Twitter focus change

As time goes on, I’m finding Twitter much more enjoyable than Facebook.

But I’ve noticed a change – or, maybe, it’s something to do with how I’m interacting on Twitter – I’m not sure.

People have followed me in the past and I’ve looked at their profiles and not bothered to follow back. After all, I’m not really what you could call a “serious” Twitter user. I’m not really interested in numbers of followers or, that much, in who follows me. I don’t normally tweet very much, just doing the occasional retweets.

But then I started promoting Altern-i-life, the musical film that I helped to fund through Kickstarter. An I was tweeting and retweeting several times per day. And I saw that I was getting more notice and that more people were following me. And I decided to change the way I interacted by automatically following back. Then, after a little while I would see some had unfollowed me (so I would unfollow them since they weren’t that interesting) or my feed would be filled with rubbish or things that I didn’t like, so I would unfollow them first.

But, what I have noticed is some people are using Twitter as a way to promote something they’ve done. I first noticed it with Matt Haig who wrote The Humans. He, unselfconsciously, promoted himself by retweeting short (Twitter) reviews from people who had read the book. It seemed an interesting book, so I bought it. As you may know, I prefer a “real” book, made with paper and this was one of them. It became my favourite book of 2014. I absolutely loved it. So much so that I bought 2 copies (one in Italian) for Best Mate and F as presents and encouraged someone else to buy it.

As a result of that, maybe, I’ve been followed by other authors, each one promoting their book. Some are self-published and others not. And I’ve also been followed by musicians (singer-songwriters), some of whom have “given” me downloads of their stuff. So far, no one has had the impact of Matt Haig (so much so that I will definitely be buying his new book, out very soon) but I’m sure that, somewhere along the way, I’m going to find some more interesting stuff and something like “The Humans” (either song or book) that I will go “Wow!”

But, this was not what I thought Twitter was about, so, for me, it’s an interesting change of focus.

I still follow the people that I know IRL, those that are funny or give me information that I want to know about and, a very few, with whom I disagree with their politics or thoughts but who are interesting enough to keep me hooked. But now I have a load of people on my timeline that also have something to “sell”. If they are engaging enough, I keep following them anyway, even if I’m not that impressed with their product. After all, you never know!

Spring cleaning every day.

“Look!” he says, showing me the cloth in his hand. It has dirt on it.

“Bravo,” I respond.

He’s not really happy with my response. But no response I could make would be good enough.

“When I did the kitchen, it only took me a few minutes to do the top of the kitchen cupboards because we did them before Christmas.” “WE” didn’t do them, of course, but that’s a moot point. He continues, “This is from the cupboard in the hall. That’s why if you do it often it’s not as bad as this.”

He’s right, but ……

Nobody will look on top of the cupboard. To do so, they would need to get a pair of stepladders and climb to the top.

But, that’s not the point.

The flat was cleaned yesterday. But, this morning, it seems like we’re doing a whole spring clean thing. That’s because, tonight we’re having a party. Well, kind of. He invited a few of his colleagues, one of whom told everyone so now we have invited everyone. I say “we” when actually I mean “he”.

Of course, I don’t mind at all but he is forever apologising about it. More than that/worse than that is that he won’t let me do anything. I can’t buy anything, I can’t make anything, and, of course, I can’t clean anything. Except the dogs. I’m permitted to do them. And, after much insistence, I make my little ricotta and courgette tartlets. Better than nothing.

But, he spends all day doing this cleaning. The day before, even if the cleaner was round, he did the kitchen – including the top of the kitchen units. Everything must be perfectly clean.

It has to be some sort of obsessive compulsive disorder. I mean to say, it’s nice to have everywhere clean, but the pressure and stress that goes with it (he gets quite grumpy because he always runs out of time) is a bit over the top.

Everything must be perfect for guests – especially his guests who, of course, expect everything to be perfect because it always is.

It feels like we have spring cleaning every day!

[From Saturday]

I guess it was a bit of a shock!

“It will be quite hot,” I suggested.

“I come from Calabria,” was the reply. And, it is true that Southern Italy cuisine tends to use chillies in their food, making it a little hot.

But, this was Indian food and Indian food uses a variety of spices that can numb your mouth in ways that chillies really can’t. But, we’re in Italy and, after all, Indian food here is certainly not like Indian food in the UK. No, no, not nearly as hot as it can be in the UK.

I was having my usual Lamb Balti. On the menu it has two chillies against it meaning it is one of the two hottest/spiciest things on the menu. I love it.

A had chosen Chicken Madras. If we had been in the UK I would have said he shouldn’t have it. Here, I couldn’t really say that even though it was the only other item on the menu with the two-chilli sign. However, I was a bit concerned. After all, in spite of everything they may say, Italians simply aren’t used to spicy-hot food.

However, in his usual arrogant manner, he effectively told me that people in Calabria do everything better, especially when it comes to hot food.

Let’s be clear on this, I had not chosen the Indian restaurant. He had chosen it. It’s not because I didn’t want to go just that Italians trust “foreign” food in the way they trust immigrants – in that, they don’t. We still have stories here about the Chinese restaurants using cats in their dishes, etc. Plus, Indian food can be very spicy-hot and really not at all what Italians are used to. So, even if he’s a “real man” and comes from “God’s gift to the world”, Calabria, I had my doubts about the choice. I was, in fact, quite nervous about this. But, hell, I love it and he had chosen it.

Whilst we’re waiting for our antipasto (I had the usual mix and he had chosen some chicken and lentil soup – which, apparently, was quite nice), he said that I was an OK person for never having insisted on this place as one of our options.

But, that’s partly, for me, because it would only give him another reason to diss English people and their choice of foods. He can be quite crap at times.

Still, we were here. As part of my mixed starters I have a poppadom and I like to mix the incredibly hot onion mix with the cooling yoghurt to have with it. After he had finished his soup, he looked at the onion mix.

“That’s really hot,” I warned him. He decided to try a very small amount. It was as I had said. Too hot for him. He was grateful I had warned him and said so. But, that really should have been a warning in general. Anyway, it was too late now – we had ordered. The main dish arrived.

The waiter had persuaded him to take rice with his madras. I was, as usual (as always), having two naan breads. There’s a thing about spicy-hot food that’s done well. It takes a few moments to really hit home and then it stays with you and builds up over time. It’s one of the things I really like about Indian food. But, for me, you really need the naans to take away the heat. Bread works wonders.

So he started with his madras. The first mouthful was OK but by the second, you could tell by the look on his face, it became a little too much.

After all his “this will be nothing – I’m from Calabria” stuff, it made me laugh (inside, of course – I couldn’t actually show that). As it happened, the waiter came over to check if everything was OK. He knew me so knew that I was fine but was really checking about A. A spoke to him telling him it was too hot. The waiter suggested that he mix it with the rice (although I’ve always found naan breads better) to take away some of the heat. Still the waiter took it away to be “softened” a bit.

Except something went a bit wrong with the instructions and it came back hotter than it had been. It was like something from one of those comedies.

Needless to say it went back again to be “softened”. By that time, I’d finished mine. I tried the “new” version. Obviously, mine had been quite hot too so my taste buds were a bit fucked. Anyway, I found it too tomatoey.

But, fair play to the people in the restaurant. They were sympathetic and tried to be very helpful. I guess they’ve seen all this before!

However, maybe next time we go somewhere he isn’t used to, A will actually listen to me and not assume that, just because he’s from Calabria, he knows and can do everything?

Although I very much doubt that, bless him :-D

We were at the Rajput – see link on the right

Reconnections and visits and some apprehension

This year’s going to be busy, I think. A bit “unstable”, of course, with PaC and the problem there and then there’ll be F and how he will react.

But, also, this year there are going to be a few reconnections with the past.

Towards the end of March, a guy, D, and his boyfriend are coming for a few days. I haven’t seen him for over 25 years. We’ve stayed in touch, just about (I’m talking Christmas cards). He hadn’t ever even met V (although he did see him, briefly)! I am a bit worried that, after all this time, we won’t really have anything in common. Except a past that I can barely remember due to an ability I have to shut off and eventually forget almost all things to do with my past.

Then, in early May, a friend from school days, R, and his wife are coming over. They got married 35 years ago (in May, when they are here) and it was the terrible occasion when I was the Best Man and did, possibly, the very worst Best Man speech ever. It was so bad that over the years, whenever I see, attend or watch (on film) a wedding, I am reminded of it and cringe inside. M (my first boyfriend) and I used to see them occasionally for a couple of years afterwards – but I probably haven’t seen them for over 30 years. Again, we stayed in touch – in exactly the same way as above. And, in exactly the same way as above, I am a bit worried that we won’t have anything in common.

So let’s look at what I DO remember.

Let’s start with R. At one point, probably my best friend at school. I don’t even know WHY we were best friends. He liked and played football and cricket a lot – I hated it. I smoked – he didn’t. We both liked drinking. That’s it. Things I remember: He was going bald by the time he was 17. He never had “girlfriends” whereas I always had a girlfriend (and look how THAT turned out :-D ). We used to (in the 6th form), go to one of two pubs at lunchtime and sometimes only return to school to catch the same last bus home (we lived quite close to each other.) My first holiday away from my parents (excluding the disastrous time they made me go to Boys’ Brigade camp in Guernsey – which had such a profound effect on my life thereafter) was with him and another close friend. We stayed in my parents’ caravan in Cornwall. It was just after we had taken our A Levels (the final examinations at 18 at that time.) My results came through while I was there and my parents couldn’t really understand why I could not have given a shit about the results.

So, at the end of all that, we were drinking buddies, I guess.

For D, he and his partner, S, were the second gay couple M and I met and became friends with. They were a lovely couple. Sadly, at the age of 21, S committed suicide which left D quite bereft. In fact, in one way (but not at all his fault), he was the reason that I found V and that M and I split after 10 years. In fact, that moment, in a club in Birmingham, was probably the last time I saw him, so that would make it close on 17 years ago.

So, I am a bit apprehensive.

On the other hand, J should be coming in the middle of March as I got her a ticket to Aida at La Scala. I’m thinking I might take her to Florence for a day. I think she might like that. And she is one of the sweetest people I know.

And S, my very Best Mate, should come over at the end of May for a few days and I am really looking forward to that.

So, already 4 different visits. It’s going to be a busy year.

Some hits and some misses

I had a list of things to do on Saturday. Many things didn’t turn out as I quite expected and I did some stupid things.

So, I didn’t get up that early but after two mugs of coffee and a shower, I could face the world. After taking the dogs out, I went to get my cigarettes and went for breakfast (another coffee and a croissant) and did the supermarket shopping.

Then I went to have my haircut. Now, I may have mentioned in the past, but I have a rather weird thing about having my hair cut. It’s a bit like having sex in that it feels incredibly intimate. V used to do my hair for many years but, even before that, I had this weird feeling about having it done. And I still do. After V and I split, I went to a local barbers. But I didn’t really like it. Or, rather, I didn’t like him. Then I tried another barber and I didn’t like him much. Then, for some strange reason, I decided to grow my hair, possibly because I just hated having it cut. Eventually, I decided it wasn’t for me. I liked having long hair (I always have liked it) but it didn’t really look as I had hoped. So I went to get it cut.

And I happened upon this place and was appointed a hairdresser who tried his damnedest to give me the “David Bowie” haircut that I asked for. He was also a nice guy. And so, every 4 to 6 weeks I go back. He’s Romanian and has adopted the Italian version of his name (since Italians can be quite funny about being served by a “foreigner”.) We’ve talked during the haircuts and he’s told me how, eventually, he wants to return to his hometown and set up a hairdressers there. But, for now, he’s learning and so he will stay.

However, Saturday, he was telling me how he’s had a bit of a falling out with his boss and how his boss isn’t speaking to him now and how he’s looking to move somewhere else. I was uncomfortable with this given that I have these feelings about having my haircut and, now I’ve found someone I like and can trust, I don’t want to have to search out someone else. So, I replied to this news that I just had to know where he was going. He said it may not be for a while and I said yes, but I only come in every so often. So he suggested becoming friends on Facebook. And so now we are. And, providing he doesn’t move back to Romania or somewhere to far for me to go, I will be able to go to him. I feel like I’ve almost got a personal hairdresser again. Thank God! Although, at the same time, it feels a little strange to be friends with your hairdresser.

There was some shopping that I wanted to do. I went home and had a cup of tea first. After pouring the water out, I checked and the kettle did need descaling, so I filled it with vinegar and water and brought it to the boil. Then, as usual, I filled it with fresh water and put it on again. Before I would go out, I would turn it off, if it hadn’t boiled by then.

I finished my tea and sorted out more washing and then went out to get a) some thermal underwear (I need it for when I’m at work), b) some jeans and c) to look at possibly getting a new earring.

First, I went all the way across town to the sports shop and got some underwear for when you go skiing. after all, sometimes it is probably warmer on the slopes than it is at work.

Then back to the centre of town. It is sales time here and I thought I would go to the Iceberg shop and get some more jeans as their jeans have a cut that seems to fit really well. Obviously, it’s been some time since I’ve been to Iceberg. I say “obviously” because it’s no longer there. No problem, I have my phone. I’ll look up their website and check out where the shop is now located. Except the location was where I was – so the website wasn’t up to date. Perhaps they don’t even have a shop any more?

I was disappointed but thought that, at least, I could look for the earring. I wanted one like the one I lost. A diamond from Tiffany. Tiffany, being a jewelers, won’t be having a sale, I knew but the beginning of January would be the right time to go as, in the run up to Christmas, they have queues running outside the door!

However, it seems that January is as bad as December! The queues, whilst not outside the door, snaked round the shop. I decided to go back another time and went home instead, not entirely happy that the only thing I’d got was underwear!

As soon as I opened the door, I remembered. I remembered that I had had to turn the kettle off before leaving. Unfortunately, having NOT turned the kettle off meant that it had boiled dry. Having boiled dry, it had heated up. Having heated up (it’s one of those you put on a gas ring and it whistles when it boils), it started to melt some of the plastic which makes up the lid. Luckily, it didn’t melt the handle nor the whistle and the plastic only melted “in situ” so didn’t melt into a horrible mess on the cooker. And, after it had cooled, I found that it does work, just not as well because some steam escapes from around the lid, so the whistle isn’t at strong. But at least it works!

So, it was a day of hits and misses.

I have emailed Iceberg about the shop – but haven’t heard anything yet!

Normal service has resumed.

Day 1:

So, that was that.

Christmas that wasn’t like Christmas at all, New Year that was, more or less, the same as normal and, with the new flat this year, more dinners than we normally do, so quite a busy couple of weeks.

And, although my pear and Gorgonzola tart went down very well, if I never have to eat it again, it will be too soon! :-)

F also had a birthday. The “real” present has not yet arrived; it should be here by the end of this month. As some “temporary” presents, the dogs “bought” him the DVD Osage: Orange County and I got him the book “The Humans” by Matt Haig, in Italian, my absolute favourite book of 2014. I hope he likes it. He’s in London until Sunday so he may get chance to read it.

And now I’m back at work for the first day back. Obviously, it’s a bit of a drag but it could be worse – I could be without a job! So, one has to be grateful for some things.

Day 2:

Last night, a friend was “passing through” Milan on her way back to Africa. I arranged to meet her although we knew it would be quite a short meeting. In the end, we had enough time to race to catch the bus she needed to get to the airport. It meant I didn’t have time to take the dogs out until much later, so, then, I had to stay up later for their final walk which means, now, that I am again as tired as I was before the Christmas holidays! All that good work gone, disappeared in a single night!

Now I need the weekend and sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!

Breakneck speed …..

As we hurtle, at breakneck speed towards the “time to go back to work” and the “time it gets to be effing cold”, I thought I’d get you up to date ……

Most years, I wish for snow at Christmas. It never happens, of course. Maybe we have some snow before Christmas but that’s gone by Christmas Eve. But, just once, it would be lovely to have snow and for everywhere to look like it does on the Christmas cards.

However, this year, I didn’t wish for snow because, for the first time ever, I would be travelling on Christmas Eve and the road/motorway I would be travelling on would be through mountains – so I definitely didn’t want snow. I didn’t even want rain, to be honest.

So, secretly wishing I wasn’t travelling but, rather, staying home, I travelled. There was little traffic and I was down there by the afternoon.

F had put the heating on for a full day but opening the door, it was like a sauna. My glasses steamed up immediately. The house has a damp problem. A big damp problem and the heat, instead of drying it out, just created a steamy atmosphere. I opened windows, hoping it wouldn’t be so bad.

To be honest, I was a little bit worried for the dogs. I’m not sure that the humid/damp atmosphere would be good for them but there really wasn’t anything I could do.

That night, we went to his cousins for something to eat. I was bloody starving as I hadn’t eaten anything all day. I had planned to have something for lunch but our cleaner was in so I didn’t and she only left at the time that I was leaving so no chance to grab something quick. I ate like a bloody horse – so much so that this was the butt of jokes over the next few days.

We slept at the house. We switched the heating off and it got very cold and damp during the night.

The next day, Christmas Day, we went round to his parents’ place to say hi. PaC, to me, didn’t look worse than the summer except he was slower and seemed resigned, almost as if he had had enough.

Then we went to the restaurant for our Christmas lunch. Christmas lunch with the extended family (not F’s but the cousin’s). It was OK but once I caught myself thinking that I may have preferred to be in Milan, on my own. Still, it was nice and I was included. F drove back and was going to drop me off at the house and then go his parents but had a headache and asked if we could go to his parents’ first and then I take the car to the house. I was to have a bath, take the dogs out and call him. I didn’t call him because it meant he could stay with PaC and I didn’t want to disturb that. Eventually, around 9, he called me. He had been sleeping and had a bad cold (which he had had before Christmas but now it was worse.) We agreed that, with his cold, it would be stupid for him to come over to the damp house to sleep and so he stayed here and I stayed at the house with the dogs. I left the heating on low all night.

To be honest, without him being there, it made it possibly the worst Christmas I’ve ever had. At least the one Christmas I had been on my own, many years ago, I had the comforts of home. Here I had no computer, no films and not even a TV! It was really dreadful.

The next day, we were to meet at his sister’s to have lunch. When we got there I said, as I decided previously that morning, that I would go home after lunch. I mean, what was the point of staying if I wasn’t even going to have the nights with him? He was happier with that too as it meant he wouldn’t have to worry about me. And, so, I came home and happier to be here. F said that it didn’t feel like Christmas and for me, it was worse, it was a crappy “weekend”.

But it’s done and over now. New Year’s Eve was the usual dinner with (mostly) self-invited guests. We put on a wonderful spread with help from FfI and her friend, H. We finished at 4 a.m. I think it was successful.

And now, tomorrow, is F’s birthday. The special thing which I helped to fund via Kickstarter has not arrived in time, so it will have to be a birthday present to come later. In the meantime, I’ve bought an Italian copy of The Humans by Matt Haig, my favourite book of 2014, a DVD and one of those cards with the year he was born.

Tomorrow, as well, because we didn’t have our usual Boxing Day lunch with P and A, we shall have that, to celebrate his birthday. Then there’s a dinner party for A, my friend, and his girlfriend on Monday, then Tuesday is the “take the tree down” and him getting ready for London and Wednesday is all back to the usual grind.

And, apart from the day before New Year’s Eve, when he was a complete bastard (but I’m trying to be so patient with him given the circumstances) it’s all been either OK or, in the last few days, quite lovely. We now have TV and so we’ve been spending some time watching films and stuff in the lounge, which has been nice.

From Wednesday, he’ll be in London for over a week and I’ll be struggling to get back into the swim of things.

And, so, I hope you all have a great 2015. Wishing you all a very happy New Year.