Cooking and cleaning in preparation

Cooking and cleaning in preparation

So, Christmas is nearly here and there’s something I like doing before Christmas but for Christmas.

And that’s cooking. But cooking something unusual. In this case, a Sauternes Jelly and a Smoky Beetroot Ketchup, both to be used with cheese. I do this both for me and for Al and P who are likely to come on Boxing Day for our usual day long feast. I say likely because this year then might come on Christmas Day instead. In any event, the menu will be the same:

Antipasto (meats, salami, Russian salad, English cheeses with the things mentioned above, olives, etc.)
Cullen Skink
Individual Cottage Pies with mushy peas and some other vegetables
Roast Duck with Orange Sauce and vegetables as above
Veneziana (which is a little like Pannetone but better)
Maybe English Trifle or something else if I decide to do it.
Wine/Prossecco/other things

We have to do plenty of food because Al eats … a lot!

Anyway, that really wasn’t the point of this post.

So there I am, in the kitchen, making the things above. It’s time consuming (although not difficult) and uses lots of pots and pans – so I am washing up often to reuse pans and utensils. I don’t have any problem with this and really enjoy it as it’s going to be something home made to be presented for our Christmas or Boxing Day dinner.

F, meanwhile, is cleaning in the lounge. The cleaning is spread over a number of weeks before the final BIG CLEAN, a few days before Christmas. These weekends, cleaning involves taking everything out of a cupboard, cleaning and/or washing everything, cleaning the inside of the cupboard and then putting everything back. The dining room, with all the plates and things that “might” be used, has already been done last weekend. Now it’s the turn of the lounge.

And there are things to be washed up and so he does. This is a bit of a pain because he’s at the sink sometimes when I want to use it but, hey ho, such is life. Most of the time he’s out of my way.

At a certain point I need to grind some spices. I can find the mortar but not the pestle. I ask F if he knows where it is. He doesn’t but thinks it might be in the same cupboard as the mortar. I tell him not to worry and I’ll have a look. I do and it’s not there. I look in a couple of drawers where it might be and still don’t find it. I find an alternative to a pestle – in fact, what I have used before.

He arrives in the kitchen. “Did you find it?”, he asks. I tell him no but not to worry. He decides to look in the cupboard. He takes everything out and puts it on the table – the very table that has my recipe sheets, the Sauternes Jelly stuff currently going through the sieve, the jars I will steralise shortly and several other things.

He then states that he needs to clean this cupboard. I have my back to him stirring something on the stove. I am gobsmacked. He can see what I’m doing and still wants to clean in the effing kitchen! I don’t say anything for what could I possibly say? (BTW, the pestle wasn’t there, as I already knew.)

I think, possibly because I didn’t say anything or possibly because I had to go to one of the recipes and, in order to see it, I had to move something he’d placed on top, he went away, annoyed.

But this was 100% not my fault. But he wasn’t happy that he couldn’t do the cleaning as he wanted, for sure.

And that continued for the rest of the time. He went back to cleaning cupboards in the lounge. Occasional mutterings were heard.

Eventually, in a break between things (I’d finished the Ketchup but the Jelly still needed more time through the sieve), I told him I was taking the dogs out and then going to the supermarket.

By the time I got back from the supermarket, all the stuff (well, nearly) on the table had been put back. I don’t honestly know if things were cleaned or not and didn’t ask.

Later, I took a shower and went out with A, as we do on a Sunday.

By the time I got back for dinner, everything was fine. Cleaning was not mentioned.

And, in case you were wondering, the Jelly was perfect (but it only made two jars) and the Ketchup was, erm, different. Not as good as I would have liked but, still, worth doing and I shall still use it with cheese (it made 5 jars).

10 anni and 22 day – versary

So, today it’s 10 years. 10 of the best, for certain.

F is in Japan right now but coming back tomorrow and will be, hopefully, here tomorrow night (late) or if he misses his connection, Saturday.

When we went to Scotland, I got him to try Cullen Skink – which he loved and had several times afterwards. I’ve managed to procure some smoked haddock (essential for this) and so plan to make it on Saturday, together with a chocolate cake. That’s my present since now, of course, we have both this anniversary and the new one that is only on it’s 22nd dayversary.

I suppose, at some point, the one will take over from the other.

I never did talk about that day since it’s still not on social media (except a bit on Twitter ‘cos no one really uses Twitter.) It’s a kind of secret but not a secret. So far, only one person has noticed the ring. Obviously, I did tell some of my friends so we’ve had cards and even presents which is nice but unexpected, since no one was involved in the day itself, apart from the witnesses (and the dogs).

So, I went to work in the morning because I didn’t have enough holiday to take the morning off too. I came home about 12ish and we got ready. At the last minute, F decided that we should wear our dog T-shirts under our suits. I had the one with Piero and he had the one with Dino (or la mia vita, as he calls him). We walked to town, passing through the park so that the dogs were a little tired.

We arrived early, of course. We sat outside as it was sunny and reasonably warm. There’s a little garden thing at the back. Our witnesses found us and we sat around talking. At one point, P (she’s married to Af, and they were our witnesses) told me to pose with her for a picture because a tourist was taking pictures of the garden. As soon as we posed though, he turned his camera to an upper part of the building.

Eventually, we were into a side room signing some paperwork and having our documents checked. The woman doing this seemed a little bit crazy (in a nice way) – with a wide-brimmed hat, slightly 70s style, fingerless, lace gloves, etc. In the end she was the one who officiated it all and she was perfect. She seemed more excited about the whole thing than either us or the witnesses!

We went into the room and there was (paid for by our witnesses) an official photographer. I also noticed the tourist was inside but didn’t take much notice. The room is quite beautiful with full length mirrors down one side. The door is always open so anyone can slip in.

We did the thing. Had pictures taken (the tourist was still hanging around). It had taken perhaps 20 minutes, top! We went out into the nearby courtyard and were introduced to the tourist – who was P&Af’s friend and who was there to take more informal pictures. He took several of us 6 (don’t forget the dogs) and then we invited him for an aperitivo. We went to Aperol, which overlooks the Duomo. We had one drink. Then the “tourist” took off and we walked back to the park, stopping, on the way, at F’s normal lunchtime cafe for a bottle of prosecco and 4 glasses. We took these to the park and let the dogs play in the dog area whilst we drank the prosecco.

Then home to drop off the dogs. Whilst there, we had another bottle of prosecco.

Then to the restaurant that F had booked. Our normal pizza place. F had told them that it was Af’s birthday!

So, we didn’t have pizza but some antipasto (fish and vegetables) followed by more fish. During this time we had another 4/5 bottles of prosecco.

Then the cake which F had bought from our cake shop and on which was a platform. F brought out the two men figurines to put on top and we cut the cake. With that we had the huge bottle of champagne which we shared with the restaurant owners and staff and couple of random diners.

We then played a few scratchcards with the cook – who is also one of the restaurant owners, went to the Chinese shop on the corner to play some more, then walked to the bar near our home and had some more cocktails. It had been forecast to rain sometime during the day but, in fact, did not.

All in all, it was a wonderful day and we were both very happy (and quite drunk!)

I will add photos to this in the next few days.

About 5 months later …

about 5 months later ...

Let’s be honest, he never actually wanted to do it.

If other people asked (and they did, often over the last few years), he always said that he didn’t see the point. Whereas I always said that I would in a moment and then, by way of justification, suggested that it meant it would be much easier if one of us had to go into hospital or if one of us dies, it would ensure the other got such things as pensions, etc.

And then came Brexit and with that a great deal of uncertainty, not least because I had never formalised anything. So I went about formalising everything and I’ve done it. But, as always, there’s a nagging doubt, an ongoing uncertainty. After all, come October 31st (or any other date that it might happen) I will cease to have the “right” to remain here but will be subject to the whims of the Italian Government, or the EU or both – who will, in turn, react to any nonsense that the British Government will dream up.

So, whereas most Italians tell me “Don’t worry, you’ll be alright”, I’m not convinced. And F knows this. And so, against his feelings he went ahead to try and get it all done as a surprise. Except that, due to bureaucracy, it was really too difficult. So, when he told me, we went about going through all the hoops anyway.

And here we are, about 5 months later, about to complete it all.

Except, he doesn’t want all the bells and whistles (which is OK) and so he has only (he has said) told one person. I have told 2.

“And afterwards?,” I asked. “People will see and will ask questions,” I added. “Your cousin will notice for sure.”
“I’ll just say it’s a present,” he replied. Which, of course, it is, technically.

But, I wonder why not tell them? Will there be (is there?) some guilt, on his part, that people won’t have had the chance to celebrate? Honestly, I don’t know. I understood not telling them before the wedding (it’s complicated). But after?

I mean, I will say, especially as I find it hard to lie to people. But that’s for my friends. Where they are his, or his family, I guess I have to go along with it. I mean to say, I don’t want to be shouting it out but, if people ask, I would like to tell the truth.

So, further, last night we were talking about it and I tried to explain my problem and he said that I should say what I want to. I tried to explain that this was fine for my friends but with joint friends or his friends and family, we should really be “in harmony” – but it really didn’t seem to bother him.

He’s a little strange sometimes. I can’t understand his motivation.

But I guess it’ll all be alright in the end.

Let’s do it!

Let's do it!

There’s a glimmer of light at the end of this particular tunnel.

Or, possibly, it’s a slight crack in the paradise of life, showing the fiery core of the earth – hell.

I feel uncomfortable and, yet, still interested enough to go along with it. This is someone who may not have the preconceptions of others. And I don’t have a history with them so I, too, should have no preconceptions. And, still, I am wary.

But I should probably do it. After all, it’s not like I’m going to the gallows.

And I wonder what is going through his head. For I am someone that he doesn’t know. Someone who may have been spoken of occasionally – if ever. I am the mystery.

And what will he find? How will I be. I mean, will I be able to be “normal” given who he is?

I don’t know. I guess there’s only one way to find out …..

Let’s do it!

It’s my party …

She texts me to ask if I can talk.

I finish my cigarette and text her back to say I’m out of the office, so, yes.

I light another cigarette and just as I’m finished, she calls.

She calls to tell me that she has been feeling very rough over the weekend (she’s currently having a course of chemo) and didn’t want to go out (also because it rained all weekend) but she didn’t have any food in the house – except rice. Is this why she’s called, I wonder?

She berates FfC who, apparently, didn’t call to check on her. I suspect that is a sideswipe at me but I ignore it. I guess she’d say the same to FfC but, this time, it would be me in the frame.

But it makes me feel a little bad. I tell her she should have texted me and I would have come over with stuff for her. She says that she didn’t want to bother anyone – but then, why mention it at all if that were the case?

She says that her hair might fall out soon, like this week. I ask if she has a wig. She says no, she’ll wear headscarves and hats. But, as we talk, she says she’ll think about it.

We talk about the rain at the weekend and the dogs (hers doesn’t like the rain either) and towelling the dogs. Was this what she’s called about, I wonder?

She then tells me that FfC had told her that I’m doing some sort of party (for my birthday – it’s a special). Now, firstly, I had told FfC that I hadn’t told anyone else yet and that I was checking with her because I was going to hold it on her birthday, which is the day before mine. Although I tried to imply that I didn’t want to tell anyone else yet, I knew that she would tell FfI. And, so she did.

So, I try to explain that I am starting to think about what to do but she doesn’t really seem to be listening. But, is this what she wants to speak to me about?

She tells me that she can’t come if H2 is invited. They were, for many years, best friends and every party, H2 was there. But, possibly for the last year or so, H2 has been nowhere to be seen. I say that I’ll have to invite her. She asks why. I say because I’ve been friends with her for years (although really through FfI) and I couldn’t not.

Then, like a recording from the time that few Christmasses ago, she says that she wouldn’t invite that fucking prick of a boyfriend/not-boyfriend if I was coming to her place and then adds that she wouldn’t come if H2 were there. I said, well, that would a choice for you. She then says that perhaps she’ll do something at her place then, just a quiet little something even if she would really like to come. So just like a few Christmasses ago then! And, of course, that means she’ll invite FfC so that FfC has to choose and so, just like that New Year’s Eve, will do neither properly and so it will all be botched up and no one will be really happy.

And now I know that THIS is why she phoned.

I say I’ve got to go back into work now and she basically cuts me off. She is angry and, just like that time those Christmasses ago, she just pisses me off. Again.

But it’s OK because it’s my birthday and, as the song goes, I’ll cry if I want to :-D

Pubs and beer and food and Indian and rain and cold and wind – but mainly pubs , beer and food

A proper English country pub

I mentioned before about my friend from school, H, who’s wife died a little while ago.

Unfortunately, I could only go to the funeral for the day but I made the effort and went over on our long holiday weekend – the one just gone, to spend some time with him.

I tried to let him do most of the talking. I thought it was the least I could do. We are blokes, after all, and we don’t do the opening up thing very easily – at least, face-to-face. But I think he did a bit and I really hope it helped him. But his story is not my story to write. I found the UK to be nicer than I had thought it would be. Admittedly, although not so far from London, this was the middle of the countryside and reminded me a lot of Herefordshire.

The first night we went out, with his daughter and son, to The Fox Inn in Rudgewick. It was a typical old English pub serving food. The food was wonderful (Steak and Ale Pie with mashed potato) and, of course, there was the beer. A very nice start to the trip.

The next day we we to his daughter’s new house. It was a lovely old house which she had started doing up. We went for lunch at The Crown Inn in Chiddingfold. Again, a typical English village pub with an open fire. Of course, I don’t eat so much and, in the end we had (H & I) some sharing nibbles. And some beer! God, I miss the English beer. Food was good and the place was very nice.

In the afternoon we did some shopping (for me) in Cranleigh, apparently the biggest village in England (or, maybe the UK?). It was very pretty. We were back there in the evening to go to The Curry Inn – not an inn at all but rather a good quality Indian restaurant. H had asked me if it was OK to go out with some of his friends and gave me a choice of Thai or Indian – which. of course, meant Indian. And boy, the curry I had was the best curry I’ve ever had. It was incredibly busy which, of course, means it must be good but the downside to that was we did have to wait an incredibly long time for the food. But, for me, the wait was worth it! Of course, it was Indian beer but you can’t have everything!

The next day it was raining all bloody day. However, H took me on a trip around and to his “baby”, some all-weather football ground (he’s very sporty) that he’d managed to get built. Then a bit more shopping and then, at my request, we went for a proper Sunday Lunch at The Chequers Inn in a tiny village called Rowhook. Again, a typical old English pub with an open fire (the wood smoke permeated the whole place and was so lovely to smell – I miss that atmosphere and that smell) and the food was fantastic. I had roast pork with gravy and asked for a Yorkshire pudding. And, of course, beer. The waiter/manager was Italian! Of course. I would have liked to understand why he was still there but the place was too busy.

Just before that we went shopping and I got my last bits and bobs.

So a weekend of listening, great food and great beer and meeting some very nice people.

So that’s what I got from it but, really, it was for him, so I really hope he got something from it too! And, maybe because I was with him, maybe because of the English pubs and the Indian restaurant – I didn’t hate being back in the UK – apart from the cold and the wet.

Connected! A wedding and a funeral.

Connected! A wedding and a funeral

Like the film. Except only the one wedding and not four.

The wedding I mentioned in the two posts below.

The funeral was yesterday. I had been feeling very anxious about it. I was going for the day. It meant flying to the UK, taking trains and it was going to be a long day. Plus there would be plenty of people that I should know but I knew I wouldn’t recognise. And, F was going to be in Japan.

So, he went to Japan on Saturday afternoon and, because of the funeral and the fact that he was away, that whole sinking feeling was back. The spiral into a blackness. But, I knew it was mainly because of the funeral.

I get up at 4.30 a.m. to take the dogs out. Poor things. It would be their only walk until I got back that evening. I felt bad about it but there wasn’t much I could do about it.

I didn’t even have time for coffee. I had to be ready by 5.30 for the taxi I had booked. The taxi was there, on time and I got to the airport. I had already checked in and was only going for the day, so no baggage – straight through security and a cappuccino and then straight to the “smoking cubicle”. Then queue up to get through passport control (I was going to the UK – outside the normal rules for Europe – bloody British.

I was flying Easyjet. Not my first choice but I needed to make it as cheap as possible.

I had forgotten that they allocated seat numbers now and got into any seat, to be reminded by a gentleman that I needed to go to the seat I had been allocated. Fucking hell! And it made me wonder why people would spend more money to have “speedy boarding” if they have seat numbers allocated. It became clear before we went through to the gate when the staff started tagging the bags which had to be put in the hold – they had counted them on and the overhead racks had run out of room. Still, it seemed to me crazy that you would pay extra just for that.

Then I remembered that I could also have “paid extra” to decide which seat I wanted rather than an automatic allocation, when I had checked in over the Internet.

We arrived at Gatwick. I absolutely hate the passport checks going back into the UK. Even with a British passport, I feel like I shouldn’t be allowed in – they make me feel like I shouldn’t be allowed in!

Through passport control and straight out to the smoking area.

Then to the station to collect my pre-booked tickets. Then I had some time but not really enough to go back to the smoking area.

It’s a bit cold – but I’m dressed like it’s winter here, so it’s OK. On the train. Got to Guildford. Checked with the taxi how long it would take to the crematorium (where the service was to be) and how much it would cost and, more importantly, if I could use one of the two £10 notes I had. Apparently, I could. The new ones have been introduced but it seems there is a while yet before the old ones go out of circulation.

I have several cigarettes and go in to Costa to get a cappuccino. “What size”, I’m asked. Erm, I have no idea. He shows me medium. I’m used to Italian now and that’s too large. “Something smaller”, I reply. He gets a “small” – which is still far too large, really. And I really want it in a cup not a cardboard beaker. But, hey, ho, I go with it. It’s a large cappuccino all right – but with a massive amount of really crap “foam” on top. But I drink it anyway. And go and have more cigarettes.

Then I get a taxi. I am at the crematorium early. The service before them is just going in. I have more cigarettes. I see people getting out of their cars in the car park and chatting to each other. I wonder if I’m supposed to know them. They head towards the building and me.

The guy in the light grey suit heads towards me. He’s unshaven but he looks like H, my best friend from school. I assume he’s D, his brother. I say, “D?” He says he is H. Oh, for fucks sake, I think. Why am I so crap. But my mind closes this off quickly. I can’t worry about it today. I give him a hug. I am pleased to see him and sad for him at the same time. I am introduced to his daughter and his son. This is the first time I’ve met them. His daughter looks the spitting image of his wife, T, who is the person we are having the service for today. She had a brain tumour and died a couple of weeks ago.

He is worried that I am OK. He introduces me to someone who I guess I should know but really don’t. It’s T’s sister. She is chatty and talks to me and introduces me to others that I don’t know and shouldn’t. We talk and chat.

I am introduced to M, who I do know although he is much, much older now, probably mid seventies. He was also a kind of friend from school days although was never really my friend and, anyway, was years older than us – but that’s a whole other story – if I can ever properly remember it.

M hangs around me. We go in together and we are to sit with close family, at the front.

There are so many people here that they are standing all around the room and, although I don’t look, at the back.

We have the service. T comes in inside a wicker basket thing. The service is semi-religious. It’s lovely, if you see what I mean. It is heartfelt and heartbreaking. She was younger than me – didn’t smoke or anything. Bugger!

We go outside. There are possibly 200 hundred people here. She was well liked/loved.

I am taken to the wake by some people who are neighbours. I hear afterwards that V (the wife) had been so pleased to meet me because T had told her how much she had enjoyed their trip to Milan. There is food and drink available but there isn’t enough for all the people here. I say that the number of people is a testament to how well loved T was. I say all sorts of crap to anyone that’ll listen. I don’t really want to be there. I think: this is the way it is now – I shall be coming to the UK for funerals – it’s an age thing.

I get to see H a bit. I hug him several times. M asks if I can come and see him. I say I had thought of coming in December when I have a couple of days’ holiday. M says that would be very good. I want to do this.

I am never without people to speak to. I am the centre of attention or, rather, the second centre of attention after H. They have all seen the picture of me and H after our first holiday together, on our own. The picture was taken by my mother. H disputes the date of it – I don’t know – it was my mother who wrote the date on the back of the photo.

H doesn’t burst into tears but almost, at several points. It’s been lovely and not lovely at the same time.

D takes me back to the station. I am very early. I have hours to wait before the plane back. I wish I’d booked an earlier flight but I wasn’t sure when I would be able to get back and wanted to be there in case H needed me.

But, he didn’t. And, anyway, he had loads of people around. I catch an early train. At the airport I have a meal, as I had only eaten very little all day. Then I decide to go through security. This, being Britain, means no smoking as there are no “smoking areas”. Bloody up-their-own-arse people. I’ve been overhearing conversations whilst travelling and, to be honest, it’s painful. I can’t imagine living here again. I hope, really hope, I never have to. I try to buy chocolate. They need my boarding pass – which they don’t, by the way. I say no. She says “it’s the rules.” I tell her I don’t want them then. I go to Boots for Lemsip and pills. The guy in the queue before me is asked for his boarding card. He says it’s in his jacket so he doesn’t have it. The guy takes his money anyway. My turn and he asks me if I have my boarding card. I say I have but he doesn’t need it. He’s clearly pissed off but accepts my payment anyway. I go and get chocolate and newspapers from WH Smith. They don’t ask me for my boarding card.

I wait around, have yet another beer and, finally, the gate is up. I can’t wait to get out of this country. The funeral was fine but the people travelling make me want to go home – and this is NOT home. I should try to remember this when I complain about Italians.

On board, the guy next to me wants to talk. He talks. Then he goes to sleep. We are late. I worry about the dogs having been inside since around 5 until now – which is already 11 p.m. I don’t even stop for a cigarette but get in a taxi straight away. They are a little bit super-pleased to see me. I take them out. I feed them and have a cigarette. It’s gone midnight. I go to bed and they come with me, super-attached. And then normality will start in just 5 hours.

God, I’m knackered.

And the connection between the funeral and the wedding? Well, this was the woman that H, my best friend at school, married those 37 years ago and when he asked me to be Best Man and when I made that terrible speech. Life is odd sometimes, isn’t it.

Wedding nightmares.

Wedding Nightmares

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.

The church
(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.

hotel with private beach
(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?

A picture of the famous statue with the town below

I’m fucking done with bullshit!

I'm fucking done with bullshit

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.

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.