Books that should never have been written and films that should never have been made.

Of course, it’s all a matter of personal taste.

But, you know, there’s some things that just should never have happened.

There was a book I read once, a long time ago. It was about a teenage boy who ‘kidnapped’ his babysitter and everything just got a ‘bit out of hand’. I don’t remember the title. I do remember that I truly hated it. Not because it wasn’t well-written (although I can’t remember if it was or wasn’t) and not because the book was horrific or anything – although it was.

No, the problem was that the things depicted in the book were such that, if you had imagined them in the first place, in my opinion, you had problems and should see someone to get them fixed.

Recently there was something in the newspapers about Human Caterpillar 2 (which, from what I understand, has now been banned in the UK). So I found a copy of Human Caterpillar (the first version – which the protagonist watched in the second version). I’m afraid, not only could I not watch it all the way through, but I had to skip through it, using fast forward most of the time.

Not only was it boring and (to me, remember) utterly stupid and pointless but it was also the product of a very sick mind. I don’t know that I could have acted in it (although, on second thoughts, no one has offered me money to act – so maybe I would for the right incentive – after all, it wasn’t actually real, was it?) At the end of it all, it wasn’t a good film but the story did not need to be filmed at all. In fact, should not be filmed at all.

Anyway, having seen HC (the first version), even in FF mode, I’m certainly NOT going to be going out to find a copy of HC2.

And where is this going, you are (maybe) saying to yourself?

Well, over our holidays it’s been mentioned during conversations with others how much F likes going to cinema and how we never do. Apparently this is because I don’t understand Italian and so we don’t go. I pointed out that I have no problem going and, in fact, would enjoy the experience, particularly if I have looked the film up online first so have a basic understanding (and, maybe, have seen some clips in English).

F is a BIG fan of the director Almodovar and so it was that, on Saturday night last, we went to see this:

Now, I looked at the trailer (as above), I read what synopsis I could find (and because no one would give the plot away, finding the actual important bits was difficult – but I found them) and looked at the book it was based on (online, of course).

I knew it would be a ‘difficult’ film and not only because it would all be in Italian!

I sat through it all. I’d paid for it, so of course I did.

I tried to enjoy the “beauty” of the filming but I was struck, overall, by the same feelings as reading that book and watching that other film.


I mean ‘Why make it’?

What made him think that this was either believable or good? I wasn’t shocked (although maybe that was because I knew the story beforehand), nor frightened, nor, even, disgusted. I was more than disgusted. It wasn’t a horrible film because it was gory. It wasn’t even a horrible film because of the story, as such. Whereas, for most of the film I kind of understood what was going on – I mean I could follow the idea of the film, even if I didn’t think it was an amazing story, in the last few scenes the whole thing became preposterous. I’d patiently waited for the big twist to happen and then, when it did, I felt that I’d been cheated by an atrocious (and sick and unbelievable) plot.

I don’t dislike Almodovar but I left the cinema wondering why he had made it. Worse still (if it is true), F said that he had wanted to make this for years!

Put it this way, not only will I not be buying it on DVD, I won’t be watching it ever again.

Sending something by email – you might as well whisper in the wind.

Blogging in Italy is different. Or, rather, Italians blogging in Italy have to be more careful.

If the government have their way, they will have to be even more careful in future.

The government, here, having been trying, for some time now, to curb what they see as the excesses of the blogging world. Particularly when it comes to criticising or revealing embarrassing details about our beloved leader, Buzz Lightyear (Berlusconi).

Ideally, of course, he would like anything said about him to have passed through someone who can edit it properly. And, whilst with most of the media, this can be done easily (as he either owns the company or, as the Prime Minister, is responsible for it), the blogging world is a bit different.

I think (and I’m sure I’ll be corrected if I’m wrong), LA7 (a TV station) is also quite independent. I remember watching a debate on TV which was heavily critical of Buzz and he was obviously watching too because he phoned in to have a bit of a rant.

The trouble with bloggers is that they can say something and he doesn’t get the chance to phone in to say they are wrong. Instead, in a bill going through parliament, he wants to make it obligatory that the person who is defamed or whatever, gets the right to reply. If not, then the blogger is fined.

The Guardian’s take on it is here.

However, the really shocking thing is hidden away in the last paragraph and, to me, shows why Italy always seems to be a little bit behind the rest of the world when it comes to embracing the new world of technology fully.

Legally, “email has no validity”.

Let’s just put that again:

“email has no validity”


I remember when I first came here (and I’m talking 6 years ago – not 100), I was amused by the fact that, when someone sent an email, they would follow that up with a telephone call to ‘check that the person had received it’. How quaint and old-fashioned, I thought.

Mail, of the old kind, is fine. In fact, everything is done via mail. And, of course, if email has no validity, it has to be this way. But the fact that it is inadmissible in a court of law scares me quite a lot.

After all the ‘E’ of email stands for electronic. If mail is acceptable then an electronic version of it should be the same. Shouldn’t it? Yes, it damned well should!

However, since my email address is a address and in the UK that IS admissible and Italy is in the EU and so is the UK, I wonder how that would be viewed?

Maybe I’ll find out one day.

Not now though. I’m still in a state of shock.

Cornish pasties or sausages?

It was like Cornish pasties. Or sausage rolls. They’d been overcooked. They had too much fat. You know? The ones with that fatty pastry – the sort you get from Greggs. The smell is at once disgusting and appetising – but, maybe not at half past eleven at night. Not when you didn’t cook them. Not when the smell fills your bedroom like someone had been cooking them in that room. Not when it wakes you up.

But let’s go back a bit.

F is in Germany. I took him to the airport on Monday morning. I don’t mind doing that but it does mean getting up a little earlier. Therefore, Monday, I was tired. I also had clients in at work.

After my lesson, I spoke to F by phone. Then I took the dogs out for their walk. It was 9.30. By 10, I was in bed. Since I had been so tired all day and evening, I thought sleep would come immediately. But the bastard ran away and wouldn’t come back.

Added to which, my hips hurt like hell. They normally hurt if I have been wearing particularly tight jeans. Now that I am the size of a small elephant, all my jeans are that little bit tighter.

So, what with the pain and the not wanting to sleep, I couldn’t. And my teeth hurt a bit because I have been clenching and grinding them again.

Eventually, I got up and took some nurofen. Eventually, I guess, I fell asleep.

The smell filled the bedroom. As it is, again, quite warm, all windows are open. The smell was coming from one of the other flats – also with it’s windows open. The smell seemed to get stronger. I got up. The smell was throughout the flat. I hated it. It won’t let me sleep but what can I do?

I walk around spraying airfreshner in every room. This almost masks the smell but not quite. I look out of my window – as if I can tell where the smell was coming from (which was a stupid idea); as if, having worked out where the smell was coming from, I could do anything about it (I wouldn’t).

I like living in a flat. I miss having a garden but am grateful for not having a garden and having to spend every weekend keeping it from becoming an unruly jungle. All things have good and bad points.

I hate that I am too close to people. I hate when I don’t like their cooking.

I don’t like this cooking.

I go back to bed, smelling the smell and hating it. I guess I must have dropped off to sleep again.

At 5.40 in the morning I could not smell it.

But, maybe, I was used to it?

Look what they’ve done to my cigs, ma!

Funnily enough, I had thought of writing a post about this last week or the week before.

You see, a week or two ago, I noticed there seemed something strange about my cigarettes. No longer, if I left them in the ashtray, did the cremated corpse of the cigarette with the shape perfectly preserved serve to remind me that, really, I should have put it out or not bothered to light it up in the first place. At which point, I would immediately light up another one, of course.

No, now it went out. This was good and bad. Good in as much as I didn’t waste a whole cigarette for, once relit, it was fine. It was bad in that I was concerned they had, somehow, changed the composition and wondered if they were going to be bad for me. Of course, that’s a relative statement since they are bad for me. I meant, they had put something in that made them more dangerous.

I meant to ask F if his were the same. But I didn’t.

I meant to mention it to others but, to be honest, forgot about it. I thought, maybe, it was just that one batch until …….

Well, until I saw this from the BBC.

So now you know. No longer will I waste about 10% of my cigarettes but, thanks to some new law, I will just have to relight them. So a good thing after all :-) (depending on your point of view, of course).

And, I don’t know why I thought of Melanie’s song as the title (more or less) but she is one of my favourites and so here it is:

I become more Italian; I am using all aces.

He comes back today. Well, tonight, really. For 3 days and 2 nights. Of course, it has to be enough. Then it will be the following Saturday night before I see him.

The last I saw him was last Friday night. Well, that’s not entirely true. He flew to London early last Saturday morning. I got up with him and the dogs and I went down to Carrara.

On Tuesday night he came back from London and the flight was due to land about 11 p.m. The next morning he was flying to Spain (where he is now). I knew I would not see him for a whole 7 days since he was getting in so late and would need to do stuff before leaving in the morning. I really wanted to see him so I suggested I might come to the airport anyway.

And he almost asked me to bring the dogs. So I did. We went to the airport to meet him. I couldn’t wait inside the airport now that Rufus can’t control his bladder so well. Not only is it (slightly) embarrassing, it’s a problem to clean it up. The little sacks don’t pick up piss. For that you need mops and things and I can’t really carry those around with me, now, can I?

So I brought the dogs anyway. We drove to the airport. I found a place to park. You are supposed to pay for this (it was meter parking). It was 10.30 at night. I became very Italian. I didn’t pay. We waited outside the exit and he arrived about 11.30.

Both dogs were so excited to see him. He fussed them for a bit and then we walked to the car. I didn’t have a ticket for having not paid, reinforcing my idea of being Italian in this instance (and ensuring I am more likely to do it again, of course). Then I drove him to his home. He had suggested that we sleep over at his. I said that I would the dogs at home. He said that it would be better if I didn’t come as he had to do washing and repack and, anyway, wouldn’t get to sleep quickly. So I went to my home.

Tonight I shall go and pick him up from the airport. He has to work on Saturday morning. I have doubts that he will want to come to my home so I won’t take the dogs tonight. It gives him added incentive to come to mine. Is that wrong?

Yes, it’s wrong but don’t we all use what we can? If he doesn’t come then that’s OK. I can’t say I blame him. But, still, I want him to come to mine. Even if, as a result of the last few days, I will, almost certainly, be asleep within seconds and won’t want to be waking up at 7 or 8 when he will need to get up.

To be honest, it doesn’t really matter. Tomorrow afternoon I will see him. Tomorrow night and Sunday I will see him. It’s the best that can be done so it will have to do.

Love it or leave it

I’m not sure what the film/Documentary will really be like but I do want to see it.

Italy – a place stacked full of contradictions.

It’s true – either love it and shut the fuck up or leave it and don’t be looking back.

Some of my students are learning English for the sole purpose of ‘getting out’. London’s (and New York’s) streets are, in their eyes, paved with gold. It’s almost as if they think these places are some sort of heaven.

To be honest, I have been having a bit of a beef with J, an American friend who is currently living in Bologna. She has issues with the promises made to her which have turned out to be a bit empty.

“It wouldn’t happen in the States”, she says.

“Nor in the UK”, I add. “Siamo in Italia”.

A thinks that my “Siamo in Italia” is some sort of judgement on Italy. Well, in one way he’s right. In another way (and the way it is intended) it’s not. My “Siamo in Italia” is a way of saying “shut the fuck up”.

There are many things ‘wrong’ with this country. However, in its defence, there are many things wrong with every country. Just different things, maybe. And some of the same things. It’s like when software programmers say ‘features’ instead of ‘bugs’. It’s life.

If the things wrong with this country were not these things then it wouldn’t be the country it was. With such beauty next to such ugliness; such ignorance next to such flair.

It’s a country of paradoxes. It is what it is. Moreover, it is a different ‘is’ for different people.

It’s a land of dreams and beauty and a land of ugliness and hopelessness – of contrasts and uniformity – but it’s up to you to make it what you want. The rules, after all, are made to be bent.

And, whilst talking with A, last night, I realised that now I’ve fulfilled my ambition to live here, I don’t need to do it any more. A bit like running a company (although that wasn’t really something I went looking for, in the first place).

Anyway, here’s the trailer for the documentary/film. Enjoy:

It’s never easy. It never was.

The video below gives you some idea of what it’s like to ‘come out’. At one point towards the end he says that it had taken him four hours to make the call.

And you don’t do it once – but every time you ‘come out’ to someone. OK, so it gets easier over time but, unless you’ve done it, I don’t think you can ever realise how hard it is.

I go to the beach for a coffee

It was all a bit unpredictable.

I didn’t get up so early and, when I did get up, I had a drink and cigarette ….. or two.

Still the day looked quite nice. I went out with the dogs, driving them to the dog walk. The sun shone and it was quite warm – almost hot in the sunshine. I took them back and, on arriving back at the house, the weather seemed a little bit more cloudy.

Still, I thought, if it changes, I can always come back.

So I drive off to the beach and park.

I arrive at the café on the beach. The café looks shut. There is a table where some women are chatting. One of them is the beach owner’s wife and another is the woman who makes the sandwiches in the little café.

I ask if the café is shut. She explains that they had to close the shutters because of the wind. Indeed, it is very windy. She asks me what I want. I ask for a cappuccino. I ask if there are any brioches. She says there aren’t. It’s OK. I sit down with my coffee at one of the tables. I take the first sip and suddenly the women get up and move to be under the umbrellas. It is raining slightly. It may not amount to much but the sky looks quite ominous. I drink my coffee quickly.

However, by the time I finish, it is raining heavily and the few people who were on the beach are packing up. I offer to pay for the coffee but she tells me not to worry.

I kick myself for not getting up earlier – getting down here for a last swim. It is, after all, probably, the last of this season – at least for me. Saturday was wonderful. Clear skies, very warm. When I left (the beach) about 5.30, it was still very warm and yet, half a day later it is as if it is autumn.

In fact, autumn has arrived. The rain, the cold – the miserableness of it all.

It’s all quite sad, really – AND F isn’t here to make me feel better. I want summer back again.

Parties and stuff

The preparations are in progress.

The event could be a wedding. The marquee on the lawn, the large round tables covered in blue tablecloths, people working to prepare everything in time for mid-day.

Except it’s a party. A celebration. I’m not a fan of parties but this I dread. This is a company party. Hanging around with people that aren’t your friends, even if some of them are nice and even if some of them can, actually, be counted as friends. It’s not like we have anything in common, apart from work.

But, then, I’ve never really liked these things even when I ran my own company.

I would prefer to be somewhere else.

I don’t do small talk.

You can’t really talk about ‘real’ things.

There will be speeches which I won’t understand, I expect. There will be complaints about the food or the heat (for it is still in the high 20s here), about people, about something. And, probably, I will complain too. One does, after all, doesn’t one?

Ah, well, in 6 hours it will be over, thank goodness.

Tomorrow, F goes to the UK for work for four days. I’ve been helping him with his presentation for some big meeting. I have enjoyed helping him; I like to feel useful as well as loved. Then he goes to Spain for three days. Then Germany for over a week. I miss him already.

I’ve nearly completed my backlog of work and the only thing to complete now is my CV for editing. I hope to finish it before the party starts.

So, sorry, must dash …………