sabato 26 gennaio 2008
Today was a typical example- lunch with the girls, followed by a wander around the shops, which included the discovery of my new favourite shop in Milan. It's like an Aladdin's Cave of cute gifts, unusual designs and quirky bits & pieces. If you've ever seen the French film "The Wonderful World of Amèlie", this shop is it. We spent at least half an hour browsing, and I must have done 10 laps of the store, each time finding something new to "ooh" and "ahh" over. Amusingly, my only purchase was a toothpick dispenser in the shape of a little man that pops up and holds out one toothpick at a time - if nothing else, it'll make Luca laugh!
If you're ever in the area and fancy having a look, it's called Carpe Diem, on Viale Tunisia, right before Corso Buenos Aires. The website also lists some (but not all) of their products.
martedì 22 gennaio 2008
Actually, one thing practically leaps to mind. Someone gave up their seat for me on the tram on Saturday. I am neither elderly, nor pregnant (and couldn't be mistaken for it, thank you very much(!), nor disabled... yet a young South American guy actually stood up and gave me his seat! It was so confusing that I didn't get it, and thought he was getting off the tram, so I didn't even thank him. He must have thought I was a really ungrateful cow! It was only when he just stood there for another 6 stops that I realised what had happened. Not sure whether to take the feminist high ground and suggest that it's chauvanistic to suggest that a perfectly healthy young woman is any less capable of standing on a tram than a young guy... Or marvel at the old-fashioned gentile gesture which is so rare these days.... And there I go sounding like my mother AGAIN!
Talking of chauvanism, there's a new guy at work who I might just have to kill if he calls me "Bellezza" or "Bellissima" or "Carissima" one more time. It's the office equivalent of the building site mating call of "Awright darlin!!!"....
mercoledì 16 gennaio 2008
A big indicator of this 'new era' is that my close friends have started having babies. That's when you know you're a proper grown-up!
So, Grand Designs is over, Luca's in the shower and I'm about to wash the dishes - it's a rock 'n' roll life here in Milan...
mercoledì 9 gennaio 2008
Despite having lived in Italy for a few years now, I am nonetheless surprised by things I see or hear on an almost daily basis. Many of these ‘cultural oddities’ are just that - cultural oddities, which I realise I just have to accept as something that is different to the way in which I was brought up - like the way many Italians drive, or the lack of respect for a queue, or the fact that no one drinks cappuccino after 11am. On occasions, however these 'cultural oddities' become huge, smack-in-the-face / what the hell / I can't believe what I'm seeing issues, noteworthy enough to be written down. This is one such example.
Last night, I was watching the main evening news on Canale 5. They were talking about the refuse emergency in Naples. For those who aren’t familiar with the situation, Naples is currently buried under 200,000 tonnes of household waste, which has remained on the streets for weeks, following the mafia’s blocking of new landfill sites. These sites would effectively see them lose their grip on the area’s refuse collection and disposal – a move which has led to the government introducing emergency powers and the army being sent in . Another day, another political / environmental /social mess - on this occasion, literally. Anyway, the news item showed Gianfranco Fini - one of the leaders of one of Italy’s many opposition parties, Alleanza Nazionale – as he toured the area to assess the extent of the problem. The images were fairly brief – around 5 seconds – but what struck me was the fact that he was smoking a cigarette, and was shown flicking his ash on the top of the pile, as he picked his way through the chaos and spoke to concerned local residents. Is it just me, or is this weird? I can’t for the life of me imagine a British politician visiting an emergency, and not only smoking on the job, but being shown on the news adding to the problem! It may seem insignificant, but for me this is all part of a serious issue, whereby good examples are not set by those in authority - whether it be in flicking your fag ash on a mountain of rubbish piled up outside a primary school, or being accused of big-time tax evasion (no names mentioned Berlusconi) – it all makes a difference. The most worrying thing for me is that I often feel I am the only one who finds certain situations unacceptable, and end up being forced to helplessly write them off as ‘cultural oddities’, when realistically there’s nothing ‘cultural’ about them.
giovedì 3 gennaio 2008
The thing about me is I'm an all-or-nothing person. Either I go to the gym religiously every night for a month and spend two hours practically killing myself on the cross-trainer, or I don't go at all for six months. Having forced myself back onto the wagon, I started to remember all the reasons why it's actually a good idea to work out. Apart from the obvious health and weight loss benefits, you get to spend an hour in your own head, with no phone (I choose to lock mine away), no email and no TV (unless you count the sports channel on the big screen, which I don't). I planned the weekend, decided what to make for dinner, made a mental list of what to buy in the sales, listened to people gossiping around me, and tried to remember what happened in the last episode of Desperate Housewives, which together with a glass of red, became my post-gym reward. I even spent about 10 minutes while I was stretching not thinking about anything at all - bliss! So, not only will I be fully equipped to kick stick insects' asses, but with a little bit of effort over the next few months, I hope to be organised, have a carefully thought-out wardrobe, be fully informed about who's doing what with whom at the gym, and be onto series 4. I reckon it's a pretty good start.
mercoledì 2 gennaio 2008
Last year, a scientist at Cardiff university came up with the above formula to establish the most depressing day of the year as January 24th. The key is: W=weather, D=debt, d=money due in January pay, T=time since Christmas, Q=time since failed attempt at quitting something for the new year, M=general motivational levels, NA=the need to take action.
Personally I would take these factors and combine them with the fact that today is officially my last day off work, a pile of washing and ironing still to do from the holiday, the fact that I weighed myself this morning, and the introduction of a congestion charge to drive in central Milan = January 2nd: most depressing day!!!!
Happy New Year everyone!!