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Thursday, 22 July 2010

Superfast Scoffing, Mediocre Singing and the Tea Towel/Travolta Hunt

Monday 19th July 2010. Well today is officially the first day of my unemployment/retirement and it’s been rather dull to be honest. The trusty iPod was shuffling in the living room as I sorted through a mountain of paper, bills etc from the old house. I have a mountain of invoices and receipts to organise in my accounts for Black Cat, but just can’t muster up the energy to sit down and do them. Kelly Rowland, sings ‘Commander’, it’s rather good and a little bit Lady Gaga, I think.


Today we transferred the deposit for our house in Abruzzo over to our Italian bank account, hopefully the purchase wont take too long and we’ll be able to start work on it around September, I’ll update the progress of the refurbishment here. until then here’s a picture of how it is at the moment.


It has two front doors, as it used to be two houses. This is the upstairs part of the house, behind the brown door is the living room and shower room and behind the green door is the kitchen. The front has a large patio with a massive fig tree, yum yum, and an overgrown driveway. Down the steps at the side and you get to the two bedrooms and shower room on the lower level too. There’s over 1000 sq m of overgrown land behind the house which we plan to turn into an orto, like most Italians do and grown all our own fruit and veg.

We went out for dinner tonight, just to a local pub that does good food, opposite me at another table, sat the worlds fastest eater. The table had three women at it, two were mid forties, hard faced types; you know the kind, they have a twenty a day habit etched on their faces, no make up and a permanent scowl. The third was a pretty looking woman in her twenties. When their dinner arrived the two older women ate at a normal pace, continuing between mouthfuls to moan about work and generally deride as much about their lives as they could. The third woman’s dinner was delivered to the table; she had new potatoes and Cajun salmon with veg, no sooner was the plate in front of her, she started to dig in, shovelling in mouthful after mouthful. She barely chewed the food and I looked at my iPod, (which had been playing ‘Open The Box’ by Yoko Ono, as we pulled onto the pub car park). The time read 18.43, when she finished eating it read 18.49, so it took her just 6 minutes to scoff down a hot meal, methinks she had an asbestos tongue.

Tuesday 20th July. A damp day greets me and I’m again at a loose end, I haven’t had time to develop a routine yet. So at the moment I’m just surfing the net on my new laptop, that has so many fabulous features. I had to buy Microsoft office yesterday as my old one from 2000 won’t run on Windows 7, £89.99 for a piece of cardboard in a plastic box with a twenty five digit code, so I can use it. Kylie sings ‘Get Outta My Way’ from her new album, Aphrodite. It’s an okay album, not really very thrilling in my opinion, it’s not really got any tracks that stand out.

Wednesday 21st July.  It’s sunny at 7.30 when I drink my morning cuppa, in the kitchen iPod shuffles and Adam and the Ants play, ‘Feed Me To The Lions’. I check the weather over in Chieti, Italy and see that it’s 29C, which is 84F in old money. I drive to my old office and check to see if there’s any post, A Flock Of Seagulls play ‘What Am I Supposed To Do’ from their 1983 album, Listen. All I have waiting for me is junk mail, so after popping in to see Lara at Moonstruck Theatre Company, I drive to town. I pull onto the car park, buy a ticket, pop ear-buds into my ears and walk off with Bananarama singing ‘We’ve Got The Night’ from their amazing 2009 album release, ‘Viva’.

There’s a crowd gathered in the street and I can hear voices singing, I join the group and see two blokes, looking out of place dressed in dinner suits with microphones. Old ladies are gathered around a table selling CD’s of the duo, all is in aid of some charity of some sort. To be truthful, money would be better spent sending the crooners off for singing lessons, as they were doing, ‘You Lift Me Up’ a grave injustice. I’m just moving away from the group, when I overhear an elderly lady in a camel coloured coat turn to her friend and say, “They’re crap aren’t they Betty, not as good as that poofter Will Young,” I stroll off smirking as Betty agrees with her politically incorrect friend.

I head into town on my quest to buy new tea towels, for our brand new shiny kitchen, our old ones need replacing. First I head into the local market, here we have everything, stalls selling curtains and cakes, dog toys and Dettol. I scan every stall, and should I be in the market for a tee shirt with ‘Holly likes Cock’ emblazoned across the front, I’d be in luck, but no, there’s not a single tea towel to be had. I go into the Potteries Shopping Centre; our meagre attempt at a shopping mall, and have a quick mooch in HMV, this prompts me to make a mental note to download the Professor Green album, Alive Till I’m Dead, when I get home. I pass Starbucks, see the sign advertising their truly dreadful Lemon Frappuccino, which tasted like drinking cleaning fluid and plug in my ear-buds once more, and descend the escalator to non other than Will Young with, ‘Leave Right Now’ the only song of his I actually like.

The hunt for the elusive tea towels continues, Textile World has closed down, so no joy there. T.K Max have towels but no tea towels, I can’t be arsed to go to BHS so I stride off into the distance and back to the car. I end up at Tesco and there I purchase 10 red and white tea towels for the princely sum of £10. I also get a couple of bottles of Maschio prosecco, bargains at just £5.99 a bottle instead of the usual £11.99.


I check my e-mail and see my lawyer in Lanciano, Menina has sent me one saying the cadastral survey should be complete by end of August, which means we’ll get a plan of the land and the house in case anyone disputes land ownership in the future. Can’t see that though, as there’s only one street in Guarenna Vecchia, which is the name of the village where our humble abode is.

Thursday 22nd July. 7.00 am and was on my second cup of tea when the roof of the world ripped open and down came a torrent of water. It’s now 08.57 and it’s still raining with no let up. To cheer the day I put another Tesco bargain into my PC and settled in front of the screen. What was the bargain? The Killers, live from the Royal Albert Hall, DVD for the price of just 4 of the royal treasury’s pounds. So the rain falls outside and I watch Brandon Flowers jump up and down and get all sweaty….Nice

Next week is the Action Project, and this time we shall be doing a two week project looking at the musical/stage show Grease. I just realised that although I know the songs, and a rough synopsis of the story, I don’t know it well enough. So I take a trip up to town to rectify this. As I park in vacant space, No Doubt are blasting out with ‘Sunday Morning’. I lock up my car just as the man in the car adjacent to mine reverses into another one, he gets out, and takes a look. He  shrugs his shoulders, climbs back into his car and drives away, leaving a dent and a flash of white paint on the other car. I walk towards HMV to look for the Grease DVD, on the way into the shopping centre, I stop to buy a copy of The Big Issue. The seller notices my Italian flag badge on my jacket lapel, and before you know it, we’re having a conversation in Italian outside on the damp streets of Stoke on Trent.

Now you’d expect to pick up a copy of Grease quite easily, but no, another hunt begins to take place. I first look in the section marked G in feature films, no joy. I check out musicals, section G, again no luck. I leave HMV and try a couple of other stores that sell DVD’s, still no luck. So I return back to HMV, thinking I’ll see if they have a copy in the back of the store. I’m entering the shopping centre as the Big Issue seller shouts, “Ciao.” I ask the youth behind the HMV counter if they have a copy of the film, he looks on his screen, sucks his teeth then says “You can order a copy online for £3.99, with free delivery.” I explain that I need it ASAP. He sucks his teeth again, then says, “Yes we have one, it’s in a boxed set of five John Travolta films, "£12,” I confirm that that will be okay, and five minutes later I leave the store clutching the object of my perseverance. This time I sneak out the back way avoiding the Anglo-Italian Big Issue vendor, and as The Klaxons play ‘Isle of Her’ I drive home, just in time as the rain comes again.

The rain moves away in the afternoon and sunshine replaces it, we travel into town to look at sofa’s, as we need new ones, our old one is falling to bits. We have to consider very carefully our options, as we have to buy something that will fit in with our future move to Italy. Things to consider are:

Fabric V’s Leather – Leather we think is a better option particularly when the summer comes, fabric can be too much on hot days.

Legs – These need to be higher than usual feet on sofa’s to allow air to circulate, and to prevent a dark space for scorpions and shield bugs to hide in.

Size – our living room is quite small as most Italian’s are, the reason being in winter most people spend the vast majority of their time in the kitchen by a big log fire. (we’re lucky to have a huge fireplace) And in summer most of the time is spent al fresco.

Now I do need to point out that we’ve seen endless furniture ranges over the past weeks and cannot decide on anything we like. For me they’re either too fussy, with squashy extra cushioned bits, that will lose their shape after six months, or they are recliners, which I don’t want.

We are just minutes inside a small independent furniture shop when we find it. A three and a two seater in scarlet leather, with tall silver feet, and a bargain at just £799.95 for the two, and here’s the good bit, delivery in 24 hours.  On the way home Depeche Mode, shuffle onto the car stereo, with ‘Ghost’, a bonus track off their 2009 album, Sounds of the Universe. It has one of my favourite lyrics……. ‘I’m the hole in your heart, I’m the stain in your bed,  the phantom in your fingers, the voices in your head.


 All in all today hasn’t turned out badly, just have to teach drama for an hour at 5pm then the evening is mine.

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