I don’t like Mondays

The headache was so intense that I actually found some Nurofen and took two. It made it better ….. eventually.

I hate Mondays. The problem is not that it’s a Monday but that I have a lesson that starts at 9 p.m. for an hour and a half. I take the dogs out afterwards. But, instead of being able to go to sleep straight away, I always struggle – thoughts going round in my head, etc. It’s just like if you have been driving for a few hours – you need time to relax.

Of course, it’s made much worse if F is not here. Even if the flat is not so cold, I feel colder without him. I don’t have him to cuddle up to, to be comforted and safe.

And, then, last night all these things (including the blasted headache) were there.

I got to bed about 11.15. I switched on the telly for a bit. Then switched it off – I thought sleep was almost here. But, of course, I was wrong. Sleep was not here. It was somewhere else. It was missing in action. It had escaped like a wayward cat and was not knocking on the door – even if I was so very tired.

I switched the telly back on, went and got the cigarettes from the kitchen (F is not here and so I can smoke in the bedroom if I want – he says, defiantly!) and came back to bed. I surfed through the channels. They’ve just made virtually all the channels digital (at least in Milan) and so there is a veritable feast of channels now available. It doesn’t make the programmes better, of course – a bit like satellite – there are just so many of them, mostly churning out the same pap. It’s the same in the UK except that the type of programme is slightly different.

There is, basically, a choice of two types of programme. There’s the singing programme where, in the main, there are some rather run-of-the-mill singers singing rather run-of-the-mill songs – probably with some half-naked dancing girls thrown in for good measure.

Or there is the interview/discussion panel. Here it allows the Italians to indulge in their favourite pastime (after eating, that is), namely navel gazing.

Apart from the Sara/Sabrina story which continues and is currently gripping this country, the rest is not of much interest – made much worse by the fact that I don’t understand so much, even if my Italian has improved.

I flick through the channels. Rete 4 is showing films. I pause. This looks interesting. It’s in black and white. No, wait. There’s a splash of red. Just one item, coloured red. I recognise this film. The volume is set low – if I manage to fall asleep with it on that’s OK.

Wait!  Surely I misheard.  It sounded like an English word but not ‘OK’ or ‘relax’ which are used here.  Strange, I thought, so listened harder. Yes, they were speaking English. Well, American.  It’s not dubbed as all the other films are!

Surely I know this film. The blonde-haired woman being beaten by some older, long-haired lout. He goes to the bathroom.  As he’s taking a pee, behind him there is the bath with a closed shower curtain round it.

He shouts out something like “I don’t hear you making those calls”.  This is to the blonde woman.  We are looking at the back of his head.  In the mirror in front of him, we see the curtain go back.  Ah, yes, I do know this film.  One of my all-time favourites.  It is Sin City. I can’t help but watch it, especially as it is in English.

Even as I’m watching I think how stupid this is.  I could, at any time, go to the DVD collection and get out the original!  I could do this tomorrow and get some sleep now.  But, already, I am hooked.

The film finishes (it was less than half-way through) although I keep thinking of a scene that wasn’t there.  Or maybe that was a different film.  I wonder if they cut it.  Maybe.

I don’t turn the telly off although I do turn over and try to sleep.  At some point, I do wake up enough to turn it off – without even looking to see what was on.

I sleep the sleep of the dead.  It crosses my mind that these bloody headaches are for one of two reasons.  Either I am so tired (which I am at the moment) or I am grinding my teeth again.  Or both.  Or it’s that I spend too much time in front of the computer.  Or all of those and something else, like stress or something.  Or it’s just in my head, so to speak.  So, in fact, not one of two reasons after all!

I hear the alarm go off on my phone.  It’s a piece of music that has a name but, I think, was especially composed by someone famous for Blackberry.  I am sure that I pick the phone up and put it to snooze for five minutes.  It is, after all, 5.40.

After a short while, I think I hear the alarm go again.  But I’m not sure, aware, as I am, that the sound could just be playing in my head because I know it so well.  I try to ignore it.  It is persistent. Ah, well, even if it is not actually going off, I should get up.  I reach for the phone.  It is going off.  I look at the time on the phone.  It is 6.23!  Not only is it going off but has been doing so for almost three quarters of an hour!

And, come to think of it, maybe I just dreamed that I put it on snooze.  I am late.  I still have my coffee after taking the dogs out.  Rufus being a bit slower today and, possibly, after two days of feeling fine, ill again.  Ah well, poor thing.

I have a shower and get ready.  On getting to work (only 15 minutes late) I find that I have forgotten to wear a T-shirt under my shirt.  And it is colder today.  And I must book the flights to Copenhagen.  Grrrrr.

No, I hate Mondays.  And, so, I leave you with this.  I’ve always liked the song.

Perfect Yorkshire Pudding

OK.  This recipe has failed me only once.  Prior to using this recipe I used to hit good Yorkshires about 50% of the time – after using it I hit 100%.  The only reason it failed once was that it was my old cooker in the new flat which did not have settings for the oven (other than High, Low and Off).  This recipe makes about 12 – 15 small cake-sized puddings.


2 Eggs……………………….2 uova

3 oz Plain Flour………………85 g farina (tipo 00)

1/4 pint of Milk………………0.14 l latte

Salt and Pepper……………….sale e peppe

Some oil/lard…………………olio/strucco


Sieve flour into a bowl and add the salt and pepper (a bit of each to taste).  Break two eggs into the flour and mix well.  It is better using a mixer (like a Kenwood Chef).  Now add the milk, drizzling it in very slowly and making sure it mixes well to give a batter without any lumps.  Put into the fridge for at least 20 minutes.  (I have made it the day before and left it in the fridge until needed – but it needs a good whisk if you do that as it does separate).

Use a patty tin (like the cake tin to make small cakes – preferably with rounded bottoms to the individual cake parts).  Brush a little oil or melted lard over the tin and place in oven (the oven should be the hottest you can get – max, max, max!).  At this point anyway, you can take the meat out to rest – so it’s all perfect timing.

Once the oil/lard is hot (and smoking slightly is good – no, not you, the oil/lard!), take out of the oven and pour some of the batter in each one.  Put back into the oven for about 15 minutes until well risen and brown.  Try not to open the oven door too much or too early but they shouldn’t really deflate anyway.  Serve immediately with the meat and good gravy.  They are to-die-for!

Save any left over (if there are any) and you can have them with a spoonful of sugar when they are cold!

Thanks; Chiara Civello; Perfect Yorkshire Puds and some really good port

Well, I’ve now been and it was lovely but, as I’m not from the USA (I guess), it was, more or less, like going to dinner at someone’s house.

I’m talking of Thanksgiving.

I’m talking turkey, mashed potatoes, and a rather glorious stuffing.

To be honest, I thought it was going to be an all-American affair (except for me) but it took on quite an International flavour. 3 Americans, 1 Canadian, 1 Australian, 1 Italian and me. The turkey (which I’ve never been mad keen on) was rather good and well cooked. The stuffing was fantastic. The wine and conversation flowed and we even had a rather difficult conversation with N & S all the way from San Francisco – the ‘difficult’ part being the connection which, unfortunately kept dying.

I got home at about 3.30 a.m. I then spoke to Ag on the telephone. She was in need of someone to talk to. It meant I got to bed about 5.30. I was, unsurprisingly, tired on Saturday. My headache was still here (but that could have been just ‘cos I’m tired).

F phoned me during the day on Saturday. He said that things were going rather well and he was going to be coming home that night so that we can go to a concert. He had booked it before he knew that he would be away and there had always been some doubt about whether he would be there.

He got home in the late afternoon and then we met up and went for a pizza at Liù (see link at side) – except Liù was full so we went to Time Out 2 instead. Then strolled down to Il’s flat and took a taxi with her to see Chiara Civello at Blue Note.

She was fabulous although I was so tired and we went to the second concert of that evening – it started at 11.30! He knows her because his ex, M, from Rome, knows her. After the concert we went backstage and I was introduced to her as ‘my new boyfriend’. I had been similarly introduced to someone who sat with us and was a friend from some time ago. She works for Moschino or somewhere like that.  It was then added that I was a ‘real man compared to S’ – which always makes me smile – although I never, ever make any comment, of course.

Anyway, there are a couple of Chiara’s tracks at the bottom. I hope you enjoy them. She was lovely, always smiling and the music is really good.

Yesterday, as F is away, I had promised A that I would do Sunday lunch for him and Fr – you know, the Roast Beef type of Sunday lunch, which F would not enjoy so much.

A had baked some bread which we had with something that was like a light pâté that F had brought back from Germany. There was goose-liver and reindeer – they were delicious and not at all heavy as pâté can be sometimes.

Then we had the roast beef and, with my new cooker, the perfect Yorkshire puddings – YAY! I will do a post with the recipe since it has never, except once, let me down. The only reason it didn’t work before was my old oven, I was sure – and this proved correct when, this time, they were well risen and light – just as they should be. Also, when I had been in France last year, I had bought some red horseradish sauce – and it was quite hot, which I liked.

After that we had Apple and Blackberry Crumble with whipped cream. This was all followed by cheese (including Stilton) and some rather fine port, bought for me by a colleague when he went to Portugal. The problem was that then I just couldn’t stop drinking it. I had to ‘force’ myself to stop, even after A & Fr left.

Anyway, they enjoyed it – as did I.

I spent the rest of the evening washing up :-).

F is back on Wednesday as that is the day that the new shop will open. I will be very happy when he is back, as will Dino. And Rufus who is a LOT better. Thanks for all your kind wishes.

Anyway, enjoy Chiara – these are some of my favourite songs of hers.

Berlusconi will, no doubt, be proud of this.

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was “feckless, vain, and ineffective as a modern European leader”, according to Elizabeth Dibble, US charge d’affaires in Rome. Another report from Rome recorded the view that he was a “physically and politically weak” leader whose “frequent late nights and penchant for partying hard mean he does not get sufficient rest”.

Especially the bit about partying hard. :-)

OK so he may not like the bit about being physically weak or being feckless or ineffective but I’m sure he can turn it round in his favour.

And I’m not sure it will get that much press here. A bit like the scandal concerning D&G which barely gets a mention here.

It’s a strange country, Italy, for sure.

Things take a turn for the worse…….

For a more positive start though, it seems the hosting company did fix the problem :-)

So, now I am back, which is nice.  I can post properly, add tags and everything!

But now I’m going to talk about not being so well.  And first it is Rufus who has taken a decided turn for the worse.  After a couple of days of being more sprightly and perky, we started the day before yesterday with, whilst not exactly diarrhoea, definitely things were a bit soft and also, sometimes, a bit runny.  However, last night, when we got back from our early evening walk, we also had a bit of vomiting – and it was not at all pleasant.  He seems ok-ish this morning but I can’t be sure.

People have been asking me if I’m taking him to the vet but, no, at this stage, I’m not.  He doesn’t seem in pain but obviously his stomach is not so good.  But the vet can’t do anything, really.  Sure he could give him some antibiotics, I suppose, which will work – and then, after a couple more days, we’ll be back to the same.  Alternatively, if there is something really wrong (which is just as likely), what can the vet do?  He can’t have an operation, he’s far too old for that.  And he won’t appreciate being prodded and poked.  So, we’ll see how it goes (which is what I normally say, now, when it comes to Rufus).

But I will try, this weekend, to spend a little more time than normal giving him some cuddles and stuff.  Bless him.

And then there’s me with this bloody headache thing.  I went out with A for a couple of beers and a pizza – nothing excessive – and this morning – a head like I’d drunk every bit of alcohol in Milan!  This has been a couple of weeks now.  I don’t get it.  It is very, very annoying.  However, I do remember cracking my head on an open cabinet door in the kitchen so maybe it’s just all a bit bruised is all.  Let’s hope it gets better very soon because it is ticking me off now.  A lot.

Being a bit clowny but posticipating a meeting

A few years ago, now, playing Scrabble with Best Mate and other friends, I put down the word ‘clowny’.  OK, I knew it was a bit dodgy but I stood my ground even if P was very miffed that I could get away with it and, although she was almost certain it was a fake, would not risk losing a go in case it was a real word.

It is my desire to make this word ‘real’ one day.  The more I mention it the more chance it has of becoming real.  Of course, if you Google it (see that’s a made-up verb) you will find hundreds of pages featuring the word.  That doesn’t exactly make it real, of course, but it’s certainly heading there.

And today, Pietro gave me another word that I really do like.  What’s the opposite of anticipate?  Why, posticipate, of course.

Having used it a few times now, I do understand why it was never a real word – it’s a bit of a tongue twister.  However, nice word and I really like it.

Thanks, Pietro :-D

I guess I have no choice now….

So this is day four or five of not being able to access either my web pages nor this administration tool for my blog. At least, not properly.

So, I guess it’s the time to move. I did everything the guy said and gave him my IP address (for work) and then …… nothing. It’s still the same. What worries me as well is, if I can’t get to it then, possibly, nor can anyone else (or, rather, less people than should be able to access it) and I can see by the number of visitors I’ve been getting in the last few days which has reduced considerably.

And so, ho hum, here we go again :-(

It will probably take most of today and the switch will happen tonight or tomorrow. I might be offline for a bit but, one hopes, it should be better than ever before!

Wish me luck.

UPDATE: This is not going very well :-(

Some things

Well, I can’t put Tags onto posts.

And if I empty the spam I have to log in again.

It’s just annoying. But at least it seems I can post things. Don’t know about accepting comments or replying to them yet as none of you have made any. But I guess I’ll find out.

I have looked into alternative hosters and, unless it’s fixed by tomorrow, I shall be going down that route, I expect.

Which is a shame – but it only really works if you can publish your website and then actually retrieve the website and write new posts!

I seem to be getting busier with the old English teaching lark. And, to be honest, I WANT MY LIFE BACK! I had forgotten how much work it actually takes. A says that I do too much for it. V used to say the same. I can’t do it differently though. I’ve also looked at doing the three kids and decided that I could do it – but I have put forward a price that is a little high. If they don’t want me to do it then that’s fine – after all, teaching kids will be much more work.

Anyway, enough of all this. No time, no time.

To get you a bit more up to date:-

I’ve got the Christmas Stamps! Yay! Now all I have to do is write the cards :-)

Rufus seems a lot better – since Monday, which is good.

F is working from tomorrow through to next Monday and, therefore will be away.

This means that I will have to go to my first-ever Thanksgiving Dinner alone (Friday night) :-(

It means that we might not go to the concert that he booked for Saturday night.

It means that I have invited A (and F) for Sunday Lunch (Roast Beef, Yorkshire Puddings, Stilton Cheese and a very nice bottle of port direct from Portugal) – there being far too much stuff that F doesn’t like in all that.

It means I will miss him :-(

It means I will get some sleep :-)

It means I can write the Christmas Cards :-|

In other news, South Korea and North Korea might be on the brink of war. Some miners died in a mine in New Zealand. The students are revolting (they should wash more hehehehe). Britain is to recognise my birthday by making the day a Bank Holiday.

Apparently there are also some other things happening on that day too, which I’m sure is pure coincidence. Checking, actually nothing much (apart from my birthday and the death of St Catherine of Siena) is going on. Oh, except there may be a wedding. Well, in fact, there may be quite a few. In the UK, I mean. Some woman called Kate and a bloke called Bill. Don’t know if I’m invited yet ‘cos they’ve only just announced it. Can’t go anyway, it will be me and F going to Giacomo, I very much hope. So, just in case you should read this, Bill (You don’t mind if I call you Bill, do you? Only William seems so, well, formal.), I’m really sorry we can’t be there. Anyway, the weather in the UK then is always a bit touch and go, especially on that day. You know, it could be raining, likely as not. Here it should be considerably warmer and sunny (I hope).

More stuff to follow (but maybe tomorrow if it’s all working properly)

Another joke!

Well, I’m back …… sort of. I’ll explain more in a moment.

This morning, for the second time since I’ve been here, I understood a joke on the radio. And by understand, I mean completely understood :-)

It’s not really much of a joke but that’s not the point really. It goes like this:

A dog is ‘home alone’ in the house and the telephone rings. The dog answers the telephone.

“Bau”, he says (bau being the Italian equivalent of woof).

“What?”, the caller replies.


“What? Pronto?”



“B as in Bari, A as in Ancona, U as in Udine”, the dog says (To determine letters as you spell them, Italians use cities).

Anyway, I thought it was quite amusing but I was more interested that I could understand a phone-in listener telling a joke. I’m not sure if I translated it or not!

Anyway, the reason for no posts is that the hosters I use had a hacker attack. As a result, they have blocked the IP address (from work). This means I can’t really do much. I’m now using a proxy but it’s not very good. They have said that they will add the IP as an exception – but, unfortunately, I can’t tell them what it is until tonight – I don’t have any access to them or their servers.

I’ve found a way round it ……. but it’s not ideal as it keeps logging me out!

Be back properly very soon (I hope). I have a lot to write about including the fact that, finally, it seems, the UK is recognising my birthday and they are going to make it a Bank Holiday :-)

Speak later!

Insolvable – Buzz Berlusconi

Buzz Lightyear. He believed that he was invincible and was there to save the world.

So, too, with Berlusconi. (Aren’t they so similar?)

This latest news seems to affirm that Mr B and the Italian Mafia (in this case the actual Mafia from Sicily, rather than the Camorra or the Ndrangheta) were closely linked. I would be surprised if anyone thought this was surprising.

There’s a problem here. The Mafia (in all their forms) are powerful and have their fingers in many pies – illegal and legal. The latest thing, recently, is Roberto Saviano’s assertion (apparently because I was told by a colleague) that the Mafia own a lot of restaurants in the north of Italy. Again, not really a surprise. I would think it would be almost impossible to be completely shielded from them. Sure, they may arrest, from time to time, some top leader (as they have a couple of days ago – the guy living, it seemed, an almost normal life in his home town – for 14 years or something like that, without being caught!) but one man is not the whole organisation. Mr B is one, I suspect, of many, many people who have no choice but to pay off the Mafia to get things done; to build things they want; to ensure that their business interests are safe. The Mafia are in every walk of life here. Like you cannot separate the Church and State here, you can’t separate the Mafia from Italy nor the life nor the people here.

And there’s the rub. Is there anyone in power who isn’t or hasn’t given money, even if inadvertently, to the Mafia? Probably not. And, then there’s the ‘in nero’ thing that, I would think, all Italians do at some time or another. It’s almost a way of life, much more so than in the UK.

How can you ever get rid of an organisation that has its grip on Italian life and whose tendrils stretch everywhere?

The only Italian that I know here who regularly insists on having a proper receipt for e.g. a restaurant bill, is A. But he’s one in a million, I think. And, if you pay cash, without a receipt so that you get quite a good discount, how do you know that the money you are paying them isn’t, in some way, helping to launder Mafia cash through the system? Of course, you don’t. And how do you stop it anyway if it is so much part of the Italian way to be? In the UK, I never knew of a restaurant that would routinely offer a discount to it’s regular and trusted clientèle. Here it seems to be the norm – no questions asked – as long as you don’t need a receipt, of course. Happiness all round, it would seem.

Perhaps it happens in the UK too? I don’t really know. And, since, anyway, getting something cheaper and avoiding paying the government anything by way of the transaction tax is something that, even in the UK, is ideal, no one can say their hands are clean, I guess. And even A won’t be whiter than white, I suspect.

And the solution? Whatever solution is thought up, it has to rely on 90% of the people abiding by whatever rules apply. And I don’t think that’s ever going to happen here any time soon. And so the solution is that there is no solution. However depressing that may seem, if one accepts that, then one can concentrate on the things that are solvable. Insolvable things don’t mean that you can’t try and exercise some control – just don’t think they are solvable.