We go to buy some furniture ….. except I don’t go.

Originally written mid-June 2014. I don’t know why I didn’t post this!

“You can come if you like.” Those were the words but, for reasons I can’t quite explain, those were not the sentiments. This was more of a “You can come if you really, really want to but I don’t really want you to come because ….. [list of reasons why I don’t want you to come].”

So, correctly, I said, “No, it’s OK, if you don’t mind. I have a lot to do today.”

I DID have some things to do. I wanted to get the Netgear Powerline product to make the computer access faster in the new flat; I wanted to take the duvet to the dry cleaners; I wanted to sort out some more stuff.

As it happens, I was very glad I didn’t go as he took all morning, in the end.

He wanted to buy the kitchen and go to IKEA. I got a photo of how the kitchen would look as it was slightly different after the surveyor had been to measure. Plus, he wanted to get a dishwasher which meant only one sink and not two. But it was OK by me, to be honest.

After the kitchen, he went to IKEA with his list of items he wanted to buy. This was a huge list so, rightly, he wanted to buy it and have them delivery it.

The kitchen will come sometime after 24th July and the IKEA stuff will come this week.

But the difference it made for him was incredible. He’s now so excited. He will start putting everything together as soon as it arrives and then get his carpenter guy to fix it all to the wall. After which, he will start putting his stuff away. Then he will be happy – although he is already looking forward to just putting everything together!

Confused? You will be.

It should be fairly easy. Or, at least I thought so.

We have a kitchen. It has water, a dishwasher. Now it’s all connected we can use the washing machine. everything must be washed – the removal men packed everything using newspaper, so all cups, plates, saucepans, glasses, etc. have to be washed.

The fridge needed to be cleaned. The shelves in the kitchen cleaned.

Everything needs cleaning.

Oh and the washing needs to be done and the bed changed and my stuff put away from Mantova and the dogs deserve a long walk and there are people to contact and books to put away and shopping to be done and, and, and ……

So, let’s get started, then, shall we?

Well, erm, yes.

So, I find myself starting something and then realising that in order to finish it I need to do something else. And then, I realise that I also need to put the next load of washing on. And, as I walk into the bedroom, I see that I need to make the bed, and then I can’t find the right linen because I didn’t put it away and so I don’t know where it is and, even if I DID put something away, I can’t for the life of me remember which bloody cupboard or, even, which bloody room it is in! So, in my hunt for this, I notice that I forgot to finish off something else, so I do a bit of that and that takes me to another room where I failed to finish off some other task so I do a bit of that but then find that I need something else and in that room find something that needs to be thrown away, which leads to something that needs to be put away but then the cupboard I was gong to use isn’t big enough and so I try to find somewhere else and that leads to another room where something else is part-finished, and so on.

Instead of being able to finish a single thing, I seem to have half a dozen part-finished things. Part of the problem (although not the whole problem, by any means) is that we, at the moment, don’t “think” in the same way. So the place/room that I would put something is not the place/room that F would put it. Now, I don’t want to move the thing he’s put “in the wrong place” but, it seems, it just doesn’t feel right where it is and so I don’t know what to do about it. So I do nothing and feel like doing nothing and so it’s not good. It’s like I’m confused by it all. It makes me “freeze” and leads to a lack of movement forward. Or a lack of movement.

Still, in spite of all this, many things HAVE been done. Bed-making, shopping, washing of much stuff, cleaning of the fridge, laundry, putting away of books, putting away of Mantova stuff…..

Oh, hang on, just thought of something that MUST be done. I’ll be back in a sec…….

So, I become disheartened and want to do nothing.

Tea and coffee make a house into a home. Apparently!

F decides that he will be at home when I get home from work. He is going to go to Carrara. I told him that he didn’t need to wait but he wants to. I know he’s worried. There has been a bit of anger; a few tears. The problem with waiting for me is that he will hit the rush-hour traffic. But I’m not going to give him hassle. He doesn’t need any from me.

When I arrive, he’s there but he was late home and so is still packing. I have an appointment later and need to take the dogs out but I wait. After all, he waited for me. The kitchen has been finished. Of course, that means we can use the brand new dishwasher, the washing machine, etc. This is great news and I start to read the instructions for the dishwasher as I’ve never had one before. Apparently I need salt! 1Kg!! Damn! I don’t have it. It means I can’t start washing all the dishes, cups, etc.

He leaves. It seems he will be back sometime on Sunday, probably, unless something happens whilst he’s down there. His plane to Spain is on Monday. At least I will get to see him a bit.

As soon as he leaves, I prepare to take the dogs out.

Whilst out with them, I remember a small shop. This shop is a real blast from the past. It is run by an old couple who, by the looks of them, should have retired about 20 years ago. But they’re ‘hanging on’ in this supermarket age. The shop is full of stuff you might get from the supermarket – except fresh fruit, vegetables and meat. It’s the sort of shop my grandmother ran. I went to buy some milk and water from there once and, inside, they have some old cabinets that, it was explained to me at length, keep the milk at the perfect temperature. This time I am in a hurry as my visitor arrives in half an hour.

But this is NOT a supermarket. This is a place where regular customers come and chat. This is old-style shopping. This is not impersonal. He had been sitting outside chatting to a guy (more or less his age) when I arrived with the dogs. He gets up and tells me to go in (I am hesitant because I have two dogs). I ask if he has salt. Yes, he does. We go into the shop – but he doesn’t follow us for he is in conversation with the guy. He says he will be in “soon”. After a few minutes he comes in. He explains that he was having a chat with his friend. He likes the dogs. “Everyone who likes dogs is a good person,” he says.

I get 2 Kgs of salt. After all, if it uses 1 Kg now, for sure we shall need more. Plus, I’ve noticed, the water in the flat is very hard, worse than I’ve ever known.

This type of shopping takes time. Time is something I don’t really have but, I guess, it’s still quicker than going to the supermarket. Anyway, I feel somewhat obliged to use these types of shops. “Use them or lose them”, so the saying goes. I’m amazed this shop continues, to be honest but I like the idea of it, so I’m quite keen to use them from time to time.

We get home. I start to read the instructions and fill the dishwasher with the salt. I then “set” the hardness of the water. I set it to 5. The highest is 6. Maybe this will be enough?

But, now I have no time to load the machine. The kettle boils but there are no clean cups. It is only too late that I realise I also have a sink, so I could have washed a cup without the dishwasher. It’s been so long since we’ve had a fully-functioning kitchen, I seem to have forgotten what to do! Well, I will have to wait until later before I have my tea.

When she’s gone, I go back to the kitchen. I boil the kettle and load the machine. I wash a cup and make my tea. Whilst the machine is doing the first load, I go back to my studio and drink the tea. It is heavenly. It is the first cup of tea that I’ve had in over a month! I’ve missed it so much!

Later, I prepare the coffee machine for coffee in the morning. And, this morning, I switch on the machine. I do the milk first. It seems to steam better than before! I go to run my bath (I don’t have a shower yet which I’ll explain another time). After my bath, I come back to the kitchen to do the coffee. Except it doesn’t seem to be working! It’s making all the right noises, it’s just that there’s no coffee dripping through into the cup! I look inside. The coffee is damp but not “wet” like it should be. I replace the coffee holder.

I suddenly realise that, after cleaning the coffee maker last night, I didn’t actually fill it up with water! The water was the key. I have coffee.

Later, as I’m on my way to work, I feel much, much better. The full mug of cappuccino makes such a difference. I feel awake and alive.

And I realise that now, with a functioning kitchen and tea and coffee, suddenly the flat feels much more like a real home. Which, from a logic point of view, seems quite strange.



No. That isn’t the right word.


No, nor that either.

Lonely? Alone? Well, yes, kind of, to the second.


Only in as much as the place is HUGE. No, not really. I’ve lived in places that are much, much bigger. Yet it’s almost as if I could be lost here at any moment. As if it is possible for me to become disconnected from the real world. From reality.

It echoes. And, yet, there is no background sound. Even the sound of the trams passing along the street at the end of the road don’t make an impact to the silence of the place. Some people talking in the street – and yet it seems separate from the place. It’s still, for some reason, NOT background noise. There IS no background noise. There’s the feeling of utter, utter silence.

I contemplate putting some music on to play in the background but don’t as if it would, by doing that, emphasise the fear, insecurity, loneliness, sense of being alone and lost that I already feel. And yet none of these things adequately sum up what it is that I feel.

The dogs are no help, even if they are in the room with me. Right there, at my feet. Yet we seem small in this one room, not least the whole flat.

Later I try to explain this a bit. “We’re not using the flat,” I say. “We haven’t got a kitchen we can use. We can’t even make a cup of coffee.”

That’s only partly true, of course. We could do it, if we want. But the kitchen is still half-finished, so is not a “complete” room. It’s a room that I pass through. That isn’t “lived in”. Therefore it feels little more than an unfinished corridor.

In addition, there are few pictures up. We don’t have the rugs back yet. We don’t have curtains up. These things deaden the silence. Make the absence of sound more manageable. F, of course, would prefer no curtains; no rugs; few pictures. But I can’t have windows without frames, walls which are completely bare, floors which are just too hard. I need some soft touches. Things that blur the edges; make things rounder rather than so square and angular.

This will take time. Not only do we have to get the things but I have some convincing to do. The rugs are easy. These are for the dogs. The pictures too, not too difficult. The curtains, more so. But, still, he hasn’t said “no”.

After we got back from the bar, he tried putting the television on. We connected everything but we get no signal. As if the aerial is not connected to the aerial socket.

We both agree that we’ve never had these problems living somewhere before. The buzzer from the front door doesn’t work; the bell at our door doesn’t work; there was no gas connected; the aerial; the boiler; the kitchen; etc., etc. Such little things but they just make it “not quite comfortable” – it all seems like so much work.

But until all these things are done or fixed, the flat remains a kind of large, echoing void. In need of some human touch to make it real. To make it our home.

A little secret, just for you.

The boxes are clear.

The place looks totally amazing, to be honest. And so big. F is really happy with the flat (in spite of saying he wasn’t the other day).

It’s not finished, of course. Pictures still have to go up; lights have to be fitted; the hot water has to come on (tomorrow); the kitchen must be finished. Still lots and lots to do. But we both love it and, with all those extra things, it can only get better.

So, here we are. Finally.

And, I’ll let you into a little secret, as long as you promise not to tell anyone.

It’s very, very organised. And I like that. A lot.

Oh, yes, and it’s very, very clean. And I like that too.

F is already talking about Christmas. “Where shall we put the tree?” he asked me last night. Then he answered it himself by saying it would go on the table, as usual. More or less, I’m letting him put things where he wants. He admitted last night that he hadn’t liked the three-piece suite before. But with the new covers, he loves it.

And the mix of old 20’s-style furniture and brand-spanking, white new cupboards is perfect.

And now I’m packed for Carrara, where I will head tomorrow. F will join me on Friday and we’ll have a couple of weeks by the sea, relaxing, which will be very nice.

So, it’s likely there’ll be no more posts until the end of August.

In the meantime, have a good holiday or good whatever-you-are-doing and see you in just under 3 weeks!


“Look!” he says. I see the kitchen. It’s obviously not complete. Maybe they are coming back tomorrow?

During the next hour or so, we had, “I’ve had enough of this flat.”, “Cazzo!”, “Giorno di merda!”, etc.

Finished with, “You go on holiday because then I can fix everything in the flat. It will be easier.”

So, let’s analyse where everything went wrong, shall we? Remember that I had assumed that the gas man had NOT turned on the gas because of some problem with the installation and, as for the kitchen, I had no idea what had happened. Looking at it, as he had ordered, made me think that they had forgotten a part of it.

In reality, the following events took place:

1. When taking the dogs for a walk, Dino started rolling about in some grass. Now, I have experience of this. Dogs rolling in grass = trouble. Or, rather = smelly shit. In the countryside, this smelly shit was a cow pat or some fox excrement or something. Here, in the middle of the city, it has to be some other dog shit (I hope, if you see what I mean). F didn’t know this. He saw him rolling around and shouted “No” but, of course, it was all too late. He was, indeed, covered in shit. Apparently, horrible, smelly shit. He was washed under one of the water points we have everywhere and then had a bath at home.

2. The gas man arrived. The doorman downstairs told him to ring the citofono (outside doorbell). There is one slight problem in that the bell doesn’t ring in the flat. So, F didn’t know. The gas man thought it meant we weren’t home, of course. At about 9.30, F went down to see why he hadn’t arrived to be told by the doorman that he had already left and had left us a note saying that we weren’t there!

3. The kitchen and fitters came. They fitted the whole kitchen. We had had to pay for a surveyor to measure the kitchen space to ensure that the dimensions were right as some kitchen units had to be tailor-made. Unfortunately, it seems, someone couldn’t read dimensions properly and one unit was 5cm too short. So F rejected the unit. Also, unfortunately, the said unit has to be fitted with another (it’s a corner unit) and the other, in this case, houses the sink and dishwasher. So they can’t be plumbed in. Hmmmm.

So that was that. F was, to put it mildly, crazy.

I also tried to fix the washing machine, which seemed to be leaking. I thought I had fixed it and started a(n empty) wash.

“Are you going to take the dogs out or shall I?”

To be honest, this wasn’t really a question. The wrong answer would have been “No, you do it.” The right answer was “I’ll take them out.” I’m not stupid. I gave the right answer. Unfortunately, that meant leaving the washing machine mid-wash. Ah, well, I thought, it seems not to be leaking. I took them out.

I came back to, “I’ve turned off the washing machine because water was coming out like a fountain!”

“At what point in the cycle did it start coming out?” I asked. A rather huffy reply of “I don’t know!” was received, so I didn’t ask further.

About 10 minutes later, from the kitchen I heard shouting (this means I must attend, of course). The shouting turned out to be an explanation of where the water was actually coming out. It wasn’t the washing machine at all but the opposite wall in the kitchen, under what is now a unit with the sink. It seems that the outlet for the waste water from the washing machine is connected to the sink outlet and, as the sink is not connected to anything, some of the water was coming out of there!

Well, at least I know now.

This weekend, I might try a dirty fix.

In the meantime, on the plus side, we have many units in the kitchen to put stuff away and get rid of the boxes.

On the downside, we still have no hot water, no useable kitchen or cooker and the kitchen will still be a bit messy.

On the other plus side, we received the sofas, armchair and dining chairs back (just now) and F is very happy with them. I mean, really happy.

“We could have bought a new suite for the same money,” he always adds. I guess pointing out that a suite that’s 30 years old but is still as if it was new, every time, is just a waste of my time. However, I still do it as it’s still a valid point.

And, apparently, hot water will be available from Tuesday morning – although me and the dogs may be in Tuscany by then. We shall see.

Last night we were out with friends for a meal. They’re F’s friends really. One of them said that I must have real patience to stay with him. Wisely, I didn’t answer.

Well, onwards and upwards, as they say.

Cazzo indeed.

I can’t phone or text or whatsapp. I want to but I can’t. If it’s the wrong time, I won’t be being helpful.

So I sit here, taking a short respite from a difficult 3-day client meeting, waiting to hear something and knowing that, if I don’t hear something, I’ve probably got all this to face when I arrive home.

Obviously, on the day of the move to our new home, not everything was done, as I may have mentioned.

For example, we had no kitchen. We had no sofas or dining room chairs. We had no hot water.

Before the kitchen could be installed, a special pipe had to be run along the wall from the gas meter to the place for the cooker (We were taking my existing cooker.) This work was expensive but, being gas, it has to be done right. Plus we needed some vents from the kitchen and some other stuff to make it all safe and certified.

They spent 2 days doing the work and it looked good and neat and tidy.

The kitchen was coming today. They were going to fit it. It’s a beautiful kitchen.

And the gas man was coming today to turn on the gas.

So, by the end of today, we shall have hot water, a fitted kitchen and we can start to empty the “kitchen” boxes.

More importantly, we can take showers, make coffee and tea and, if we want, cook meals.

Except, it seems, it’s all gone horribly wrong. But I don’t know why.

I sent a message to say that I had rung F’s dad to wish him a happy birthday.

“Today is not the day,” came the reply. Now I was sure I was right but maybe I had misunderstood. I replied asking if I had got the wrong day.

“No is no day for me
“The guy from the gas came and left
“so now I’m screaming with all the people”

Hmm. My understanding of this was that the gasman came but did not turn on the supply because something was wrong with the (very expensive) installation and that F was now quite busy, shouting down the phone at the people who did the installation.

It’s a guess. I text, “the gas is on or not?”


So, i guess that would be a “no” then?

I reply, “Oh, OK.” I mean, what else could I say? It would serve absolutely no purpose in getting angry and would only stress him out more. I wish I could go home but I have clients, so I can’t. Anyway, it would be like walking on eggshells if I did and, possibly, serve no useful purpose other than allow him to shout at me (which, actually, could have purpose in that he would shout less at the people we need to help to fix this and, therefore, more likely to get them to help us fix the problem.)

I get one more text.



Luxuries and routines

I get up but, obviously, there’s no routine and, for me, a routine in the morning is imperative as I cannot “think” but do everything automatically, without thinking.

There is no coffee. Or tea. This is not a good thing.

There is no hot water.

I go to the bathroom (my bathroom, obviously) and wash in cold water and shave with cold water. This is not ideal but tolerable. At least I have a mirror and all my stuff. I sit, the wrong way round, on the toilet to shave, with the mirror propped up on the cistern.

The luxury is dressing since I now have my “studio” which doubles as my dressing room. No longer do I have to get my clothes ready the night before. However, whilst this is a real luxury, it’s also difficult. First, I have to find the things I need and second, I have to make choices. Choices at 6 a.m. are NOT ideal. Still, my wardrobe is “organised” (by me) in such a way that I quickly find what I need without too much thought.

But I miss my mug of coffee.

I sit at the computer with some milk. This is better than nothing. But I am aware that I must leave earlier. First because I must walk further to get my car and second because I must have a cappuccino at a bar. A cappuccino is NOT a mug. It’s not even half a mug. Maybe, tomorrow, I have two?

We have opened all the boxes possible. The remaining boxes are full of either a) kitchen stuff or b) books and other things that require more cupboard space (which we bought on Saturday and, with any luck, will be fixed to the wall on Tuesday.)

Ornaments and objets d’arte and most pictures are still to be put in place. But that can be done once all boxes have been opened. F will decide everything.

The place is huge. And I mean H.U.G.E! Once the boxes have been unpacked, we shall have so much room.

The dogs seem happy enough but I sense they are a bit disconcerted by it. Dino has taken to coming onto the bed during the night and sleeping there, at our feet (or, on top of our feet) as if he needs that reassurance. He has a problem getting down since the floors in this place are slippery for him. F often gets up and lifts him down. I expect he’ll be getting used to that, then :-) Maybe we can buy something they use on yachts to make the wooden floors less slippery?

Of course, by the time the week is out, we’ll have hot water. And the sofas back. And the dining chairs. And I’ll have a routine. And it’ll start to feel like a home. The kitchen is another thing ………

Here we go

Well, here we are. The “packing” day.

“We’ll be there at 7.30 a.m.,” they said. It’s 8.10. Siamo in Italia.

Every few seconds I think of something else that I don’t want them to pack. Things we’ll need tonight or tomorrow morning. I have certain “places” (my briefcase, top of the cooker, etc.) which won’t be packed.

I feel a little stressed but only because of past experience. They move so fast and it’s hard to stop them packing stuff. Before you know it, it’s packed. But I shall try to keep up.

Frankie has the dogs out. It’s better. Anyway, they go to the “hairdressers” today to be clean for the new flat.

Now the men have arrived ……

We’re on the final countdown ……

The curtains, poles and other things are down and the curtains being washed.

The flat is without the three-piece suite, the rugs (which went for cleaning this morning), the dining chairs, etc.
The top of the fridge is washed, the back of the cooker and the back of the washing machine – all cleaned.

The flat seems quite empty now.

And, for the first time in my life, I’m quite sad to be leaving. I loved this flat. I still love this flat. I chose it for me and the dogs and it was pretty damned near perfect, for all its flaws.

I’ve had many happy times here and my life has changed so much since I first came here, frightened in case I was gong to be on my own. I know that some would say that you should be happy to be alone and strong enough in yourself to be so. But, you know? That just isn’t me. I don’t need someone to complete me just to share things with. I need someone to love and who loves me back. I need someone to care for and laugh with. If you’re happy being on your own, that’s OK and good for you. But, it’s not for me.

But, this flat was special and all mine with no compromises for other people. And if it had been one room bigger, I probably wouldn’t have moved.

But, on Wednesday the men come and pack everything and on Thursday, we move. And the new flat is lovely and more spacious and in a lovely street with trees and stuff and still in this neighbourhood, which I like a lot.

So, these are the last few days. But then something new starts and the new place is taking shape. The Romy Schneider wall is happening today and then, on Tuesday, the remaining cupboards will be fixed to the wall.

Oh yes, and for the first weekend we’ll have no hot water. And, possibly for about a week, no kitchen. But, hey, such is life! on the bright side, it’s very, very hot now, so maybe cool showers will be better :-)