It’s sort of forward planning.

You may remember, dear reader, my horror last summer at running out of books and my subsequent purchase of a Sony eReader to make sure it would never happen again?

Well, of course, being the old codger that I am, the eReader is fine – for emergencies. I really prefer a “real” book – the feel of the pages, the smell of the book, the never running out of battery, etc., etc.

Last year, if I remember rightly, I had somewhere around 9 books for 3 weeks and reckoned that, even at a rate of 2 books per week, I’d be fine. In fact, I ran out of books by the end of the second week.

And, although I now have my emergency backup eReader, I don’t want to be running out like last year.

And, the other day, I was reading something on Twitter from one of the people I follow and they were plugging their book as it has just been released in paperback. Which made me look at my “bookshop” (I use Bookstore, in the UK. Amongst the very nice things about this company is the fact that I have my “list” of books saved and I pick out the ones that I want to buy.

Now, I use this company as it is a truly independent book shop. It’s not part of the Amazon mega-corporation. OK, so I pay a little more than I would at Amazon but the service I get is superb. If I want any type of book I can ask. If I want to change my order before it is shipped, I ask. They are always very nice and responsive and you feel you are dealing with a human being rather than some computer (see, I told you I was an old codger).

Anyway, so really, as a response to this Twitter post about the paperback being out, I thought I might as well get it. I went onto the site and found it and, whilst I was there, checked the books I had put in “waiting” and decided to order some.

So, when the order arrives, I will have another load of books to add to ones I had already bought at the end of last year.

I’ve still got some way to go but I shall probably buy some of those books on the shortlist of the Bailey’s Prize this year.

In any event, I am excited about receiving my parcel of books in the next week or so :-)

Moving forward?

Well, I’ve waited until now to mention anything because I didn’t want to spoil it for Lola when we met yesterday evening.

So, I can say that we have made an offer on the flat we saw (again) on Friday. The offer was, obviously, lower than their requested price. Not that the price they wanted seemed that high both for the size of the flat and the position. Still, you can’t offer the full price, can you? Especially as we live in Italy and here, everything is negotiable.

It is a lovely flat. Light and airy, a large double sitting room with an large archway to, what would be, the dining area. We talked about New Year and how we would be able to extend the dining table fully and be much more comfortable. We talked about the fact that we would need to buy more chairs.

We talked about or, rather, I suggested that he could have his sound system in the corner of the dining area – then we would have music for guests and it would be “his” area. He could do his “music” stuff without interruption.

The hallway is long and, in places, very large. The front door opens onto what is, almost, a room. A doorway opens to the dining area. The “corridor” goes through the length of the flat with a doorway on the left to the lounge and to the right to the large kitchen.

The kitchen needs to have the units fitted, of course, as is common here. But it will be large enough to have a smallish table. It has a small “service” room off to one side, perfect for the dogs stuff and some cupboards to hold things like dog food and cleaning equipment. And there are sockets! This is not so common here, in Italy. It almost seems as if people don’t use electrical devices! Having a number of adapters and multi-plugs is common, as I have now. But, maybe in the future, less will be needed :-)

The hallway continues leading to another doorway on the left to a large “bedroom” that would actually be my studio. I have mentioned “doorways” since they have removed nearly all the doors apart from the kitchen, the bathrooms and the bedroom. Obviously, for this to be my studio, we will need to refit a door or, rather, what I want is a reclaimed double door, such as that in the kitchen, the original type of doors for the 20s and 30s, with half glass and, if we can find it, one of those with an art noveaux/art deco-type stained glass. I’m sure we can. People are throwing them out these days.

My “studio” would also contain my wardrobe – but it is a very large room.

Where the hallway gets to the studio doorway, it opens out again to create a type of “room”, though small. From here there are the doors to the two bathrooms – one quite narrow with a shower at the end and the other quite large with a full bath. It’s particularly nice as the fittings are all brand new.

There is also a door to the bedroom which, although not as large as my current bedroom, is large enough for a full-length wardrobe, double bed and other units and still with plenty of space.

The other advantage is that there are four balconies, for the dogs. Also the bedroom is at the back of the building and, so, much quieter than mine is now.

We went with the estate agent to his office and made our official proposal. F wrote a cheque for a deposit and now we wait until the end of the week to see if they will accept our proposal.

But F is quite excited and we are talking about how life will be better and things much easier and that we can have people come round and do dinners and drinks and stuff.

We are talking about the re-covering of the sofa, F picking types of material he likes. We’re talking about kitchens.

It’s all very exciting.

And yet ……. there is that part of me that feels a little bit frightened. Of course, unlike my previous relationships, I am happy with things as they are – in a way. So, it’s the “change” that frightens rather than anything concrete. But I’m sure it will all be fine. It’s not like we’re teenagers and we seem to rub along just fine.

So, Thursday or Friday we should know more. And you’ll be the first to know :-)

The disappearance.

The door is locked.

The windows are open.

The bed is turned back for airing.

The bedroom rug and “dog sheet” are hanging on the balcony.

“Where is F?,” I say to them in an excited voice. They get very excited and go looking for him. Piero checks the bedroom, tail wagging. Dino checks the kitchen and the bathroom. The game is thus. F will be hiding behind the bathroom door and in a moment, he will say something in his “dogs tone” and they will get even more excited.

Except he doesn’t.

I go round to check. No, he’s not here.

I feel sorry for the dogs now. Perhaps he has just stepped out. His bag is gone, his phones have gone. There is one phone case still here, on my side of the bed, from where he was charging his phone before we went out last night.

Yes, he must have just stepped out.

And, yet …….

Something’s not quite right. Why would he just step out and not wait for me? What can have been that urgent? Should I wait for him?

After some minutes, and I have fed the dogs and they have settled down, I text.

I get a reply. He is at the gym. Ah, yes, of course. He was sleeping when I left him with them this morning. He is glad he woke up though as he had an appointment at the gym for his Pilates session.

And so this all changes the start of the day.

Because, by now, we would be going out for breakfast – and now we won’t be. The flat would normally be clean. And now it isn’t. The normal Saturday routine is not taking place and, if I’m honest, I don’t really like it so much. Tomorrow he will be working and so the normal Sunday routine won’t be happening either.

On the other hand, I can wake up (because, trust me, on a weekend, it takes several hours before I am fully awake) and feel quite good before I step out of the flat to go and do some errands.

And the weather is quite nice now – proper Spring weather, almost warm and mostly sunny.

And, as it’s so nice, I might even do breakfast at the local café (which I don’t normally do if he’s not with me – it’s not an English habit) and then run my errands. I might even clean a bit and, maybe, brush the dogs (taking great care of my back, of course).

And, then, this afternoon, we’ll (me and the dogs and F, if he will come) go to the big park so the dogs can have their weekend exercise and I’ll stop for a beer or something on the way back, sit outside and enjoy my life, as usual.

Another night.

Of course, I could be dreaming.

Except I know I’m not.






There’s panic. I’m used to this panic. It’s not the first time. At first I thought he used the Italian word for tick. As I wake enough to move, I grunt something. I don’t know what time this is but, in any case, I was asleep. Deep, deep sleep but, quite obviously, not deep enough. And anyway, him being Italian, the well-being of others is not always foremost.

Except, of course, Dino. That is foremost and the worry that occurs when he thinks something isn’t good is incredible.

I try to move. My back still hurts. The “belt thing” I’m wearing is hot on my back but, although it’s quite pleasant, it hasn’t cured the pain …….. yet.

I get up slowly, cursing him in my head. I’m not really awake, to be honest.

Dino is lying on the bed. He is hunched over Dino.

Dino has been licking his paw and that is where I am to look.

There is something red on one of the pads of his paw. But, although it’s red, it’s shiny (but not in a “wet” way like it would be if it was blood) and it seems to have flecks of silver or something. I touch it and it’s not wet. It can’t be blood. I scrape at the edge. It seems to be something stuck to the pad – a little like chewing gum.

My eyes can hardly stay open. I wonder why he hasn’t tried this. But, of course, that’s not fair. He hasn’t owned dogs. He doesn’t really know. He has no experience. Still, it’s very dark o’clock and I was very asleep although less so now. I want to say “for fuck’s sake ….” but I don’t. I don’t complain about being woken up.

I tell him that it’s just something stuck to Dino’s paw. He can see it now, I think. I haven’t taken it off, I’m too tired and can’t be bothered. I get back into bed.

He apologises and I reply with “It’s OK”, even if it’s really not OK.

I am already lying down. I wish he’d turn the bloody light off. But, of course, he is determined to get this “thing” off the paw. And so he does.

Then he turns the light off and tells me that he’s going for a cigarette. I mumble “OK”. after he turns the light off, I look at the digital light on the ceiling that tells me it is something like 12.30 (but I’m not too sure since my eyes are not really working.)

I go to sleep. Another night of disturbed sleep then.

A supermarket is a supermarket is STILL a bloody supermarket

Italians like their food. Especially fresh food or proper original food.

Therefore, the best pesto (apparently as, to be honest, it’s NOT my favourite thing) is made in Liguria (and, more specifically, Genoa.)

Obviously, you can get pesto here, in Milan. And, sometimes, F, who is just a tad crazy over pesto, says that the pesto is good (normally the fresh pesto sauce we get from the local pasta shop – yes, they have pasta shops selling just pasta and sauces.) Rarely has he said that about anything we buy from a supermarket.

There have been exceptions, of course. The Parma ham I got from our local Carrefour was, apparently, rather superb. It was from the deli counter so was cut extra thin, on his instructions, didn’t have much fat and was “sweet”.

If we want some much better food than the supermarket, we go to the pasta shop, the veg shop, the butchers, etc. For really good fruit and veg, the Tuesday market is the best.

But, if you want really special versions, go direct to the producers, of course. The very best mozzarella that I’ve ever tasted was one that F’s parents served up one time. They get a lot of their food shipped specially to them (from relatives) or from local small holders. F, for example, doesn’t like to eat eggs from the supermarket because they aren’t “fresh” (his words.)

Supermarkets are great for cleaning products, dog food and stuff like that. Day-to-day food (coffee, sugar, dried pasta,etc.)

They buy in bulk and get everything for a good price which means they are cheaper. But, things like strawberries, etc. are, usually, pretty bland and tasteless (as is mozzarella, imho).

Even up-market supermarkets aren’t that “wow!”

And up-market supermarkets will quite happily sell you the same (for example) wine that you can buy at Billa or Carrefour but at a much higher price.

Now, I confess, I’ve never been to Eataly. But, I know people who have. In Milan, just recently, a great theatre (Smeralda) was closed down, was refurbished and re-opened as the flagship Eataly store in Milan. People swear by it. But, so I have been informed by someone who knows a thing or two about wine, it is nothing more than an up-market version of any old supermarket. It sells some “special” things and then some ordinary things but at much higher prices.

But, I have to admit, their marketing is definitely up-market in that people really believe they are getting something special. I’m sure there are some things that really are special. However, I suspect that most of it will not be although the prices will be special.

In this country of wondrous food, this kind of faux-speciality really annoys me.

Instead, if you want the real stuff, seek out the smaller shops that really do have something special.

Move along, please. Nothing to see here.


It’s only a thought and not at all definite but ……………..

We went to see a flat last night. F had already seen it whilst I was at The Visit and was taken enough with it that he arranged for us to see it together, after work.

Of course, now that the clocks have gone forward, it is light when I get home and so possible to see things straight away rather than waiting until Saturday. It’s not far from the “Perfect street”, so very close to where I live now. The street is much quieter. The flat is much larger than our two flats together. The rooms are huge (well, not the kitchen but still big enough to fit a table) and there is the room for me to shut myself away (if we fit some doors to it – for some reason, apart from one bedroom, the bathrooms and the kitchen, doors have been removed!)

It needs us to fit a kitchen (a fairly normal thing here). We could find some old doors to put on my “studio”. It’s lovely and big and very light (F’s requirement) and has four balconies of various sizes (from quite small to quite large) – meaning plenty of spaces for the dogs.

It’s in a 1930s building – not the best I’ve seen but still nicer than something new. There’s a doorman/woman until 6.30 every evening (which means I don’t have to wait for parcels until Saturday) and, it will be cheaper than our two flats.

There’s just one thing – it’s on the 4th floor. The 4th floor is OK (it’s at the top of the trees in the road which is why it’s quite light) but it’s also a long way down when you look over the edge of the balconies.

Anyway, we’ve discussed pricing and offers and stuff and now F will do his stuff.

Oh, and it has another advantage – 3 months’ deposit but only 1 month’s rent in advance and then pay monthly – which does make everything much, much easier.

And, so we’ll see. But don’t say anything, just in case, eh?

The Visit

It was like attending a very important job interview.

My hands were sweating and it was difficult to concentrate on anything much.

I arrived at least 10 minutes early, as you do. At first, the receptionist thought that I was trying to make an appointment but when she gave me some date in the future, I realised. I couldn’t even really understand her – my little Italian had deserted me somewhere in my mashed-up brain.

The seats in the waiting room were the usual plastic chairs, arranged around the walls, a single coffee table in the centre of the room with some reading stuff which I didn’t read. The receptionist informed me that she wasn’t here yet. Hmmm.

I tried to play a game on my phone but I just couldn’t concentrate. About on time, she arrived and I was told to go in.

Of course, on principle, I don’t ask “permesso”, since I had made the appointment and so she was expecting me and had been informed that I was there and had already asked the receptionist to show me through. So, why ask permission to enter? It never makes any sense to me. By all means, do it if you are not expected or have not been invited or have not already let someone in to your building (so you know they’re there.)

Anyway, she was really nice. Asking me questions that, most of the time, I didn’t know the answer to or had some idea but couldn’t be sure. But that was fine.

Then I asked my questions and, more or less everything was OK. I only asked about 3 questions, so not too harrowing for me.

However, as expected, there are more visits to come. Which is a pain.

And I was in a bit of pain but I didn’t let it show. I “did my back in a bit” when brushing Piero on Sunday. My own fault. Still, I didn’t want her to see I was in pain.

And, so, on to the next visit!

And I survived, which is good :-)