“No, he’s not in fashion. That’s good”, he tells someone last night. They all agree. It’s much better if I have nothing to do with the fashion industry or art or something ‘gay’ like that.

But, then, that means we have even less in common. That means that he has plenty of opportunity and I don’t. Or something like that.

I was jealous of Si, his colleague. Si is very nice. He says things to me like “He loves you very much”. He says the things that F doesn’t. Si is straight, apparently. But this is the fashion world. Worse still, it is the Italian fashion world with the men who are Italian and who think that being married or having a girlfriend doesn’t exclude them from having casual sex with other men! But I’m no longer jealous of Si. He is a really nice guy. I know that he and F are close. But I don’t think there is anything else.

Again, I wonder what he sees in them. Unattractive, camp, over-effeminate guys.

I dislike a lot of gay people – because of this and their seeming inability not to involve casual sex in their conversation at some point or other.

The guy says; “I love Gay Romeo. You can chat and then you have some nice guy come round and have sex”

Actually he didn’t quite say that. The person he was chatting to, in this story, which happened two days ago, had a girlfriend and wanted money for the sex. Apparently they negotiated. He was explaining how this was the first time he had paid but how it was so much cheaper in the long run because he didn’t have to buy the cocaine and the drinks that would have been invariably required. And, apparently, the guy smiled and was nice all the time. He told the guy to keep every Wednesday free.

It’s not that I feel that I’m missing out – I just have never wanted that type of life. Nor, really, do I want to hear about it. It’s not that I want to shut my ears to it. It’s that it is, for me, quite depressing to hear. It worries me that I would end up like that. It’s the same with homeless people. After all, the sex part is not important, it’s the lack of real emotion, of intensity between two people that’s important (even if the sex would be ‘intense’ – it’s not the same). Surely?

And then I think – maybe it’s not jealousy. Maybe it’s insecurity? Yes, not being sure, perhaps? Maybe?

I’ve never understood why, when people get really jealous, all their rage is taken out, not on their partner but on the person their partner is with (or they think is with). That has never happened to me. If I got jealous in the past, the only thing is that I don’t want to see the other person. But I’m not angry or anything towards them but towards my partner.

Perhaps it’s not actually jealousy. And perhaps that’s why I don’t understand it?

Perhaps I should have kept the original subtitle to the blog. The one about coming here to find the passion and that it is here, all around me but that it never really touches me inside.

Perhaps I just can’t get the same feelings and I am mistaking one for another?

Holidays and weekends away

He says, in Italian, something like “Andy sends his regards” or “Andy says ‘hello’ or “Andy sends his best wishes” or “Andy sends his love”. They use one single phrase, more or less, whereas we have hundreds and each one has a slightly different meaning and depends, to some extent on the relationship you have with the person receiving these words.

I don’t know to whom he is speaking. Obviously someone that knows me.

After the call he tells someone who we are with that “I will be going to Tuscany, maybe next weekend”. In this way, he reminds me of V. Saying something with no real meaning.

Immediately before that comment he had told me that it was A, his sister-in-law and that she had sent her best wishes to me. She is sweet. I wonder what he has said to them about me?

Later he says that we can go down and stay with R&A – perhaps this weekend? I had got it right when I overheard them talking in the car on the way to the concert. I mean, I knew I had but I do like the confirmation. He says that we would go down on Saturday morning and come back Sunday night. I have my new car now.

He says that it is a bit difficult because next week he will still be busy but it will be easier than the last couple of weeks. I suggest that, maybe, we go down the weekend after we come back from the UK. He thinks that might be good because then it will be his Dad’s birthday (end of July).

He also tells me later that, during the first week of our holidays, after the dogs have been washed and brushed (for they have a booking on the Tuesday) we can go down to stay with R&A for a few days on our way to Umbria.

It’s all I can do to stop grinning. Not only had I fully understood but now I really get to go down to the home town. I am very happy about that. I get to meet some friends that I know but have never met; some friends that I know and have met. I get to see his home town, where he grew up. I get to see his brother and wife (although, of course, that’s full of other issues as I have already posted). We get to have a longer time together.

I think he has, somewhat ‘engineered’ the invite from his brother. It makes me smile. Bless him.

I am a bad, bad, BAD person.

I feel like Smeagol. I am a bad, bad person.

I’m going to tell you a secret and it will just be between you and I. It is too weird and complicated and freaky.

So, here goes.

I am walking towards the entrance. There, standing, waiting is a vision of loveliness. He seems quite tall; he’s wearing black jeans, slightly faded, with smart, black shoes; he sports a black shirt which immediately brings to mind the song, Camice Nere or whatever it was (I probably spelt it wrong and there was a lot of controversy about it but the song itself was wonderful and I didn’t understand the words anyway – first off I didn’t even know it wasn’t Italian and secondly I thought it was talking about a black waitress – until I was told about it (so, go on, laugh – it is quite funny, really)); the shirt open till about halfway down the chest; the chest, smooth and a deep red-brown colour that was so perfect, as if he had stepped out of an advert for clothes or perfume or something; his beard was half-grown – designer stubble as we say; his hair, brown but not too dark, maybe lightened by the sun, straight and long, parted in the centre, flowing down to his shoulders, curling very slightly at the ends, outwards; he wore red-framed spectacles but, unusually for me, they weren’t a turn-off; he gave an air of being casual, yet sporty, yet intelligent – all in all, the perfect man for me.

He could, almost, be Johnny Depp! There, you have the picture.

As I approached, I recognised him. Of course, I couldn’t be 100% certain but I was 99% certain. Maybe it was the nose, which in any event was ‘there’ and prominent. He did look younger than his 41 years even if, later, I saw traces of grey at the edge of his beard.

I became 99.9% certain it was him as I rounded the corner and found the woman sitting there, on the small wall.

I go to the buzzer and ring the bell. I am let in but ask about the guy and have confirmation that it is, indeed him. I am, already, racked with guilt even for my thoughts.

I try my best (and it is a very poor best) to confirm that I know who he is and would they like to come up.

We introduce ourselves and go up.

F is there in his underpants, as usual when he is at home. He is gorgeous and I love him. But the man on his sofa, with his shirt almost undone, now, is like the perfect version of F. I wonder if he shaves his chest and decide that he probably does. Men are so vain these days, straight or gay. The black shirt against the exposed chest and stomach make them, well, perfect.

We talk. Well, I talk little. Everyone speaks in Italian but it is well-pronounced (they are all from Tuscany) and, it seems, not talking in dialect, which would be impossible for me anyway. I wonder if they are all talking slower because of me or they normally talk like this.

R takes off his glasses. I can’t believe how stunningly beautiful he is

I say that they look alike. Apparently, no one else thinks so. But, although they are not actually exactly the same, they are alike enough for me to know they are brothers although I would not have said twins. I think it is the nose that does it.

F gets dressed and off we go. R drives with A and F in the back seats – I am in the front cos I (sort of) know where to go.

I get into the passenger seat and imagine that I reach my hand across to place it on his leg. As I think that, I know that I am only thinking that because it is a bad, very bad, thought. I catch myself glimpsing his crotch and wondering if there are any other likenesses. Again, I only do this because I know that I should not.

But they are nice people, R & A. We chat (well, they chat) and I follow almost all – occasionally F chips in with some translation for me or helps me if they ask a direct question of me.

It’s easy – not difficult. They seem very relaxed in my presence; nothing is awkward nor strained. I don’t follow the conversation completely, but I think they asked why F had not been down and he explains about the babies and they say that we can stay with them and that there is a garden and, anyway, they have two dogs (female) and one cat so it will be fine. And it would be fine, of course. I know that nothing would ever happen but, still, he is stunningly good looking and I imagine things even if, at the same time, it would almost be like incest and is too icky to even contemplate.

But knowing that and knowing how bad it is, I still can’t stop looking at him as he drives!

F and A go to take our seats whilst R & I go for the beer. We are in Italy but neither of us think about it. I ask him what he does. The language is a barrier to real conversation and it seems we have an interminable silence but it is not really so. We are nearly at the front when R realises that everyone else has a receipt – i.e. we should pay first. R rushes to the queue to pay and get the receipt. He returns at the same moment as I need to order the beers.

A talks almost as much as F does. They talk about the pets, the houses, the family, etc. As one would. I sit furthest from R. I look at him from time to time, amazed at how perfect he is and being disgusted with myself at the same time. Even with his glasses on – I am shocked that I can find someone with glasses so attractive – take away the other problem that he is, more or less, the equivalent of my brother-in-law!

At one point, during the concert, I whisper to F that I love him. Which I do. R is not a possibility and anyway, even if he were, it would not happen for I do, truly, love F. R is simply a distraction and is not F, even if they are similar.

After the concert, we walk back to the car. We learn that A is 57. F says she doesn’t look it. I echo that. But she does really. I mean, she looks like a granny – a rather hip granny – but a granny, nonetheless.

She walks more slowly and, for the walk back, whilst the two brothers walk ahead, we lag behind. She talks to me, sometimes in English but mostly in Italian, telling me all about them, their age difference, her first (and only) daughter (with her first husband when she was about 20 years old), her wish not to have more kids but if it happened then it would be fine (but I don’t think it will happen now) and her daughters wish not to have kids and the problem with the world today.

We drive back. I don’t look at him so often – on purpose for I know how wrong it is. I ask, F if his brother’s hair is naturally straight or if he straightens it. It is naturally straight. They are, it seems, nothing alike and yet ……….

They park the car and we walk them back to F’s flat. They feel bad that they are taking F’s flat but F had already explained that we live so close and we either sleep in his flat or mine. There’s no surprise with that but neither is it expanded upon.  There has been no talk or questions about us. Maybe that will come later? Later, next time, I mean. After all, they are also in an unusual situation and I don’t think they can or would criticise us.

At the entrance to the flat we say our goodbyes. They ask why I haven’t been down. F tells them in Italian that I always say that ‘I haven’t been invited’! They officially and formally invite me. We laugh.  We kiss cheeks.  Everything is normal AFU.  OK, only AFU in my head not theirs nor F’s.  Our first week of the holiday may be secured – see I am a really bad, bad person.

But I really like them. They have been so nice, they are seemingly open and friendly and have been very, very nice towards me.

I look forward to meeting them again. I think the whole issue of him being so perfect will be different next time. I hope so. For certain, he is not perfect.

I am shocked at myself. I am disgusted with myself. I hate myself. I am, mentally, beating myself – and I deserve it!

I hope you do not judge me too harshly but I have to tell someone. I am frightened I will say the wrong thing to F. My mouth must stay firmly shut on this. Sometimes, damn my brain!

Some crap rambling

They are squeezed in. I am reminded of the ‘packed in like sardines’ phrase – but that only makes sense if you’ve opened a tin full of sardines. But it is like that. I am sat down. The station is not really hot but not cool either. I can’t remember now. Was it only San Babila where they had the fans and the water spray every few seconds?

I hope that, in spite of the time of day, it is not rush hour for the ones going my way.

Previously, I had taken the tube. I noticed when a new crowd got on at one station that the smell ‘changed’ from a sort of plasticine to something else. I wonder if it the station or the people that made the smell change? I seemed to be more acutely aware of my surroundings- I don’t know why.

There was the young guy in the white shirt. Asian – like Indian or something. With the sideburns so short and thin running down besides his ear as if a line of dirt. The small goatee he had, seemingly false – attached at the lip only, very small and very black and standing proud of his chin – at least from side profile. The girl, short, not pretty but not ugly either, with the young guy. She carrying all the bags and with a propensity for hunching her back as if to presage the change, in 40 or 50 years, when she really would have the widow’s hunch; he not seeing to care that the bags were all with her, and not really responding when she put her arm around his hip, withdrawing it seconds later, perhaps because of his lack of response?

There was the woman, who, ducking under the arm of a guy holding on to the rail above his head, screwed up her face as she did this, and which face told me everything I needed to know about the guy’s personal hygiene or, rather, to be fair, the heat of Milan.. As she ducked and made the grimace, he moved because, actually, he was leaving the train too.

Outside, whilst I was waiting and watching the large digital display of temperature on the building at one side of the square; as the temperature clicked from 33° to, what looked like, 39° (which, in fact, seemed much more realistic) but which was 34°, there were the group of rather loud and, probably, slightly drunk men, sitting at the café (which is not really a true café but rather a kiosk with some high tables with matching high stools – all in red – since they were sponsored by a well known cola maker) talking loudly about something which I take to be football because different countries seem to be being compared, including England and Uruguay, etc. There was a woman who, at first I thought had just been passing and had stopped to look at them but on reflection must have been a part of the group; long, slightly curly (wavy, maybe? – no more than just wavy), brown hair, tied back with one of those half pony-tails that sit on the top of your head – there only to keep the fringe or the sides of the hair away from your eyes; of large build and, if I had been in the UK, lived, undoubtedly on one of the less salubrious council housing estates – but then, what do you expect from outside a main station in Milan.

As I’m stood there waiting, two municipal policemen come out from a ‘hidden’ door just beside me, the door just beside another kiosk that seemed perfectly closed to ensure the public can’t actually get any police help, one with a cycle and one without, the room was dark (one wonders if anything was ‘going on’ in there). I note that the policeman walking with the bike has, fixed to his hip, a large plastic-looking baton – with a handle that could come from a sword, all white making it look like some children’s plaything and if it would glow and make a noise, perhaps it could be a Star Wars weapon? The policeman with the bike walks off towards the traffic in front of me, the other guy walking towards the station – behind me but round me, me noticing his gun and wondering if they all have enough special training as to its use, saying his goodbyes or have-a-good-days or whatever.

Even in the shade, which is not real shade, it is hot. I really don’t believe the 34° but prefer my version of it – 39°. My shirt sticks to my back; I feel uncomfortable. I left the tie in the car. I notice and don’t notice things. A man with a child (I don’t even look round to see them) walk past, behind me. Did she speak English?, I wonder but vaguely not actually wondering because I’m not actually caring. I’m sure she said something like ‘There’s a tram?’. Did she add ‘Daddy’ or ‘papa’? I could continue to listen for signs but I don’t. It doesn’t matter if they are English or not; if they are tourists or not; if they even exist!

I see the café where we shall go, probably. I think I might suggest going inside where there will be air-conditioning. Or, perhaps the outside bit will have fans and water spray like they do in the Brera or Navigli areas. After all, this is a place where many tourists come – both Italians and esterni. I really want the beer that I have promised to myself. My body says ‘YEAH’ and ‘WHY WAIT’ and ‘GET ONE FROM THE CAFE THAT YOU’RE STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO’. I have a cigarette, instead because, if I’m honest, I’m frightened to go to the bar – I would have to push past the people that I don’t like who are still, probably, talking about football!

Is this what it’s like to get old? To be frightened to do things because of what may happen? Mind you, to be fair, I was always frightened thus. I’m not built like a ‘brick shit house’ as the phrase goes. I remember, when I was a kid, my Nan, for some reason, used to have those Marvel comics and they used to have the ads in for ‘7 stone weaklings’ which was me! And so, I thought, one day, I would get these things and transform myself into the guy who did not have sand kicked in his face – but I never did nor, now, would care to.

And, so, I don’t get a drink. But I do have a cigarette.

And then I wonder, as I usually do, if I will recognise her. I mean, I’ve only met her once and my memory is terrible. I watch someone walking away towards the park – but it’s not her, I know that much. I pretend not to look at anyone, just in case I don’t recognise her and I curse my memory for being so bad. But I sneak a peak, every now and then. Every now and then being every second, just in case.

I text her to say I am in the shade so she will know where to look because I’m not in quite the right place. I see someone waving and know, immediately it’s her. I needn’t have worried. But I shall do the same next time.

We air kiss as one does but not in the affected way that they do in the UK. Here it’s normal and natural. We go to the bar and she suggests inside, for which I am grateful. We go inside and she asks, in Italian for a table. As we sit down the waiter comes and talks to us in English. She responds in Italian. I think to myself that she is annoyed by the fact that they are talking in English to us – but I am British with a very British accent and she is Italian who speaks English almost like a native American/Canadian. Again, I am amazed at how her accent is not Italian. How every word she speaks does not end in a vowel as is more common here. I don’t know why but I’m also amazed that her accent is American/Canadian. It’s a little like black people speaking French, to me.

We order our drinks and I talk. She talks too but I am certain I over-talk. As I talk I keep telling myself to shut up. But then I forget and talk some more. I think I’ve forgotten everything we’ve talked of in the past. I am crap really. But the talk is easy and not strained and, after all, we know so much about each other and yet so little – like we’ve been friends for ages but not really known each other. And yet we know things that others do not, so it makes it confusing.

I talk some more and some more. We are not going to be that far away from each other for our holidays. Maybe we can meet? I want her to meet F for some reason. Maybe I want validation that what I have written here is true?

She has to catch a train and we walk back to the station. Then she tells me of her news and I am really pleased for her. So much so that I suddenly realise she might be missing the train. I hope she doesn’t.

I go back to the metro station and, as I pass the other entrance to the main station I look up at the departure board. Against her train (I suppose) are the flashing lights. I try to work out the platform to see if the train has gone or not. It seems not. I hope.

I go back down to the metro. And this is when I see the train packed like sardines in a tin. One end of one carriage is without light and I think to myself that the unbearable just got worse! Even worse than that is that it is one of the older trains with no air conditioning.

I reach my station in an air conditioned train. I see a text from A wanting me to go have ice-cream. The message came through when we were at the bar but I forgot about it till now. I say yes.

>As I come out from the station into the oven that is the outside and the street I wonder if my car will be there. I reprimand myself for being so stupid as to a) park in a blue zone without paying and b) parking too close to the car next to me – but I had no choice – the space between the two cars was so tight because of the way one had parked at an angle.

Everyone wants to save the square – save it for the trees – from the huge underground car park they (the council) want to build, here called a silo (probably see-loh rather than sigh-low). The trees are old. The square is quite nice although they could do a better job with the dog-walking areas in the centre but I’ve mentioned that before. At least I will probably have a fine. But what do I care – after all it’s not my car and, hopefully, it will be given back in a few days and then it’s not my problem. But I shouldn’t have parked there, really. Or, rather, not like that.

But it’s OK. The car is hot but not as hot as when I got in it at work. Then it said 45.5° and it felt like it. I drive back home and wonder how I introduce her to F? Maybe I just don’t really do the full introduction? Ah well, let’s see what happens. We only have a week which won’t be long.

I look forward to seeing F later, little knowing what had already happened……probably. I mean, what had probably happened by the time I was driving.

I’m not sure this is right!

When I met V he used this lightening cream. It’s not that he was ‘black’ black but rather red-based black, meaning he was a lot lighter than a lot of other black people.

I learnt many things about what it is to be black. The creaming every day to stop one’s body from having dry skin, which on most white people is just a bit irritating and, well, white, whereas on black people is, well, white and, therefore, just a tad more noticeable; the attention paid to the hair – using oils and stuff to make it softer, without which it resembles wire wool both to look at and touch.

But, in addition to all the other ‘stuff’ that V used, he used the lightening cream, not wanting to be white, just not wanting to be too black.

Really, of course, it is a type of bleach. I was quite worried about it. I mean, it wasn’t as if I had any problem with his shade of black for that was not what I was looking at. Black people’s skin is beautiful and almost always smooth – but there is a price to pay – this whitening cream seemed a little too much of a price to pay. Bleach, even in small doses, I reasoned, could not possibly be good for the skin, for you, if applied every day.

And so, I applied my reasoning to him, wanting him to be happy but not to have problems later in his life, which is what I thought should happen. And if he applied it after shaving, it burnt him. Now that can’t be good, I thought.

And, so, he stopped using it after I had suggested it could not possibly be good for him and explaining why I thought this.

There is a product, currently on sale here, that is aimed at men. It seems to be advertised everywhere. It reminds me of the old wild west of America when coke and tomato sauce were invented and initially promised great things in terms of health before being seen as the confectionery they actually are and with no significant health-giving properties. I mean, coke cleans up dirty old coins – how good can it really be for your stomach! Although, as we all know, a coke and a bag of crisps (for the salt) are brilliant when, say, travelling in Egypt to avoid or cure the ‘holiday tummy’ problem one often finds.

But back to this product. It is a cream. This cream will, apparently, reduce your bulbous stomach – a way of slimming, simply by applying the cream every day.

F is not stupid but sometimes seems a little too hopeful. He does have a slight stomach, that, actually, I find very sexy. I don’t know why, it’s really not like me at all!

However, he promises me it only came on after last year’s summer holiday in his home town, when he ate and drank far too much. Mainly ate though as he stayed with his parents and, so he says, his Mum cooks – a LOT.

But now he wants to get rid of it. I say he should leave it – but to no avail.  He does the dieting bit from time to time but it is a little difficult for him. He likes his beer too much – and his food! So dieting is out really.

And now he’s found the cream. “But is it working?”, I ask. He replies that he doubts it but it doesn’t stop him putting it on each night, rubbing it over the stomach and, like the lottery, hoping that he is the one person that wins, against the odds.

Last night I got in to his flat. He is ‘fanning himself’ with his hands. It is hot – but as I mentioned in the last post, cooler now. But he is very hot and there’s a reason. the cream of this miracle product is burning!

“It can’t be good if it is burning”, I say, trying to be gentle about the fact that, if it were me, I would stop immediately.

“No, it’s OK”, he replies in the standard way that he does – at least to me.

“But”, I say, trying to be a little more forceful, “I am sure it’s not supposed to burn when you use it!”

“Don’t say that”, he replies, “else I shall be worried about it”.

I laugh but hope that he is right and gives it some thought. It cannot be right. The motto ‘No pain, no gain’ is right but surely not for something that you rub on your stomach?

He’s not the only man in Italy using it. I know of several other people that are trying this out. Hmmm. Still, it can’t be right, can it?

Logic – not something everyone can get to grips with!

There is a cooling breeze coming through the open window.  It is, in spite of my adoration of the heat here, most welcome.

For days, now, the temperature during the day has been reaching the mid-thirties (Celsius) and my body has been, as they say of ladies, glowing!  But, glowing profusely.  A shower offers welcome respite for all of 2 minutes. I try not to move much. Certainly, I ‘do’ as little as possible.

But, last night we had a storm. I truly love these summer storms. The cloud cover, us being in the city, is not black and gloomy but rather bright and orange. The lightening, whether sheet or forked, is a wonder. We never had these type of storms in the UK – well, rarely. With it (but this is not always so) came rain. Probably less than half an hour but refreshing, nonetheless. With it also came wind, the only problem being that I had to shut windows and/or shutters, thus depriving the house from the real cooling effect it gave. Even so, the wind was not really cold – just cooler.

We were going to go to F’s flat – but the rain meant we were delayed. I had been mindful of the fact that F has not been sleeping well. The heat (which he hates), the dogs, my snoring and, of course, not least, work – now that he is working 6 days per week. Saturday night we had stayed at mine. The heat, during the night, imperceptibly different from the day-time heat. Even a sheet on top of you is almost too much to bear – and so, usually the sheet is thrown to one side.

I wake up, during the night. F has a headache and will I get him an aspirin. I do. Then he decides to move to the bottom of the bed, lying across the bottom of the bed at 90° to me (and the normal way of sleeping) – this allows him to have his head closest to the open window, trying to catch the slightest wisp of moving air, which is rare and, in any case, is as warm as having none.

I had promised to get down the fan. And, given the night he had had, I did get it down on Sunday, whilst he was at work. I plugged it in, making sure it was working and positioned to give the maximum of benefit for when we are in bed.

But, in any event, last night he finished really late and so, as I expected, we (the dogs and I) went round to his place.

As we are lying in bed, the breeze was really fantastic. As I said, not really cold – just cooler but enough so that I got under the sheet, covering my bare shoulders.

“I got the fan down, so we can have that at my house”, I said, pleased with myself that I had, at long last, done something to make him more comfortable.

“I have a fan too”, he said, adding, “but I can’t have it on during the night, otherwise I will get a stiff neck”.

I am glad it is dark. I am glad that I don’t laugh out loud. What I want to say is:
“But you have the window open at night – including tonight, when the air is cool – how can that be different from having a fan going?”

Apparently it is different.

Sometimes, the logic defies reason.