Noises are not good.

He presses into my back but he can’t settle.

Two or three times, he turns around, each time, pushing himself into my back. Trying to get closer still.

Eventually, he decides it’s not enough and he steps over me and tries, again to settle.

This time between us. Having something on both sides must be better, I suppose.

I realise that something is wrong. There are two possibilities. One is that he is ill. The other, that he is frightened. I wake myself up, enough so I can tell the difference. There are noises. Bangings, from time to time. It’s the wind. The tail end of the hurricane must have reached us. He is so frightened. He gradually moves up between us until he is almost sitting on the pillows. Then lying on the pillows. Then up again, sitting but anxious. Panting because he’s hot but there’s no way he’s going to move from this place of safety.

I hear a banging from, what I think may be the bathroom. I get up. I close the bedroom door which shuts out (a bit) the noises of things being hurled around the courtyards below. I go to the bathroom and see that the window I left open is banging shut from time to time. The wind is strong and very gusty.

I go to my studio and shut the windows there too. This, effectively, closes the back of the flat.

Back to bed and I have to move him to get back into bed. But he is not, just NOT going to be moved far. After getting into bed he starts inching up again towards the pillows at the next sound.

F is awake too now. Piero cannot settle and, I’m sure, would prefer to be under the covers with us protecting him. F says we should shut all the windows. He says he’s worried about the stuff on the balcony from the kitchen. We keep the rubbish bins out there (he doesn’t like them in the flat – the smell, you know?) As well as a ton of other things. I go and shut the lounge and dining room windows first. I go to open the closed shutter in the kitchen but he is there first. He always complains that it is too heavy to open so prefers it open. I close it in the evening as I go and switch on the coffee in the early morning and don’t want other people to see me before I’m fully dressed. I go to take over from him but, as usual, he won’t let me help. i shrug my shoulders and walk away. It’s one o’clock in the morning. I don’t even have words to say. He opens it and the door and checks the balcony but leaves everything out there and just closes the door.

I go to close the shutters. He says to leave them open. I try to explain that I don’t like them open until I’m dressed. He says that no one will notice which is probably true. But I’m funny like that. But I can’t be bothered to argue. I get the clothes I will now need to get up and put on before I go and switch the coffee machine on. I am pissed off. Royally pissed off but I say nothing.

We both get back into bed, sliding in next to Piero. Piero can still hear bangs and clunks from outside and he just won’t settle. I consider that, if I can’t get to sleep, I’ll get up, have a cigarette and some milk and read some of my book (Gone Girl, btw – I want to read it before I watch the film) but I try to crush those thoughts.

He gets up again and tries to call Piero but Piero ain’t budging. He goes into the kitchen, opens the door and brings everything inside, closes the door and then the shutters. He does, kind of, listen to me but only grudgingly and with bad grace. It doesn’t matter. I know he has done this by the noises from the kitchen not because I saw him do it.

He comes back to bed. Piero doesn’t move but accepts his strokes and affection. After a while, I go to sleep.

The alarm goes off. I feel like I’ve slept for about 5 minutes. It’s going to be a crap day. And it’s still very, very windy. But the sky is clear, which is something and, although it’s colder, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.

Later, by message, he tells me that he’s going to leave a window open. I say no because Piero will still be frightened. Even with them closed, he’ll be frightened but, hopefully, less so. Tonight he’ll be as attached as a limpet, I’m sure.

The adolescents have taken over the Internet

It seems as if we’ve lost the art of “discussion.”

Words like misogyny, troll, anti-Semitic, sexist are banded around, it seems, for every occasion that there is some disagreement.

The latest I saw was for something called #gamergate. And, on that point, how come, after Watergate, does everything have to have “gate” tagged on? they aren’t the same thing, you know?

It seems (and please mind that I said “seems”) as if it all started when some unhappy person spouted off about their former partner and their breakup but has developed into something else. I choose my words well. I did not say “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” because, actually, that’s not important (although it seems to have become so.)

So, this person called their former partner a liar and accused them of having several affairs.

This is very sad. Made more so by the decision to publish the details online, in a blog post. This was, apparently, to “make people aware” of what their partner was really like. So that others would be able to decide whether to trust them or not. But it strikes me as more of a “washing your dirty laundry in public” and it certainly didn’t make this person look good.

The partner was a “big shot” in the the world of computer games, having developed at least one themselves. Apparently, to get good reviews, this person slept with a journalist (who, I have read, didn’t actually do a review of the game!)

This partner also, it would seem, somehow managed to scupper some other thing, set up in direct competition to the partner’s own business.

So, there we have it. A person (the partner) is, apparently, a) a shitty person to have a relationship with (according to their ex-partner) and b) runs a business; trying to get favourable press and destroy the competition. That’s all it was or, rather, all it started out as.

The problem is that the original post is not a happy post. It reminds me of something one does when one is 20. A relationship breaks up and one side is more hurt than the other (which is normal as it’s rare that both sides “decide” to split) and being more hurt, they want to make the partner hurt too. It’s a normal reaction. But, unfortunately, adding a post to the Internet is a little like whispering it to everyone in the world. It becomes “public property” and, at that moment, because it’s the written word, a little like Chinese whispers, it takes on a life of its own.

It morphs into something different.

And, from what I’ve read, what could have been a discussion on how the gaming industry (let’s not forget that this is BIG business, now, not some nice little community of like-minded people) works and how it should work and what’s wrong with it, it developed into a fight between two camps and, at worst, an attack on women which it never started out to be. It started as an attack on one person who happened to be a woman but could have equally been a man.

So, what started as a rather sad individual trying to get some retribution for the break up, ended as something completely different – a fight between people with the minds of adolescents.

I mean, “death threats”? “Attacks on women”? It’s not normal, fair-minded people who do that, surely? And, yet, hidden behind the anonymity that IS the Internet, it seems we can ignore “discussion” and go straight to hate-filled rhetoric.

Unseasonable weather; the sorting of many things; illogical obsessions.

Well, let’s do the weather first. 29°C! That’s what my car said on Friday afternoon! That’s Friday halfway through October. Incredible!

And we’ve been having some lovely weather although the mornings are a little cool and sometimes there’s a dampness in the air.

Anyway, back to Friday. That is, Friday 17th. I went to get the rugs, which had been cleaned. This was going to be the weekend of finishing (well, almost) the flat. I picked up the rugs and, whilst I was paying, some other customer mentioned that it was Friday 17th. Which is like Friday 13th in the UK and nobody had mentioned it at work and, so, I didn’t remember – until that point. I said that, for the English, it’s Friday 13th so today I’m English but on Friday 13th, I live in Italy – either way, they’re OK. It got a laugh, anyway – or, maybe, that was my bad Italian?

Marco Felegname had been round to fix the cupboards and the rest of the lamps.

Saturday morning, we went to get the kitchen table, donated by a friend/colleague of F’s. It’s an IKEA table, white and has a kind of 50s look. Perfect. After we got it back I went for a haircut and tried to find something to send BM for her birthday. I got one stupid thing and then, as I couldn’t find anything really suitable, ordered a book, online, when I get home. The book was The Humans by Matt Haig.

By the time I got home, I felt like crap. The onset of ‘flu. So I said I was sorry but I just had to go to bed for a bit. I felt so tired, all my bones ached and I felt “‘fluey”. I dozed, on and off, for a couple of hours. After that I felt considerably better. Not really well, but better.

In the meantime, the rugs were down and the table set up. Also, a few more pictures had been hung. Things were moving apace. Almost everything had been moved from the kitchen worktops into the cupboards. Not what I wanted but I’m not arguing about it. It makes him happy and it’s not like I use everything every day (or, even every week!)

The next day was more “organising”. I put up another set of drawers for my studio; he moved the towels and sheets from the cupboards in the bedroom to a new one in the hall.

“Can I move my books, yet?” (into the cupboards in the bedroom that were now free) I asked.
“No, I need to clean behind the cupboards first,” he replied.

Later, I start moving my books. “Don’t you want to clean the cupboard first?” he asks. “I thought you did it,” I respond. “No, I cleaned behind them,” he said. “I’m sorry my English is no good,” he continues, irritated that I would put the books away without cleaning. Whenever he says about his English being no good, I know he is pissed. I refrain from saying that, if the cupboards WERE dirty, then so were the sheets and towels that we just moved and that, surely, they all needed washing, then? He’s just manically obsessed by this cleaning everything lark. I say I will clean the cupboards (even if there is absolutely no need) but, because of his stroppiness, he starts cleaning. I walk out of the room – after all, there’s no point in arguing. Not only doesn’t he listen but the whole thing makes no logical sense.

Later, he hangs all my pictures. There are four that he groups together. “I don’t really like these,” he tells me. “That’s OK. Don’t put them up – or put them up in my studio,” I don’t really mind. Eventually, they are put up in the hall. It seems he doesn’t really hate them. Or he puts them up because they’re mine. I don’t know. From time to time he says, “Do you like this (picture here)?” “Yes,” I say. “Or is it better here?” “Either looks good to me,” I reply. Which is true. He’s the one with the eye for detail, not me. In the end, everything is put up.

By the end of the day, we are really almost finished. Even the wire connecting my computer to the television in the lounge is fitted (although not tested yet.) Now there’s only the curtains and the sofa bed to get. Maybe, also, a new filing cabinet. And some new (more) rugs? This was F’s idea because he realises the dogs suffer a bit with the slippery floors.

And then we’re done.

But he’s already very happy, so that’s good. The party will be in December. Apparently.

There was discussion on Saturday evening. “Shall we do an aperitivo or an after-dinner party?” I had always assumed an aperitivo. “But will people come to after-dinner?” I ask. It seems that they will although I am not convinced. Anyway, by the end of the discussion, it seems aperitivo has won the day – although it’s not really fixed. Later, over dinner with friends, he says there’ll be about 40 people coming. even I am surprised. We shall see.

A little rant about stupid people.

Some people are, to be honest, quite stupid.

Oh, I know, I shouldn’t really be so hard on them, I suppose. But, you know, when me sending an email to you regarding the changes in flat details, prompts you to send a reply to me just a few days ago, then WTF are you doing texting me now to ask for those very details?

And then there’s the guy who used to be a student of mine. He was “in love” with this other guy. I say “in love” because he was straight and so was the other guy (well, probably) but he just adored him for his “skill” with, to use a very, very old British phrase, “pulling the birds”. Many times he would tell me stories and he was awestruck with this guy.

Well, I’ve now met him and, in fact, he’s the guy I mentioned above with the text.

And I’ve seen this guy a few times now. I’m not so awestruck. If only the old student would get in touch, I could now tell him how, exactly, he does this magic. Of course, it’s not magic at all. He just asks questions. All. The. Time!

Of course, he’s not trying to “pull” me but, I guess, he doesn’t know how to NOT do it and, so, I suspect, he does it with everyone. He asks questions and keeps eye contact. I can imagine to a young girl, this can be quite flattering, especially in Italy where most people tend to be all me, me, ME. And so, his friend, my ex-student, was impressed but couldn’t work out quite how to do it. Which makes him quite stupid too, really.

And then there’s the dilemma I told you about. I decided to ask T if it was OK to ask R for “permission” to ask Z for permission to give out the email address. He decided to trawl through his old email account to find the email address himself (which, if it’s that old, won’t work anyway because Z has changed his email address) to enable him to just say “hello”. Not that I believe he wanted to just say “hello”. Anyway, he said he would do this and so I didn’t need to speak to R, which is what I thought he’d say. So now I’m off the hook. Which is better. But, T was quite stupid to think that I would just give out details as I never do that without asking first. Or, maybe, he thought I was stupid?

Anyway, I just thought I’d have a little rant about stupid people. Forgive me.

A Dilemma

So, for the first time since I’ve been working here, I have a dilemma.

This might be a little difficult to explain but I’ll give it a try.

The players involved are R, the boss of the company; her daughter, D; her ex-son-in-law, T. a guy who works as an agent for us, Z; M, a colleague and, of course, me.

I am “connected” to T via LinkedIn. I met him once, when he was still with D, at the Paris Air Show. Since then they had a baby and are now separated, if not, divorced. From what I’ve heard, all is not well between D and T and, so, also between R and T.

T sent me a message requesting the email address of Z. Now, Z is one of the sneakiest, slimiest, most nasty pieces of work you could possible hope to ever meet. He must be about 70 and is an agent for us in a Far Off Country (on which I have done at least one post). He is constantly contacting R behind my back, even if I am the Project Manager and he should come through me. Anyway, I also make sure R knows everything that’s going on so that she never gets some sneaky email about something she doesn’t already know about. It’s the only way to “beat” the miserable bastard.

Normally, of course, in a standard situation, I would email Z and ask him if it’s OK to give the email address to T. In this case, though, if he emails R, she will know and she may not be happy about me giving the email address to T (or, for that matter, that I have any contact with T). Of course, I don’t know, for certain, that she has a real problem with T but I’ve been told so by someone who works here, M, who is still friends with T.

So, emailing Z to ask if it’s OK is not really on. At the same time, telling R about it first, may also not be the best thing, especially if she says “no”. I mean to say, it might cause further problems between R and T and I don’t want to really be the cause of that, do I? However, I can’t really ignore the request either.

And, of course, I don’t really know T. If I were to give him the email address without telling anyone else, will he then, at a later date, spill the beans on me? I mean, Z may be aware of the problems and, as soon as T gets in touch with him, he could go straight to R.

So, as I’m writing this, this is my plan. I speak to M and see what he knows about the situation between R and T. Then email T to tell him what I will do. If he is OK with it, then I tell R and ask if it’s OK. If so, then I email Z and ask for permission to pass on the email address and then, providing I get the OK, pass the email address on to T. A bit convoluted, eh?

But any other way is a bit risky, I think. Don’t you?

Reading, the last of summer and more eating!

It’s the first weekend in October.

I’m in a T-shirt and shorts. In the sun, it’s really too hot for even a T-shirt. Out of the sun, a T-shirt is necessary. A jacket or jumper is necessary in the evenings and the mornings. Summer is making a last gasp, but failing to assert itself.

I sit in the garden. F had gone to his cousin first thing this morning. I took the dogs for a walk. F kept texting me.

“Where are you?” “Are you going to the beach?”

I tell him where I am and I say “I don’t know” to the beach question. Several times.

When I arrive back at the house I decide not to go to the beach. Although I don’t tell him, it’s because he isn’t there, with me. I will do what I normally do, given half a chance. Avoid people. Avoid making an effort. I tell him that I’ve decided not to go to the beach because all I would do is read my books and, by staying in the garden, I get the sun, read my books and stay with the dogs for a bit. That last one would excuse me, I know.

I finish Dolan Morgan’s excellent collection of short stories – That’s When The Knives Come Down. Some great stories. Almost a kind of Science Fiction/Fantasy (but don’t let that put you off because they weren’t really – it’s just the only way I could tag them) with some weird ideas. I would say the general theme was nothing or, rather, a lack of something/someone which is not quite the same as nothing.

Then I started Gone Girl. The film is out now and the book was a best seller. So I bought it, when we were in the UK, because the films sounds great. I’ve read a few chapters. It said, on the cover, that you “wouldn’t be able to put it down” which I can’t (so far) quite agree with.

So, for about 4 hours, in the garden, moving from time to time to stay in the sun. Very relaxing and nice. Of course, there was nothing really in the house to eat. Eventually, I found some Pringles – which had already been opened sometime in the summer, when we were down, and were also past their sell-by date. They were quite soft and horrible.

Of course, I could have gone to some cafe or something. But I couldn’t be bothered. Eventually, F asked if I wanted to come with them to the cemetery and then go for a walk with them. I said “yes” but, afterwards, I wish I’d said “no”. But that was just the lazy me talking.

We went to the cemetery (see previous post) and then on to a small village on the sea. It was a nice afternoon.

Then we went to his Mum and Dad’s for dinner. He told them that I hadn’t eaten anything which meant they could try and force me to eat, to their great delight. But I could eat quite a lot, actually, and we left there, both full.

Then we went to a friend of F’s birthday party where I met a guy who was Australian (born and brought up there until he was about 11)/Italian. He was an artist (painter) and played in a band. Interesting guy. He paints (now) clothes with people missing, in oils, in black and white (and shades of grey, of course.) His band plays electronic music, in costumes with two ballerinas and the singer changes his costume a number of times. I couldn’t help think about the Smurfs, or Frank. They haven’t had any hits, which didn’t really surprise me. Anyway, it was quite a nice evening all round.

And, for me, quite relaxing.

Cemeteries and churchyards

“No, they just have simple crosses,” he explains.

Even though I spend the next few minutes trying to dispel this myth, it is to no avail.

“No, we have graves like these,” I say, continuing, “but most are not quite so elaborate.” I’m talking about “in the UK”, of course. But he’s seen the films. He knows how they are.

“Yes, they are more simple.” He tells his cousin we have simple crosses.

Eventually, I give up. It’s not really important anyway.

The cemetery is huge. I mean really huge. Stretching out in all directions. I think: you could get lost in here. But, as with all churchyards and cemeteries, it has a kind of peace and tranquility that I like.

I still find Italian cemeteries strange. Italians (a lot of them) live in flats. When they die, a lot of them seem to be interred (rather than buried) in a flat equivalent. Blocks of tombs, stacked up to 4 high with, maybe, another 4 on top. They look similar to blocks of flats. These blocks surround, what I would call, normal graves – as in, plots where people are buried in the ground.

Most burials/interments have a “headstone” on which there is a photograph. I ask F if it’s normal to have a photograph on the gravestone. F says that it is. For people that they know, they touch the photograph and then bring the fingers to the lips in a sort of kiss, sometimes followed with a crossing (as Catholics do in church). I explain to F that we just don’t do the photograph thing (or, rather, we didn’t – but I don’t live there any more).

He explains to his cousin that our burial places are around the church. They (Italians) never do this. I try to explain that we, too, have cemeteries in addition to graveyards. Again, it falls on deaf ears. They talk about the fact that they would like their ashes to be scattered. I ask if it’s legal to do that here. Apparently not but F would like his scattered on the sea anyway.

We’re visiting the place where his Aunt was buried the other week. With his cousin and uncle. F spots graves/tombs where the person lived to 100. Apparently, F’s uncle says that “she should have lived to be 100.” He doesn’t show emotion. It’s these little things that show how much he misses her. It makes you really feel for him. Of course, they are all suffering. It’s the living who suffer after someone dies, after all. They’re the ones who are left behind; who have to continue with life.

The next day, we go round to the uncle’s place for lunch. F says it will be strange without her. And it was. I could picture her sitting at the table in her usual place (when we went round) and she’s not even my aunt – so I guess it’s really hard for all of them. She was/is missed. After the lunch, whilst they are cleaning up, there is a discussion between the uncle and the cousin. The cousin wants him to come to her house for lunch the next day. Because of her husband’s work, they eat at 12.30. The uncle says he doesn’t want to come and he will eat here because a) he can eat when he wants and b) because he can “talk” to his wife. She thinks this is stupid. F doesn’t really agree and tells her. I don’t really agree either – but it was only explained to me after we had left.

Still, I understand the uncle. She hasn’t left the house yet. That takes time. She may not be physically present but she is a presence, still, within that house. You feel like, at any moment, she could walk through from the kitchen. He’s trying to keep everything exactly the same as it was when she was there. I think I would do the same. Although, I’m not sure I would be as good at it as he is.

F’s cousin worries about the food. She doesn’t think she is so good as her mum. Her Dad said, the other day, that she was just as good. It’s different, but she is.

She really wanted F to come down and you could tell that she was really happy that he was there. But this is quite stressful for F. We don’t normally go down between the end of September and April. They ask, as we leave, when we’ll be back. F doesn’t want to commit. It’s a pressure on him. It stresses him out. He says we won’t be back next weekend for sure as he wants to finish the house. Which is another pressure on him. Of course, this is really “made up” pressure – but I’ve been there and I know what this is like.

When we arrive home, around half six, he says he’s tired and he has had a headache since the previous day. I tell him to go and lie down and not to worry as I’ll do the washing. After all, it was no rest or relaxation for him, going down. He goes to lie down and, within half an hour, he’s asleep. He sleeps almost all the way through until I get up – nearly 12 hours. That’s how I know how difficult this weekend has been for him.

Still, the carpenter is coming tomorrow to do stuff in the flat (fit new cupboards, put up rails, etc.) We’re getting there, slowly. F is going to IKEA today to get some more stuff. He will be happier when the flat is in better order, for sure.

In which we take a London Taxi and F does a good deed.

I sit in the back and watch the meter increasing by 20 pence every few seconds. Once we’ve hit a pound extra, I start to get a bit annoyed. Apart from the fact that I am tired, slightly drunk and full and want to get to bed and go to sleep, this extra cost is unnecessary.

Of course, I realise (have always realised) that F is slightly crazy.

I have been up since 5 a.m. which, in reality, as we’re now in the UK, was 4 a.m. It’s now about 1 a.m. the following morning and I’ve had about 10 minutes sleep in the afternoon. Plus we’ve been travelling, plus we saw the concert. I am exhausted. And now he wants to go travelling all around London in search of some stupid guy!

But, let’s back up a bit.

When we arrived at Gatwick, we took a train, as suggested, to London Bridge station. It was then 4 stops on the Northern Line to get to our friend’s flat, where we are staying.

On arrival at London Bridge, we both agreed that a full-English breakfast would be perfect. So, we stopped off in All Bar One, at London Bridge for breakfast. They do a special deal between Monday and Friday to do breakfast with a hot drink for £8. And, with the hot drinks come a small glass of smarties! Anyway, it was good, all of it.

But, because that was about 10.30 a.m., we really weren’t hungry for the rest of the day. We had planned to have something to eat before the concert but, still, we didn’t feel hungry. After the concert, which finished just before 11 p.m., we went hunting for food. Unfortunately, there was almost nothing open around Hammersmith – even the pubs were closing – so I suggested going to Covent Garden or Leicester Square as there had to be something open there.

We chose Covent Garden and went to Balthazar where, F said, the burgers were fantastic. I suppose we arrived about 11.30. We both had cheeseburgers and fries and it was, as F had said, fantastic. The waitress was Italian. She seemed displeased that F spoke to her in Italian. F said it was probably because she wanted to speak English. We also had a beer. But I had had several before the concert and I was, by then, very, very tired, so the extra one just made me feel a little drunk.

We paid and left. Covent Garden station was closed so I suggested getting a taxi as I knew Islington wasn’t that far.

We hailed a taxi. When we got in, F immediately found a wallet, left by a previous customer. He spoke to the cab driver who suggested that it belonged to the guys that he had just dropped off at a hotel.

“We have to go there!” F stated.

It was the Euston Hotel which was, sort of, on our way. F informed the driver that, obviously, for our good deed, we should get a discount. We checked the wallet and there was a driving licence in there. The guy was from York in Yorkshire.

the cab pulled up outside the hotel and F went running in, leaving the door open. It wasn’t cold. I toyed with the idea of standing outside to have a cigarette or, after a few minutes of watching the taxi meter clocking up 20 pence at a time, of going into the hotel and dragging F out.

Instead, he comes bounding out of the hotel and back into the cab, as excited as a little child.

“They’ve already left the hotel,” he enthused. “We have to go to a police station,” he continued.

My heart sank. The taxi driver said that he had only just dropped them off. For me that meant that they were going home (possibly by train) and had gone to the hotel just to pick up their cases. F and the cab driver were chatting about possibilities. I didn’t get involved. I wonder what had happened to the old world, where the cabbies took these things to a central place – a Lost and Found for cabs. I know that used to be the case. I guess now we live in a different world.

We arrive at Islington Police Station. F suggests that I carry on to the flat and he’ll come later. I didn’t want to leave him alone in London. Although he had lived there for a number of years, when we were getting ready to leave for the concert, he asked what he should take for ID. I explained that he didn’t need ID in the UK and, so, didn’t need anything. But, still, I didn’t like the idea of him being “alone” without ID.

Instead, I said, that, as it wasn’t far to the flat (well, I hoped that), I’d get out with him and we’d walk.

He went into the police station whilst I paid the driver who did, in the end, knock £1.50 off. Before the driver could leave, F is back saying the the police officer needed the driver’s details. The driver gave them to F and F goes running back in. I finish my cigarette and go in, just as he has finished. i ask the police woman where we have to go and it is, as I had hoped, quite close.

“I didn’t have to give my details?,” F said to me as we were walking back. I was a bit tired to query it. But he was happy as he felt he had done something really good. Bless.

Even the taxi driver had been bemused by his enthusiasm to return the wallet or, failing that, go to a police station to hand it in.

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.