Holiday; Weather; Books; BMWi3

You know that thing?

You’re on holiday.

You wake up in the morning and go out onto the balcony and the sky is that strong blue and the temperature is such that a pair of shorts and a T-shirt is more than enough to wear.

That. That thing.

Well, that’s what it’s like for me nearly every day in the summer here. Like I’m on holiday :-)

Anyway, last weekend, I started two books. Quinn’s Way and Bleak House.

I finished one of them.

And it wasn’t Bleak House. Just the introduction notes to Bleak House took me an hour or so!

Quinn’s Way was OK. My criticism would be a) that there was a load of stuff about the scamming in the motor trade that was almost like making a list and b) the ending went too fast and my character kinda disappeared.

Bleak House is something else. Not exactly a light read.

Anyway, the weather now is superb. Not too hot (about 33°C) and warm in the mornings.

Oh, yes, and we went to the Milan Launch Party for the BMWi3 last night. This is the new battery powered/hybrid, slightly-larger-than-a-Fiat-500 car. The party was invitation only and it’s ‘cos we know a friend of a colleague of F’s.

Anyway, it only started at 9. We got there about 10 and left about 11.15. But it was nice.

At one point, F said to me: “I hate these people”. “What people?” “The people here. It’s all so false.”

Which is true – but, still, it was nice.

In which the strong people prove their strength.

A huge big cheer and B R A V O to that special democracy, the grand old U S of A!

They have successfully defeated their monstrous adversary and convicted him of almost everything except aiding the enemy and are now requesting that he spends a couple of lifetimes (more or less) locked up in some prison.

This same country that allows someone to lie to their congress and get away with it. This same country that locked someone up for 4 days because they forgot about him – even if they were not going to make a charge.

Anyway, after a number of years they have finally got what they wanted – a conviction.

Now they want to make sure that they put him away for a very long time.

No matter at all that the stuff that he “leaked” showed the USA to be no better (and, in fact, given their power in the world, one could argue a lot worse) than the very worst despotic regime in the world.

No, no matter that.

Rather, Bravo to them.

I’m pretty sure that if I lived there I would now be looking to leave.

Today, I have been mostly drinking coffee

I have already had about 9 coffees this morning.

I am tired and tonight I have to travel down to Carrara – just me and the dogs because F will stay near Venice tonight and then join us tomorrow.

So, I’m doing coffee today, mostly.

I’ve had a very busy week. Monday was a pizza and stuff with one of F’s colleagues and her boyfriend. We got home late.

Tuesday was the Earth Wind and Fire concert. And we got home late.

Wednesday was out with A and, because we didn’t go out until late, I got home late.

Last night was round to where FfI is now staying – and I got home late.

In all cases there was MUCH drinking.

Let me just say that, in every case, I didn’t intend to drink much. It’s just that I did.

And, last night, I really needed to come home early but, instead, because I felt that FfI needed me, I didn’t come home early and we drank two bottles of wine between us (more or less).

The “perfect gentleman” ex-boyfriend had not only thrown her out but had also cause a number of bruises and a bite.

So, not really the “perfect gentleman” after all.

Nor is his son, who, the next day, punched her daughter when she came to pick up her Mum.

I was told the story and, given that this is Italy, having had the whole story, I could see why he lost his temper (although hitting someone because you’ve lost your temper is NEVER acceptable).

The problem is the mentality of (certainly older) Italians. The problem is the homophobia that is rife here (as is racism).

In this case, in the heat of the argument, he told her that it was her fault that his son wanted to leave home. He said that she was so horrible that his son couldn’t be in the same house as her and was, therefore, leaving home. His son is about 25 years old.

Apparently, at this point, she advised him that the real reason his son was leaving home was because he was gay.

Given that I am writing this without being involved, I am, probably, not giving the correct feel of this “conversation”. I suspect that there was much shouting at each other and that it was as far from a “conversation” as would be possible.

However, whilst in no way condoning his physical response, I can understand why he lost control.

This is his one and only son. Both his eldest and his only child. This is Italy. Whilst outwardly he does not seem homophobic (I have met him several times and he always seemed quite a “nice” man) as it certainly used to be about 50 years ago in the UK, don’t tell a man that his only son is a raving poofter! In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, the film Billy Elliot shows you (although in the interests of a good film (meaning a feel-good factor) and to show how enlightened we are in the UK now, the father eventually realises that he loves his son for who he is – which was certainly NOT the reality of the situation). And this is Italy, so even though straight men are camper than straight men in the UK and the USA, etc. by a LONG way, being gay is not seen as OK. In fact, they are STILL discussing amending a bill in parliament to make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual preference (so I think marriage is way off yet).

Anyway, back to the story – and so, the ex-boyfriend got angry and, unfortunately for all involved, got physically abusive.

His son, who witnessed some of it (and, apparently egged his father on), felt the need to emulate his father the next day after being provoked by FfI’s daughter. But, then, his role model is not exactly one that I would want my son to have.

Have I ever mentioned that the last time I ever hit anyone was when I was about 12 or 13? I felt so ashamed by my own behaviour that I never hit anyone again. Ever. I was ashamed because, even if I had been provoked and even if I had been the subject of a lot of bullying (both physically and mentally), and even if the boy I beat up was my age and in my class, he was weaker than me. And I have never forgotten that nor how bad I felt about what I had done. I did what my father had told me to do – but instead of to the bullies (who were both bigger and stronger than I), I did it to someone who was supposed to be a friend.

So, my hatred of violence stems from then.

And so, I felt the need to stay with her longer than intended.

And now I am suffering. Ah well, F is only joining us tomorrow so tonight I will go to bed early and try and recover from this week.

Phones and things


I do this for Gail because she “likes it” when I swear but it’s also a bit how I feel.

I am very tired AND it looks most likely that, instead of waiting until September to get a new mobile phone, I shall have to do it much sooner.

Much sooner would mean next week, otherwise it may not last until the end of the holiday and I certainly don’t want to be getting a new phone whilst we are in Carrara – it’s a bit far to travel if something goes wrong.

And, my original plan was to go and get a phone, a tablet AND change my internet provider at home – all at the same time and, hopefully, at some discount.

But, I only have a few days to fix all this and it is my experience that a “few days” is definitely NOT enough time in this Bell Paese that is Italy. Damn and blast.

Later …..

Thinking about it, it would be really stupid of me to try and organise the new phone before I go on holiday. So the question is, during the holiday, why do I really NEED a phone?

1) There are a couple of people’s birthdays. I need to text and/or phone. But, if I didn’t it wouldn’t really be the end of the world.

2) F is only down for 2 weeks. For the third week I will be on my own. If it breaks before then (or during that 3rd week) then I can’t easily speak to F. Again, it’s not really the end of the world, I suppose.

Later still ………

Oh! I’ve just had a thought. A colleague who has just bought himself a new Blackberry has an old one he doesn’t use. Maybe I could borrow that? I will ask him.

But now he’s in a meeting – so I will have to remember later.

Thank the lord ………….

……………… that it’s over now.

We have a name and, overnight, the newspapers have dropped the coverage to some way down the page (online).

It was driving me crazy.

Woman might have baby soon. Woman starts labour. Woman has baby. Parents leave hospital. Name given to child. Back to normality.

But it all took days. Even my colleague (the one I share coffee with in the morning) kept asking me about it until I turned the tables and kept asking her. Not that I was terribly interested, just to get her to stop bloody asking me – like I had some sort of direct line to Kate!

Anyway, as you were.

Half full

It’s only half.

But why? I mean to say, a half is almost the same size as a full, since to get the half, the cup is filled slightly higher and, therefore a half of that is just a fraction shorter than a normal short.

So, I see no difference really between a half or a whole.

The benefit is that I get free coffee – a short coffee, certainly, but a coffee nonetheless.

My colleague takes a coffee with me in the morning at about 8.45 and then gives me half a coffee at about 10.20.

Occasionally, very occasionally, she takes a half coffee in the afternoon.

We’re taking a centimetre of difference here.

But someone else has also started giving me half his coffee. But I find this one a bit strange. I almost feel like he’s trying to bribe me. You see, I really don’t like him and he knows this, for sure. To me he is the most ineffectual, overpaid, useless moron. He has, in the past, said things that are simply not true and done things that really show how useless he is.

And, yet, suddenly, here he is on an almost daily basis, giving me half a coffee.

Obviously, instead of ignoring him, I have to say “hello” and “thank you”. I’m not THAT rude. But, still, it really does grate on me. And it does feel like a kind of bribe, as if he’s trying to get me to “like” him, and not even in a Facebook kind of way!

However, since I think this whole “half” coffee thing (if you see what I mean) is weird, coffee is coffee and free is free. So I will just have to put with the “hello” and “thank you” that goes with it. Although the fact that he is a quite useless bastard will, quite obviously, not change.

Earth Wind and Fire – Milan

I’m certain he hadn’t told me about it until Sunday night but it doesn’t really matter anyway.

I’m sure I saw this band many, many years ago and knew them to be a band of truly superb musicians. And, so it turned out to be. Beforehand, I couldn’t have named more than about two of their songs but as they’ve been going for so long, they do, of course, have many well-known songs.

It’s not a sit-and-listen concert but a get-up-and-dance concert. And, so, we actually stood up, behind the seats and watched and danced and sang along. A wonderful concert.

And, from a different concert in Italy, a few days ago (sorry for the quality but it does give you an idea of how really good they are live) – Boogie Wonderland. Enjoy.

Now some videos are being posted on YouTube.
The first is with an Italian singer, Mario Biondi who I’ve seen in concert before and who is rather good.

Maybe this will be the last year?

“If my brother won’t do anything I don’t want to come here any more!”

He goes on to say that the beach place is expensive (which it is) and that he wants to be able to leave stuff in the house without it being moved or other junk being placed (or thrown?) in there all over the place.

I don’t say anything. What can I say? It’s not my house and not my family and not my home town. I don’t have any rights. But I am a little disappointed. But I don’t think he means it, really. I think it’s just frustration coming out. He’s coming down later next weekend, on the Saturday, and then staying a few extra days to do a proper clean and get the grass cut, etc.

I asked if he was going to try and get quotes for the work to be done. He said he wouldn’t have time. As I said to him, I was only asking – it really wasn’t a dig, just conversation.

But, in the event, he is getting the husband of an old friend to come over and give a quote – after the dogs and I have left.

In the meantime, I have finished another two books. This is not quite a book a weekend but quite close.

The first that I finished (weekend before last) was the one I really wanted to read above all, that is, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. And it was good. Absorbing and interesting and, of course, about Tudor times which, to us Brits, was the real “Golden Age” even if the reality was something very different. Now I have to get the next one, Bring Up The Bodies, of course.

Then, FfI lent me a book she said was really good. Which I read, mostly, last weekend and finished it on the Sunday afternoon. Now, I’ve read one of this guy’s books before. And there’s a thing about gay fiction. It’s at once interesting for me and boring as hell. Edmund White is, I suppose, the biggest name in gay fiction and, on the cover, it had some good quotes from famous writers.

But, for me, it leaves something to be desired. It’s not quite as brilliant as it had been made out. And, although the storyline was quite good, the last chapter was a complete let down – as if he’d HAD to finish it and didn’t really know what to write – and so he did it in a hurry. The book was “Jack Holmes and his Friend” and, personally, I wouldn’t recommend it.

In addition, I finally got a book that I should have ordered a couple of years ago. It’s by a friend of a friend and, I think, is self-published (which, to be honest, doesn’t bode well). Still, I’m supposed to recognise some of the characters. We shall see. I don’t think it will be my “next book” but we shall see. The book is “Quinn’s Way” by Steve Gray. As far as I know, it’s his only book. Well, I’ve bought it now and, at the rate I’m going through the books I did buy, I will need it.

But, next, I’m thinking of Dickens. That should slow me down a bit because it’s not really “light” reading although I do like Dickens and his stories and descriptions are always good.

The weather is getting hotter and hotter. The forecast for this weekend (in Milan) is somewhere near 37°C – which is very, very hot. Luckily, for much of it, we shall be by the sea, where it will be considerably cooler (I can’t believe I’ve just written “luckily”!!!!!) and much better for the dogs.

And it’s less than two weeks till the holidays :-)

Gay Marriage is IN but not in IT

Just so you know, this afternoon the Equal Marriage Law in the UK got it’s Royal Assent.

This means it’s now the law.

I’m in Italy. We’re still waiting but, on the basis that a member of Parliament here can liken a Minister of Government to an Orang-utan because she is black and still not lose his job, I’m guessing we’ll be waiting here for some time yet.

Put it this way, I’m not holding my breath.

This weekend

I’ve spent the last three weekends in Carrara – enjoying the sunshine on the beach, eating at F’s parents or the sagra, taking the (very excited) dogs to the pineta, relaxing.

But this coming weekend is different. This coming weekend, we are going together. F will be there too. And the difference is immeasurable and, for the first time, I am really excited about going down.

We may have breakfast at the café in Marina di Carrara where the cakes (fro breakfast) are particularly nice. Certainly we shall share the dog walking. Then there will be someone to talk to on the beach (not that I don’t talk to anyone – but almost everyone speaks only Italian so the conversations are much shorter.) And we shall be together, which I really enjoy.

The only downside is that, after working so very hard for so many weeks it is likely that F will get some ailment – which often happens the moment that he stops working. Ah well. At least he will be relaxing a bit.

So, for the first time this year, we shall be going down to Carrara together. The car will be clean (obviously), the dogs are brushed and we will leave, more or less, at 5 p.m. on Friday – which also means pizza with asparagus and lardo (for me). Yay!