Inexplicable procrastination

It is, truly, incomprehensible.

On some things – I procrastinate – for no reason. Or, no ‘apparent’ reason.

On the other hand, some things that I could leave for a day or more, I do immediately.

So, all my editing work is done. Completed. Sent back to the authors.

Lessons are prepared.

Booking of a couple of restaurants – not done. The alarm goes off on my mobile phone calendar. I reset the alarm ‘for later’. Even as I do it, I wonder why. The call will take about 2 minutes. And, yet, I put it off again. I really don’t know why.

Well, writing this post has made me get the telephone numbers, at least. I suppose that’s something. It’s like ‘I’m getting there’ but oh, sooooo slowly.

The first is in a couple of weeks. Someone who had been my best friend for quite a number of years, is coming to Milan. With his wife. It could be nice or ‘strained’. I don’t know. I’m not even sure if I want F to be with us or not. In some way I do but in another way, I’m really not that bothered in ‘showing him off’.

It reminds me of a time, many, many years ago. A really good friend and I were always competing with each other. You know the sort of thing. “We’ve just moved to a new house”; “I’ve just got a new car”; “I’ve just been promoted”.

Except, for some strange reason I decided to ‘opt out’ of this competing game. I decided not to tell him that I had got a new car. When he and his wife arrived to stay for a weekend soon after, they saw the new car in the driveway. I got some sort of sadistic satisfaction from seeing his jaw drop. In a way, I was still competing. Just in a different way. As if, by NOT bragging about it, I was actually bragging more! If you see what I mean.

And so it is with this ex-best friend. If F doesn’t want to go, of course, then I’m certainly not going to push. I don’t know how awkward it will be. And, as he’s not English, it will be all the more difficult to follow, for him.

The next is a booking I must make for D&S. They are coming over for their first wedding anniversary. I have a restaurant I want to book for them which is ‘magic’ in terms of place and food (if not service). I think it is perfect for their first anniversary. We shan’t be with them that day as they want to spend it together – which is how it should be, of course. But I do want their evening meal to be a bit special.

And, yet, I still haven’t booked these restaurants. And I can’t possibly tell you why.

It’s completely inexplicable.

Life is difficult

I’m guessing (although I am certain, really) that each of us have no idea how our current crisis affects those around us.

When I was 30 and went through my mid-life crisis (although, secretly, I’m hoping that ‘mid-life’ is not literal), I think it must have been hell for those around me.

Hell and very, very boring.

Worse still if you aren’t that close to someone. Worse still if they are just an office colleague that you aren’t close to but that you work with. Much, much worse if, as it seems, both partners have just reached 50 and are both having that mid-life crisis at the same time!

For that’s the way it seems.

“Can you just check on your websites if you can find the telephone number for this person?”, she asks.

I don’t know who it is but I’m certain it’s a friend of her husband. She goes on Facebook – but not as herself. She doesn’t want to be on Facebook. But she looks all the same.

“See if you can find pictures of these people?”. She wants to see what they look like. Of course, she’s clutching at straws.

“You know”, I said, yesterday, “you should be careful what you look for because you don’t know what you may find”. I have a wisdom built up from more than one occasion. Now I understand why the old people have so much of the damned stuff. I am, after all, old and, therefore, experienced and, therefore, have wisdom. Damn!

And, yet it won’t stop her. She is determined. She explained that she found the full details (phone number, address, etc.) by using directory enquiries. Finding one bit of information at a time. So as not to be considered suspicious.

She says she knows what I mean (about being careful because of what you might find).

Some mornings/days, she is almost in tears. When it’s like that she can’t talk to me. I feel sorry for her. I also don’t really want to know. We’re not really close, after all.

Her husband IS on Facebook. She’s told me some things about him. And things about some of his friends. It’s a marriage with problems. The problem is that he’s an Italian man (enough said) and the problem is also that she’s 50 ……. and trying hard not to be.

Age is a pain in the arse, really. For women it means you cannot look your age and you have a fixed time to have children. For men there’s the ‘not being able to get anyone else’. Or, rather, I should just miss the ‘n’ off ‘men’. Now I know different.

But I know that, in spite of my outstanding wisdom on this point (not that I have ever taken my own advice), she will continue until she finds out everything. Or, rather, until she finds some indiscretion. And then, depending on the parties will to fight for something or not, the end or a re-start.

And, even if she’s not close to me, it’s a shame.

And the amount of effort this all takes! I know it does, of course. It takes a lot of effort to find information that is, whilst not exactly secret, difficult to find. And then, to find it in such a way as to make the finding of it secret.

Until you spill the beans. The point at which you show your cards. And then? Well, then depends, of course. Depends on the relationship and, more importantly on the two people involved. It depends upon both of them wanting to ‘make it right’. As soon as one of them doesn’t, then you’re just sliding to the end.

And, however bad things are, there are times when you have doubts. When it seems that what you (think you) have is better than the horror of what you don’t yet know. The horror of being single.

But I am wise now. It is a horror (for some people and, certainly, for me) but one that doesn’t need to last. If you don’t want it to. There is a future and it’s yours to shape.

In the meantime, this tragedy (for that is what it is) of the secret searching and the secret finding and the trying to be more powerful than the other (because knowledge is power, isn’t it?) and the playing of what you think are aces, etc., etc. is tiring. Both for them and for us – the us that have to listen and watch.

Life is bloody difficult, isn’t it?

Pleasantly warm

I stand out on the balcony.

I think to myself that it’s ‘nicely warm’. And then I think that most Italians are complaining about it being too hot. Last night, on my journey home, at the last traffic lights before I park, there is a chemists that has a sign showing the current temperature. It said 31°. It was nearly 7 p.m. I like this. A lot.

Today will be much the same. I guess it’s getting to about 33° or 34° during the day.

Everyone seems to be looking forward to Thursday or Friday when the weather will break.

Our mind plays tricks on us. I seem to remember that, when we first came here, the whole of June and July hovvered around the 30° mark. But this weekend (the beginning of July) it forecasts the low 20s. I secretly hope that the forecast is wrong. Or not so secretly if someone should ask me.

But, is it right that only 6 years ago, the summers were hotter? Or is it just wishful thinking (wishful memories?)?

Obviously, it’s nicer if you’re sat at a bar with a cooling beer or on the beach with the cooling sea to go in to – but we can’t have everything in life. Or, maybe I could if I moved further south ;-)

The last few days

We did bitch about Italians quite a bit. It makes me feel a bit guilty but it was really all about shared experiences and, unfortunately, most of them would be about Italy and Italians.

It was beautiful weather. We arrived late – very late – after I had been to Bologna to pick her up.

Saturday was walking the dogs, having a coffee at the cafe in the centre of the town and then the beach.

Saturday night was dinner at La Brace (see restaurants on the right). This was fabulous and some spectacular wine except for one thing – we had Fiorentina (a steak from Tuscany) but, unfortunately, it was overcooked.

However, very nice.

Sunday, I had planned to take her to Le Cave (where they extract the marble) but I woke up really late and so, after the dog walk, it was just the beach again.

We left later than I wanted but, still, it only took 3 hours to get back – the traffic queues being at the start instead of the end.

It was nice but I miss F when I’m there. Still, from now on, he should be with me :-)

Banner ads

As you may have noticed, there are now adverts at the top and bottom of my blog. This has been done by the hosting company, Kool Serve and not by me.

Now, in theory, I have no real problem with banner ads – as long as they are tasteful and not flashy. I accept that this can be part of having free hosting (although I would pay for it quite happily – the free hosting is not really by choice – there are reasons). I also don’t have a problem with it because I realise that the hosting company cannot provide these services for free but must have something in return.

However, I am now expecting the uptime to be vastly improved since now they are getting something for it.

In the meantime, I will make backups every day! Just in case, you understand.

On the subject of food – British food is the most popular ……. apparently.

Yesterday it was the Daily (Hate) Mail. Today the Guardian. You can see the British rubbing their hands with glee it being justification and proof that the Italians don’t really have any better taste than us!

I must admit to being slightly shocked to see frozen pizzas in the supermarket, when I first came here. I mean, why? I’ve never bought one here, to be honest and yet, in the UK, we used to have at least one in the freezer all the time. Here, it just seems so stupid.

So, conducting my very own poll* because I find it so hard to believe this story, I find that S, my colleague, does have a frozen pizza in her freezer and, yes, it’s a Ristorante pizza. Her daughter, C, likes them, apparently. She uses them when she doesn’t have time to prepare something fresh.

When I’m in one of our local supermarkets though, I notice that it’s usually the foreigners who buy the frozen pizzas. I mean, certainly when you live in Milan, with a pizzeria and wood-fired pizza oven on every corner, why on earth would be buy an inferior frozen pizza?

S says that the crust is strange and it’s not a real pizza at all. The topping is, apparently, very rich – much richer than you get in Italy, I guess.

But, I still don’t really understand. I can’t even imagine having a frozen pizza when I can, within half an hour, have a freshly cooked pizza from one of the wood-fired ovens.

Still, when you look at the figures quoted it’s noticeable that these pizzas account for 20% of the Italian market. Nowhere does it actually say the number of pizzas sold nor the overall value of this market share. I suspect it is nothing like the value of the equivalent percentage share in the UK.

However, it does make me want to try one – just to see what they are like.

On the subject of pizzas, our chef at work, asked how my Hawaiian pizza was. I said it was beautiful. She said I would have to come up with some more ideas. S, my colleague has also said she might have the Hawaiian one to try :-D

* A poll taken of 1 person :-)

Maybe it’s time for a change?

You shouldn’t expect them to be perfect.

Doctors, I mean. They are called (in the UK) General Practitioners. And ‘general’ for a reason. They know a lot – but not everything. They might know a lot about common diseases and problems but they are not (and don’t profess to be) specialists.

It’s the same with all professions, I guess.

Reaching this stage of my life, I now understand that they are not God. Nor are any of these professionals. Chemists, Solicitors, the rest.

My vets has two people in the practice. One of them I like and trust. The other I don’t really like nor do I really trust. However, I was really quite shocked to be told, last night, by the one I like, that the instructions given by the other one were not right and that ‘he was wrong’!

Rufus has blocked anus glands. I went to the vets and the nice one gave me a prescription for anti-biotics but said to come back in one week to make sure it was taking effect.

I did. The other one was there. The other one looked and said it was coming along nicely and to finish the treatment and then come back in two weeks.

Last night I took him back. This time there was the nice one. He asked why I didn’t come back at the end of the treatment. I told him that I didn’t because his colleague, the other one, had told me to come back in two weeks.

“He was wrong”, he said. He explained that, although 90% OK, I now need some cream to put on (that doesn’t really fill me with joy but I’ll do it, of course). And then go back in 10 days.

I think I need to change vets, don’t you?

Rice Pudding with anchovy sauce.

It looked like rice pudding. It had the right, creamy texture and when I took the first mouthful it was sweet and, really, like rice pudding.

Of course, the anchovy sauce and mozzarella made it risotto and not rice pudding at all. Still, in my head it had been rice pudding and not risotto and so, it tasted strange. Not unpleasant, just not what I thought.

I was introduced to customers and staff (that I didn’t know) as his boyfriend. Apparently, some people didn’t really believe that. He is proud of that fact even if he did say that I was lucky to have him as my boyfriend – which is true, in any event.

The people are nice, even if they are in the fashion world.

The food was mountainous. Too much even for the hundreds of people there. I didn’t eat much. I’d eaten lunch and had been stuffed full last weekend.

I had a glass of prossecco but then saw they had a bar with Campari and Cinzano – so, from then on it was Americanas. I probably should have stopped at the fourth – but didn’t. F told me he was quite drunk. Then the next time I saw him was with a very full glass of wine. I guess he was going to enjoy himself.

Some people went outside to smoke a joint. Outside – on the pavement, on a busy road. In the UK I’m sure (but I really don’t know), they would have been hiding away. Here, it seems better to do it out in the open.

There was dancing by the end. All a little bit crazy. All a little bit drunk. We got to bed about 12.30, completely shattered – and we had to be up early this morning as F was going away and I was taking him to the airport. He’s gone until Thursday.

During the evening, I looked at him doing his thing and thought how much I truly loved him.

It was a great evening with the designer, at one stage, cycling round the showroom whilst a photographer took some pics and, afterwards, dancing with the ‘girls’ some of whom are, of course, not really young enough to be called girls (and I’m being quite polite here).

Nothing to fear except a lack of self-confidence itself!

I am disappointed that I didn’t bring one of the others; that I didn’t fully-charge my phone; that I didn’t bring something to write with and on. I think, “I’ll write this down when I get back.” But, even as I think this, I know that I won’t. There’s too much ‘worry’. It is, of course, all made-up worry and, therefore, not real. It’s just in my head.

Later, as I’m walking out, I think that, if it wasn’t for my ‘worries’, my indecisiveness, my (and let me honest here) fears, I could be great. Maybe. It holds me back. It stops me from doing things or, rather, sometimes it stops me and I am annoyed with myself for being such a wuss.

My fears are my greatest obstacle. But they are not fears of normal people. Or, maybe they are? Maybe everyone has these fears? I just don’t think they do.

I think they come from my childhood. Or, perhaps, this is the way I am and so those ‘happenings’ that reinforce and prove my fears are correct are the only things that stick in my mind. They were huge happenings. I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me or that I should die. They have a reoccurring theme, of course. It is not a fear of failure or a fear of disaster or a fear of danger or risk. No, it is a fear of embarrassment. I mean, FFS, just embarrassment!

These were things from as young as 5. They are the only things I remember from that age. Not good things but terrible things. Or, rather, terrible things for me. Things that make me squirm even as I think about them.

Every thing I do is a challenge. There is a fear attached which has to be overcome. Well, not every thing but a lot of things.

There was the drive. Less of a challenge now than it was, say, even a couple of years ago. Now I know the route and I’ve been driving enough to recognise the driving and the road signs. Once I was in the house though, I was ‘safe’. Then, the next day there was the beach. Again, not like it was last year and this year we have our own (shared) umbrella. Still, there’s all the other people. Too many people. And, yet, on Saturday, it wasn’t too bad as it was quite cloudy and there was a strong wind. But then there’s the water. But I decided not to do the water yet. That will have to wait until F is with me. Then there was (in random order) the ‘leaving’, the ‘smoking too many cigarettes’, the ‘getting a sandwich’, the ‘running out of things to immerse myself in’, the ‘putting on of sunscreen’. It’s almost comic – as long as you’re not me.

I look at the people around. All shapes, sizes and ages. No one looks at me, I tell myself. I have to believe that. As if I should be just see-through.

I think about the sunshine and wonder if I am burning. I can’t tell yet. It will come later, after I am away from the beach. I’ve rubbed suncream where I can – even over the lower part of my back and my shoulders. I notice that my left arm is peeling slightly. Well, I think, I can’t stop it now.

I think about the fact that sunbathing is so dangerous now. It’s not that it wasn’t dangerous before, it’s just that we didn’t know. I think about the fact that it’s unlikely to ‘get me’ since there are many other things that will, probably, ‘get me’ first. Like the smoking. It’s OK. It’s not like I was ever destined to live forever. It’s not that I ever wanted to live forever in the first place. And, in any case, what’s the point if you just live within safety. Safety is for wusses. I spot some brown moles on my arm and think “were they here before?” I worry that I would be a hypochondriac. Maybe that’s too much of my Father’s side in me? I would be a hypochondriac but I never voice the fears of that and say the opposite thing since people don’t really know what I’m thinking and so I can say anything I like. But I’m sure I would be a hypochondriac if I let it take control. Which I mustn’t. Which I won’t. Damn my head!

The book was ‘The Blind Assassin’. And not because they were discussing it on Twitter (#1book140) but because I hadn’t finished it from last year’s holiday. And, really, apart from being my favourite book of all time, I can read bits of it and leave it for ages. Well, obviously, almost a year, before finishing it. I toy with starting it again but I don’t. That will mean I won’t read the new one that I bought also by Margaret Attwood (Year of the Flood) or my other, 2nd favourite one – ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’.

I order a cheese and lettuce sandwich because that’s a summer sandwich. They don’t have any black pepper though. Damn Italians with their limited taste buds! Maybe I should buy some and put some on myself. Also the cheese is not cheddar so not so tasty. But it’s OK.

I have promised to go to F’s Mum and Dad’s for dinner. He ‘set it up’ as a means (I am sure) of making me go down there without him. I leave the beach about 4 since I have to take the dogs out and, anyway, it feels like it might rain soon.

My Navigator is worth its weight in gold. Especially as the things were programmed in last time. F insisted so that I wouldn’t ‘lose my way’. I have the casina, the dog walk, the beach and F’s Mum. The man’s voice says the names in an English fashion, which is funny.

There’s no one at the dog area, the same as this morning. I play with Dino a bit but he gets a dirty beard and he will insist on shaking near me, spotting my shorts with mud from said beard. Bloody dog.

F has telephoned already. “Are you going to my Mum and Dad’s?”, he asks. But even I’m not stupid enough to think this is actually a question

I go back. I take a bath. Timing is everything. I had noticed on the beach that my nails were just a little long. I cut them. After all, I am going round to the parents-in-all-but-law’s place.

As I am cleaning the bath, I hear a voice outside. I grab the towel and go to see the uncle from upstairs. The uncle is in his eighties and doing very well, even for a man years younger than him. I go to the door, excusing myself for being dressed (undressed?) like this. He speaks to me. I understand some of it but he lacks some teeth and so it is more difficult for me. F’s Mum. Bicycle. Move. Somewhere at his house. The rain.

But, am I supposed to take it round? He repeats everything. It’s doesn’t make more sense than the last time. He is slightly frustrated. However, finally, I think that it must be him going to take it round and not me. He was just being polite. Later I learn that he didn’t even know I was there and didn’t see the dogs. Of course, that would be because, even if I went outside, the dogs tended to stay in the house. They are strange sometimes.

I get ready. I take many deep breaths. This will be difficult. There will be no English. The conversation will be limited. Or, worse still, non-existant.

I drive there with trepidation. On the way, I stop in the centre of the town. Well, not the town in which I am residing but the next one. The Marina. Where the dog walk and the beach are. I go to the tobacco shop to buy a certain type of cigar for his Dad. Then, next door for a tub of ice-cream for his Mum. I would feel guilty not taking anything now that, this time, I’m not taking them the best present of all – their son! F understands my need for wanting to take something and doesn’t tell me that it’s not necessary.

I arrive at the house and they welcome me as normal. They are sweet, as always, with me. We sit down for dinner. This is early. 7.30 p.m. but since his operation, F’s father has to eat earlier than they used to.

I give the ice-cream to his Mum. She makes all the things like ‘You shouldn’t have’ as all people do, even the English. But I think she is pleased. I give the packet of cigars to his Dad who is definitely surprised and pleased. Bless him.

Of course, they have made too much. They have bought some bresaola for me. None of them eat it but they must have asked F. There is a whole plate full. F’s Dad got up at 6 a.m. that morning to make frittata – for me, since neither of them eat any. There is tuna, tomato and potato salad. There is bread. There are the prawns that they did last time – cooked and in oil with parsley. There is a beer for me but I request wine (don’t forget my wine diet even if, as I suspected, ‘diet’ is not possible with F’s parents). It’s a ‘local’ ‘known’ wine without a label. And it’s red (my favourite) which is cold. I like the Italians approach to wine. No snobby breathing or room temperature crap. This is summer. Keep your red wine in the fridge!

Then there is some cheese. Soft pecorino. It’s very good. Again, not something bought in the supermarket. Then there’s fruit salad with an over-ripe banana. Then, of course, the ice-cream. His Dad doesn’t want any but she forces him to have a small cone (the cone being the size of a thumb and came with the ice-cream). He takes it because he is polite. But afterwards, he has another – this is not for politeness. I have some and his Mum has some. She gets out some special plastic dishes made to look like fat, squat, ice-cream cones. They came from S. I have realised that they loved S. I only hope I’m not compared. S is mentioned several times. “S bought us these”. “S, even if he was thin, used to have such heavy footsteps”. It’s OK. I am English. He is English. I am F’s boyfriend. S was F’s boyfriend. Obviously, we have a lot in common.

I text F during the meal saying there is a lot of stuff. He phones his Mum. She hands the phone to me. We talk. We say we’ll speak later. I miss him but it’s not been so bad. Not nearly as bad as it could have been. I say that everything is ‘buono’, which it is. She says ‘Mangia, mangia’ and I say no, stop, rubbing my full belly. She laughs.

His Dad goes off to smoke a cigar. Outside because it’s too smelly in the house. Conspiratorially, his Mum, whilst making me a coffee, tells me that she is going to bingo but that I should stay for a bit to be with F’s Dad. I say I have to go soon to be with the dogs. I have texted R (according to my instructions for what to do at the weekend) to ask if he is at the bar-for-this-season but he has not replied. F’s Dad and I watch a bit of telly. His Mum has gone. I know that B, F’s sister, is worried that this bingo lark is like some sort of drug for his Mum. But I know it’s a social event for her. I’m sure she isn’t spending a lot of money.

I go. R has not texted back. I drive past the bar but go home. I settle down with the new MA book. R texts me. ‘Yes I am here. Come’ it says. I briefly toy with saying that I am already at home with the dogs. But this is another fear. I don’t know these people. They’re not my friends. But I am under instruction. And like a good boy, I must do as I’m told. I go.

R speaks English. He is sitting with the couple that, last week, had brought their new puppy to the bar. This time they haven’t got the puppy. I’m asked if I understand Italian. I say it depends. Which it does. Then someone talks about me or asks me something and I say something back in Italian. After a few minutes the woman of the couple realise that I am speaking Italian and exclaims that I speak Italian perfectly. Of course, this is not true but it is, kind of, nice of her to say.

Eventually I leave and go back home, citing the dogs. I speak to F at home. He asks if I have been out with R. He would have been disappointed if I hadn’t gone, I think.

The next day I get up about half an hour later so miss the two lesbians with their dog. I am also later at the beach. F’s Dad said, the night before, that I should not park in the usual place as there was some fly-past or sir show happening and the roads would be closed. I briefly thought about not going to the beach at all. But now I’m getting the hang of the place so found somewhere to park, nearby. I go to the beach.

The place is heaving although nearly all the umbrellas immediately next to ours are empty. I half-expect B to come but she doesn’t. Or, rather, doesn’t before I leave.

I leave early. I have to have lunch at F’s Mum (because I can’t say no – saying no involves explanation – in Italian. It’s easier to say ‘yes’). Most of the stuff is as last night. She has also done some eggs. Kind of like egg and cheese on toast but without the toast. And with the cheese under the eggs. I have one. It’s nice but with runny yolks it would be nicer. I do like my runny yolks. The eggs are not supermarket eggs either. I’m beginning to understand where F gets some of his strangeness from. Whilst it’s not strange if you live there and have lived there all your life and know lots of people, etc., it’s more strange when you live in Milan and don’t. His Mum pulls a face when she compares these eggs to supermarket eggs. I can see F.

I leave soon after. I don’t have wine or beer, saying I have to drive.

Of course, I have another worry that evening. I get home quite reasonably. I check the address of the dinner. I wish F were coming with me but he’s working.

In the end it was lovely. New (or nearly new) people all. Wine, good food and all only ten minutes from my house. Very enjoyable.

And I realised on my second walk back from the beach that although it is a fear, it’s more a thing of self-confidence. And, it seems, I have none!

Doing an Hawaiian in Milan

Sometimes I have a hankering for British food. And by British, I don’t mean just British but British-style Indian, Chinese or, dare I whisper it here, Italian.

For a couple of weeks now, I have had a yearning for an Hawaiian pizza. I know one place where I can (or could) get them – but I’d never find it. I only know the rough area of Milan.

Here, at work, our canteen, on a Friday, cooks fish. But for those who don’t like fish, you can order, the day before, something else. The something else includes meat or pizza. It’s not a pizza done in a wood oven but it’s quite passable. Now they have a list of the often-asked-for pizzas. There is even one named after me which, in most Pizzerias, is called a Bismark (that is boiled ham with a fried egg in the centre).

So, yesterday I asked if they had the ingredients for an Hawaiian pizza. They said they did. So I ordered one for today.

Of course, when I sat down, I got many “Is that pineapple?” questions in a kind uggh, how could you manner. As I expected. But it was delicious. The pineapple, being fresh, was sweet and juicy. Mmmmmm.

However, I noticed that there were a few differences that made it taste different from one in the UK. Obviously, the fresh pineapple. This is much sweeter than the tinned pineapple we usually use in the UK. Secondly, the boiled ham is very nice here but they do it in a thin layer, covering the whole of the pizza rather than cubes. Then there is the fact that there is no grated cheddar cheese on top. So, it’s different. In some ways, much, much nicer.

And fresh.

It’s OK though, it all adds to my ‘strangeness’ as far as my colleagues are concerned. And that never hurts.