Monday, 25 July 2011

Dining Alone

 To Rome, on business. Above is the view from the Deputy Mayor's office. Then the joy of the expense account stopover. I left the hotel I was staying in near the huge central railway station, Roma Termini, and had a wander around some back streets. I came across this trattoria. The walls were covered with framed photographs of the well-fed owner with a series of B list Italian slebs. Perfect.
 A smooth, fruit-laden Sangiovese from Tuscany accompanied a bottle of sparkling mineral water and some decent nosh.
I do so enjoy eating alone, especially in large cities away from home. It's the anonymity I think. The pleasure is, of course, doubled when you can claim it back on exes.

Sunday, 17 July 2011


 To Asti to see Jethro Tull in concert. Ian Anderson is 64 and still does that one-legged flute solo thing. I read later that he is a millionaire. Not surprised frankly at €35 a ticket for a 90 minute open-air concert. Still the venue was pleasant, next to Asti's cathedral and it was interesting to feel one's ribcage and teeth vibrate to a bass line coming from a serious speaker some ten yards away. Aqualung was one of the first LPs I bought I think.
Jethro Tull is huge in Italy. There is even a fan club called The Tullians who follow them everywhere, superannuated old, skinny hippies with black headscarves, serious earrings and out-of-it eyes. When I was at St Custard's I packed in the violin and asked if I could learn to play the clarinet. The skool orchestra was without a flautist however so the (oddly) heterosexual music master cajoled me into taking up the damn thing. Dreadful instrument, nearly as useless as the harp. Anderson plays it very well however, I'll give him that. I think I'd have been much happier with the clarinet. Ah, all those lost opportunities.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Hotel Architecture

This is the remarkable lobby of a hotel I stayed in recently in Asti. It was pleasingly run-down. This picture I think makes it look better kept than it actually is. Presumably dating from 1970s (any ideas from the architecturally-minded?) the lobby's island feature really caught my eye. Someone has filled the base with that sort of white shredded plastic packaging material you find inside the box when you order an electronic item from Amazon. One of the half-dead pot plants has a faded red ribbon tied around it. The three distant guests marked the height of activity whilst I was there. Silence invariably reigned apart from an occasional trolley bag being dragged across the lobby by a weary sales representative heading for his dusty Fiat Croma and yet another meaningless appointment.

Monday, 4 July 2011

When Will It End?

Pretty bloody quickly if things carry on like this I think.

Friday, 1 July 2011

My mate Sid

I was clearing out the PH Memorial Shed in a rare burst of activity. There were a load of concrete bricks in one corner, damp from a gently leaking pipe. That corner was dark and as I got towards the bottom of the pile, puffing and panting in my ghastly late middle-aged way, I thought I saw something slither. I ran out squeaking, got a serious torch and went back. Yes, there was Sid all curled up amongst mice-chewed newspaper and all sorts of other unmentionable stuff. I would like to say that I was the one who captured him but I thought that it might be better to get someone who knows what a viper looks like. So along came Gianni and his wife Rosella and with a pair of barbecue tongs we got him in a large glass.
He was quite long and struck out a couple of times. After a lot of tooth sucking Gianni declared that this was not a viper but a bicha, a harmless mouse-eating snake (good for you Sid). So I gingerly let him go into the next field and off he slithered happy as Larry Sid.

We have a truly ignorant neighbour who claims on a regular basis to have killed vipers which is almost certainly bollocks. Another neighbour (89 year old Riccardo) has lived here all his life and says he has never seen one; he is probably right. Snakes are good for the countryside although that bloke in Blighty who was bitten by one of his King Cobras this week and then died may well have overstated his affection for them somewhat.