Five Years (or, maybe, about ten?)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OK, and for me.

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

Strange, isn’t it?

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

I loved you for a bit and then I didn’t

I loved you for a bit and then I didn't

I wondered if I’d get anything.

My guess is that, by now, any credit he had on his Italian phone would be gone and, so, I thought it was unlikely that I would be able to get hold of him. I mean, directly of course. I could phone his mum or dad and ask to speak to him.

Anyway, he didn’t forget my birthday and, as usual, I get a text from him, wishing me a happy birthday and, as usual, expressing undying love for me. It’s unfortunate that, with all the lies over the years, I am completely unmoved by this.

He also tells me that he’s “in England at the moment.”

Of course, I already know this. Except that I know it’s not really “at the moment” but for good.

I know that an excuse will be forthcoming, eventually, so I think that we might as well get it over and done with and ask, in my reply, if everything’s OK. Are his mum and dad OK?

This would give him the opportunity to come up with the excuse. The one I’m thinking of is that he has “gone home to look after them.”

Instead, he ignores the question but send me this video to watch:

Ellie Goulding – How Long Will I Love You.

Of course, the answer to that was about 18-19 years, I guess. I so want to reply that – but it wouldn’t be nice, so instead I say thank you.

I suppose that Ay hasn’t told him what I know. If she calls me later, I will ask. Just to make sure. She and I need to stay on the same page with this, of course.

I’ll accept his reasons, whatever they will be. It’s not like I want to trip him up. I don’t hate him after all. It’s just a bit sad.

Plus that he really did love me but only for a period of time. And, then, he didn’t love me any more!

A night at the opera – Aida.

The last two posts were about Friday.

It was a rather “full” day in terms of emotions.

But, I had J staying and, on Sunday, as her birthday/Christmas present we had tickets for the opera. She had told me, on her last visit, that, as a teenager, she had got a scholarship for singing at the Royal School of Music in London but that her parents thought it would be waste of time and, instead, had forced her to go to secretarial college. She had wanted to sing opera.

I had bought three tickets. It was going to be her, me and, of course, F. But the gods did not smile on us and, very unfortunately, F couldn’t be there. I decided to offer the spare ticket to FfC, who has been going through a rather rough time of it, as of late.

This was at La Scala, Milan. I’d been once before, having bought V to the ballet. We’d had seats in one of the boxes. He had the seat in the front and I right behind. But, should you be getting tickets, don’t ever get a box unless you’re right at the front. From the second row, you only get (in my case) a view of half the stage. For a concert or, even, I suppose, an opera, it’s not so bad. But, for a ballet, it’s truly disastrous.

Anyway, to be safe, this time I had bought tickets in the stalls, just about half way back from the stage.

F had said that you didn’t need to dress up. But, that didn’t stop some people. Next time I’ll know – dress up as much as you like! We were smart but you could have gone all the way.

We arrived about 4.30 and met up with FfC. We went in and I bought two programmes – one for J and one for FfC.

Just after we sat down, it started.

And then, just as you start enjoying the singing and the spectacle, someone coughs. And then again. They’ve got that awful, irritating cough. The one that won’t stop. I half expect the singers on stage to stop and wait for the person to finish coughing. The coughing stops. And then starts again. Obviously, this person has a problem. Every few seconds, the cough comes. I try to ignore it and I may have been able to but for one important thing. The coughing is from the person next to me. And the person next to me is FfC!

I feel two things. The first is that I feel so sorry for her. She’s been looking forward to this and it’s a really nice treat when she’s going through such shit – to be ruined by coughing. Of course, once you start, knowing that you shouldn’t, you cannot stop! And she can’t. I offer her a gum. She drinks some cough medicine. But it is being persistent. She just can’t shake it off. The other thing I think is that I’ve paid €300 for her ticket and, although she feels terrible, I don’t want her to leave!

Eventually, she decides she will have to leave the auditorium. She is told she “won’t be let back in” – but I can’t believe that!

Meanwhile, the opera continues.

It is glorious. It is spectacular. A translation of the songs, in English, is available from a little screen attached the the back of the seat in front of you. The set was minimalist but, to me, just perfect. I didn’t know the opera work but I had read a synopsis and it was a typical “tragedy”, of course.

FfC didn’t come back in.

At the interval, I went out for a cigarette, leaving J in her seat.

FfC texted me. She was in the lobby and, obviously, she could come back in for the second half. She offered to buy me a drink. She said she had had a cup of tea and felt much better and would give it a try. She had been watching it on a monitor. Apparently, at every performance they get 4 to 6 people who have to step out for one reason or another (but often for persistent coughing).

Although there was the occasional cough from her, she survived the second half. J loved it all which, after all, was the reason we were there. If I were rich enough, I would love to go more often. Ah, well, you can dream.

The finale was spectacular! Both in terms of the set and the singing. This was not some amateur affair (nor amateur prices, of course) and, anyway, we were at La Scala!

Afterwards, we went to a restaurant called La Torree di Pisa – not cheap but stunningly good lamb (my dish), so worth every penny of its expensiveness!

All told, a lovely evening and I would do it all again tomorrow!

p.s. also a nice change from the Friday, of course.
p.p.s. J got me to sign her programme the next day. I wrote a little message and then she started crying. You may remember Venice, last time. She does cry at the simplest things :-D Bless her.

Twitter focus change

As time goes on, I’m finding Twitter much more enjoyable than Facebook.

But I’ve noticed a change – or, maybe, it’s something to do with how I’m interacting on Twitter – I’m not sure.

People have followed me in the past and I’ve looked at their profiles and not bothered to follow back. After all, I’m not really what you could call a “serious” Twitter user. I’m not really interested in numbers of followers or, that much, in who follows me. I don’t normally tweet very much, just doing the occasional retweets.

But then I started promoting Altern-i-life, the musical film that I helped to fund through Kickstarter. An I was tweeting and retweeting several times per day. And I saw that I was getting more notice and that more people were following me. And I decided to change the way I interacted by automatically following back. Then, after a little while I would see some had unfollowed me (so I would unfollow them since they weren’t that interesting) or my feed would be filled with rubbish or things that I didn’t like, so I would unfollow them first.

But, what I have noticed is some people are using Twitter as a way to promote something they’ve done. I first noticed it with Matt Haig who wrote The Humans. He, unselfconsciously, promoted himself by retweeting short (Twitter) reviews from people who had read the book. It seemed an interesting book, so I bought it. As you may know, I prefer a “real” book, made with paper and this was one of them. It became my favourite book of 2014. I absolutely loved it. So much so that I bought 2 copies (one in Italian) for Best Mate and F as presents and encouraged someone else to buy it.

As a result of that, maybe, I’ve been followed by other authors, each one promoting their book. Some are self-published and others not. And I’ve also been followed by musicians (singer-songwriters), some of whom have “given” me downloads of their stuff. So far, no one has had the impact of Matt Haig (so much so that I will definitely be buying his new book, out very soon) but I’m sure that, somewhere along the way, I’m going to find some more interesting stuff and something like “The Humans” (either song or book) that I will go “Wow!”

But, this was not what I thought Twitter was about, so, for me, it’s an interesting change of focus.

I still follow the people that I know IRL, those that are funny or give me information that I want to know about and, a very few, with whom I disagree with their politics or thoughts but who are interesting enough to keep me hooked. But now I have a load of people on my timeline that also have something to “sell”. If they are engaging enough, I keep following them anyway, even if I’m not that impressed with their product. After all, you never know!

Not really in the UK

Of course, London is not really “the UK”. It’s like its own country. Still, it has many things related to the UK.

It seems as if people fall into three groups: Eastender-type people, foreign people, pretentious pricks.

Eastender-type people speak estuary English. That’s like English for people who never went to school. They also dress as if they don’t have mirrors at home and select clothes which, quite obviously, don’t match anything else in the world, thereby creating an image of having selected things from a jumble sale. Basically, they don’t seem to give a shit.

Foreign people are everywhere. Of course, by “foreign people”, I don’t really mean foreign, what I mean is that, even if they, themselves, were British born, their parents or grandparents came from somewhere other than the UK. The mix of cultures is obvious. I don’t have any problem with it – it’s just noticeable and completely different from Milan. F said that it seems as if all staff in restaurants and bars are not English – and I think this is true. Certainly, we seem to come across “an Italian” in nearly every restaurant or bar. It was noticeable that there were a lot more “Muslim” women around, wearing some sort of head cover. Milan, on the other hand, seems to have very few.

Pretentious Pricks fall in to two categories. 1) Hipsters (although there seemed to be less than in Milan.) 2) People who look like someone from the 30s or 40s. Same haircut, same “look”, normally as camp as Christmas. Speaking with received pronunciation and being loud everywhere. Or “business men”, on the phone or a laptop being “business-men-who-are-very-important” – with received pronunciation or speaking like a cockney. All of these people seemed very much up their own arse.

On the other hand, there was BEER, TEA and full-English breakfast. Pubs with tables sticky from spilled beer; weather which was bright or cloudy or raining or different – every few seconds; wind; police or security – everywhere; drabness and colour in equal amounts; overflowing ashtrays; expensive public transport; and, of course,


No, not the one that people call “beautiful” even if she isn’t – it’s just compared to every other member of the royal family, she is!

No, Kate Bush. The live edition. The two-and-a-half-hour extravaganza of singing and music and choreography. It was truly fabulous. She was fabulous. The whole set was fabulous.

Oh, yes, and we went up the Shard, which I think is an ugly building – but the views of London were stunning.

So that was London.

Dripping Drugs Online

You know how it is. You’re listening to a song on the radio and you hear something repeated and it sounds like some words but you know they aren’t the real words but now the words you thought were sung are fixed in your brain.

Like the famous Police hit, Sue Lawley (British people will understand this).

So, this morning, I swear I could hear a bloke singing/rapping “dripping drugs online”. I’ve looked up the lyrics but this particular refrain is not included since it’s not the main part of the song :'(

So, for me, during Duke Dumont’s, I Got U, I will always hear dripping drugs online.

See what you think?

A concert, the weather and the dreaded Visit.

Well, I managed to book for Kate Bush ….. eventually.

Not the date we wanted, nor, even, at a weekend but at least I got some. I saw her on her first (and only) tour back in 1979 (in Manchester) and I remember it quite well. It was an amazing concert. Obviously, this one won’t be so “energetic” but I imagine she’ll do a good show in any event.

I have been so busy of late. So much so that this weekend will be a relaxing weekend. The temperatures should be in the 20s (°C) and it should be sunny – so that means a walk with the dogs, at least.

Of course, there’s the nagging thing about “The Visit”. That hasn’t gone away. The list is quite long now, which is to be expected. Few people know about it, which is the best thing.

Of course, it’s unlikely to be just this one. I’m expecting some other “visits” will have to follow. It’s almost like I shall be “sucked into” this thing. Like getting stuck in whirlpool – going further and further down, getting completely caught up in rounds of “visits”. I’ve avoided all this, so far.

Other things are being “sorted” but much more needs to be done before everything is ready. Still, one thing at a time, eh?

Update: And, apparently, I was lucky to get any tickets!

Marrone, maroon, catsagna and Chesternut 5

This, being Autumn, in Italy, is the time for chestnuts. I actually quite like chestnuts although F can’t stand them. Ah well.

However, if you buy the candied version, they are called marron glacé – the French name.

So, this morning I’m chatting with my colleague over coffee (you know, the one who has “blonde moments”) and, as she often does, she will be talking about something and then say to me,

“theword, you know what is?”

In this case, the word was castagna. Now, I do know what this means but sometimes I just reply “no”, as I did this morning.

She said, “oh, you know, marron?” This made me laugh. I explained that this was a French word, not English.

She seemed surprised by this. “But, Marron 5?”

This made me laugh more. What she meant was Maroon 5, the group. I had to explain that maroon is not the same as marron. But what really made me laugh is that all this time she has been thinking of Maroon 5 as Chestnut 5!

I said that the word was a colour – a sort of dark red (I always thought a kind of purplish-red although when I looked it up it’s supposed to be a brownish-red, the name having come from the French word for chestnut).

So, all these things turn a kind of full circle – castagna (It) = marrone (It) [both a type of chestnut and a colour] = marron (Fr) [as in marron glacé] = chestnut (Eng) which could = a darker version of maroon (Eng) [colour] = the first part of the name of a group, Maroon 5!

Of course, there is also a friend of F’s who regularly calls castagna “chesternuts” which always makes me smile.

I further explained to my colleague that Maroon 5 was a group name and said that, for example, a famous (in Italy) group from the 70s or 80s was Pooh – which, of course, could be translated as cacca as pooh is an alternative spelling of poo. Of course there is also Winnie-the-Pooh – but I always thought that name had something to do with Christopher Robin’s idea of fun, since children always think bodily functions are funny.

Anyway, while we’re here, let’s have a bit of Maroon 5:

and a little bit of I Pooh [The Shit, if you like] (who, if you’re not Italian, I’ll bet you’ve never heard of!):