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).

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.

The Boiler Room

The Boiler Room

Things I remember.

I remember it’s dark. I remember it’s cold. I remember the hods, the coke, the ashes, the metal bucket used to carry the hot ashes to a place further away to tip them on the growing heap of cold ashes. I remember the smell, how the ash rose in a cloud in that small room, breathing in that cloud and the acrid, hot ash hitting your throat, getting everywhere – in your hair, in your nose, on your clothes and, if you weren’t careful or if you were unlucky, in your eyes.

But there was a sanctuary in that small, windowless, airless room full of ash and smell, for there was heat.

Every morning and every evening, clean out the ash that had fallen, scraping it out into the bucket, using a brush to get it clean; carrying said bucket away to tip onto the pile (at the end of the garden, I think), then shovelling the hod into the bottom of the pile of coke, filling up the hod as much as possible – you wanted to do this as few times as possible, carrying the hod over (was the coke in a different room/place?) and tipping it into the feeder. It was heavy. You were tired. Sick and tired.

But at least there was heat.

Was I eight? Or older? Did they replace it with one fired by oil, needing a large tank nearby? The door to this room was next to the kitchen door, at the back of the bungalow.

I felt like Cinderella – without the Fairy Godmother, or the Prince, or the glass slipper. I got up before everyone else to make sure that everyone had heating. It was early. Possibly 6? Often dark. Or, probably, I was awoken to do this in the morning. In the evening, possibly, straight after school. Nobody else did this job – only me. And I had forgotten about it – but the smell I can still smell, the heat I can still feel, the dust in every pore, I still remember. And I would shut the door to the room and I could pretend that I wasn’t there, in that world, I could be anywhere I wanted to be …. as long as it also had a boiler room!

p.s. In case you didn’t know what I was talking about:
Hod
A hod – although I seem to remember I used plastic ones.

Coke
Not the type of coke you may have initially thought about!

Everything happened at 8

Something happened at 8

Well, I really know that not everything happened at 8. Some things happened before and some afterwards but, for most of them, it seems that 8 was the magic number.

That was the year that many bad things happened. And, yet, it cannot possibly be.

So, at around 2 a.m., as I’m lying in bed and thinking why it seems that so much happened when I was eight years old, I realised there was one event that definitely, without question, happened during that year.

I can remember the date of the birthdays of most of my family. My mother, my youngest brother, my nan, my grandfather, my sister ……. but not my father nor my middle brother (or my paternal grandparents – but that’s a whole different thing). I can’t even remember the month for either of them, let alone the actual day. And the middle brother was born in the same year that I was 8. Was that it? Or is there something else? Did something happen before or after he was born that explains my justification for all bad things being when I was 8?

These thoughts came to me because, just before this I remembered “The Boiler Room”. Honestly, I don’t know why. But, it came to me and I started to remember some of the detail. And that led me to try and remember when it started. I do know it was before I was 14 but I can’t remember when it began and that’s when “8” came into my mind. But, maybe I was 10 or 12? I don’t actually remember, so “8” has claimed it as its own.

It doesn’t really matter. I thought that I would like to write a post about it and so I will. Maybe during the writing of some of these things from the past, I’ll get a handle on what the real problem with “8” is?

So, future planned posts are:
The Boiler Room
The Garden
The Birthday Present
The Hospital
The Wasps in the Window
Fencing.

There may be more that will come to me. I’ll try to cover them in the next few weeks.

And …… relax – well, maybe.

It’s really difficult to explain (here or in person), my feelings regarding Brexit and how it might affect me.

But I felt a little bit better today to read this. Of course, my distrust of things that are said or written, especially by Governments, is high but, you know, this gives me a little hope.

What isn’t entirely clear is if the pension rules, currently in place, will actually be the same after 29th March. But there is nothing I can actually do about that.

But it’s a kind of Christmas present and gives me some calm, so better than nothing.

And, speaking of Christmas, here is our tree:
Our Christmas Tree

Last Saturday, we had people coming round for an aperitivo. Nothing grand – but, of course, the house had to be sparkling and there had to be lots of food and drink. So, late Saturday afternoon, around 5, we went to get some last-minute things. And on our way back, at the Piazza just by our house, I heard singing – as in, carol singing. Now, in all the years I’ve been here, I have never, ever seen or heard carol singers. A big thing in the UK with the chances of not hearing them around zero, here, just like Christmas cards, it is definitely NOT a thing. Sadly, as we had guests coming, we couldn’t stay but, as I hadn’t heard any for so long, it was kind of wonderful and we stopped for a moment. I recorded a short video which might or might not work:

So, on that note (pun intended), I’ll wish you all a very Merry Christmas now. I hope it’s a good one for you.

The death of ……. the postcard

The death of the .......postcard

This world changes so fast, driven in the main by new technology.

And, this weekend I discovered another thing that is on its last legs. The postcard.

There we are, at a seaside town, full of tourists during August. So much so, that it transforms the town – as is the case with many seaside towns, I guess.

And, A, my Italian friend, has this thing about postcards. He always sends one (even if he’s away for a weekend) and, for summer, I reciprocate. I also like to send one to BM and to J.

So, I needed three postcards – an easy thing you would think, especially in a tourist town. But, this year, surprisingly difficult. We did find one shop, eventually, thank goodness, but it didn’t used to be so difficult. And that got me to thinking of whether anyone actually sends postcards any more? I mean, I don’t send letters very often (and I’m racking my brains to think of the last time I did) – now we’ve got instant messaging and social media to keep in touch with people. And I guess most people under the age of about 30 would even consider sending postcards. So if there’s no call for them, it is likely that over the next few years, it will become impossible to find them.

It’s a sad thing but, I guess, inevitable.

For younger people, it won’t make any difference since they’ve never done it.

NB. The image is, apparently, a 1960s postcard from Death Valley!

Was I mistaken?

Was I mistaken?

I haven’t posted much recently.

It’s not that there isn’t any need. It’s just that I can’t.

I’ve been going through a fairly shit time, to be honest. I have situations that are not really good and I am struggling to remain positive. Thank God for F – although he doesn’t really know what is happening – at least what is happening in my head – and maybe that’s just as well. Anyway, he’s got his own shit to worry about. The house in Carrara and the problems with the builders; work; and I suspect other shit that I know nothing about, since he rarely talks about things.

On a brighter note, I finally got to watch God’s Own Country. I’m now watching it a second time because I’m worried that it is not really as good as I thought it was. I was expecting it to be good; no, I was expecting it to be amazing and the problem is that, on first watching, it was. But then I got to thinking that, maybe, it was better than amazing because that’s what I wanted. So I’m halfway through watching it again, trying to be more critical. As a result, I’m picking up more things about it. I’ll let you know about how I really feel after I’ve finished watching it again.

Was I mistaken about the film? Maybe.
Was/am I mistaken about the other shit? Almost certainly not. But I’m trying to hang on in there. After all, in the big scheme of things, it’s not long now ….

Films – and the one I’ve really been waiting for

As usual, I’ve managed to watch the contenders for the best film at the Oscars, except for Phantom Thread.

For me, the outstanding films that are the ones that should win are Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and The Shape Of Water. The Post is a good, solid film; Dunkirk and Darkest Hour are, in my view, overrated but OK; Lady Bird is quite good but shouldn’t win; Get Out is rubbish – like a 1950’s horror-made-for-TV film: Call Me By Your Name is beautifully shot but the storyline is not all that, in fact, it was annoying (for me) that, in the end, the American guy went on to get married and have a “normal” life. At the time it was set, I’d already been living with M for a few years, so it doesn’t resonate with me at all.

But there’s a film that I’ve “heard” about (and ordered on DVD) that might, in theory, beat all of them, if the reviews from the public are anything to go by – God’s Own Country. I have been waiting to see this for months and I have high hopes. The reviews from ordinary cinema-goers have been more than ecstatic with people saying they’ve been going to see it more than once. It’s a “first” film by Francis Lee (first feature film) and it has got some rave reviews.

So, although it’s not up for an Oscar, it’s been the film I’ve most wanted to see. My worry is that it has been hyped so much and my expectations are so high, that I’ll be disappointed. I really hope not.

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.

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.