How Not To Get A Date

I had a treat yesterday afternoon as I took the dog for a walk. I’d left the house shortly after dropping the children home and noticed, after about ten minutes of walking towards the bridges near the house, that a smartly dressed man was following me. When I stopped for a moment he swooped over:

(In Italian)
“Do you know by any chance where Largo Argentina is please?”

“Oh…” I started to point in the correct direction (he knew where it was).

“Sorry – ” he interrupted, “I only wanted to speak to you.”

Cue rolling the eyes moment. Ladies, it happens a lot. If you have two breasts and a face, it is more than likely these men will find cunning ways of intervening into your life in the most light-hearted and annoying ways.

He then asked where I lived, how long was I staying, clearly – from the moment I began to answer his pitiful question – he knew I wasn’t Italian.

Before leaving he said:

“Will I see you again?”

I wasn’t sure what I’d slipped in that would suggest this. I then noticed, as the fateful Gollum did upon meeting Frodo that he was wearing a ring. A WEDDING RING.

He must have thought I was born yesterday.

The Signorina rolls her eyes

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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?)

June Joys & Cappuccino Confrontation

First of all, apologies for the recent silence – dilemmas summoned me homeward bound and so I’ve been absent from the keyboard. I’m back now and, if I may say so myself, in full force. Friday morning, I took Teresa … Continue reading

A Date, DVD Bonding & Blue Skies

I think it always happens when you least expect it. Popping up, out of the blue, you don’t feel you look your best. Handsome and leathery, taut and sexy – you absolutely must touch it…we all get like that around…a new hand-bag purchase!

What did you think I was talking about?

Cheeky.

But seriously. I have a date! Let me set the scene. I arrived back in Rome after a few ‘touch-in’ days at home. Long, country days and indulging in mum’s bath. Teresa, bless her, was delighted to see me and gave me a big hug. The father was too and gave me some books to read and a strong cup of Yorkshire Tea (from a packet I brought back, I’ve never seen someone’s eyes light up so much). Elena was in Milan with work, doing Milan things. The boy was out at a friend’s house.

“HSM1, HSM2…I would rather tear out my hair with pliers then eat it with charcoal spaghetti…”

The other night Teresa and I celebrated my return (she said she’d missed me) by going for hot chocolate and renting High School Musical 3. Why not number 1 I hear you cry? Well we’d both already seen HSM1 and HSM2, together, twice over, and I thought I would rather tear out my hair with pliers then eat it with charcoal spaghetti than sit through them both again. With all due respect Vanessa Hudgens.

Anyway, there is this funny, nifty ‘DVD vending-machine’ curled up in a terracotta cave at the end of our street. It’s dark and small and I’ve never seen anything like it. Like a lonely, rejected cousin of Blockbuster. I came across it the other day, by noticing a man nip in the side of the road then disappear. I was rather baffled and so followed him (I had some time). It turns out you shove five euros in the Doctor Who machine and a DVD pops out. It was one of those spectacular days so it took my eyes a while to adjust to the shadows, blue, blue sky that looks like Michelangelo accidentally kicked over his lapis lazuli paint pot in a scramble to catch X-Factor, dribbling blue liquid over his chalky floor.

“…blue, blue sky that looks like Michelangelo accidentally kicked over his lapis lazuli paint pot…”

I digress.

There Teresa and I were, lured in by the mysteriousness of it all. I thought a bit of Zac Efron, the life-size bottle of golden syrup, Colgate and sticky hair-gel, would be nice viewing and I could probably temp the father to give us some Euros for a nice wedge of pizza.

 “…Zac Efron, the life-size bottle of golden syrup, Colgate and sticky hair-gel…”

Whilst my eyes were adjusting, a tall, figure loomed over the entrance on his way out and nearly trod on poor Teresa. He apologised and was definitely American. He reminded me of a lankier Tom Cruise, (not difficult) and had piercing blue eyes and nice hair. No gel in sight! (I am not sure why some boys insist on dressing like a French student in the 1970’s. That question should probably be put to Stephen Fry and his trend analysis team).

Anyway, he is American. A pilot. Can I just say that again: A PILOT. I had to ask him to repeat himself. Perhaps it’s me but I always imagine a pilot should not be right in front of you, casually chatting. Surely, he always has somewhere to be, in a pressed, crisp uniform, looking concerned, no time to chat, let alone flirt. (I should be shot for my stereotypes!)

 “A pilot…Surely, he always has somewhere to be, in a pressed, crisp uniform, looking concerned, no time to chat, let alone flirt…

But chat and flirt he did! There is a bar in Campo de’ Fiori. He has some friends and time. I have an evening free (tomorrow night!) No Teresa you can’t come.

Did I mention I haven’t had a date since before Christmas? Don’t give me that look, I’ve been busy!

(I’m not usually crazy about Americans but it was nice to speak to someone in my own language to be honest.) And apparently being English and having an ‘Oxford’ accent is exotic and ‘sexy’. First hint that maybe he doesn’t spend much time on land?

 

The Style Section

After some winks and nudges, I have been asked to provide a The Signorina: STYLE section – to document Wish Lists and a Comment area on the ever-evolving and ever-fascinating world of Fashion.

Jazz Go For It

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The only thing to do when confronted with long, gloomy faces bumping into you and the moping melancholy of late Jan/early Feb is to face the rainy cobbles and go to a fizzy Jazz Bar, where big hair and big bottoms rub up against you.
The only difference between a rainy London street and one in Rome, is that Romans are nonchalantly chic, immaculately dressed in moody, dark Gucci and Belstaff and – and that’s only the dogs and children.
On the other hand, in London wellies dabble about the pavements, frumpy, wobbly and out-of-place, (get a field people!) Anyway, that isn’t why I’m here.

“The only thing to do when confronted with gloomy, long faces bumping into you and the moping melancholy of late Jan…is to face the rainy cobbles and go to a fizzy Jazz Bar where big hair and big bottoms rub up against you”

A French friend, Anne-Sophie (you’ve met her before) and I went to an exceptionally sexy place called Gregory’s Jazz Club. If you are ever on Via Gregoriana 54, Rome – squeeze by shaking cleavages and shiny brogues of men and women lounging about like panthers around the doorway, find yourself a nimble stool balancing next to one of those tall mahogany tables. It is where Jessica Rabbit’s and bottle-necked politicians fight for bar space. I was wearing a simple, black dress, but my friend had this long, glossy number on, (it may have even been monogrammed if I remember correctly,) ridiculously exposing one long leg, (Angelina Jolie would have turned in her LA king-size bed.)

“Do you ‘fink tis too much?”

Think low, ambient lighting and by a mere, mute hand wave, order one of those transparent cocktails that look like liquified jellyfish with ice from a waiter with a twinkly eyes and slicked back hair. Once the tuba man bounds to his feet and the music starts, you will forget where and who you are and your troubles will pump out of your brain.

It was one of those Wednesday jam sessions, which is apparently the most buoyant night of the week. The atmosphere was built to be twinned with the wild, jazz encrusted bars that sprung up around New York towards the end of the forties. Think Ben Webster and Lester Young.

“Once the tuba man bounds to his feet, you will forget where and who you are and your troubles will pump out of your brain”

It is Rome’s own personal date with live jazz.

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La jam session del mercoledi’ è l’appuntamento storico con il jazz dal vivo al Gregory’s

Do we know who Gregory is, however? A sleepy, large man who looked like a black and white Battenberg bellowed over his gloupy, fish bowl of wine. Apparently,

“He’s an aspiring musician who spent years busking on the piazza’s of Rome whilst working in his father’s empty restaurant near the Jewish quarter. Forbidden from entering these sordid, smoky joints his saxophone saved his life, represented his destiny and guided him towards escape from the mundane: he ended up wooing and marrying a young woman from a powerful Roman family. A spark of rebellion spluttered to life between them, and she encouraged Gregory (Gregorio I imagine, no one like that is a ‘Gregory’) to set up a jazz bar in what was then an abandoned cinema.”

Did we want to be backing dancers, we were cornered and questioned later on in the night? Oh! You know what?

No thanks.

Is Gregorio’s story true? Brimming as it was of a Hollywood screenwriters dream, I am pretty sure the large man with his large glass and apparently large…curiosity was just trying to nab one of us for the evening, distracting our imaginations with vintage who-ha.

If this is even vaguely your thing – get down there now. A tip? Glide around like you’re there all the time and you’ll fit in immediately.

http://www.gregorysjazz.com/prossimamente-in-concerto.asp

“If this is even vaguely your thing – get down there now. A tip? Glide around like you’re there all the time and you’ll fit in immediately”

Search For Sophistication Disguised As A Hair Cut

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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…”

Flying Back To Italy Today!

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It’s been a long and lovely holiday at home in London, but the time has come to head back to Italy to continue work. (I use the term work loosely of course, as working for the Italian family is proving to be a wonderful experience.)

I should mention, I don’t know how long yet I will be doing it for – as long as Italy will have me! There is certainly a whole wave of things I’ve yet to do and people I’ve yet to meet, dates yet to have. (I’ve been rather shy and slow in that department! I know, grow up!)

What with children, ice cream errands and pesto dilemmas on the one hand, I feel there is so much glamorous sunlit ground I’m still yet to cover on the other hand.

Underwear Underworld, Part 1: You Know You Love It… Victoria’s Secret

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Image curtesy of this lovely lady’s blog: http://www.girlscene.nl/blog/11730/_mijn_top_10_favoriete_winkels_in_het_buitenland 

PART 1:

I love beautiful underwear, I do. However I wanted to share my recent experience at the boutique boudoir that is Victoria’s Secret. Another underwear journey, although this time the experience was wholly different. As you might have guessed, I came back home to England for Christmas. and an eager friend who has just broken up with her boyfriend, defiantly dragged me round the Victoria’s Secret sales.

“an eager friend who has just broken up with her boyfriend, defiantly dragged me round the Victoria’s Secret sales”

In short, it is a black and purple, plastic and glitter explosion shoved together inside a frilly, seduction-scented box, layered carefully with the skin of a thousand, female preying mantis. The underwear is unusually created by sexy, little elves, covered in lip gloss who live on coconut water and bronze eye shadow.  By contrast to the howling winds and driving rain outside during this particularly wild, British winter, this shop is a palacial, safe haven.  You cannot skid on the wet entrance to Victoria’s Secret for you will be shot on sight– and yet women insist on wearing dagger-like stiletto’s. I am sure it is part of the internal training process.

“a black and purple, plastic and glitter explosion shoved together inside a frilly, seduction-scented box, layered carefully with the skin of a thousand, female preying mantis… unusually created by sexy, little elves, covered in lip gloss who live on coconut water and bronze eye shadow”

My friend abandoned me. I did not know whether I was allowed to touch certain puff balls of silk, let alone try them on. The bras seem to prop themselves up by the bulky cup, poised to greedily jump on your boobs. I clutch my chest protectively. Despite all this, the bras are gorgeous, expensive, but nice. Eventually, I found a couple I thought were fine so I got measured.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, Lexington Armory, New York, America - 07 Nov 2012

Original image url: http://lemoncurve.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/fashion_scans_remastered-victorias_secret-fashion_show-2012-scanned_by_vampirehorde-hq-2.jpg

“I did not know whether I was allowed to touch certain puff balls of silk, let alone try them on. The bras seem to prop themselves up by the bulky cup, poised to greedily jump on your boobs”

Before I’d even reached the changing room, (that looked like a suspended selection of Caeser’s silken nightrobes) I was pulled over by very attentive service. We need details. Lining up they take your name down on a list – as if I was queuing up to get into a prestigious club. Is this your first time? How many would you like to try? So-and-so will assist you and wait outside in case you need any help – here is the bell (points at glittery, golden bell).

Good gracious.

I felt as if I was bobbing outside a club where instead of steamy bottles of Vodka lining the shelves in a shiny, expensive fashion, its bras. Millions and millions of bras. Looking at me. And knickers. It’s really a wonder the bras aren’t served up on a clean, black tray, glistening with unicorn spit, or cooled in buckets with ice shaven from igloos of eskimo princesses.

“It’s really a wonder the bras aren’t served up on a clean, black tray, glistening with unicorn spit, or cooled in buckets with ice shaven from igloos of eskimo princesses”

I decided I wanted to get measured and apparently I was not the size I thought I was. (How off can you be?) I was informed to get measured every six months. Six months, that’s the amount of times one goes to the dentist. Come on though, as long as you clean your teeth, you’re doing nothing wrong. But your boobs – can’t the just look after themselves? And really how often do they change size and shape? One morning will I look down, 18 months after my last measurement and see teabag-like-bra covering my nipples because of how big they’ve gotten? Afterwards, a trusty card was thrust into my hand – much like the stamp a bouncer gives you at a club telling you that you can come back.

“I was informed to get measured every six months. Six months, that’s the amount of times one goes to the dentist. Come on though, as long as you clean your teeth, you’re doing nothing wrong. But your boobs – can’t the just look after themselves? And really how often do they change size and shape?”