9 Things My Mother Taught Me (And That I Wish I’d Listened To)

     IMG_2699

1) Don’t worry what people think (the people who matter don’t mind, the people who mind don’t matter, etc. etc. etc.)

2) Drink hot water and lemon before bed….no, its not the same as a fab cuppa Yorkshire but…

Apparently lemon clears skin – the vitamin C component flattens out wrinkles and blemishes (not that we have the latter or the former ever) and rejuvenates skin from inside the body. Lemon also has antibacterial, antiviral immune-boosting powers, it is also a liver-cleanser (undoing those Proseccos hurrah! and is a general digestive aid, ie: you don’t scoff during the day.

 

3) Don’t brush curly hair. Just don’t. Unless you want to look like you are wearing an old, backcombed wig that has been trussed up in a plastic bag then put on your head.

4) Save up and buy something you really, really like that is made of nice stuff.

5) Not to make plans unless you are absolutely sure you won’t regret it later. That goes for generic dinner plans and date plans.

6) Be discerning, always.

7) If in an awkward situation/doubt anything in any way, smile and be polite then make a mental note not to agree to see this person/go to said event again.

8) Be aware of everything and never assume (a wise man told me assumption is the mother of all mistakes).

9) Know that most things are always “exciting” (I quote my mother) and if you look at the world this way, I can promise you it will never go grey.

 

IMG_0003

10 Top Stories – Quick 2014 Round-Up

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/076/60334112/files/2015/01/img_4061-0.jpg

1) Hair cut and a telling off here

2) Eavesdropping, Spanish Steps Style here

3) Overheard amusing conversation on the London tube here

4) 10 reasons you know you live with an Italian here

5) Magazine moment and inspiration ladies here

6) The date, nutella-dilemma and ivy embellished bars here 

aka “Why American boy when you are in Italia?

7) Jazz moment: here

8) Paris, Paris, Paris

9) New years resolutions of 2014 – being flawless isn’t always necessary or all that exciting here

10) Roman Insults, Yoga & a Revelation here

 

How To Be The MOST Christmas

9 ways to show your fellow commuters & colleagues you are ready for Christmas

1) Sellotape tinsel to your face for instant Christmas effect

2) Have a wear of a Rudolf Christmas onesie, perhaps in between meetings at work, to make other colleagues smile and know you are the most ready for Christmas

3) Sew a traditional Christmas chipolata down your face so that people will think you are the most Christmas when they are having a look at your face

4) When someone next to you on the tube is reading or listening to music, remove headphones/take book and sing instead to fellow commuter who is ready to enjoy your Christmas carolling

5) Manoeuvre via elvin twirls as you make your way from the bus to the tube station/office instead of dull walking

6) Perhaps there is a delay and you are surrounded by fed up commuters who look a) angry b) tired c) grumpy d) anxious. What better way to lift their spirits and remind them of Christmas than scattering fake snow on the bus/tube floor, where bits may even settle on said commuters hair or, even better, eyelashes causing Christmas cheer

7) Wear a plastic red nose and (cover the elastic band with your hair) to show you are the most Christmas

8) Produce hand-painted crackers to fellow commuters for them to take to work and know Christmas is coming

9) Put flour in your hair and a red Christmas hat on your chin so that from upside down people will think you are Father Christmas

How have you been the most Christmas?

Good luck!

IMG_3944.JPG

IMG_3945.JPG

Eavesdropping, Spanish Steps Style

Busy cafe near Piazza di Spagna (named after the Embassy of Spain). Picture high palms and warm yellow, ochre and rust houses that proudly gaze over the steps. The steps were actually a gift from the French King Louise XV to Rome (should probably be called the French steps in the King’s honour but the Spanish Embassy got there in the nick of time.)

I had time to kill before picking up the piccola Teresa from school and settled in the Piazza with my book and a cappuccino (standard.)

I couldn’t help but notice a bouncy conversation three men in shiny suits on the table next to me started bellowing. Here is a rough translation of their brisk conversation:

Man 1, 2 and 3, let’s call them Riccardo, Luigi and Leonardo.

Riccardo: Ciao! Apologies for the delay – I got caught on a call

Luigi: That’s no problem – I just called you actually

Riccardo: Ah! was on the other line –

Luigi: Yes I gathered, no problem.

Riccardo: And Leonardo?

Luigi: He just called, he’s on his way

Riccardo: Great – did you read the email I sent you this morning?

Luigi: Haven’t had a chance yet

Riccardo: Ah I see – I was going to call after you’d read it to see what you thought before we met this morning

Luigi: I’ll read it after this meeting if that is alright, then I’ll let you know?

Riccardo: That is a good idea – here is Leonardo now

Leonardo: Ecco mi! Here I am!

Riccardo: Ciao!

Luigi: Ciao!

Leonardo: Tutto bene? Everything ok?

Luigi: Everything is fine

Riccardo: Glad you could make it

Leonardo: What a great sun today!

Luigi: Are you going back to your parents this weekend?

Leonardo: That is the plan! If I can get out of that meeting at 4pm. Come to think of it, I could attend via conference call. Or can catch up with the discussion after

Riccardo: We could go though now what we are going to propose?

Luigi: Now?

Riccardo: Why not? We are all hear apart from Filippo but he will be on the call later

Leonardo: I thought we intended to discuss the items for next week’s press release?

Luigi: I agree – that is more urgent

Riccardo gets up: Some caffe’ first guys?

Leonardo: Please – Let me offer you both one

Riccardo: So kind! Thank you

Luigi: I will have a caffe ristretto with pleasure, thanks

Folders shuffled, pens clicked, blackberrys on the table, I-Phone’s buzzing, Luigi answers and speaks for a moment. He frowns and leaves the table. After a moment or so, he returns, despondent 

Luigi: It is with great regret I think I must leave – it appears Mario has had a run in with the Profilo clients

Riccardo: What a clown! He should be able to manage that account

Luigi: I don’t trust the man sometimes

Leonardo returns.

Leonardo: Everything alright?

Luigi: Its the Banca Profilo clients – they have some problems [drinks his coffee with a flick of his wrist]. Thank you for that

Leonardo: My pleasure

Luigi: I don’t know what to do – I think it might be best if we get together in a few days. I am sorry, guys

Riccardo: We might have no choice [drinks coffee and lights a cigarette]

Leonardo: I may be away at the end of this week and early next – for a long weekend

Luigi: Ah I see

Riccardo: We could simplifly the situation and do this by a conference call?

Luigi: Not a bad idea

Leonardo: That’s settled then

Riccardo: I can email across the details

Luigi: Ok, perfect. Get in touch if you need anything in the meantime

Riccardo: Let’s get in touch later today then

Leonardo: Thanks guys, see you soon!

Riccardo: I’ll be in touch later today

Luigi: See you next time!

Business meeting adjourned. Five minutes of chair scraping, cigarette exchanging and texting.

I went back to my book, worried that after all that, nothing much was achieved but confused as to the original aim of said meeting. (I can hear you say, was it my business at all? Essentially not, no but one can’t help but overhear – besides how else can one successfully pick up the language?)

Jellyfish Cocktails

Jellyfish Cocktails

Search For Sophistication Disguised As A Hair Cut

20140129-181241.jpg

The other morning, I decided it was time to get my hair cut. Not only did my hair feel limp and unhealthy, after a certain point I realised this makes you feel gloomy too. A messy lop of hair following you around, like a sad, wild cat limping about the dustbins.

You can understand why I felt I needed to take action.

I went to a cute salon just off the Spanish Steps, where a bouncy, Bulgarian woman removed my coat and scarf with a flick of her wrist, and had me bound to a chair, forcing me to stare rigidly into the mirror at my sleepy face and dark hair that I’d bundled up quickly in a ponytail.

“I went to a cute salon just off the Spanish Steps, where a bouncy, Bulgarian woman removed my coat and scarf with a flick of her wrist…had me bound to a chair, forcing me to stare rigidly into the mirror at my sleepy face…”

My first dilemma: are you meant to dress up fabulously for a trip to the hairdressers?

Technically you are being pampered, and want to look and feel twice as fabulous after – it seems rude allowing someone to diligently touch, cut and buff your hair, without even making the effort to wash it and make it look a little bit nice? I would, at the least, suggest minimal eye-make-up and lip gloss so when staring in said mirror you don’t feel hideous.

During the vigorous shampoo massage, the whole world will sit patiently by your feet, letting you enjoy the humming water wash warmly past your ears. He/She will then quiz you about your head.

 “During the vigorous shampoo massage, the whole world will sit patiently by your feet while you enjoy the humming water wash warmly past your ears…”

It is a thrilling moment, where a complete stranger knows your hair so utterly and immediately. Before you even start to talk, the hairdresser has, at James Bond speed and precision, already mustered what you want. Whilst your hand bats around your scalp, motioning in gibberish what you think you want, and describing how you saw someone’s hair somewhere that you think you like – the hairdresser will humour you, nodding and pointing at the right moment. You are inextricably united by a common thought: you KNOW she already knows what you SHOULD have, and you know she knows.

“You are inextricably united by a common thought: you KNOW she already knows what you SHOULD have, and you know she knows”

The extraordinary magic of a hairdresser is that they kindly interpret your hair-womble-blabbing for pure conviction of what you want: after you’ve finished a couple of sentences about ‘trim’ and ‘bouncability’, you will be shut up by them promptly yielding what look like torture devices.

Is it me, or, when said-hairdresser brings out a shiny pair of angular ‘scissors’, a thought darts into your head:

“They look like normal, kitchen scissors?”

“Oh these?” She/He replies – “These are not scissors.”

“Oh? My mistake, I thought-”

“These are Taylors Eye Witness Moulded Handle Hairdressing Cockade Scissors.”

Silence:

“So – still scissors, would you say?”

You ask about the comb that is thrusted through the scalp: (you thought you had one similar, but it does something altogether so different from that half-snapped stick at home, that it must be from a different ‘comb’ family altogether.)

Should you question where it is from:

“Ah, this isn’t actually a comb.”

“No?”

“They are utensils made from high-end heat-resistant materials with handcrafted, rounded teeth. There are, of course, ionic properties within it, and it is clearly rigid, made from 100% natural rubber with an ergonomical rounded comb spine.”

“So, before it’s combing days, it was a small, recycled car?”

She didn’t like my joke.

I only asked because I wanted to understand how some of this luxury can be brought to my bed-side table, without spending away my next trip home to see my family.

As the episode drew on, I kept my head buried in a magazine, worried I’d annoy her with questions and ignorant comments.

Every glance the lady and I exchanged, hummed with the sentiment:

“I know you better than you know yourself. So just shut up will you and stop moving your head?”

Then there is the moment when, even though you’ve been asked nicely to lower your forehead, revealing the delicate hairline, you want to peek at what is going on. Just to check. In case. You know. It is your head. Then comes a ferocious yank where the lady has had it up to here with you. The yank makes you feel three-foot small, and a child. Eyes lowered, you are forced again to stare at falling waves of dark hair tumbling to the floor in slow motion, reaching a silent and doomed end on the sticky, beige floor.

You are almost there: but you can’t go until several buckets of products are poured on your crown, narrowly missing your face and burning your eyes. I paid what felt like a small fortune. However, when I got out into the sunlight, which glanced off my curls and shine, I got several head turns in the street AND a compliment from the Italian mamma.

So, I felt as smug as if I’d just won Head of the Year 2014.

“When I got out into the sunlight, which glanced off my curls and shine, I got several head turns in the street…”

Back To School, Catch Up Avec Les Filles & Nano-Romances

Back to Rome means back to Language School. I must admit, it is an indulgent, less-productive-than-it-sounds way to spend the morning. I head to Piazza Firenze after dropping off the kids at school, Teresa, and her brother Fran-I-Don’t-Need-Anyone-To-Take-Me-Esco.

I am really enjoying my course. I should probably write these in Italian! (Show off) but seriously, I’m getting good. The other day, someone American asked me for directions, attempting a whiny Italian – at least I look Italian, and that’s a start if ever I saw one ! (We ended up chatting about Ilinois, his hometown, but that is by-the-by.)

Our teacher today was someone new. A bulging chest wig, complete with a magnificent gold, chain necklace, that I wonder if he wore it especially, or if he had a Medallion Shining Conference to attend after the lesson. He perched dangerously on our desks, bellowing out the Uses of the Subjunctive, causing us to lean a notch back. He spat too, and I decided it was a terrible mistake to sit near the front. He was like all senses rolled into one pastry of ear-hair and ‘shimmying’ trousers . My friends Selina and Anne-Sophie performed fantastic imitations of him after – I think they deserve their own show.

“…our teacher today was someone new. A bulging chest wig, complete with a magnificent gold, chain necklace, that I wonder if he wore it especially, or if he had a Medallion Shining Conference to attend to after…”

Again, Rome was showing off weather-wise, bearing its clear, blue eyes from morning till five-thirty ish. Anne-Sophie, Selina and I decided to get a welcome-back cappuccino in a bar in Piazza Navona. I know – a tourist haven for the weary, sock-sandeled and beige flocks of nomadic, old people. Normally, I never go there as an unassuming cappuccino turns immediately into a small fortune, that you may prefer to spend on a small pony or gold-threaded slippers, or indeed a night in one of the lavish surrounding hotels with Ryan Gosling doing DIY in Dolce undies.

“…never go there as an unassuming cappuccino turns immediately into a small fortune, that you may prefer to spend on a small pony or gold-threaded slippers, or…a night in one of the lavish, surrounding hotels with Ryan Gosling doing DIY in Dolce undies”

 Anyway, there we were catching up about Christmas, which seems like a long way away already. The two of them went back to France (one Montpellier and the other, Tour.) Like me, they were happy to be back (and I didn’t mention my drippy homesick episode, nor the weeping in the shower.) However, much as Granny Question Time and Poking-Nose-About-(non-existent)Boyfriend Q&A’s are delightful, it is hard not to miss the wobbly cobbles whilst navigating night’s-out in heels, or the freshest croissants known to man, (you can still smell the doughy baker’s fingertips, or the baker’s doughy fingertips) or the omniscient looming, stunning architecture. I find the whole, ancient city inspiring and breathtaking, and that is at the worst of times.

Both friends have had the odd ‘nano-romance’ since living here. I asked what that was, and they shrugged in a way only French women can do with bags of sass and nonchalance.

“Eet ees, mmm, a leettle of this, a leettle of that,”. I nodded and wanted more gossip – but they said that perhaps this was more a conversation for cocktails and not ‘middle-of-the-day moosh moosh.’

I left it at ‘moosh-moosh’. I need to know them better to pry.

We didn’t stay too long out and about, but we have a night out planned for ASAP. They were full of fluttering pecks on my cheek before dashing off on their separate ways: one to prepare lunch for the children and the other to a hair appointment.

I left to walk the dog – my own and only source of ‘nano-romance’ at the moment.

“Both friends have had the odd ‘nano-romance’ since living here… the dog – my own and only source of ‘nano-romance’ at the moment”

Underwear Underworld: Part 2

I have to add, the funniest thing about the Victoria’s Secret shop or indeed any underwear shop, is the GUYS. They look as if they’ve wandered into both a colourful ball pit for children, and a strip club, by accident, a bit late, wearing the wrong tie.

“GUYS….They look as if they’ve wondered into a mixture between a colourful ball pit for children, and a strip club, by accident, a bit late, wearing the wrong tie”

I suppose I would have that expression too if I didn’t know where to look or who to talk to whilst my girlfriend/wife/friend disappeared into a flurry of feather boas and glittery oil, leaving me disarmed, uncomfortable with no bean bag to sink away into, preferably into the floor.

BOYS: things to do when abandoned in said shop/when one wants to leave said shop:

1) Don’t catch anyone’s eye or touch anything

2) Look down mostly at shoes

3) Check i-Phone/emails/send text messages

4) Pretend someone very important has called and you must leave the shop immediately

5) Pretend to have spotted good friend outside the shop, pause and wave, stride out of said shop

All in all, the place is sewn together with shiny sophistication, a glamourous and adorned girly chamber of pants. The exciting thing is, you don’t need anything from it. Nothing is that necessary. Marks & Spencer’s squats on the high street for practical visits, with a modern thread of the naughty running through it, but Victoria’s Secret, is defiantly indulgent, a Narnia of sweet-scented excess complete with chandeliers tottering above your head and framed images of Godesses doing backwards, sultry yoga.

Marks & Spencer’s squats on the high street for practical visits, with a modern thread of the naughty running through it, but Victoria’s Secret, is defiantly indulgent… a Narnia of sweet-scented excess complete with chandeliers tottering above your head and palatial halls.

Fundamentally though, it’s a place where women treat themselves. This is the type of place where real, fluffy pillow-fights exist between fragranced-pink and bubble-clad women.

“All in all, the place is sewn together with grown-up, shiny sophistication, a glamourous and adorned, girly chamber of pants”

Eventually Friends Will Find You

It all happened so suddenly.. Teresa’s school is just around the corner from the Pantheon, and I could see its heavy, brown walls like a giants’ foot from where I stood waiting for her after school yesterday afternoon. One minute … Continue reading