Saturday, January 28, 2006

Christmas and the New Year

Christmas and the New Year 2006

Lili, I say, I’m having trouble with the Christmas fairy.
Which Christmas fairy she asks?
THE Christmas Fairy, the one on the tree.
What sort of trouble she asks.
It’s a way of saying uhm…well...I..
Yes? Try and say what you mean!
(And here, with tremendous courage, I bridge the great cultural/linguistic divide)
She looks as if she’s been razzle-dazzled by the entire team of Father Christmas’ little helpers. …(Gulp!). There I said it! I said it.
I don’t know what razzle dazzle means, she says, but if it’s what I think it means, you should be ashamed.
Yes ashamed. Elves wouldn’t do that.
Yes elves she said.
Father Christmas’ little helpers are elves?
Yes, of course. Everybody knows that.
Lili, I say, I’m only speaking metaphorically but anyway, just for the record, why wouldn’t Father’s Christmas’ little elves razzle dazzle the Christmas fairy?
Because they are spiritual beings she says. And anyway she’s been my Christmas Fairy for 15 years and is dear to me.

The Christmas Fairy stays and, do you know? She just needed a little dusting and clean knickers, and, my, she’s as good as new and God help any elf that even peeps at her… even thinks about peeping at her.

But Christmas has come and gone, as have friends and festivities.
Not that we did much, just loafed around, kept the fires burning, the dragon fed.
Somehow managed to miss both King Kong (a boy’s film) and Narnia (a little girls’ film)
Which was a pity (we usually either see action thrillers (me) or love stories (Lili) and hell, it’s nice to be a kid at Christmas after all. Who wants to be an adult all the time?)
We’ll have to wait for the DVD’s
We did however go and see Mozart’s requiem in Servignano.
Solemn but touching.
AND the presipio (Nativity Scenes… oh dear yes) show, in Sant Angelo Pontana where baby Jesus comes in all shapes and sizes, as do the sheep, the donkey and the Magi.
Invariably BJ is bigger than both his mum and the Magi.
I daren’t ask why.

Dancing with dogs
New Year’s Eve was cold and icy and we were persuaded by friends to join them at the town’s ( Monte San Martino) NY celebrations. We left home really later to avoid all the boring stuff and got there just in time for all the hugging and kissing and a cake competition.
But there, but there… in the middle of all the revels were two men, seventy year olds, dancing with dogs. Seriously!
Did I have my camera? Nope!
One dog was a tiny Chiwawa, the other a minitoy midget something or other which the owner said was the only one in Italy so he was having difficulty finding a mate for it.
Yes, I imagine it would be difficult I emphasised.
They sailed around the dance floor gazing devotedly at the little beasts who were trembling and shivering.
Are they cold I ask? No it’s the fireworks they both said.
But the fireworks don’t start until after midnight.
Yes they say, it’s uncanny how they know.
We have the same problem with Bessie I say.
Is she a miniature too?
No a Belgian Shepherd I say (well, almost, I think)
Oh they ask, do you dance with her.
No, she’s too big I say but sometimes we twist together.
I head for the exit before they can gather any more words to pin me down with.
(Bessie, I should add, we left inside the house with Eva to keep her company, all the lights on and MTV blasting away…we return later delighted to find that this is the first New Year she hasn’t bitten down a door in her firework phobia frenzy)
Thank you MTV.
Thank you Eva.

Telecom Italia
Everybody here is at war with Telecom Italia.
Everybody has been wounded, financially or psychologically, usually both.
Countless are the stories I could tell, but here’s a recent one
We get a whammy of a bill for the first month of having broadband installed in the office.
(You know, cheap, even free, calls and 24 hour Internet?)
A call to TI takes usually 20 mins to be answered and up goes the heart rate and on the cold sweats because here comes Frank Sinatra (yes Frank Sinatra) with the fill- in while we keep you endlessly waiting music, singing
‘Someday when I’m awfully low, when the world is cold, I will feel a glow just thinking of you…and the way you look tonight’
I mean. Who chose this song? It’s deliberately intimidating.
Eventually the conversation (spread over two hours) goes like this….
On business line 192
‘We have a business line at home which we have been trying to change to private for 18 months
Oh then you must call 187 because they deal with this side of things.
Err, no, they tell us it’s not them, that we must deal with it’s you.
And this repeats itself call after call until they tell you the thing to do is send a FAX and you say you have twenty times already and then you hang up exhausted.
(TWO Italies, I think… the eternal blight.. the private and the institutionalized).
Oh then the absolute insanity and impossibility of getting broadband, they fitting the wrong modem which caused us depression and near insanity for weeks on end.
And it was only a chance call to a sympathetic operator that unraveled this dilemma.
They’d supplies us with the wrong modem. The wrong modem?
Even writing this is depressing, so I’ll stop.
Enough to say go Skype, go Telesconto. (See below for websites)
We owe it to Italy to destroy Telecom Italia, utterly..Forever!

Language class
We are at table with Scottish friends and gossiping as you do, this time about a certain businessman, colleague, tyrant.
I think she has spiders everywhere, Lili says.
He has spies, says Scottish dinner guest in a corrective tone.
Yes, replies Lili, like a big web.

The Volcano support group
Nails in bucket. Look at this photo and ref last newsletter’s woodpile. Now each piece of wood equals two nails, so you see how much the dragon is eating? And it’s spitting out these nails for goodness sake.
Where do you recycle nails?

The smell and now a leak…… Second rate and third choice plumber had layed plastic clad anti frost piping right along side dragon chimney pipe. Result, toxic fumes in guest bedroom for month. What’s worse I have to knock down a new wall to remedy crime.
Dear oh dear!

ENEL out. Electricity goes off in snowstorm and Lili feeds dragon extra to make up for energy loss. No electricity, thus no pump, thus no water circulation. Got the picture? Dragon throbbing then… Melt down! When electricity eventually comes back on the whole house shakes as the expansion tank fills with boiling water which it shoots out over the bamboo in the garden (which has since never recovered) and we rush around opening all the hot water taps and the house becomes one giant sauna.
Such problems… and they’re not only mine. I’ve been inundated with the saddest Volcano/dragon stories since my last blog.
So we’re thinking off starting a Dragon Help Group, an emotional emergency service to rush to the aid of dragon victims. (It would be men only and would include weekend workshops is a suggestion from one dragon victim)
Hmm. Can I get back at you on this I ask?

Fortunato has at last begun his season of love, which has made Lili very happy because she says it’s obvious now that he’s not gay after all and can safely join the Dragon Help Group.
Eva has stared to make these sudden rapid spurts around the house for no apparent reason…Worms! Lili says, She has to be de-wormed she says.. it says so in her cat book.
Bessie has enjoyed the two snowfalls we have had so far.
She barks until I make her a snowball which I have to through up in the air for her to catch… see pic. She has decided to make friends with all her dog enemies for whatever reason and now happily plays with Charlie, George and Rocco and no longer tries to kill
Vittorio’s sausage dogs.

Bessie and snow trick

People and plumbers
Got back the other evening after an afternoon advising on quality standards with a friend who is buying an enormous Villa nearby…only to find that odd job man and second choice plumber had made a complete pigs ear of building a bathroom sink unit. And the mess! We had to spend two hours pulling half of it apart and clearing up the plaster and cement on the terra cotta.
Lili, I say, when he arrives tomorrow morning he’s a dead man walking.
Instead, when he walks through the door, I say Hi, thanks for the brilliant work, but we’ve thought of another great design which is almost as good as idea which we thought might intrigue you. May I share it with you?
A coward that’s what I am.
But in my mind, plumbers fit into the same category as Bank managers and priests.
I just can’t, daren’t upset them.

On a religious note
A few weeks back we were driving out from the house to go to the cinema and there on the side of the road were Fiore, Graciella, Quinto, Renzo and Angela, standing in the darkness around a huge bonfire. An odd time to burn rubbish I said to Lili.
No it’s to turn the wind to blow in the direction of Loreto she said.
Uh, why would they want to do that?
It’s to help the angels she says.
Which angels?
Michael, she says, for goodness sake, don’t you know what today is?
Yes it’s Saturday I say.
Saturday yes but you should know being a Christian that today is the festival of the Immaculate Conception.
Look, I say, I’m not a Christian; I’m more of a Taoist.
Hmm, she says, you were a Buddhist last week.
Ok I say, leaving my dubious religious affinities apart, why should Fiore etc want to help the angels?
To carry the Virgin to Loreto she says.
Oh, I say.

The country diary
Avid Sambuco newsletterblog readers (all ten of you) might remember that last year at this time had started the great snowfall which lasted right through until March. The memory of this prompted us to buy a four-wheel drive buggy. But this year?
Driving around these past few days I see that everybody is out in their gardens, tilling the soil, planting onions, peas, relaxing in the sunshine. Doors and windows are left open and people are less grumpy and even occasionally they smile. They smile.
Birds are singing too, those that still exist after the hunting shooting season (which incidentally still has a few weeks to go). Sshhsh sshsh shhs I whisper to them, keep a low profile… keep your beaks close to your chests.
I hope our Nightingale comes back this year, Lili says, and hasn’t caught bird flu.
We’ll put cough mixture in the birds drinking tray I reply….. That seems to satisfy her.
Our nightingale is safe, in her mind at least, until the real Spring arrives

But I fear an easterly blast from Siberia and I hold back on the onion planting front.
As you know, I’m a weather freak.

Destroy Telecom : useful alternatives

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