This morning

I have mentioned before – if you want to get an official document or get something stamped or signed – it will require at least two visits – maybe, even, three!

So, this morning, as my job required it, I needed to get a couple of copies of my passport and driving licence authenticated.

First by Italy and then by India.

I had everything.

So, the alarm went off. I stuck it on “snooze” but, as usual, got up about a minute later. I am in my usual it’s-too-early-to-function-as-anything-other-than-a-robot” mode. I shave and stuff. I make coffee. Once I have washed up, I start thinking about the getting the final things ready (gum, cigarettes, my tie, etc.)

I think “There’s something important in my bag”.

What is it that’s important? And why would I remember?

Then I remember. It’s the copies of my passport and driving licence which need to be authenticated by Italians and then passed by the Indian Consulate. It’s a work thing. What’s more important is that it means the alarm should not have been set for 6.15 a.m. but more like 8 a.m! Damn!

It’s now 7.15. For a second I think about staying up and then decide that an hour in bed is better than nothing. I go back to bed. F briefly wakes up as I am getting undressed and asks why. I give him the briefest of details.

About 8.15 I get up again. Without the shaving, I do it all again, including the coffee.

I leave the house for the office where, it seems, I may be able to get an Italian to stamp or authenticate my copies.

I get there.

I queue up.

When I get to the counter, I am told I am in the wrong queue. It should, of course, be the longer one.

I join and wait. I note that it will take 3 days for the document to be stamped. Italy cracks me up.

When I get to the counter (this is the counter next to the woman who told me I was in the wrong queue I am told that they can only authenticate my copies once my copies have been stamped as true copies by the commune (local council). WTF?

I walk down to the office that does this stuff.

I arrive and work out where to go.

I get a ticket. I think that IF (and that’s a big IF), I can get this stamped here, then I can try the Indian Consulate, since they only want it stamped by someone …….probably.

I wait for my turn.

And wait.

Eventually, I get to the counter.

It can’t be done. I have (and, of course, now that I think about it, stupidly, because I should have realised) copied my passport and driving licence onto one document. It saves paper and both documents prove that I am me.

But, as they are 2 documents, they have to be on two separate pieces of paper since then they can make separate charges.

I express my disgust at this and say OK I will do something else. He tries to explain something to me. I say it’s OK because I will do something else. Except, probably, I shout this a bit. He starts shouting at me and I just leave. Fuck ‘em. Really, WTF more than the last one!

I had had a bright idea that, since the point was for India to have copies that were authenticated, maybe the British Consulate in Milan could do it. And, at least there, I don’t have to deal with Italian bureaucracy.

I go to the British Consulate.

I am told that, as from the 1st April (so I missed it by 15 days), all this sort of stuff stopped being done by them and was now done by a couple of solicitors. They give me the details. I find that one is the other side of town but the map on my phone doesn’t recognise the name of the street of the other one. I toy with going back to the British Consulate to ask and decide that, as it’s now nearly lunchtime, I should go home and go to work.

At home, I make a cup of tea and check the map on the computer. The street was two minutes from the British Consulate. Grrrr.

I go to work anyway.

I arrive at work to get told that this documentation is no longer required.

So, although my theory of a minimum of two visits was confirmed, at least now I don’t have to do the second lot of visits!

And it was a beautiful day to be walking around.

And I did have an extra 40 minutes snooze this morning.

Fuori Salone and walking – a lot.

Spring has, finally, arrived.

Well, until next Friday, at least.

And, for once, F hadn’t really been round the Fuori Salone (effectively the Furniture Fair Fringe) in Milan. The Salone di Mobili (Furniture Fair) is one of the most important exhibitions in Milan. It showcases the new design in Furniture from all over the world and is a huge event. To be honest, the actual Furniture Fair, held at the exhibition centre just outside Milan) is as boring as hell – unless you’re really into furniture design or in the business. But the Fringe, which is held in small showrooms and other places all over the centre of Milan, can be quite interesting.

F normally goes round during the week to get ideas and inspiration. This year, it was so cold and wet that he only went to a few places. And so, when Saturday morning dawned and the weather was stunning, he decided to go and visit some things. I and a friend of his also went with him.

We walked. And walked. And walked. F was very determined to walk.

We saw some stuff which was interesting and fun and great design. And, between shows, we went for an ice-cream in the sun. And then we went to see someone we knew and then we did some more and then we came home. At various places F met people he knew.

We went out in the evening for dinner with the friend and some of her friends (who were exhibiting) and had a lovely time.

On Sunday morning we took the dogs for a long, long walk and then, in the afternoon, went to another part of the Fuori Salone (which, quite frankly was crap) and then to an opening party for someone we knew who does T-shirts and then to Liù for a pizza.

And then bed.

We both agreed that, even if we were tired, it had been a great weekend – which it had. In spite of my legs and feet which were killing me!

And, then came Monday morning ………………………….

To be continued in the next post.

Disappointment and conflict

I grew up in the 70s and ran a business for over 20 years from the mid-80s through to early 2000s.

I remember things like the 3-day week, the bread shortages, the power strikes. I remember the strikes at British Leyland (where I worked) and that being the cause for M and I to move south, for different jobs and a better life.

My working life started in those days of the things I mentioned before and the power of the unions and the constant battle between the government and those unions.

And then came someone who promised us change and change for the better. Where hard work would be rewarded with a better life, more money, a sense of purpose and riches beyond our wildest dreams.

The first thing to do, of course, was to rid the country of those all-powerful, self-serving unions.

And that was done, more or less. So, here we were, going onwards and upwards towards a much better future.

And, then, for reasons more of accident than purpose, I ended up running a business.

It was also the time that M & I split and V came on the scene.

I suppose I could have been a good businessman, a successful businessman were it not for one thing – me.

You see, I had a problem. What I “had” was a business that felt more like a family – a community of like-minded people. As time went on, we employed more people and the business grew. And that was where the problems started. I understood that it was a cut-throat world in business. I understood that the suppliers were in this game to make money out of us and that we were there to make money out of our customers. What I could never get to grips with was that some of the people within the company itself were there to get what they could – even at the expense of the company.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that before the 80s people were, somehow, kinder, more willing to help one another, etc. Nor am I saying that during the 80s and onwards, there were no people who were kinder and helpful because that would not be true.

And it’s not like I’m looking back with rose-coloured spectacles either. In the 70s, the unions, with that huge amount of power, were not interested in doing the best for the country but only in getting the best deal for their workers (and, for those at the top of the union, for themselves). In the 70s, with the destruction of the unions, the time came for the industry heads and the rich to have their way. That was the change.

And, so, we went from the selfishness of the unions to the selfishness of the bosses.

And, I was one of those “bosses”. Well, when I say that, I was the Managing Director. And this is where the problem came in.

I found, as the business grew that more and more often I was disappointed. Not immediately, but after I had time to think about it.

First, I would be angry. Someone would do something that was stupid or, more likely, against the general good of the company. I became very angry. How dare they do this thing? What are they trying to do, bring the company down?

But, after a number of hours or days, my anger would morph into disappointment which, in turn would turn to disillusionment and, finally, resignation. But, certainly, the disappointment would remain. And grow with each occurrence. And, in the end, I had had enough.

And, whilst it looks like I am blaming everyone else, be assured that this is not the case. For I realised that the real cause of all this was myself. It was my inability to fully understand the world that was created in the 80s and 90s. It was my inability to see that the selfishness that became the by-product of the rush to make something of yourself, on your own and stuff who it hurts or destroys, had been made into a positive thing. Something to strive for. Something to laud and praise. And that was my fault.

Of course, the conflict arose because, whilst it was perfectly OK for us to “stuff” the customer, it was not OK for my employees to do the same to us.

Thereby causing conflict in me.

I was trying to be a good businessman whilst, at the same time, trying to safeguard the company – not for me but for everyone in it. And that was the problem. Not everyone thinks the same.

And, leaving that behind was a great relief. The conflict (and the sleepless nights – which were almost every night) disappeared and I became more relaxed and happy with myself.

Until last week when, again, the anger at the way that people thought rose up and engulfed me as it used to do which has, already morphed into disappointment and is fast changing to disillusionment.

And then this little old lady died. And it helped me to understand the problem. For it was she that spearheaded the drive to “self”. It was her that, rather than clip the wings of the unions, destroyed them and, with it, any pretence of people working together – so much so that, during the 90s there was much made of team building – necessary because the whole thing had changed and it was all about oneself and not the general good.

Don’t get me wrong, the unions needed to be curbed – just not destroyed. The over-large, mammoth nationalised industries needed to be reformed, just not broken up, sold off to the highest bidder and then dismantled. The annoyance that BT (British Telecom), for example, no longer care about serving the British public but only about making a profit seems incongruous if it comes from the right-wing thinkers. That was, in the end, what they stood for and that is why this now-dead lady sold them off – so they could pursue profit above everything else.

I came to understand that during my time as a “businessman”. The pursuit of profit was, of course, important but not at the expense of everything and everyone. And that’s why I couldn’t understand those people who were, of course, Thatcher’s children – children who had grown up believing that it everything was up to you and you should ignore anyone who stood in your way destroying or, at least, leaving behind those who were less fortunate than yourself.

I don’t have any strong emotion for the little old lady who died. I don’t know her after all. And I don’t hate her for what she was. She was, after all, a product of the age, of the self-serving union’s super-powers and she was lucky that, at that moment, many people (and even me!) agreed that “something” had to be done.

But, in the end, as people in power (the unions in the 70s and Thatcher and Blair in the 80s and 90s) do, they took it too far and destroyed the very fabric of the country and, for that, I was angry which has turned, in time, into disappointment then to disillusionment and, finally, into resignation. It is the way things are.

Was she responsible? Yes, to a certain extent, she was. Should she be vilified? Well, yes, if that lights your candle – but do it in private or use it as an example of what to do right or what to do to fix it. And remember that although she may be typical of “that kind of person”, she was just one of them. The problem is that she, as a result of becoming the Prime Minister and having so much power, created a whole world filled with the same type of people. Those people without compassion. Selfish and ignorant to to the needs of those around them. Less of a team than a collection of individuals, each striving for their own goals.

Some,of course, would say that that was alright. Certainly those who are Thatcher’s children and benefited from this way of thinking.

For me, I am glad I am out of it. I am glad I don’t think like that. I realise that, as a result, probably, I am and will never be rich and powerful – but that’s OK by me.

Now to get through this stage (this current one from last week) and move on. This time, retaining enough of the anger/disappointment/disillusionment to make sure that I move on, not only in my mind, but also in reality.

Finally, am I glad she’s dead? No, I’m not. In the end, this fragile little old lady died. Alone in a hotel room. We’re all alone when we die but I would like someone to be there to hold my hand. Maybe she didn’t want or need that but I somehow doubt it and, for that, I am sad for her.

And, although I don’t particularly like him (possibly because he IS one of Thatcher’s children), this piece from Russell Brand is rather good.

Finding Nemo

Today was the day that I decided that enough is enough.

It’s time for me to find what I am here for.

We all reach a point (or points) in life that tell us it’s time to make a change and make things better.

Well, at least make a change.

And that time is here.

So, I’m going back to the original heading for this site. As it originally said, I came here to find passion. Not passion in love (and, anyway, I have that). No, I mean the passion. The one thing that I was sent here (in Milan? In Italy? In the world?) to do.

Lola put this post up and the video she found on Karl’s blog in this post.

It’s not new – at least not to me. It’s what I’ve done more than once. But then, not knowing what I really want to do, I “fall into” something and, for a while it’s fun and enjoyable. And then it isn’t.

The details of the past times will be in another post which I’ve half-written but today was one of those defining moments. Now the time has arrived again and I must do something about it.

I found, today, that there were a load of people who, quite obviously, couldn’t care if they had a job or not; I wasted one a half hours of my life and it really got to me; and I was lied to by a fool. And I say that’s enough.

So many people are such absolute cunts who will never, ever, ever find their bliss but belong to that army of people who just trudge along in life. It’s what I do too when I get sucked in. But, today was a wake-up call.

It’s time, once again, to be a little bit daring, to jump off the cliff and see if I can fly.

So, here I go, trying to find my bliss. Except I don’t like the word bliss. It’s a creepy word. Instead I’ll call it Nemo (for want of anything better).

So, here I go, finding Nemo!

A fantastic Easter

A day late, I know but, Happy Easter.

Probably, this was one of the best Easters I’ve had.

Yesterday, it was just the four of us. And, like Christmas, it was just us. F had cleaned the flat the day before and I mean “cleaned”. Doing the top of the cupboards, picture frames, etc. Stopping occasionally to show me the cloth. I’m afraid I was not really impressed since I knew that the cloth would show that neither I nor my cleaner do these bits (and, most certainly not I). However, it seemed to make him happy.

So the house was incredibly clean – what I would call “spring cleaned” even if the weather doesn’t really feel like spring – far too cold and wet and downright miserable. Still, at least we don’t live in the UK where they still have it in the minus figures and have snow and stuff.

We got up. I took the dogs for a walk whilst F cleaned (obviously!) the floors. Then we went to have breakfast and pick up the colomba (the traditional Easter cake here which is actually similar to pannetone – a kind of bread-like cake but with a different shape) and then we spent a few hours relaxing a bit before starting the lunch.

I was having lamb which, these days, I don’t eat so much since F will not eat it. Just lamb chops but better than nothing. I had made some fish cakes for him. Obviously, being in Italy, some ingredients are hard to find. I had walked the length of Corso Buenos Aries and back looking for the only fish shop I know in this area but, unfortunately, either it has closed down or it was closed for that day because I couldn’t find it. In the end I chose some salt cod and added a bit of smoked swordfish (it was supposed to be smoked haddock) which I got from the supermarket. The other ingredient I needed was cardamom seeds (but for the sweet I had planned). Again, this is not easy to find but, after trudging through the relentless rain on Saturday, eventually I found some in a herb shop.

So, Saturday afternoon was spent by creating the fish cakes and then doing the sweet. The sweet was a chocolate mouse (well, it is Easter). I think I used nearly all the bowls in the kitchen to create the chocolate mouse! Melted chocolate, separated eggs, whipped cream, orange juice and grated rind, etc.

And, so, Easter lunch was, in the end easy and lovely. F did a mix of courgettes, carrots and leeks, thinly sliced and fried until they were just soft. I did roast potatoes to go with the lamb and fish cakes. We had bought lasagne from our usual place. After an antipasto of some meats with bread, the lasagne for primo piato and the main course, we were both quite well fed. The fish cakes, by the way, were superb. I had make six and cooked two (the rest went in the freezer) but F only managed to eat one so the other will be for today, shared between us. My improvisation regarding the fish seemed to work fine.

We couldn’t eat sweet straight away and so took the dogs for a long walk. The sunshine was out and it was much warmer.

Then we came back and had the chocolate mouse (which was really good), a piece of colomba and some of the Easter egg that F had bought. And we finished off the bottle of wine – EACH! He had white and I, red.

And, as you see, nothing really special and, yet, very special, like Christmas – we spend all day together and cook together and take the dogs for a walk and, somehow, it is so relaxing and enjoyable and I really love it.

One day, hopefully soon, we shall be able to do that more often.