Leave me be!

__leave_me_the_fuck_alone___by_alchimichi

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!

Commenting allowed!

Commenting allowed!

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.

Fight the Bastards

Fight the Bastards

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!

A dream. It could change everything.

A dream It could change everything

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.

Car break-ins, Cancer or Not to Cancer, iPhone software bugs.

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”

So bugger.

I will add a photo later or tomorrow.

Getting closer every day

Getting closer every day

Death happens to us all, sooner or later.

Before the Internet, it was more difficult. Information wasn’t easy to come by.

But, when I was around 15 or 16 (or even 17), I knew how to kill myself. Sleeping tablets. I knew you had to take a lot of them.

I must have been living at home, which is why I put the ages above. I went to the doctor, without telling anyone, and explained that I couldn’t sleep and could he give me something to help me sleep. I thought it was so simple. I was naive. I was a kid who knew nothing.

However, instead of giving me something, he wrote referring me to a psychiatrist. I honestly don’t know if he wrote to me or to my parents. In fact, this story of my life has been so deeply buried that it was only today that I remember it at all – and then only the pertinent things.

In any event, my parents opened the letter. They were some kind of (fundamentalist?) christians. They didn’t believe in doctors or illnesses or anything like that. And so, the idea of me going to see a psychiatrist horrified them. My father “suggested” that I didn’t need to see a psychiatrist at all and, after being very embarrassed by the fact that they found out (not thinking instead about how they came to know), I didn’t attend the appointment booked for me.

And, of course, my idea of suicide was equally scuppered.

So, maybe it was a good thing? Or maybe I should have gone to the appointment and got rid of some of the dreadful baggage that I carried around (both then and now).

But on a different but same note, this summer some things happened and I have cancer.

Well, as I’m not actually a doctor, I don’t actually know it is but suspect it is. I’ve talked about my tendency to hypochondria before now, so, you know, things happen and I think the worst but you “ignore them” and they “go away”. In this case, some things happened together at the start of the holiday (so I could hardly ruin my holiday, could I, by going to a doctor?) and some of those things are still happening.

Of course, I do understand that these things may still be happening because I believe my diagnosis. But, you know……

So, today, I’ve made an appointment to see the doctor and this will mean tests and stuff to determine if my diagnosis is correct. I’ve already been playing out all the possible consequences of these tests in my head and in my imagination – from it’s nothing, to a simple infection to a full-blown, nothing-you-can-do, terminal cancer.

And I’m both scared and not scared. “Not scared” being more “resigned” to it.

And then today I learn that a friend (or, rather, a friend’s wife) has some sort of mass on her brain. And now, at this time of my life, of course, these types of things will happen more often.

When I was a kid, death was so far away as to be something you had to actually force.

Now, death is a reality.

And it gets closer every day.

Can I find the keys to the vaults?

And, to add to my previous post.

My memory is terrible and everyone who knows me knows this to be true.

Except, that’s not really the whole story.

My memory is very selective. It seems that I am able to blot out parts of my life to the point where I remember almost nothing. But it’s a choice, albeit an automatic “choice” in that, I don’t consciously say “OK, I will forget that part of my life” but rather that parts of my life just, simply, disappear.

The student I mentioned in the last post seemed to think it was my way of dealing with difficult or hurtful things.

This can be very convenient. It can also make things difficult.

Convenience comes with not having to remember details that may upset me or things that were difficult. Also with the fact that certain things can be revisited as if for the first time and re-enjoyed without any previous “knowledge”.

The difficulties come with things like the coming weekend. My previous best friend died a few weeks ago. We (V & I) had been on holiday with him and his family many, many times; we spent Christmasses and Easters with them and other weekends too. We just got on so well. On Thursday, I shall go to the funeral. And people will talk about things from the past.

Except, I remember almost nothing of all those years (it was, maybe, 15 years or so) and I remember almost nothing of our times together, except a few, very tiny and insignificant things.

So, I’m quite nervous about this. I will have to have my “Oh, yes, I remember it well” face on. For about 3 days. This could be more than a little difficult.

Sometimes, when people remind me of something, I will be able to retrieve it from my memory bank, from the securely-locked vault. Other times, it’s locked in a different vault and the key seems to be missing. And, no amount of prompting by others enables me to find the key. The memory remains elusive.

And, I have learnt that people will try to help you remember and that they don’t really like it if you can’t remember.

On the other hand, some things I DO remember and, because those who know me and know how terrible my memory can be, assume they have better memories than I do and will be convinced that their memory is the “correct” one, even if it isn’t.

An example of which was the argument I had with my sister one time. Talking about my Grandfather, I said that he was in his 80s and she was convinced he was in his 70s and assumed (and told me) that my memory was always bad and so I was definitely wrong. I knew I wasn’t but I couldn’t convince anyone.

Some years later I found the “order of service” of his funeral which proved he WAS in his 80s. Unfortunately, by then, my sister and I had become “estranged” again and so I was never able to say “I told you so”!

Anyway, let’s hope vaults are opened this weekend so I don’t have to hide my lack of memories too much.

Italy, just a little old-fashioned?

I remember when we first came to live here. The country (and the people) were strange. Things that I noticed were things like the fact that everyone seemed to have two mobile telephones (whereas in the UK there were still some people without 1 and two was hardly ever seen) and that there were “dancing girl slots” on so many television programmes. By that, I mean to say, a programme (usually a quiz show) would be “interrupted” whilst a scantily clad woman danced, usually in a provocative way, to some music. In that way, it was like stepping back in time. And yet, almost as soon as we moved here, Italy introduced laws to prohibit smoking inside publicly-used buildings. I think, at the time, only the second EU country to do this.

And, since then, I have understood that Italy, whilst being progressive in some ways, is so very backward in others.

Italy remains the only country in the EU that doesn’t have some kind of civil or other union facility for non-heterosexual couples. They’re discussing it in parliament now. But only after being “told off” by the EU for this “oversight”. There’s still a good chance that it won’t be agreed and that here it will not be possible. Yet.

But they’ve just introduced a law to stop people smoking in cars (where there are children or pregnant women) and fines for throwing cigarette butts anywhere but in ashtrays (that must be provided by the council).

Of course, you can’t always get the truth here. The cigarette prohibition, for example. For several days the news programmes had been all about smoking being banned in cars. Period. No mention of the actual rules, it seemed like a blanket ban. In fact, it was only on the day before the ban took place that some (only one that I found) gave the truth of the ban. The day of the ban, it was widely reported – correctly.

But, ignoring their treatment of “news” (which seems rarely to be based on fact) and their treatment of “non-ordinary” people (which seems to be stuck somewhere in the Middle Ages), there is the treatment of women.

For this they deserve a special place. I go back to the thing I mentioned above – the dancing women. In a terribly old-fashioned and sexist way, women on TV are generally seen as objects – and no one seems to mind this at all! Sure there are discussion programs where the older ladies (often pumped up with botox or sculpted to resemble some alien from outer space) is taken more seriously, but once you get on to light entertainment, women are nothing more than an adornment like beautiful jewels. There to be looked at and, preferably wearing something that “shows off their figure” or, even better, shows tons of flesh.

And, so it is that we have two stories today that sum it all up. The first is a woman who may be sent to prison for 6 years because “she didn’t do the housework” for her husband and, possibly most frightening of all, a company boss, cleared of sexual harassment but who, according to the judges, DID sexually sexually harass female employees! But it was only his childlike sense of humour, apparently.

The gay and gay-friendly people were using the slogan “Wake Up Italy” when they had their demonstrations to change the law re: civil unions and I’m inclined to agree – but not just for civil unions. In fact, maybe civil unions shouldn’t be the first thing on their list?

Italy – a land full of old stuff (which is a good thing) – think ancient ruins, etc.
Italy – a land which is just plain old-fashioned (which is not a good thing) – think attitudes to women, etc.

And I haven’t even covered racial problems, meritocracy and a whole host of other things. The rest of the world’s advances in some things seem to have passed Italy by.

Five Years (or, maybe, about ten?)

I’ve been meaning to write and, in fact, have written – but never finished.

Since I moved the blog, for some inexplicable reason, it seems harder to write anything.

And lots of things have happened. Most recently, lots of people have died – people that were 10 or so years older than me. Does that mean I’ve got about 10 years left?

Dale (Buffin) Griffin died (from Mott the Hoople – the first group I followed); Glenn Fry (from the Eagles – and I remember, particularly, Hotel California) died too.

But the one that really affected me, in spite of the fact that, during the 80s and 90s I never bought any of his albums and I never, ever saw him live, was David Bowie.

The day he died I was in a state of shock. For the whole day, I barely functioned. And I tried to work out why his death would affect me so badly. I puzzled over it – I mean, I don’t think I could have called myself a real fan – not compared to others – and yet, there I was, struggling to concentrate on anything, felling somewhat bereft and very sad.

But I couldn’t really work out why. There was the thing that I admired him. I styled my hair like his (or tried to) a number of times in my life. I wanted to “be” him. I remember seeing the first performance of Starman on Top of the Pops – that special performance that changed everything. I remember listening so many times to the Ziggy Stardust LP. But I listened to many things and yet no one dying has quite affected me the same way.

He did make all things possible. He made being “not normal”, acceptable and, kind of, normal – and, therefore, he made me feel better about myself at a time when I wasn’t sure what I felt about myself.

He was intelligent but ordinary; weird but not at all strange. He did what he wanted but never really strayed into an “impossible to live in” world. And, of course, he “spoke” to me (and many others), through his lyrics which often didn’t talk about anything real at all.

Of course, he will be missed because of his extraordinary talent. One of the things I thought on that day was how sad it was that he wouldn’t be releasing any more albums. Not for me but for everyone else.

OK, and for me.

Even now, days later, there seems some sort of hole in my life now that he’s gone.

Strange, isn’t it?

p.s. My favourite album was Aladdin Sane – just so you know.

Death of a friend

death of a friend

Well, there we are. Another Christmas/New Year break over, so Happy New Year.

It was, probably, the best Christmas ever. Obviously, we did the usual things but we did have a couple of days of relaxation – where even F didn’t clean! I know. It’s almost unheard of. He corrected it all by doing a full clean (Spring clean for most people) yesterday, after we took the tree down.

But there was one thing that happened which wasn’t so nice. It was the death of a friend. Well, not an actual death, as such, but the mourning still applies.

FfI has been a friend for many years, as you will have seen from posts I’ve made in the past but over the holiday the friendship died a death. It was, in some way, my fault, in as much as I could no longer keep up the pretence that “everything was OK”.

She asked about coming to us for New Year, as is usual. I asked if “he” was coming to which she replied “yes”. I said I’d think about it. She got stroppy with me and said she wouldn’t come now anyway. This was all by text. The next day, she apologised by text and we spoke. I explained that I didn’t like him. She wanted to know why but I couldn’t really explain it. I explained that he hadn’t done or said anything bad but I just didn’t like him and the fact that every time I saw her, he was there – being creepy and smarmy and, generally, dislikeable.

And, so, that was that.

She’s going off to the USA with him. It should have been the 28th December. Then it moved to 10th January and now it’s moved to 30th January. They are “business partners”. I put that in inverted commas deliberately. She, of course, being like V, never has any money, so she’s not putting any money into this business and, yet, he wants to make her a “partner”. But, I guess she does have something to bring. She has contacts in the States and she has American citizenship. So, if he marries her, he can get his green card and escape from his mother and Italy.

I suppose she has a lot to offer him.

In the past, with the various boyfriends she has had, she has regaled me with stories of going out with him and the friends of his she has met and the dinner parties she has given to entertain these friends.

She has been clear about this one, stating several times – “He is NOT my boyfriend”. And, yet, he has been attached to her like a limpet or a puppy dog. And there have been no dinner parties for his friends since, it seems, he doesn’t actually have any.

I tried to hold on thinking that he was going soon, But the “soon” kept slipping and the thought of having him for New Year was just too much. I couldn’t do it. During her texts to me she stated that she had “accepted F” as my boyfriend – which would be a little like me accepting her boyfriends – which I have always done.

During the conversation she stated again that he was NOT her boyfriend but the subtle difference between being a boyfriend and NOT being a boyfriend seems to have been lost on her.

But I’ve had enough. I never want to see the little prick again. I never want to hear about how I look like some Hollywood film star from his mouth and I don’t want the creepiness around me that he brings. And I fail to understand why that is difficult for her to understand that, if he was her boyfriend I would be able to tolerate him much more but the fact that he isn’t means I can’t and don’t have to tolerate him at all! However “well he treats me” – and by that she means “much he pays for.”

And, so, the end. Enough.

It is the death of a friend and FfI is no more.