A video of the speech I made. My first wedding as a witness in Italy, my first speech at an Italian wedding and my first speech in Italian! That’s a hell of a lot of firsts!
Just over 37 years ago, I was Best Man at my best schoolmate’s wedding.
It has given my nightmares ever since.
I was young. I didn’t understand and, by then, I was no longer speaking to my parents so I couldn’t turn to them for advice.
I honestly don’t remember the whole day. I only remember (slightly) one part of the day. The part where I had to give a speech. When I say that I remember, that’s not entirely true. I don’t remember what I actually said. All I remember is that it was awful. Possibly the worst speech ever uttered by anyone in the whole world, ever!
And for most of my life, every time I saw a wedding, whether in real life or on screen, the awfulness of that wedding and, in particular, that speech, came flooding back.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, A got married. He wanted me to be a witness (they don’t really have the Best Man thing here). As for when I was Best Man, I was really honoured to be asked.
Then he told me he wanted me to do a speech. I didn’t really believe it would happen, to be honest. In Italy, speeches are not a thing. They just don’t do them. Here, a wedding is the service (in church or the local council place) followed by a meal (which often lasts for hours and has about 6 million different courses). Then everyone goes home/to their rooms (if in a hotel).
But, A being A, wanted a speech from me. He was concerned that many people would not understand because it would be in English and asked if F could translate it. Instead (but only as a just in case because I really believed it wouldn’t happen – both the wedding and the speech thing), I prepared a speech in Italian. F was supposed to look over it to correct the translation but we didn’t have time before the wedding.
So, we arrive at the church. F sits at the back correcting and editing (slashing loads of stuff out because it was too long, he said) whilst the service commences.
(see the church! At the top of the very windy road, just below the famous statue at Maratea – God, it was scary!)
Then we all get in cars to head back to the reception which is at the hotel we are staying at, far away from Milan, at a place called Maratea, on the Italian coast, south of Naples.
(this is the hotel, near Maratea, with its own, private, beach! The subject of another post)
We have the aperitivo. I don’t have much because I know there’s a main meal to come. Then we go in for the main meal. In the UK, we normally have the speeches after the meal. A wanted them before. M, one of his other witnesses and, possibly, his best friend, gives a speech. Then it’s my turn. He gives me the microphone but the waiters are serving the first course – so it doesn’t happen. Later it does. I (try to) speak in Italian since that is how it is written but I’m sure it was terrible – and yet, it wasn’t like 37 years ago. It didn’t embarrass me at all. Firstly because it was all written out and secondly because I made such an effort, I guess.
So, maybe now I can get over the 37-year-old disaster and be proud that I did something good?
I’m afraid this is going to be a bit of a rant. I’m also unhappily saying that it’s all my fault as I should have known what I was doing. But I forgot or ignored my base instincts and did something really stupid and, for sure, now I will pay for it – in several ways, just like I did before.
Before. For almost 21 years. V (my previous partner) was lovely. He was kind (well, as long as he wanted to be), fun, entertaining, engaging, etc.
He had one major flaw. Or, rather 2. The first was money. I used to joke about it saying that it burned a hole in his pocket. He would get cash and then spend it almost within seconds. And then he would run into debt and, more than once, I would have to bail him out.
The second thing though was far worse. It was the lying. I mean to say, he lied (or told half-truths, white lies) all the time. But, when it came to money, they often became full-blown lies. I got used to it and I could read the signs. Most of the time, I knew the real reason for something – being that he had no money or had a debt with someone, etc. His “trick” to get out of the “problem” was to start by lying and then, eventually, to run away. To hide from people and things as if hiding would, somehow, fix everything. The lying, though, was the very worst of it. And, as I’ve said before, the thing I hate/hated the most.
And, now there’s FfI. I’ve always known she was crap with money and, very much like V, would borrow money from people and, sometimes, never pay it back. But, whereas it might have been slightly delayed in the past, I always did get the money ….. eventually.
So I was in a situation where I needed to “use” her company. I made sure that she would be well “compensated” and, as it was through her business entity, I thought it would be better – after all, running a business is a different thing, isn’t it?
I did have slight misgivings, of course, based on her past dealings with money and the fact that she has always been the female version of V. But she had a proper accountant for the business and so, I thought, it would be OK. She had a separate business bank account, so that would be OK.
Of course, my initial misgivings should have been enough. Plus, after agreeing to it, she sent me a couple of private invoices that she was struggling to sort out. She had invoiced incorrectly and, seeing the comments from her customers, I understood how to fix them – but I could see that she was completely clueless. Much like V used to be. I fixed them for her but continued with our “business” anyway. Stupid, stupid me!
So, the first couple of transactions went OK and I felt more relaxed. The last transaction, however, didn’t go so well. Her accountant raised an invoice but really late. Then it was paid. By now she had this “potential husband” so was jetting off everywhere with him. I knew I would have to wait for the money. Several times she asked me how much it was.
But the new “potential husband” was keeping her away. But it was all going to be perfect. She would live in Australia or Hong Kong and they would buy a flat in Milan. Except, she finally got home and it was all over. Apparently, it wasn’t all going to be perfect. And she needed work, she told me. Of course, that wasn’t helped by the fact that she had spent most of the last couple of months away – in Ibiza or the mountains in Piedmont or anywhere except Milan – so she had lost out on work and now, it being June/July, there IS no teaching work.
Then I was told that her accountant had stripped her account (including my money) because she “didn’t realise she had signed some papers at the beginning allowing her to do that”! As I said, the private invoices should have been enough to warn me that, when it comes to business, she is total crap. So she tells me she is sacking the accountant and closing the business (not such an easy thing to do here, in Italy, which was why she managed to get the business in the first place for free – the person who’s business it was, didn’t want to pay anything and so convinced her to “take it from her for free!”)
But don’t worry, she says, I will get paid on 1st July and will “pay you then”. Having not heard from her in almost 2 weeks, I was genuinely concerned that all was not well. So phoned (no answer) and then emailed to check she was OK. He phone was “broken”, she said. I phoned again. She was rushing around to lessons, she said. I will get paid on the 10th, she said. And I’ll “pay you then”, she said. Let’s meet up at the weekend, she said. Call me, she said, as my “phone is broken”, she said.
By this time, I realised that “my phone is broken” meant that she didn’t even have the money to recharge her phone. This has happened before so it’s the usual trick. And, if she can’t even recharge her phone, then things are really bad. No money for anything. Let alone paying debts or rent, etc.
So, I thought, OK, let’s wait until Monday but, she wanted me to call over the weekend, “even if just for a coffee”. On Saturday, I telephoned twice but got no reply. I emailed to say I had tried. I thought, OK, she’s now avoiding me because it means difficult questions must be answered.
Last night I heard what seemed like a crash in another room (as if something had fallen down) and Dino was crying. I was worried something had fallen on him so sat bolt upright and got up. He was fine and I couldn’t see anything had fallen so guessed he had been trying to get up and, with his bad hips, struggled as usual (hence the crying) and had possibly been scraping the floor or wall with his paws in his effort to get up (which could have sounded a little like a crash of something.)
I use my telephone to light the way. I notice there is an email from FfI. Stupidly, I have a look.
Her phone is still “broken” (no money to recharge) and now she has “no internet” because she is in the mountains (escaped from Milan (or she says so and it’s not true) to her friend’s place miles from anywhere) and, can I call her after 11.30.
The fucking nerve! But it keeps me awake. For a couple of hours. I am so angry. I am angry with her for the bullshit lies. I am angry with myself for trusting her for a moment. Never again! This is the last time, I tell myself.
And, you know what? No, I won’t fucking call you. Maybe I’ll email you to tell you to call me “when you have the fucking money to fucking recharge your fucking phone”.
And, then all I could think of was she was, in essence, a female V. As unreliable and full of bullshit as he was. But I got rid of V and I should get rid of her. Or, at least, never put myself in a position where she owes me money.
Although I won’t call, I won’t send an email either. I’ll say that I have been just far too busy. That I meant to phone but it’s all been completely crazy and I completely forgot. Or something. I’ll wait for her to call me. And as for something that, by virtue of the stuff I did for which she now owes me, we were supposed to do together in September, fuck that! Unless she pays me in advance. There again, I’ll just make up excuses. But I really don’t want to be in business with her ever again. You’d have thought I’d have learned by now, eh? 21 years with V was obviously NOT enough. I am really, really stupid.
And, have I lost the money? Possibly. I’m expecting something like “I can’t pay all of it but here’s €50 and I’ll get the rest to you as soon as I can”. And, maybe I’ll get it in October? Or I won’t get it ‘cos something else has “come up” that she didn’t realise. I’m just expecting bullshit.
And, I’m fucking done with bullshit.
Today is the day. The day that the UK goes to the polls to re-elect the existing party and Prime Minister or change them/her for a new one.
It seems very likely that they will re-elect the existing ones.
And I still fail to see how anyone (apart from those earning a LOT of money) could possibly vote for May and her party and still be able to sleep at night.
If only I could vote, I would, this time, for the first time in my life, vote Labour. Not because I agree with them but because they are the most likely to be able to stop the Tories. Not that I think my vote would have made any difference but, you know …….
I don’t hate the Tories – they are people, after all. But I do hate what they have done and are doing to the UK.
I especially hate the fact that they are going ahead with Brexit even though less than half the voting population of GB voted to leave. Mind you, Labour will go ahead too, so the difference to me, personally, would be minimal – except that I think Labour are the most likely to safeguard my rights as a Brit living in the EU.
To stay in the EU, I would have to have voted LibDem and, although I was a Liberal/LibDem supporter for most of my life, after that coalition with the Conservatives, I’m not sure I could vote for them again.
So, tomorrow morning I will learn whether I should be more worried about my position here or not. Already, like the pound, I am worrying more. It’s like watching a car crash in slow motion – knowing there are going to be fatalities and knowing there’s nothing you can do about it. Knowing there are some of your friends in the car but the driver is someone you don’t really like and he’s going too fast and is out of control and doing stupid things and you kinda say “well, it’ll serve him right!”
But, then again, there’s a couple of friends in the car with him and you really don’t want them to be hurt.
I have to be honest and say that in the past, I haven’t always voted in elections. There didn’t seem any point. How I wish I could take all those past non-voted-in elections and roll them up to be able to vote today. But I can’t, so just like watching the car crash, I sit here, worried about how bad it will be.
And it makes me feel like shit.
And, further, on my post below.
I really try NOT to buy using Amazon. But I can understand why they’re taking over the world.
First, they tend to be the cheapest supplier of “stuff”.
Second, they offer free delivery.
Third, so far (I’ve used them twice), they beat the customer expectations. They promise delivery within a week or so, when you place the order, and then deliver within 2 days! So, I placed the order two days ago, they promised it would be delivered Tuesday or Wednesday of next week and then they have delivered today!
I hate them more.
I would never pay for Amazon Prime since the delivery, in any case, is so good. You can see why everyone uses them.
But I will still only use them when I really need to. I get my books from Wordery, who have wonderful customer service. I like to book my hotel and flights directly (I phoned the hotel in Rome and got a much better deal than I would have online, for example). But, you know ……
Amazon ARE doing something right. Cheap and efficient.
I still hate them though :'(
I’m fairly easy going. I don’t need much and most of it I have already got.
But you know, leave me alone. I don’t want interferance from others and, in particular, governments and organisations. But, particularly, governments.
So, in the 1970s, the UK joined the EU. For most of my life after that, it didn’t really have a direct effect. And then I moved here. I was able to do so easily and, apart from the first couple of years, I didn’t and don’t need any sort of permission to stay here. It’s a right, guaranteed by the EU lawa and protections. In fact, right now, I can go anywhere within the EU to live and work (or not). It was granted to me by the governments of the EU and it’s a thing I like.
I have been here for over 12 years, living, working, paying my taxes, etc. I can go back, if I wanted to, or move somewhere else (as long as it’s warmer ). I have true freedom of movement.
But now, because the UK are a bunch of arseholes, that current and future right is being put in doubt as with a load of other things. And Brexit hasn’t even happened yet! Almost daily, there are stories of people being threatened with deportation from the UK, people who can’t bring in their wife or husband because of an interpretation of the laws by the British courts, etc. And, still Brexit hasn’t happened!
And there are reports that, whereas the EU wants to ensure that it’s members’ people maintain the right of free movement to Britain, the British abroad are being excluded form that because the British government, to be frank, doesn’t really care about it’s small number of people abroad. On the other hand, I don’t care about much else except my continued right to stay and work here.
So, governments – LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!
After putting up my last post, I noticed that commenting was off, for some reason.
Not just on the last port – but all posts, at least for a while back.
I guess, at some point, an upgrade to WordPress made this setting and I had no idea.
Well, now I’ve corrected it. I needed to go to Posts, tick all titles, select Bulk Actions -> Edit and up came a window with various options including allowing people to comment.
Of course, to stop this happening in future, I also went to Settings -> Discussions and ticked some boxes to allow comments.
So, it wasn’t my fault and, it seems, was some common problem.
Glad I noticed it though. At least, now, people can comment on the stuff I write.
I haven’t spoken about it here and, in general don’t speak about it unless asked to specifically but, Brexit.
Putting aside my personal worries about it, I’m amazed by the way that the UK appears to be going. Amazed but not particularly surprised.
To understand how come Britain (by a small majority of voters but majority nonetheless) came to vote for something that I think (and in some way also hope) will be a disaster for the UK, I believe you should look at the general mentality of the British people (myself included).
I have mentioned it here many times but I vividly remember one of the first New Year’s Eves, walking back home (because of incredibly bad weather, a breakdown in public transport and a distinct lack of taxis) through the centre of town, Piazza Duomo. There weren’t that many people about. The main midnight event in the Piazza had finished and most people had gone. But there were enough people around. What struck me at the time (and still does, to be honest) was that the people that we met were quite drunk, were in groups (groups of lads, groups of girls, etc.) but, instead of getting “What yer looking at?”, “I’ll smash yer face in”, etc., all we got were “Auguri!” (Best wishes).
The ONLY time that I have ever been threatened while living here was the time, a few years ago, on a tram at around 9 or 10 p.m. when the younger guy, opposite me said exactly “What yer looking at?” in that threatening way. I can’t remember if he threatened to “punch me” or not but, as en Englishman, I know that would have been the next thing. I’ve become so used to people staring here that I was probably staring at him without realising it – but the point is that the only time I’ve been threatened is by some English jerk (for he was English) who did a typical English thing.
It’s a British characteristic, to fight people. Go to any town (I dare you) on a Friday or Saturday night and hang around pubs at any time after around 9 p.m. There you will see drunken people and, often, drunken people “looking for a fight”. We seem to get very angry when we get drunk (although these days, I get very tired and need to sleep). I say “we” including myself in that but I DO realise that not everyone does it, not even me – but it’s very common in the UK and I’ve never seen it here, however drunk the people are.
In fact, the British are an aggressive race. They fight. It’s served us well in the past, of course. up to and including the second World War. In fact, you could say it was essential. But we are a warring nation with this aggressiveness hard-wired into our DNA. We like a fight. We need to fight. We need to step up to the plate.
But, for any fight, you need an enemy. If we take it from WWII, first there was Hitler, then there were the Commies and, during the eighties, closer to home, we had the Unions (before after and during that we had the IRA). And then communism collapsed and we had no enemy. I mean to say, we have an enemy now (the Jihadists) but they’re really difficult to fight, as are black people and asian and arabic people (even though we try).
But, for the last 30 years or so we have, via the media, etc. been building up Europe and, in particular, the European Union, as “The Enemy”, constantly trying to “tell us what to do” and “impose their pesky red tape and laws”. At a time when an exit from Europe wasn’t envisaged, Margaret Thatcher arrived swinging her handbag and threatening action against the EU. She was like St George fighting the dragon of Europe – and the British public loved it. Add in the “war” with Argentina where she came across as the new Winston Churchill, and she was legend.
It’s what the British want. Someone who appears to be a strong and powerful leader – mainly by threatening to fight every one who is “enemy” – the EU, Argentina, the lazy unemployed, etc.
Since Thatcher’s time, we had Blair, who was a poor copy of her and then no one. And, when it came to the Brexit vote, the British, fearful about the future, for various reasons, voted to come out of Europe. But there isn’t a single reason for their reasoning but multiple reasoning. Some people, probably those with the least experience of immigration, voted to leave to stop people entering the country. Those people who live in areas which have lost their industry and now have high unemployment, voted out to, perhaps, bring back the jobs from Europe. Those from more affluent areas voted out to ensure we stop paying benefit to those who come in from Europe (or elsewhere) and to stop the money being ploughed in to the NHS (National Health System) that they don’t use anyway, so it’s not important. And many, from all over the country, voted out to stop the flow of money from the UK to Brussels.
It honestly didn’t matter if the reasons were real or not. It’s what they have read about and heard over the last 30 years and, eventually, they believed it.
And, then, along comes Theresa May, sword in hand, astride the white charger, like Boedecia or Queen Elizabeth I, shouting from the rooftops that she will lead us out and fight everyone until she gets what we want.
No matter that it won’t happen. If there is any failure with the negotiations, it certainly won’t be the UK’s fault but, instead the fault of the EU. Or Junker. Or the SNP. Or Northern Ireland, or, of course, the “Remoaners” and “snowflakes” who aren’t behind the country (as they actually don’t want to leave the EU?).
So, the angry people, frustrated with some aspect of their lives, like the drunk brawlers on a Friday or Saturday night in your typical British town/city, will have an enemy to berate and blame for failure and a leader who will absolutely join in, fomenting more hatred and unhappiness.
And, trust me, the Conservatives WILL win the election. Resoundingly. May is the leader (fighter) the British need. Corbyn and the others want to talk, not lead. The sheeple don’t want to talk, they want someone who, sword in hand, will destroy the enemy. There’s no one else that fits that category. After all, if you already know it won’t actually be possible to destroy your enemies, how can you speak with the right rhetoric?
So, the Conservatives will win, May will want to be seen as “strong and stable” and the EU will be to blame when there’s a Brexit with no agreement, introducing import and export charges and making the British people’s live more miserable. Big business will give the UK a miss meaning no return of factories and jobs and, eventually, perhaps, the UK will go back, cap in hand, to Brussels for a deal or become the 52nd State of the USA. Or, to cut off their noses to spite their faces, slipping into something close to 3rd World status.
But, remember, what’s more important than anything else is to fight “the bastards”. ‘Cos that’s what we do!
The other night, within the first hour or so, I had a nightmare.
I think it’s related to “the letter” that I have written and that I may/may not send.
I was in some sort of meeting and suddenly realised that my mother and my two brothers were also there. I realised they were there when my mother spoke and said something about an event in my life (seemingly unconnected with them) that went wrong and how they were happy that they had made it go wrong (I’m afraid I don’t remember the exact details or even if the “event” had actually happened – you know what dreams are like) – and, at that point, I realised that what I had thought all along was true – they are a mean, vindictive group of people. And I said that I was glad that I hadn’t sent the letter.
And, when I woke up, I wondered if it was a sign that I shouldn’t even bother to send the letter?
So, now I’m hanging on, really in two minds about whether I should send it or not.
It is about 7.15 a.m.
I am, as usual, hardly what I could term as “awake”. However, as usual, expecting something bad, as I do often, surprised to see the car where I left it.
As I walk towards it, I press the button on the fob and the indicator lights blink, as they usually do, to inform me that the car is now unlocked. Now, unlike yesterday at about 6.30 p.m., there are no “youths” hanging around in front of the car. Last night, as always, after locking the car (using the fob and not the key), I had checked that I had locked it properly by trying to open the back door as I passed. Only last night, I had made sure I had done it (it’s such an automatic thing that sometimes I cannot, within a few seconds, remember if I have checked my locking by this method) because of the group of four of five youths in front of the car. They were innocuous enough but, you know, I’m an old man now and you can’t ever be too careful, can you? And, anyway, I’m British and youths hanging around with little to do are always a bad sign.
I get to the car and open the door, taking my bag off my shoulder as I do so to slip it into the passenger footwell.
And I noticed something slightly strange. On the front passenger seat is the emergency first aid box that is permanently in the car. The reason it was strange is that I had not moved it from under the front seats and so it was completely out of place. I looked behind my seat where I put various thing, most of them in some cheap yellow shopping-style bag. And sure enough it was a little in disarray, and the umbrella could have been moved and my “summer driving shoes” had almost certainly been moved.
I checked each of the windows of the car. No, none had been smashed.
So, someone had got into to a car that I absolutely, certainly KNOW was locked without having to break any windows. They had rummaged around a bit and, from what I can tell, took two or three lighters (that I get for free anyway) but nothing else.
Not that there was anything to take. The yellow bag holding things like a bottle of water for the dogs, some additive for the windscreen wiper water and some other fairly crap items that are only useful when making car trips.
However, it did give me a slightly weird feeling. It’s not as if I can really report anything? I mean, what could I possibly say? But now I doubt the security of the car, of course.
And the reason I was parking in that particular place was that I had been to the doctor. And I don’t have cancer, of the lungs, at least, although I’m not entirely convinced I haven’t got it. However, because the heart doctor had panicked, I’m now on pills for blood pressure, which doesn’t really please me, and I have some further tests to do next year (the first booking I could get). So bugger a bit but relief as well.
The doctor suggested that I try and cut down my smoking. She also added that I was a “lucky man” – but, then, I’ve always said that, haven’t I?
In other news, Apple phones are just as crap and unreliable as other phones. iMessage doesn’t work with phones that aren’t other Apple phones. A long conversation with Apple Help, which included resetting my telephone, didn’t help and they told me it must be my provider. It didn’t really make sense as it HAD been working and, then, sometime around April/May it stopped working – which, for a while I thought was because the phones I was trying to text were in the UK and I thought it was a UK problem – until a colleague had a problem sending a message to me.
I’ve now found that this is a known problem (well, known to the world except for Apple, it seems) and, although I’ve tried every trick given to sort the problem – so far, no good. Which doesn’t please me much. It’s something to do with an update to the operating system that they did a while ago, it seems. Let’s hope the next update fixes this. I thought the guy from Apple who was helping me was quite OK – until afterwards when I realised that he, like nearly all helplines, actually knew nothing and was just doing the equivalent of “switch it off and then back on again”
I will add a photo later or tomorrow.