MIB, 2 flip-flops and a funeral

I am sitting wearing a dark suit, a white shirt and a black tie. F sits next to me with dark trousers, dark shirt and dark jacket. Next to him is a guy wearing a T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops like he’d just come from the beach. And, yet, it seems, he doesn’t feel uncomfortable dressed in this way.

I had been warned but I wasn’t quite expecting to be so over-dressed.

Someone likened me to the Men In Black which, I realised, with my glasses, dark in the sunshine, was possibly true.

Now, I’m no expert on British funerals. I think I’ve been to five – one of which was with people of Jamaican origin, so doesn’t really count as “British”. But, from my experience (always excluding the Jamaican one), it goes something like this:

You go directly to the church (only the very close family members would be at the home beforehand); the coffin is closed; there is a service; you either go to the crematorium where there is another kind of service where the coffin disappears behind a curtain or to the cemetery, where the coffin is put into a hole in the ground, some people throw a flower or dirt on the coffin and it’s then filled in by a mechanical digger and the wreaths placed on top; you go back to the house (or a pub or somewhere) and you have a bit of a party where you spend the time reminiscing about the person. There are some tears. There are some laughs. The party helps to lift the mood; relieves the tension. It “rounds off” the sadness with some good memories and some a good (if a little subdued) time.

The Jamaican one was different. The coffin is open. There is wailing and crying. The church is so packed that people are standing four-deep at the back! There is a point at which people queue to pass the coffin where they touch the body and do a bit more wailing. Wives, sisters, nieces are supported as it seems as if, at any moment, they will collapse on the floor. The vicar at one point threatens to throw people out because there is too much talking in the congregation!!! It was strange.

Italian funerals, much like Italian weddings are similar to British ones but slightly different. In both cases, the party (where there could be dancing and stuff) is missing. In the case of the wedding, it is a meal that lasts for hours and has a million courses – but no dancing and music and people getting really, really drunk.

F doesn’t want me to come down the night before. Instead, I drive down in the morning. I’m doing what he wants – making myself available for whatever he says I should do but not wanting to be any sort of burden for him.

I arrive at his house to get changed and he is there. He says that I should come to “the house” about 12.30. To be honest, I’m very nervous but really because I don’t know what to expect. He tells me that S (his previous partner) has sent flowers. I feel a bit miffed because I would have sent flowers but he said not to. I say that I should have sent some. He says it’s OK, it’s because S can’t come to the funeral. I don’t argue with him – he doesn’t need anything but support from me.

He leaves to go for lunch there (something quick and easy, he says, don’t come because they will be embarrassed by the food (not to their normal standards)) and I am to go into the town and get something to eat. That’s OK for me. Except, it’s really out of season, so more places are closed or shut for lunch or stuff. I eventually sit at a cafe and have some pasta dish. It’s not “wow” but I don’t care. It may be the only food I have today. I have a beer with it – after all there will be no party with alcohol and food afterwards – this much I know.

I try to get him the cigarettes he has asked for but the tobacconist is closed (for lunch, I guess, or just because …….).

I go back to his house and park and walk round to the house. I am about 20 minutes late. i expect the house to be filled with people but I am “the first” of this afternoon’s visitors. At the moment, it’s just the immediate family (and F). And, now me.

Most people have T-shirts and trousers. I, on the other hand, am the Man In Black. F says, “I told you so.” I say, “I don’t care, it’s how we do it in the UK.” For me, it’s a sign of respect and I can be a funny bugger like that. It’s tradition and it’s my tradition, so I’ll stick to it.

I go to see the body, laid out on the bed. As I approach the bedroom, E (the only daughter and like a sister to F) comes out. We hug. I go into the bedroom, am introduced to E’s mother-in-law and I see the body. But it isn’t her. it looks a bit like her but it’s not her. She’s not there, in this room. I leave. I then spend the next hour or so trying to be inconspicuous in the corner. This is hard because I tower over most people and also because I look like some secret agent and I’m not known by everyone.

Some people greet me; F’s niece, sister, mother, some other relations. His Dad comes later and looks visibly shocked to see me and also deeply upset (not to see me – it was his sister). The Funeral Director’s people come to put the body in the coffin, etc. They have blue, short-sleeved shirts, no jackets and striped blue ties. I look more like one of their people than they do – but, then, this is not the UK. At least they wear a tie.

The brother comes. From Sicily. He’s a priest. I’ve met him once or twice before. For some strange reason, I always feel, when he looks at me, that he is judging me. I always stare him out, refusing to be intimidated by someone from the church. Of course, this may be entirely in my mind. Or not?

Apparently, a few days ago, he was up for a few days to see his sister. They didn’t know how long she would live. He is, of course both the uncle of F and the uncle of E. Apparently, he asked E if “F’s friend” had been there. E replied that he should use the correct term – that I was not F’s friend but F’s boyfriend! I only know this much. I wanted to ask his reaction – but I dare not. I’m impressed by E but my wanting to know his reaction is, really, a desire to give the church a “slap”. So, when F told me all this, a few days ago, I didn’t enquire further.

Anyway, i digress. The coffin is carried out to the car. We all walk to the car. There are a lot of people milling around. I am definitely out of place, not only for towering over everyone. The big, fat priest (not the uncle), who has been mopping his brow every few moments, walks in front of the car and the people, led by the daughter and husband an other close relatives (but not F – where is F? I look around. I don’t know where I’m supposed to be!) and then the rest of the people, follow behind at the slow pace thing they do for a funeral procession. The sun is shining and it’s very hot. I am dying in my dark suit. F suddenly appears beside me. “I’m going to leave my jacket in the car,” he says. “Do you want to leave yours too?” I reply that, no, I don’t. I’m going to be the usual stubborn Englishman that I always am and wear my jacket and suffer, even in this extreme heat.

I also inform him that, as I’ve been sweating a lot, to take my jacket off would expose that. To explain: My shirt, which is cheap but the only white one I had that was clean, is almost see-through when it is wet. If I took my jacket off, it would look like I’ve entered for a wet T-shirt competition! Whereas this might fit in with the flip-flops and shorts, I think it’s just too much.

We get to the church. I tell F that i will stay at the back. F says that he will too. But then he goes to the front. He waves me forward when he gets there. I go to sit in the row behind him, on the far left-hand side. He waves me to come and sit by him. We are on the front row. They don’t seem to do etiquette like we do in the UK. Next to me sits F. Next to him sits a guy who is the cousin-in-law of E – he who is wearing flip-flops and shorts!

They do a mass. The uncle-priest appears, dressed like a priest (until now he had been wearing a suit) and assists the big, fat priest in the mass. I don’t understand anything. I stand up when others stand up. i sit down when others sit down. I don’t do the crossing thing they do. I don’t do the “taking communion” thing (although most people didn’t do it, including the chief mourners). Let’s be honest, I don’t really do the “religion” thing either it, in my mind, being just a way to “control” people. I think: I must tell F that I don’t want a religious ceremony (if it can be avoided) when I die. The big, fat priest often wipes his face with his handkerchief. I think: it would help if he lost some weight and, probably, if he ate a lot less pasta! No, I’m not religious at all.

The whole thing finishes and the coffin is led out by the big, fat priest. Everyone, trundles out. F comments about how the church is full of “old people”. I point out that, as the person who has died is old, (not that old, mind you) the church is filled with a lot of friends who will be of similar age. this is the way it is.

Outside, the sun is blazing down. The people mill around, chatting, greeting each other, etc. I tell F that I’m going for a cigarette – it’s been a couple of hours since i last had one. Also, although I don’t tell him this, I can’t stay in this suit, in this sun. And, anyway, I don’t speak Italian well enough. He tells me to go and wait by the car and gives me the keys. I go and, in the shade by the car, have several cigarettes. Eventually he arrives together with his sister and his cousin-from-Sicily – who is a nun.

We drive to the cemetery. There is a lot of discussion about meeting up with the hearse at some point. But no one can agree about what was supposed to happen. The gates to the cemetery seem to be locked. We hang around. Eventually, someone (the nun or his sister) goes and asks someone. It seems the hearse is already inside! With all the people.

We go in. The cemetery is huge. Cemeteries, here, are HUGE! There are, of course, the usual plots in the ground. But here they also do walls with, what I have always assumed, ashes inside. We walk down to where all the people are. In fact, the whole coffin is inside a hole in one of these walls. It is a tomb. instead of soil being piled in on top of the coffin, the hole is being bricked up! Bricking up the hole takes a whole lot longer than piling soil on top. I think how wonderful it is that the bricklayer is a woman, her long, blond hair tied up in a super-long pony tail. She works fast and hard under the glare of the mourners. In the meantime, I position myself under a tree, for the shade.

At one point, the bricklayer turns around. I see that she is, in fact, a man. He finishes the wall. F explains that, eventually, after some years, the bones of several relatives are collected together and put in one tomb. For now there is some sort of temporary (I suppose) “tomb stone” fixed to the outside. the flowers are placed around outside. This has taken so much longer than a burial in the ground that a majority of the people have excused themselves at some point or another. I don’t, of course, since I need F to take me back to the car which I’ve left at his house. Several people (his dad, his mum, etc.) ask if I’m staying. I explain that I’m going back to Milan. I have work the next day. And the dogs. And, of course, F didn’t want me to stay. That way he has the freedom to do the things he needs to do without being concerned about me.

At one point the wife of the shorts and flip-flops man asks F if he’ll go for a cigarette with her. Instead, he says that I will go. He’s right, of course, I will always sneak off for a fag. (Note to Gail – that’s the British term for a cigarette and not what you think!)

Of course, she speaks no English but somehow we manage to talk about her son (who has grown a lot in the last 12 months) and the dogs and some other stuff.

Then we go back and I go back to my place in the shade. They finish the bricking in and the laying out of the the flowers. By now it’s really only family that are left. We start to walk back. E, linking arms with me and F. We pass some graves of people that I don’t know but I know about and some graves of people that I don’t know and don’t really know about but they are related somehow.

Then out. We say our goodbyes. The mood is lighter but there isn’t the relief that a wake would have given them. In F’s car, besides me, are the uncle-priest, F’s sister and the cousin-nun. It feels quite weird to be so close to them without any escape (yes, I really DO have a problem with religion.)

We drop the uncle-priest off first. I get out of the car to shake his hand. He says, “bye-bye.” I wonder how much of the conversation between F and me he understands.

Next, we drop off the cousin-nun and his sister. Then he drops me at his house. He wants to go and see E and make sure she’s all right so he doesn’t stay.

I drive home and the dogs are pleased to see me. After I’ve taken them out, I go for a pizza and a few beers. Alcohol is essential after a funeral. It’s like saying, “….. and ….. relax!” Though it would have been better with people who had known her. Then they could have told some great stories and we could have laughed and remembered her fondly and the love that people had for her would have taken the edge off the fact that she was no longer with us.

I must remember to tell F that, when I die, I want a big fucking party – with food and alcohol and music and, if people want, dancing. And I hope, very much, for some really great and funny stories :-)

Anyway, this was another “first”, and I don’t get so many of those, these days. Hence the long post.

Uneasy.

adjective (uneasier, uneasiest)
Causing or feeling anxiety; troubled or uncomfortable:

We’re waiting.

I’m waiting.

I’m waiting for a different thing from the thing that we’re waiting for. Neither thing has a defined end although both will end. The end, for us, is not really good. The end for me only, is good.

Both things make me feel uneasy. This waiting. Wanting it to be over. Wishing your time away.

I can’t hurry along either and one, in a way, I don’t want to. Although it will be worse if the waiting is for long. But that’s not expected. The thing I’m waiting for really depends on the thing that we’re waiting for, to some degree.

But it’s an uncertain time. The uncertainty also makes me feel uneasy.

It causes worry although the worry is for no specific reason. But worry is not good either. And, in this case it’s stupid since there is nothing to worry about. As such.

And, of course, one of the things is very sad. Well, it makes me sad. So that’s another reason for unease.

And then, of course, when the waiting is over, there’s the “What do I do?” thing. And, here, I feel somewhat alone. Not lonely, just alone. There’s the element of “What is expected?” which I don’t know and can’t, really, find out easily. Then the “What actual things do I do?” and the “How do I do these things if they need to be done?” All this because I live in a foreign country.

Knowing that these things will end and, therefore, that we all pass to a different place, a different understanding and that these things are not forever, doesn’t really make the waiting any easier, for all the reasons above.

Just so you know why I’m not posting much at the moment.

A freezing hell?

To be perfectly honest,it was, perhaps, the most stupid place to put it. Well, I suppose somewhere on the floor would have been more stupid.

It had been perched on top of the door-entry phone. Of course, when replacing the handset yesterday, it fell off. And broke. It’s not particularly pretty. It’s a small oval needlework thing in a small oval frame. I don’t know its significance but, the fact that it’s still here means that it does have some significance. It’s probably some very important heirloom similar to the “picture” I learnt was the only thing he has from this “aunt” that he loved as a boy. It’s a fake Japanese-type thing. The sort of thing that people would buy in the 70s and you now see in all second-hand shops.

The frame (which is plastic and gold coloured, broke as it hit the hard-tiled floor. As a result the plastic “glass”, the wooden back and the needlework itself, spread themselves over the floor.

I swear. For all his obsessive compulsive disorder regarding cleaning and putting everything away, he tends to leave odd things in rather odd places that, if I’m honest, I find somewhat annoying.

An example would be a bag (one of those which you might get when you buy clothes or something), gold, large which, since he came home on Sunday, has been left on the chest of drawers in the entrance hall. I thought something was in it but, when I checked this morning, it is empty!

So this needlework thing, perched precariously on top of the door-entry phone, fell off. And broke.

No problem, I think. There is some superglue and I can super-glue it together. It’s a couple of clean breaks. We’ll hardly notice the difference.

I go to my study. The superglue is there, where I left it, after I used it to repair my mouse a couple of weeks ago. I remember taking it from the package and carefully opening it (you have to “overscrew” it to make the opening so the glue will come out), using it and then ensuring that the cap was screwed on properly.

Remember the old days? When you used to open a tube of superglue and then, the next time you came to use it, all the glue had dried up in the nozzle and you had to throw it away and buy a new tube? Well, now it’s marketed that you don’t have to worry about that any more. This new cap solves this problem.

They lie.

I would prefer them to say “New Superglue! Special cap that allows you to think you will be able to reuse it next time. Use once and then keep for a while and then throw away and buy another!”

That would be the reality.

That is the reality!

I unscrew the special cap. I squeeze the tube. Nothing comes out for it is blocked solid. I try (as I always do, every single bloody time – you’d think I would have learnt by now but, no, it seems not) using a needle to “open up” some small hole to allow the glue to come out.

I spend 15 minutes trying to do this.

As every other time, I nearly break the needle but am not successful. There is glue in the tube. I can feel it moving. But it might as well be in some high tower of some castle, defended by fire-breathing dragons the size of small countries, the castle surrounded by a chasm full of fire and volcanic lava and so large that it would be impossible to traverse.

I will do what I do every time. Next time I go to the supermarket, I will buy another effing tube of this superglue, which is hideously expensive, to use a fraction of a drop to repair this frame, to save the tube for the “next time” I need superglue, to go through the whole effing process again.

And yet, I simply cannot just throw it away after it’s single use. One day I’m going to be shocked and surprised that it actually can be reused.

Or hell will freeze over first, I suppose.

*sigh*

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.

Mantova

Mantova. 6th September.
I wake up, first, at about 4 a.m. The dogs seem excited and are ready to go for a walk. I try to get back to sleep. It must have been after 5 before I managed to doze off again. The alarm re-awakens me just before 5.30. I hit the snooze button a couple of times before getting up to take them out.

This the “normal” time to get up but, what isn’t normal, is that I went to bed after 1 a.m.

But, it’s not a work day, it’s a Saturday and, what’s more, I’m off to Mantova, for the festival. Sadly, without F. And, just sadly as the “background stuff” remains.

I get the leads and we leave the flat. As we exit, I see some bastard has called both lifts. I wait for one to become free and call it. It’s the slower one. Oh, well. As we’re waiting for the lift to arrive, the other one arrives on our floor! Since there are only 2 flats on our floor, this has to be our next door neighbour! And so it is. He’s obviously returning from his night out. Oh to be young!

He’s mid-twenties, I guess. And, it seems, he likes dogs, which is excellent. As he asks, I introduce the dogs to him as he strokes them.

I realise afterwards, that, although he now knows the dogs, we both failed to introduce ourselves! And, I guess, if he has the habit of coming in at this time, we may not see him so often!

The streets are almost deserted. There’s the newspaper stalls opening up, a few people going to work and a few, like our neighbour, returning home. We go for a longer walk than normal – I won’t be back until late and I’ve allowed extra time, as I do when using public transport.

Back at home, I make coffee and message F. He messages back. He’s on his way to the hospital, so he phones me and we chat about things. I tell him I’m not staying overnight this time. He says that he’ll definitely come next year and I realise that he understands it’s important to me.

I go to get the tram for the station and nearly miss one but the driver kindly waits for me.

And so now I am on the train, on my way. I’m thinking that some beers are in order, maybe (one of the reasons for taking the train, after all :-))

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.

In which things don’t go according to plan

Well, further to my post a day or so ago, F won’t be joining me at Mantova, after all.

The reason I won’t give but it’s all very sad and, although I still plan on going, it will put a bit of a dampner on things, even for me. He leaves tonight and I’m not sure (nor is he) when, exactly, he will be back, since he’s off to Spain next week for work.

Sometimes life is a bit of a bitch, really, isn’t it’

Guess what? The Internet is NOT a safe place for your private things. Who knew?

So, according to the DailyHateMail, there has been O U T R A G E about some “private” photographs that have been “stolen”. People are comparing it to rape, stalking and the rest.

Well, in my opinion, don’t put anything anywhere on the Internet that you wouldn’t be happy to leave lying around on your coffee table when you’re giving a dinner party with complete strangers. And, by that, I mean any device that can access or be accessed by the WWW. This includes telephones, pads and computers.

Worse still is to entrust the safe-keeping of those personal affects to a storage place that is not, physically, in your house. That’s like leaving something important and personal in a secret hiding place somewhere down the road.

In the “old days” this was easier. After all, we were not “connected” and if you took a photograph on your camera and you developed the photograph yourself, you had complete control. If it was anything other than that, you were not in control. I’m not sure how we got to a place where we thought, even for a moment, that the Internet was safe? After all the stories in the recent years, too!

And, so, do I “feel sorry” for these celebrities that have had some nude pictures stolen and banded wound the Internet for all to see? Well, no, not really.

First: Why are you taking nude photographs of yourself? Or, why are you allowing someone else to take nude photographs of you? If it was for your personal pleasure, then they should be kept (safely) on your computer or camera.

Secondly: Why did you think that it was OK to put them on some central storage place or send them via email or message? Haven’t you heard about the revelations by Snowden about people screening all these places? did you not stop to think that, if the NSA/GCHQ can do it, so can other (?less scrupulous?) people? If not, are you some kind of stupid?

Thirdly; You’re a celebrity. You can expect the rags like the DailyHateMail to try and get these private pics. And, if they can’t get them first, then they can be “outraged” that someone else got them first! Did you not hear about the News of the World hacking scandal? Have you been living on some distant planet?

So, the upshot is that it’s entirely your own fault.

But, I really want to know: Have all these celebrities really been busy taking nude pics of themselves? Am I now so old that I find it really quite strange? Have we developed into a civilisation the likes to create its own porn?

And, tell me why it is that (apparently) so many people are interested in seeing certain parts of celebrity bodies?

Let me go and have a look for some to find out ……….

;-)

Mantova Festivaletturatura

Here it is, starting tomorrow, the sign that the warmer weather (what there was of it this year) is about to go away in a final flourish of summer.

Mantova’s (Mantua) literary festival is the signal for me that the holiday period is almost over and it’s a soft, gentle way to slip into Autumn.

But, the BIG news this year, is that F is coming! I am so happy about that. I am hopeful that we can get to stay 2 days because that would be nice. But even if it’s one single day, it will be good. I get to show him off. He’s coming even though he has to fly out early on Monday morning, so this is a bit of a sacrifice for him. Or, maybe a peace offering following an “incident” during the holiday?

In any event, I want to make the most of it.

Empty

Afraid.

No. That isn’t the right word.

Insecure.

No, nor that either.

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

Lost.

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.