Is it consent or not?

I picked this up from a post on Twitter, through on of those online “mags” (the Loop) and, then, directly from the originator’s blog. THIS is how you determine if someone has consented to something:

You say “hey, would you like a cup of tea?” and they go “OMG fuck yes, I would fucking LOVE a cup of tea! Thank you!*” then you know they want a cup of tea.

If you say “hey, would you like a cup of tea?” and they um and ahh and say, “I’m not really sure…” then you can make them a cup of tea or not, but be aware that they might not drink it, and if they don’t drink it then – this is the important bit – don’t make them drink it. You can’t blame them for you going to the effort of making the tea on the off-chance they wanted it; you just have to deal with them not drinking it. Just because you made it doesn’t mean you are entitled to watch them drink it.

If they say “No thank you” then don’t make them tea. At all. Don’t make them tea, don’t make them drink tea, don’t get annoyed at them for not wanting tea. They just don’t want tea, OK?

They might say “Yes please, that’s kind of you” and then when the tea arrives they actually don’t want the tea at all. Sure, that’s kind of annoying as you’ve gone to the effort of making the tea, but they remain under no obligation to drink the tea. They did want tea, now they don’t. Sometimes people change their mind in the time it takes to boil that kettle, brew the tea and add the milk. And it’s OK for people to change their mind, and you are still not entitled to watch them drink it even though you went to the trouble of making it.

If they are unconscious, don’t make them tea. Unconscious people don’t want tea and can’t answer the question “do you want tea” because they are unconscious.

OK, maybe they were conscious when you asked them if they wanted tea, and they said yes, but in the time it took you to boil that kettle, brew the tea and add the milk they are now unconscious. You should just put the tea down, make sure the unconscious person is safe, and – this is the important bit – don’t make them drink the tea. They said yes then, sure, but unconscious people don’t want tea.

If someone said yes to tea, started drinking it, and then passed out before they’d finished it, don’t keep on pouring it down their throat. Take the tea away and make sure they are safe. Because unconscious people don’t want tea. Trust me on this.

If someone said “yes” to tea around your house last Saturday, that doesn’t mean that they want you to make them tea all the time. They don’t want you to come around unexpectedly to their place and make them tea and force them to drink it going “BUT YOU WANTED TEA LAST WEEK”, or to wake up to find you pouring tea down their throat going “BUT YOU WANTED TEA LAST NIGHT”.

This is NOT a stupid analogy but really gets to the point. And, of course, she’s talking about the consent you should obtain BEFORE initiating any form of sex (or even during it) with any other person. Once you’ve read this, it just seems so straight forward, doesn’t it?

Well, if it doesn’t then I think you need to go and see a professional.

The full post can be seen here. Read it, it’s very good and so simply put that, surely, anyone can understand it.

A day of mourning

I’m in mourning today.

Blogprolific has died :'(

It’s a very sad day. I have followed Lola through her many blogs and guises but it’s sad that (at least for the moment), we shan’t be able to read her stuff.

I only hope she’s not gone for too long ……….

Sending something by email – you might as well whisper in the wind.

Blogging in Italy is different. Or, rather, Italians blogging in Italy have to be more careful.

If the government have their way, they will have to be even more careful in future.

The government, here, having been trying, for some time now, to curb what they see as the excesses of the blogging world. Particularly when it comes to criticising or revealing embarrassing details about our beloved leader, Buzz Lightyear (Berlusconi).

Ideally, of course, he would like anything said about him to have passed through someone who can edit it properly. And, whilst with most of the media, this can be done easily (as he either owns the company or, as the Prime Minister, is responsible for it), the blogging world is a bit different.

I think (and I’m sure I’ll be corrected if I’m wrong), LA7 (a TV station) is also quite independent. I remember watching a debate on TV which was heavily critical of Buzz and he was obviously watching too because he phoned in to have a bit of a rant.

The trouble with bloggers is that they can say something and he doesn’t get the chance to phone in to say they are wrong. Instead, in a bill going through parliament, he wants to make it obligatory that the person who is defamed or whatever, gets the right to reply. If not, then the blogger is fined.

The Guardian’s take on it is here.

However, the really shocking thing is hidden away in the last paragraph and, to me, shows why Italy always seems to be a little bit behind the rest of the world when it comes to embracing the new world of technology fully.

Legally, “email has no validity”.

Let’s just put that again:

“email has no validity”


I remember when I first came here (and I’m talking 6 years ago – not 100), I was amused by the fact that, when someone sent an email, they would follow that up with a telephone call to ‘check that the person had received it’. How quaint and old-fashioned, I thought.

Mail, of the old kind, is fine. In fact, everything is done via mail. And, of course, if email has no validity, it has to be this way. But the fact that it is inadmissible in a court of law scares me quite a lot.

After all the ‘E’ of email stands for electronic. If mail is acceptable then an electronic version of it should be the same. Shouldn’t it? Yes, it damned well should!

However, since my email address is a address and in the UK that IS admissible and Italy is in the EU and so is the UK, I wonder how that would be viewed?

Maybe I’ll find out one day.

Not now though. I’m still in a state of shock.

Pizza with pig fat

Ruth wrote about it back in January of this year but I’d never seen it before.

However, as I now ‘weekend’ nearby (how jealous are you, Ruth?), it seems only logical.

Friday night we were late getting down.  Too late to go and eat with F’s parents and, so, F, having not eaten much lunch, suggest we drop the dogs off at the house and go for a pizza.

Seemed a good idea to me.  I don’t know any restaurants in the town and so learning of which ones to go to is important (for me).

We went to Bati Bati right in the centre of town.  It looked nice.  Rustically rough but clean looking.  We went into the back part of the restaurant.  Everything was white except the floor.  Unusually for the town, not everywhere was marble!

I then saw – pizza with lardo di Colonnata, aubergine (egg plant to you Americans) and asparagus.

Now, I do really like lardo and lardo di Colonnata is produced in a town (maybe village) nearby and is reputedly the best.  They serve it thinly sliced – but I mean really, really thin – almost see-through.  The combination of the lardo, the aubergine and the asparagus was divine and, surprisingly, very light!  I loved it.

F has now promised to take me up to Colonnata where we can get some of the real thing.  I resisted suggesting that we should do that first thing in the morning.

The only problem will be to slice it thinly enough.

But there is a bakery that bakes bread in a wood oven (so the sign says) near to the house and the idea of a thin slice of lardo di Colonnata on a piece of warm bread is making my mouth water already!

Banner ads

As you may have noticed, there are now adverts at the top and bottom of my blog. This has been done by the hosting company, Kool Serve and not by me.

Now, in theory, I have no real problem with banner ads – as long as they are tasteful and not flashy. I accept that this can be part of having free hosting (although I would pay for it quite happily – the free hosting is not really by choice – there are reasons). I also don’t have a problem with it because I realise that the hosting company cannot provide these services for free but must have something in return.

However, I am now expecting the uptime to be vastly improved since now they are getting something for it.

In the meantime, I will make backups every day! Just in case, you understand.

Nothing to fear except a lack of self-confidence itself!

I am disappointed that I didn’t bring one of the others; that I didn’t fully-charge my phone; that I didn’t bring something to write with and on. I think, “I’ll write this down when I get back.” But, even as I think this, I know that I won’t. There’s too much ‘worry’. It is, of course, all made-up worry and, therefore, not real. It’s just in my head.

Later, as I’m walking out, I think that, if it wasn’t for my ‘worries’, my indecisiveness, my (and let me honest here) fears, I could be great. Maybe. It holds me back. It stops me from doing things or, rather, sometimes it stops me and I am annoyed with myself for being such a wuss.

My fears are my greatest obstacle. But they are not fears of normal people. Or, maybe they are? Maybe everyone has these fears? I just don’t think they do.

I think they come from my childhood. Or, perhaps, this is the way I am and so those ‘happenings’ that reinforce and prove my fears are correct are the only things that stick in my mind. They were huge happenings. I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me or that I should die. They have a reoccurring theme, of course. It is not a fear of failure or a fear of disaster or a fear of danger or risk. No, it is a fear of embarrassment. I mean, FFS, just embarrassment!

These were things from as young as 5. They are the only things I remember from that age. Not good things but terrible things. Or, rather, terrible things for me. Things that make me squirm even as I think about them.

Every thing I do is a challenge. There is a fear attached which has to be overcome. Well, not every thing but a lot of things.

There was the drive. Less of a challenge now than it was, say, even a couple of years ago. Now I know the route and I’ve been driving enough to recognise the driving and the road signs. Once I was in the house though, I was ‘safe’. Then, the next day there was the beach. Again, not like it was last year and this year we have our own (shared) umbrella. Still, there’s all the other people. Too many people. And, yet, on Saturday, it wasn’t too bad as it was quite cloudy and there was a strong wind. But then there’s the water. But I decided not to do the water yet. That will have to wait until F is with me. Then there was (in random order) the ‘leaving’, the ‘smoking too many cigarettes’, the ‘getting a sandwich’, the ‘running out of things to immerse myself in’, the ‘putting on of sunscreen’. It’s almost comic – as long as you’re not me.

I look at the people around. All shapes, sizes and ages. No one looks at me, I tell myself. I have to believe that. As if I should be just see-through.

I think about the sunshine and wonder if I am burning. I can’t tell yet. It will come later, after I am away from the beach. I’ve rubbed suncream where I can – even over the lower part of my back and my shoulders. I notice that my left arm is peeling slightly. Well, I think, I can’t stop it now.

I think about the fact that sunbathing is so dangerous now. It’s not that it wasn’t dangerous before, it’s just that we didn’t know. I think about the fact that it’s unlikely to ‘get me’ since there are many other things that will, probably, ‘get me’ first. Like the smoking. It’s OK. It’s not like I was ever destined to live forever. It’s not that I ever wanted to live forever in the first place. And, in any case, what’s the point if you just live within safety. Safety is for wusses. I spot some brown moles on my arm and think “were they here before?” I worry that I would be a hypochondriac. Maybe that’s too much of my Father’s side in me? I would be a hypochondriac but I never voice the fears of that and say the opposite thing since people don’t really know what I’m thinking and so I can say anything I like. But I’m sure I would be a hypochondriac if I let it take control. Which I mustn’t. Which I won’t. Damn my head!

The book was ‘The Blind Assassin’. And not because they were discussing it on Twitter (#1book140) but because I hadn’t finished it from last year’s holiday. And, really, apart from being my favourite book of all time, I can read bits of it and leave it for ages. Well, obviously, almost a year, before finishing it. I toy with starting it again but I don’t. That will mean I won’t read the new one that I bought also by Margaret Attwood (Year of the Flood) or my other, 2nd favourite one – ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’.

I order a cheese and lettuce sandwich because that’s a summer sandwich. They don’t have any black pepper though. Damn Italians with their limited taste buds! Maybe I should buy some and put some on myself. Also the cheese is not cheddar so not so tasty. But it’s OK.

I have promised to go to F’s Mum and Dad’s for dinner. He ‘set it up’ as a means (I am sure) of making me go down there without him. I leave the beach about 4 since I have to take the dogs out and, anyway, it feels like it might rain soon.

My Navigator is worth its weight in gold. Especially as the things were programmed in last time. F insisted so that I wouldn’t ‘lose my way’. I have the casina, the dog walk, the beach and F’s Mum. The man’s voice says the names in an English fashion, which is funny.

There’s no one at the dog area, the same as this morning. I play with Dino a bit but he gets a dirty beard and he will insist on shaking near me, spotting my shorts with mud from said beard. Bloody dog.

F has telephoned already. “Are you going to my Mum and Dad’s?”, he asks. But even I’m not stupid enough to think this is actually a question

I go back. I take a bath. Timing is everything. I had noticed on the beach that my nails were just a little long. I cut them. After all, I am going round to the parents-in-all-but-law’s place.

As I am cleaning the bath, I hear a voice outside. I grab the towel and go to see the uncle from upstairs. The uncle is in his eighties and doing very well, even for a man years younger than him. I go to the door, excusing myself for being dressed (undressed?) like this. He speaks to me. I understand some of it but he lacks some teeth and so it is more difficult for me. F’s Mum. Bicycle. Move. Somewhere at his house. The rain.

But, am I supposed to take it round? He repeats everything. It’s doesn’t make more sense than the last time. He is slightly frustrated. However, finally, I think that it must be him going to take it round and not me. He was just being polite. Later I learn that he didn’t even know I was there and didn’t see the dogs. Of course, that would be because, even if I went outside, the dogs tended to stay in the house. They are strange sometimes.

I get ready. I take many deep breaths. This will be difficult. There will be no English. The conversation will be limited. Or, worse still, non-existant.

I drive there with trepidation. On the way, I stop in the centre of the town. Well, not the town in which I am residing but the next one. The Marina. Where the dog walk and the beach are. I go to the tobacco shop to buy a certain type of cigar for his Dad. Then, next door for a tub of ice-cream for his Mum. I would feel guilty not taking anything now that, this time, I’m not taking them the best present of all – their son! F understands my need for wanting to take something and doesn’t tell me that it’s not necessary.

I arrive at the house and they welcome me as normal. They are sweet, as always, with me. We sit down for dinner. This is early. 7.30 p.m. but since his operation, F’s father has to eat earlier than they used to.

I give the ice-cream to his Mum. She makes all the things like ‘You shouldn’t have’ as all people do, even the English. But I think she is pleased. I give the packet of cigars to his Dad who is definitely surprised and pleased. Bless him.

Of course, they have made too much. They have bought some bresaola for me. None of them eat it but they must have asked F. There is a whole plate full. F’s Dad got up at 6 a.m. that morning to make frittata – for me, since neither of them eat any. There is tuna, tomato and potato salad. There is bread. There are the prawns that they did last time – cooked and in oil with parsley. There is a beer for me but I request wine (don’t forget my wine diet even if, as I suspected, ‘diet’ is not possible with F’s parents). It’s a ‘local’ ‘known’ wine without a label. And it’s red (my favourite) which is cold. I like the Italians approach to wine. No snobby breathing or room temperature crap. This is summer. Keep your red wine in the fridge!

Then there is some cheese. Soft pecorino. It’s very good. Again, not something bought in the supermarket. Then there’s fruit salad with an over-ripe banana. Then, of course, the ice-cream. His Dad doesn’t want any but she forces him to have a small cone (the cone being the size of a thumb and came with the ice-cream). He takes it because he is polite. But afterwards, he has another – this is not for politeness. I have some and his Mum has some. She gets out some special plastic dishes made to look like fat, squat, ice-cream cones. They came from S. I have realised that they loved S. I only hope I’m not compared. S is mentioned several times. “S bought us these”. “S, even if he was thin, used to have such heavy footsteps”. It’s OK. I am English. He is English. I am F’s boyfriend. S was F’s boyfriend. Obviously, we have a lot in common.

I text F during the meal saying there is a lot of stuff. He phones his Mum. She hands the phone to me. We talk. We say we’ll speak later. I miss him but it’s not been so bad. Not nearly as bad as it could have been. I say that everything is ‘buono’, which it is. She says ‘Mangia, mangia’ and I say no, stop, rubbing my full belly. She laughs.

His Dad goes off to smoke a cigar. Outside because it’s too smelly in the house. Conspiratorially, his Mum, whilst making me a coffee, tells me that she is going to bingo but that I should stay for a bit to be with F’s Dad. I say I have to go soon to be with the dogs. I have texted R (according to my instructions for what to do at the weekend) to ask if he is at the bar-for-this-season but he has not replied. F’s Dad and I watch a bit of telly. His Mum has gone. I know that B, F’s sister, is worried that this bingo lark is like some sort of drug for his Mum. But I know it’s a social event for her. I’m sure she isn’t spending a lot of money.

I go. R has not texted back. I drive past the bar but go home. I settle down with the new MA book. R texts me. ‘Yes I am here. Come’ it says. I briefly toy with saying that I am already at home with the dogs. But this is another fear. I don’t know these people. They’re not my friends. But I am under instruction. And like a good boy, I must do as I’m told. I go.

R speaks English. He is sitting with the couple that, last week, had brought their new puppy to the bar. This time they haven’t got the puppy. I’m asked if I understand Italian. I say it depends. Which it does. Then someone talks about me or asks me something and I say something back in Italian. After a few minutes the woman of the couple realise that I am speaking Italian and exclaims that I speak Italian perfectly. Of course, this is not true but it is, kind of, nice of her to say.

Eventually I leave and go back home, citing the dogs. I speak to F at home. He asks if I have been out with R. He would have been disappointed if I hadn’t gone, I think.

The next day I get up about half an hour later so miss the two lesbians with their dog. I am also later at the beach. F’s Dad said, the night before, that I should not park in the usual place as there was some fly-past or sir show happening and the roads would be closed. I briefly thought about not going to the beach at all. But now I’m getting the hang of the place so found somewhere to park, nearby. I go to the beach.

The place is heaving although nearly all the umbrellas immediately next to ours are empty. I half-expect B to come but she doesn’t. Or, rather, doesn’t before I leave.

I leave early. I have to have lunch at F’s Mum (because I can’t say no – saying no involves explanation – in Italian. It’s easier to say ‘yes’). Most of the stuff is as last night. She has also done some eggs. Kind of like egg and cheese on toast but without the toast. And with the cheese under the eggs. I have one. It’s nice but with runny yolks it would be nicer. I do like my runny yolks. The eggs are not supermarket eggs either. I’m beginning to understand where F gets some of his strangeness from. Whilst it’s not strange if you live there and have lived there all your life and know lots of people, etc., it’s more strange when you live in Milan and don’t. His Mum pulls a face when she compares these eggs to supermarket eggs. I can see F.

I leave soon after. I don’t have wine or beer, saying I have to drive.

Of course, I have another worry that evening. I get home quite reasonably. I check the address of the dinner. I wish F were coming with me but he’s working.

In the end it was lovely. New (or nearly new) people all. Wine, good food and all only ten minutes from my house. Very enjoyable.

And I realised on my second walk back from the beach that although it is a fear, it’s more a thing of self-confidence. And, it seems, I have none!

Something more special

I suppose I should be thinking about it now. Or even trying to write something. You know? Something more profound than the usual drivel.

Some bloke has just written a post celebrating his 100th post. So, I guess for your 1000th you should do something, shouldn’t you? That’s in 42 posts. Well, 41 after this has been posted.

I was going to keep it a secret. At least, keep it a secret until it actually happened. But the celebration of the 100th posts has got me a bit worried. For post 1000 it should be more special. Maybe. Perhaps.

It could, perhaps, also coincide with the 6th anniversary of time that I moved here? Or, if I don’t write enough posts in time, then, perhaps with the 6th anniversary of the start of the blog? The reality is that it will, probably, fall somewhere in between these two dates. A sort of no-man’s-land of a date.

Of course, I could ask you to give me a subject? I’ve never done that before. It could be a useful experiment, if not a daunting one. After all, I’m not really a ‘writer’. Just someone who writes a blog.

Anyway, I’ll give it some thought. Perhaps you could too?

The Internet is full of liars and charlatans – just like real life.

I’m not entirely sure why people are either surprised or, even, angry.

It’s the thing about the Internet. It’s impossible to say if it’s real or not. And so, the Syrian lesbian blogger who turned out to be some American guy living in Scotland and the lesbian blogger who also turned out to be a man are being hounded and made a lot of people angry. But why?

Karl, posing as (or should that be ‘was posing as’?) a very ugly man wrote a blog for 2 years before finally revealing he was, in fact, nothing of the sort. People got angry. People get angry, I think, because they feel they’ve been duped. But they only have themselves to blame. With the ‘Syrian’ blogger, there’s even a woman (in Canada, I think), who thought she was having a relationship with him/her, even if they’d never actually spoken (obviously)!

In a way, I have to admire these people. To create (and, in some cases, go to great lengths to give credibility to) a persona that’s not only not you, but isn’t even your sex and doesn’t have your sexual orientation takes some skill and creativity. They need to be good writers, one would think. But is it any different than, say. JK Rowling creating a whole host of characters for her Harry Potter series?

One could argue, of course, that JK Rowling doesn’t pretend that the characters are real. And yet, in her head, at least whilst she’s writing them, they do have a sort of reality. When they become films, they take on a more substantial reality. OK, so pretending you’re someone in the real world and carrying it on is different – but only slightly. You didn’t have to believe it. In fact, why should you believe anything you read on the Internet?

There are some people who read my blog who I know and have met. Lola, for example, Pietro, a colleague, Karl, the once ugly man or Stef, a good mate are people who know I am a real person. Stef and Pietro knew me ‘before the blog’, Lola and Karl, afterwards. Then there are those (Gail, The Store Manager, Man of Roma and Ruth, the friend of a friend) who don’t actually know me at all. Well, Ruth knows I’m real, I guess. Yet, I have a friendship with these people. I don’t actually know them either. Does that invalidate the friendship? Not really. If, for example, MoR turned out to be a woman living in the USA, would that make our discussions irrelevant? No, not at all. And I trust that these people, when they blog, are telling me the truth. Would it matter if they weren’t? Again, no not really.

There is a woman with whom I am a ‘friend’ on Facebook. Solely for a game that I used to play. She has all sorts of ‘problems’ but I don’t know that it’s all real. Perhaps she is just making it up? She certainly craves attention both in the game and on Facebook. I don’t know if it’s all real or whether it’s just being said for the attention. And I don’t really mind either way.  I take the Internet for what it is.  I believe the people that I read about but I’m not really emotionally involved, I suppose.  How can I be?  I don’t know them.  I can read about things that they do, empathise with them over problems that they may have but deeper than that it’s impossible for me to go.

And, anyway, it’s not like real life didn’t throw up the odd con-man (or woman) or two?  The Internet just makes it easier and, certainly, makes changing sex very easy too (not that that hasn’t been done in real life).

So, whereas I’m not especially impressed by what the two guys have done I’m not really shocked and I’m not outraged.  It’s what you should expect unless you have proof otherwise.

It’s been a while, I know.

Yes, it seems I am as back as I can be.

Lots of things to tidy up, of course. Lots learnt in the process of trying to get it back. Lots of help from Stef, so many thanks to him.

Lost posts coming back soon. Lost links likewise. Recreation of mods made to blog as well.

Lots to do.

But I am so happy to be back :-)