Of course, if you can’t see the REAL problem(s), what hope is there?

Italy is going through a period of change, right now. One could say, a period of upheaval. Not unlike most countries,I suppose.

We have what is known as a ‘technical’ government. The Prime Minister and the cabinet members have not been elected. They are here, temporarily, to ‘save’ Italy from the same fate as Greece, Portugal and Ireland. Monti (the PM) has been tasked with introducing reforms. The idea is that he will reduce the amount of government debt and reform the labour market to make Italy more competitive.

At the beginning, like Obama in the USA, he was hailed as the saviour of Italy but it’s now all turning a bit sour – just like it is with Obama.

The latest problem for Monti is his determination to reform the all-important Article 18.

Article 18 is a law that provides for any employee who has been sacked to be reinstated to his old job if judges think he was unfairly sacked.

Apparently, most of the time, the judges tend to side with the ex-employee. This is judged as the reason that Italian companies do not sack workers and why people stay in their jobs for EVER, thus depriving young Italians of a chance to get real, full-time jobs – and youth unemployment is very high here.

In order to ease the situation, some years ago, there was a law introduced making it much easier to hire workers on a contractual basis. It was cheaper for the companies and, of course, was intended that they could ‘try out’ a worker before offering them a full-time job.

But it didn’t really work out. Most employers renewed the contract for a couple of years (the limit) and then let the person go and found someone else just as willing (desperate) to work on a 6-month contract basis for a nice, low salary.

Monti (and many other commentators) seem to believe that, by reforming Article 18 and making it much easier to sack workers (who are bad workers, of course), it will free up the job market, providing employment to the youngsters and getting the Italian economy back on track.

Workers are worried that nasty bosses will just sack workers if their face doesn’t fit. Bosses think that the reforms proposed (enacted?) don’t go far enough.

But, in my opinion, they are all totally wrong.

First, it’s not the problem. And reform is not the solution.

The problem is much more complicated than this. The problem is Italian culture and this won’t be changed by the change in Article 18.

in my experience, certain young people get full-time jobs without a problem. They do this because they are from a wealthy or powerful family and their parents ‘call a favour’. In one case, for one guy to whom I used to teach English, his father simply created an Estate Agency and put him in charge. Making money was not really its major concern. Giving his son something to do, was!

Take the company I work for. Many people who work here are related. Cousins, wives, husbands, etc. It’s the way it works. Jobs are ‘found’ for people’s relatives. People ask if ‘you know anywhere that is looking for a xxx’.

Sure, it can be similar in the UK but here it is more so.

But it’s not just that. My first landlady here decided she wanted to ‘change her life’ a bit. She wanted a different kind of job. She was in the chemical industry. She thought she wanted to move into the Energy industry with a focus on renewable energy. In the UK, to change one’s career drastically, like this, is not really a major problem. Here it is virtually impossible.

She spent a year or more getting the qualifications that she needed. Then she found some work. On a temporary contract. The problem here is that people will look at your previous employment and, if it is not exactly relevant, will, quite often, dismiss it. It is very hard to change career. In the end, because it was just too difficult, she went back to the chemical industry. She didn’t have any other choice. And the only reason she was able to do it in the first place was because she had rich parents to support her. She’s mid-30s, btw.

Changing your career is simply not done here. Any skills you have obtained become almost worthless if you try to move out of your field. Getting another job in the same field is difficult enough – getting one out of your field is nigh-on impossible – unless, of course, you have the right connections!

Then there is the financial incentive given to employers to take on people under short-term contracts. They get to pay less tax and NI (National Insurance). Why take on someone full-time when you save money by taking them on a contract basis?

And, in addition, I don’t entirely believe that employers don’t sack people because of Article 18 and the judges, apparently, favouring the employee. I think there is a deep-seated fear of confrontation. Employers don’t want to confront employees. Everyone here wants an easy life.

Even here, in my company, there are numerous instances where employees appear to ‘take the piss’. Sometimes, something is said. But then everything just goes back to the way it was before.

And, remember, I used to employ many people – so I’m not predisposed to come down on one side or the other.

The worst thing about this whole thing is the belief by Monti and many commentators that changing Article 18 will be the magic wand that a) brings young people into employment and b) gives a kick-start to the Italian economy.

It is my opinion that neither of these things will happen with the reform of Article 18. It is a red herring and will change nothing.

Monti and his gang are a group of economists/bankers, etc. Look where they’ve got us so far! It’s like putting the prisoners in charge of the jail.

One day, people will wake up but with the false promises about the labour reforms that Monti is putting in place, this is likely to turn out the same way as Obama in the States. People will be disillusioned but everything will continue just the same. Except that, maybe, Italy will lose something important along the way.

I don’t see a good outcome, unfortunately.

Gripping something untenable

Well, as you know, I have opinions. They’re mine, of course. That is, they are part of me and won’t really change although they can become modified depending on circumstances or logic.

So, I was reading this from that dreadful newspaper and I find myself with my opinions again.

I don’t really understand why someone would go to court to try to KEEP someone who, quite obviously, doesn’t actually want to be with them.

I mean to say, I know it’s painful. Good grief, I’ve been there! But, sometimes, you just have to let go. Every time, I am reminded of something a once-good friend told me. Previously, he had ‘gone off’ with a younger model. I had warned him not to. However, after a time away he wanted to come back. I warned them both (him and his wife) that the only way it would work is for there to be no resentment (imho an impossible thing) – and so they got back together.

At the end, he went back to her because she, to all intents and purposes, had blackmailed him into going back. It was all so sad to watch and be part of. She, desperately unwilling to let him go.

And, then, years later, he confessed that he didn’t have a happy life.

She had wanted him back at all costs. But the balance had changed and they were now two different people. In fact, it was because of this whole thing that he is a “once-good” friend. He used me in a way that was unforgivable.

Years later still and I told him.

He hadn’t realised. But then he realised that it was true. I left them both before I would get to hate them for what they did (for they both used me).

We had, as the common phrasing has it, moved on. Or, rather, I had.

The thing is that the woman in the article and me and my once-good friend and his wife must all realise that we don’t actually OWN people. We can own a house or a car but we don’t own a living being. Sure, we say we own our pet but it’s not actually true. Its life is its own and, although they have less choice than us, they can share it in a good or a bad way. It’s just that, with pets, they tend to share it in a good way.

After all, we (pets and people) don’t speak to each other (in spite of what F says) and that’s probably half the battle. The problem with people is that we speak and, often, speak the wrong words at the wrong time. We also make things up in our heads (as to what someone thinks or what they meant when they said something) – and, of course, it may not be true at all.

We see what we want to see. Hear what we want to hear. Believe what we have already told ourselves.

Another friend once told me that relationships tend to finally break up some two years after the start of the breakup. My experience is this is true – both for partners and friends. It takes a couple of years for one or both to realise it’s finished. We cling on, hoping that somehow things will change, even as we know that they won’t.

I was with V for over 20 years and it all ended in seconds. And, yet, when I look back, it had started to break a couple of years before. And I knew it then, for we had a conversation, walking down the road, that I remember very well. I was trying to warn him. I failed, of course. And then, two years later or so, even after those few seconds of realisation, it took another 6 months (one could say a year or more) before it became properly ended.

And I can blame him, of course. But there are two of us. And, we are equally to blame.

And then I read this, from Gail.

I can’t reply to Gail directly, sorry, Gail. I too feel bad for her and how saddening it is for her but this is life. Maybe it has nothing to do with Gail and all to do with her friend – but, unfortunately, it probably has something to do with Gail too. There! No one else will say that, I know.

As with my once-good friend. After all, I was used but, to be honest, I could have saved our friendship by stepping away from being used. So my fault too, really.

And, anyway, I’m not stupid enough to think that it is all someone else’s fault. It rarely is and I don’t really do the ‘blame culture’ thing that we all seem to do now.

So, I’m sorry for the woman in the article – but sorrier that she couldn’t let it go. I am truly sorry for Gail, whom I consider a friend, but she is letting it go and I think that is correct. Maybe, in years to come, she will come to understand or be told, why. Maybe not. Either way, one must try to keep the good memories – much the same as when someone dies – don’t remember the last part for that is usually too sad – remember the good things that you had over the years. For the good things are what made the two of you be together all that time.

And, even if I write about V from time to time, there are things about him that I liked (that I still like, for underneath it all he is still the same) and I will remember those things with fondness.

And, like I always say, Gail, all these things seem to work out right in the end, even if we don’t see it right away.

But we don’t own people and neither can we understand the things that go on in their head – which may be false but we cannot help that. And for that reason, when it comes time to stop, then stop we must, for to try and hold on to something untenable is painful for us in so many ways.

And so my once-good friend and his wife stay together and, probably, try to snatch some moments of happiness in a situation that shouldn’t be. That’s got to be a sadder situation, hasn’t it? Like gripping a crumbling rockface when everyone else can see it about to come off in your hands.

On being short.

There are those days. Nothing can be done. It just happens like this. You just can’t be your normal, happy self.

And today, for me, it is one of those days.

I am a bit short with people. By that, I mean, of course, short-tempered. Not really angry or anything, just like ‘Shut The Fuck Up’ kind of short.

I know why. And, to be honest, F is to blame.

When I have a bad night, which is not often, I am careful not to keep F awake. But F is Italian and, therefore, just like driving, walking, standing talking, riding bikes and just about everything else, there is no thought as to how your actions might just be affecting anyone else. Nothing. Nada. Niente.

And so, during the night I was woken up. Several times. And talked to. Etc., etc.

And now I am quite tired.

And just a little bit irritable.

And, therefore, a little bit short. Which I recognise and feel bad about.

But not bad enough to stop it.


More like late spring than early spring.

Although it is officially only just spring, it’s rather nice weather. Later in April, say, this would be normal weather. At this time in March, it’s less usual. It is warm and sunny and has been, now, for several days.

So the walks to the park in the last couple of days have been rather pleasant.

Dino gets lots of exercise (I take a ball) and, so, is exhausted by the time we get back.

Yesterday was a bit different in that A came with us and we went for a beer afterwards.

All in all, lovely.

All growed up?

Of course, it could just be me but he does seem different.

A bit quieter. I mean to say, he still has his mad moments, still plays with the toys (always picking out the newest toys – carefully selecting them from the huge basket that, since F has been with us, is almost overflowing – and by ‘selecting’, he really does choose which one, taking a few moments to pick out one of the latest even if they are not on the top), still getting overexcited when F walks through the door, etc., etc.

But definitely a bit quieter. We were at the cafe this morning for breakfast. F had taken him for his morning walk and we met up there. Sure, he was pleased to see me but sat once I had sat. Watched for F as he went in to get breakfast and then remained sitting whilst we ate and drank.

Other dogs now are not necessarily so interesting unless they are female in which case his nose is often pressed right on their behind so that they look like two dogs joined together. Not all females. Just some. A suggests that this is because he is an Italian dog. I think it’s because he is a dog. But I can’t argue with A because that would just annoy me since logic is not his forte, even if he is an engineer – at least when it comes to things Italian.

No, it’s as if he is all grown up.

For me it’s not only his age but also because, now that Rufus has gone, he is not the little puppy anymore.

Or maybe it’s both.

But he has turned out, as I predicted, to be the best dog I’ve ever had. Not quite perfectly behaved all the time but, dammit, near enough and the only things he does wrong now (like his tendency to jump up) are because F encourages him to do it.

Yep, he is all growed up now.

Why trusting the police becomes harder

This was a few days ago and I forgot to post it.

As if the kettling and the tasering and all the other stuff they (the police) now consider is reasonable, isn’t enough.

They lost my trust some time ago but this just goes to confirm my worst fears. One wonders how many other things are ‘let’ go by ordinary people thinking that the police actually know the law and are ‘right’?

Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful.

And Creme Eggs! A picture post.

This follows on from my last post. I also really fancy a Cadbury’s Creme Egg and, since some of my readers didn’t know about Hot Cross Buns and, almost certainly, won’t have ever heard of a Creme Egg, here are pictures of both:

Cadbury's Creme Eggs - yum, yum

Cadbury's Creme Eggs - yum, yum


In addition, some readers wanted pictures of the all-important birthday party and so, here they are:

When I walked in through the front door, there were balloons on the ceiling –

balloons on ceiling

balloons on ceiling

balloons on ceiling2

balloons on ceiling2

……….and a banner –

happy birthday banner

happy birthday banner

………. and, of course there was the cake with the candle. Note the carefully placed bits of the ‘cake’ as decoration around the cake itself :-)

birthday cake

birthday cake

……….. and cake with the birthday boy quite eager (in spite of the candle flame) to get his mouth on it –

birthday cake and dino

birthday cake and dino

……… and the birthday boy looking out from under the table –

the birthday boy

the birthday boy

And, finally, although the balloons were up on the ceiling on Friday night, by Saturday morning they had started to drop and by Saturday night, most were on the floor and so a compromise was made with clusters of them all over the flat! –

more birthday balloons

more birthday balloons

And, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed the pictures of the birthday party.