Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Mail, gomma e colla

Io e mia sorella non ci sentiamo molto via e-mail.
Quando però capita, lo si capisce dal fatto che ho le lacrime agli occhi dal ridere.

Adri ha ereditato da nostro padre un senso dell'umorismo asciutto e pungente, in special modo sulla carta. Umorismo che poi lei arricchisce con colte e raffinate citazioni di Monkey Island.

Ieri sera mia sorella ha risposto a una mia mail.
Quando ho letto "Io sono la gomma, tu la colla", per poco non mi sono ribaltata dalla sedia dalle risate!

Marmite jam

I'm more and more convinced that Marmite has started to follow me everywhere recently. 
The notion makes me smile, even though I'm a bit worried, as the idea of that slimy, smelly spread sneaking at my back just makes me think about "The Blob". 
Talking about the Blob, I went to read the Wikipedia entry and gosh & blimey! 33.5 years on this planet and I never realised that Steve McQueen was in it!

Anyway, when I saw the word "Marmite" trending on Twitter this morning, I thought it was because of the strikes announced by its workers against the pension plan.But no, a quick look at some news websites and the truth was out:

There was a big jam on M1 and it was caused by a Marmite lorry colliding with a caravan.
The police had to close a section of the road to clean it of the content that fell off the truck.

I think they should have rather spread the Marmite evenly and directly repave M1. Marmite is cheaper than tarmac. And thicker. And smell as awful as hot tarmac, if not worse.

Monday, 28 November 2011

La pioggia

Non me l'aspettavo, ecco; ed è una cosa strana da dire, visto e considerato dove abito.
Ma ho la memoria meteorologica corta.
Mi sono abituata alla nebbia: nelle ultime due settimane c'è stata praticamente solo e soltanto nebbia, nebbia, nebbia. 
Così, quando ieri sera sono uscita e ho sentito la prima gocciolina di pioggia sul viso mi sono stupita. Eppure non ho pensato che la pioggia sarebbe aumentata di intensità. Men che meno mi sono preoccupata di tornare su in casa a prendere un ombrello... tanto non sarebbe probabilmente servito a nulla, visto il ventaccio che tirava.

Stamattina prima di andare al lavoro ho messo in borsa l'ombrello. Ovviamente non piove. E non c'è nemmeno la nebbia. Strano, è sereno...

Friday, 25 November 2011

Davide and the hyaenowhat

Yesterday evening I skyped my mum back home.
It's really heart-warming to think about how my mum, a person so unconnected from technology, picked some basic things up quite quickly, just to make sure to keep in touch with me.
I like the moment the webcam starts and focus on my sister old bedroom: I recognize the bookshelves on one side, the paintings and pictures hanging on the wall, I can see part of the entrance hall in the dark.

Yesterday there was a small surprise waiting for me in front of the webcam: my nephew Davide. He's 3, very cute, has a slight soft "r" when he talks and, until few weeks ago, an insane fixation on Pixar's Cars.
Now it seems he's gotten over, but only because the cars have been replaced by another object of manic curiosity: reptiles and prehistoric animals.
Sitting in front of my dad's laptop he looked worried: "Non trovo più lo ienodonte! Dov'è? Tu l'hai visto?"
I can't find the hyaenodon anymore? Where is it? Have you seen it?"

And he was off, looking for that hyaeno-thingy. Not sure where it is. I've seen it on wikipedia though and I presume it might be in some museum, extinct and pretty much skeletal. 
I think I need to brush the dust off that "Jurassic Park" DVD and learn some random dinosaurs names by Christmas...

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Plain and simple

The first thing that I recall are the smiles.
I can add many more little details to this story.
I can write about a bright yet slightly chilly Saturday morning, about how the sky was clean, but the streets were dirty with leftovers from the Friday night binging and partying.

I can put my best writing skills into action, so to describe to the last of the meaningless detail how I made my way out of Finsbury Park tube station and managed to reach my destination without getting lost, not even once. But these already poor skills would be wasted on the effort. Not to mention the fact that they'd be used to state a little lie, as it's generally acknowledged I got the orientation skills of a rock (but hey! Be fair: it's not my fault most of the roads in London have no street sign!).
I can also word my wonder at seeing the number of shops selling wigs in Stroud Green Rd. Really! One wig shop after another! Yet there were not a huge number of bold people around.
I can occupy a good bunch of lines in describing the view that greeted me when I stepped into "Bon Matin", the array of savory and sweet pies, croissants and cakes on display, how the skylights made everything look brighter and more cheerful and how the aroma of sugar and coffee seemed to envelope me in a welcoming hug.

All of these details though, meaningful as they can be to me, would add very little to what lies at the heart of this post. The smiles, their smiles.

I spotted Giselle sitting at one of the tables: of all my knitting-friends that agreed to meet me on my Saturday in London, I knew she was going to be on time. I can't remember now if she was knitting already, but I remember she smiled when she looked up from the menu and saw me.
And Joanne smiled at me few minutes later, and so did Belinda.

A slice of quiche, coffee, tea, orange juice, some knitting and chats later, May arrived, smiling obviously. 
We took a leisurely stroll to Nest.
I love Nest. It's one of the nicest shop in London: the place is cosy and warm, and it's very hard impossible to walk out of it without any shopping done.
We spent some more time there knitting and chatting, laughing and telling stories, discussing projects and plans.Smiles were back in full force when it was time to say goodbye, even though they were slightly sad ones this time.
We had planned to meet up again before I left London, I had a date set for it before I arrived in Amsterdam... talk about planning! I thought it was going to be enough time, but the hours flew away so quickly and I found myself on a train down to Farnborough feeling like I could have used a couple of hours more with them.

Few weeks ago I finally casted off a pullover I've been working on for quite a long time.
The name of the pattern is "Plain and simple" and it's absolutely beautiful: when I look at it, neatly folded in my wardrobe I can't help but smile. I am proud of having made it to the end of the project, happy of having chosen the pattern, glad my mum let me have some of her old buttons.
I started it when I was in London, back in June: this ocean of stockinette stitches has been a nice commuter companion, worked in the round on the 88 to work, on the 87 back from work and sitting with the London. But mainly I knitted in good company around central London with the lovely people that form the Knitting and Crafts Meetup.
They have been sitting with me in the café, smiling as I ranted non-stop all my frustrations out, while knitting, knitting, knitting and still knitting some more.
So every time I look at it or wear it, I feel a smile surfacing up onto my face.
No matter how cold a day can get, I got a nice, plain, simple and deliciously green jumper to keep me warm.
 I got the nice, plain, simple memory of my friends' smiles to chase the cold away.

stockinette ocean

Friday, 18 November 2011


Troubled times, the ones we're living in. Not only the economic crisis threatens economy and government all around the globe.

Much more serious things are happening though.
"Masterchef: The Professionals" is back. Well, this in itself is good, because I have a serious yet insane fascination with Masterchef. I hate the fact that I love it, but I love it anyway.
I like the professional version of Masterchef better than the other ones. Not only because I like Michel Roux jr. , but above everything because of Monica Galetti, Roux's sous-chef.
Ah, Monica!
Every time I speak of or think about Monica Galetti, Elvis Costello starts singing "She" in my head and trust me, no matter how often he does it, it still pretty scary to find him in my head singing.

Anyway, I'm in love with Monica. And the way she raises her eyebrows and stares at the contestants, making them squirm and almost reducing them to tears.

Monica is the only reason I can bear all those "I want this more than anything else in the world!" and "Masterchef means the world to me" or "Masterchef has become my whole life".
With her I can also avoid hysteric fits when Greg's big face pops into the screen... "cooking doesn't get tougher than this!"

Yet, something is off this year. Something is making it hard for me to watch the show, it makes it feel less smooth.
Yesterday evening I had an epiphany... the voice-over! What happened??? Where is my voice-over?!?! It was a woman's voice and now it's a man lending his vocal chords to describe the plates cooked and the mess made by the next-michelin-star wannabes.
It doesn't work for me. It makes me remember the deep baritone voice that read the script over the movie in Poland (I'm not sure it can be called "dubbing").
It's just not right and I miss her, I want her back! 

On the other hand, no, I got nothing better to do than watching "Masterchef", because I'm very lazy, can't be bothered to go out during the week (knitting meet up excluded) and because the fog has seemingly sucked out not only the surrounding landscape but also my energies.

I guess all this small little things, combined by how my mum teased me about going to the movies, drove me to the edge.
I don't know why, but after telling her I went to the movie, she felt she had to check online what was on at the Pathè in Haarlem. She barely knows how to write me an email, yet she went and google for the cinema in Holland and check on its Dutch website for the weekly program.

She made fun of it with me last time we video chatted.
So, yep, it's all mummy dearest fault. 
How else can I explain the worse, most terrifying, scared-for-this-life-and-the-next-reincarnation nightmare I ever had???

The kitchen light is on.
I've just finished a sudoku and feel quite smug about it.
Sara is sitting next to me at the kitchen table, drawing something that resembles an elephant, or a air-balloon, not really sure about that.
She put the caps back on the marker, turns around and stares at me with those big eyes of hers. The look of those eyes would make anybody do anything she commands, she knows that and she knows that her aunt Virgi doesn't stand a chance against it.
She looks at me, tilts her head on one side, smiles and finally drops the question: "Zia Virgi, mi porti a vedere la maratona di Twilight al cinema?"

"Aunt Virgi, can you take me to see the Twilight marathon at the cinema?"
I woke up with this sentence in my head way too early this morning and was too afraid to go back to sleep afterwards...

Wednesday, 16 November 2011


Some weeks ago I noticed that hey!, I did not need to go to London to see Wilco play, as they were bound to Holland for 2 gigs.
Utrecht was sold out but there were still tickets available for Tilburg.
Where the hell is Tilburg? Holland, obviously.
Mmmh, can I get there by train? Yes, I can.
So let's buy a ticket for Tilburg then... and go to London anyway.
Time flied (as I was having fun) and Monday arrived.
So, on Monday morning I did 2 things: print the concert ticket and check where Tilburg is on Google Maps.

First of all, Dutch drink their share of beer at the concert but mostly before the concert begins or in the break after the opening act. I was very happy to see it, made me enjoy the beer I had at the end of the concert even more.
Then I came to the conclusion that, in order to work as a roadie for Wilco, you need to live in a permanent Movember.

The 013 Popcentrum is smaller than the Roundhouse, but I think it's not just because of the size of the place that the concert felt more intimate, yet more energetic. 
Jeff Tweedy talked and joked around a little bit more than he did in London.

"Ahi ahi ahi!"
"I couldn't have said it better myself... It's Dutch, isn't it?"
And after a while: "It does sound a lot like Spanish!"

At the end they played about 25 songs, including "California Stars", just what I wanted to listen in that right moment. 
I got a hell of a good time and now I don't even have to check Google Maps... I know where Bruxelles is, just need to wait for March.
Until then:

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Comme un roman

Kindred spirits...
You wander in wonder and suddenly here it is, one of these kindred spirits. Staring at you, smiling benevolent.
You feel at peace, but also so relieved and hilariously happy. 
You exist! Thus I am not alone!

Kindred spirits can come in many shape and size, I don't even think you need to meet them face to face. They can be as big and furry as Totoro, or as small and cute as Mrs. Petter Pot.

You may have known them for quite a while and never recognized them as nothing else than acquaintances or colleagues...
You may have known them through their words on a blog, but never spent too much time wondering about it.

Then, in one single day, things fall into place.
At lunch time Cesar's eyes lit up at the mention of Wilco's gig in Tilburg.

"Did they play Impossible Germany?"
They did, Cesar, they did.
"I discovered them only one month ago. They're great"
When you're ready to reply to the usual "Wil-who question?", the less expected person makes your day better and the music sounds even better and louder.

And scanning through the feeds of the blogs you follow, you find a post in English, on Lolly's blog, about Pennac.
You've given up any hope of any English speaker to know what you're talking about Mr. Malaussène & Co., here's a whole entry talking about one of his book.

Everything falls into the right place, just like in a nice book.
Comme un roman.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

pimp my fiets

Lo scorso weekend dicono sia statol'ultimo week-end autunnale e ora non mi resta che arrendermi all'arrivo dell'inverno. Un po' di scaramanzia ci vuole, preferirei molte giornate di sole nei prossimi mesi, a  prendere il posto di giornate nebbiose, malinconiche e tremendamente fredde, come quelle che le previsioni del tempo sembrano anticipare.

L'ho passato di nuovo in giro per Haarlem, fra mercati, vie del centro storico, pedalate al centro commerciale, in palestra...
Il fatto di avere a disposizione delle piste ciclabili degne di tale nome mi rende leggermente euforica e fa sì che approfitti di ogni occasione possibile per togliere i lucchetti a Voodoo Lady, tirarla fuori dalla cantina e portarla a zonzo.

La sua metamorfosi continua: è iniziata piano, in sordina quasi.
Le ho comprato un campanello nuovo, perché quello che aveva era di plasticaccia schifosa e si era "sbergnaccato" tutto durante il trasloco.
Già prima non è che fosse un gran campanello, era piuttosto asmatico, povero piccolo, ma il trasloco è stato il colpo di grazia.
Dovevo far sì che Lady Voodoo ritrovasse la sua voce anche perché andare in giro gridando "dlin-dlin-dlin-dlin-dlin" su una pista ciclabile non è esattamente segno di sanità mentale.

Dopo il campanello è stato il turno delle borse laterali da mettere sul portapacchi. E poi delle cinghie, per bloccare la sacca della palestra sul portapacchi.
Lady Voodoo poteva essere considerata uno scassone a Londra, anche se ai miei occhi lei è sempre stata bellissima.
Qui, al confronto con gli scassoni olandesi, corre il rischio di diventare vittima di qualche lestofante e io corro il rischio con lei di ritrovarmi con il cuore spezzato e senza ruote, quindi ho comprato un secondo catenaccio che pesa quasi quanto lei.
Poi ho comprato dei fari nuovi e delle lucine intermettenti che fanno tanto Natale e che uso per decorarmi il giubbotto (e per farmi sembrare un albero di Natale, per l'appunto) per le uscite serali...

Adesso sto valutando l'opportunità di un cestino frontale e pensavo anche di mettere finalmente uno stencil con il suo nome sul carter.
E magari un terzo catenaccio, tanto per dormire sonni tranquilli...

Saturday, 5 November 2011


I was born later than the supposed expected date. So I guess it's quite right if I say I was born lazy.

It takes me a lot of time to do things, because I tend to postpone things.
Even a simple small task can go on and on, because I always find excuse not to do it.
For example, I receive a lot of mails that, even if they are not spam, I just don't read and bin them directly: I bet you know what I'm talking about. Newsletters.

It happens that you leave your mail address somewhere and you get newsletter. Some of them are useful, but most of them are pretty useless and get in the bin as soon as they are received.
Of course, I could unsubscribe, by scrolling down and down to the end of the newsletter and just click on the unsubscribe link. But then I think that I can do it another time or something distracts me, so my mail box keep getting mail and mails I don't really read.
Yesterday evening, however I had a geeky cleaning raptus and decided to clear up the mail account a little.

So I started unsubscribing here, there and everywhere: open mail, click the link at its bottom, confirm unsubscribe, close web tab, open next mail.
When I got to Etsy, I was about to close the tab, when I noticed it was different from the previous ones.

It looked like this:

I'm tempted to subscribe again just to unsubscribe, just to check whether it's only Paul Young, or there are some other '80s cheesy pop song videos!

15 ani fa

15 anni fa il Piemonte finiva sott'acqua.
La mia vita veniva travolta da una piena di tensioni e litigi, il periodo più nero della mia adolescenza e, per molti sensi, della mia vita: l'acqua che sommergeva tutto e tutto portava via sembrava avere la stessa violenza distruttrice che si era abbattuta sulla mia vita e i miei legami e aveva interrotto tutto, causando un blackout affettivo.
Ma sono piemontese, quindi esageruma nen. Ricaccia indietro le lacrime, abbassa la testa e mettiti a ricostruire, Virginia. Mi ci sono voluti anni per rimettere insieme la mia vita, riallacciare affetti spezzati e ricominciare a sorridere. L'ho fatto il più delle volte da sola, perché sono cocciuta e orgogliosa e non riesco a chiedere aiuto. L'ho fatto molte volte grazie all'aiuto degli altri, dato spontaneamente e a volte di nascosto, tanto che me ne sono accorta solo più tardi.
E ora che quella vita è ricominciata, fra alti, bassi e traslochi va avanti, conscia che potrebbe sempre riaccadere, se non ti prendi cura di te stessa e ciò che hai di più caro.

15 anni dopo e piove sul Piemonte. E sulla Liguria. Leggo i giornali a colazione, con calma e sento lacrime di rabbia salire, pronte anche loro a straripare: sembra che tutte le tragedie di questo paese colabrodo siano imprevedibili, da decenni se non da sempre...

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

It's not what it looks like...

It was a quiet and cloudy London afternoon. I'm at Sainsbury's, in Vauxhall.
The girl at the check-out is looking me as if I grew a second head overnight, which might well be true, as I haven't been to the hairdresser for about 2 months now and my hair are becoming more and more a messy and anarchic mop.
Still, she doesn't seem troubled by my haircut. The groceries on the belt, on the other hand...

I can explain this...

I still have the grace to turn slightly red and manage to mumble a pathetic: "It's not for me, it's for a friend!"
"Right", unconvinced, she keeps scanning item over item.

But I swear, I am telling the truth! Well, almost. I am not lying when I say I am buying all this Marmite stuff for a friend, I am simply not disclosing some bits of information I deem unimportant.

I'm not sure how and when it happened, but life's like that: big changes happens slowly and most of the time you don't recognize them, until they've become a fixture of your everyday life.
So let me make it clear: I still hate Marmite. I still HATE it. I always did, always will.

Yet I've grown fonder towards Marmite-flavored snacks. Like the rice crackers, the cereal bars, the cashew nuts... They exert a twisted appeal to my taste buds. I was in denial for a while, but time to come out of the closet: I like the Marmite Bars!

Concerti e futuro

Fra "Art of Almost" e the "Whole love" non so quanto sia passato. Minuti, ore, musica e poesia.
La Roundhouse a Chalk Farm è una delle mie sale preferite, un posto suggestivo adatto a perdersi fra le note.

Primo punto positivo della serata: nessuno mi ha chiesto di smettere di cantare. Anzi!, per una felice concatenazione di eventi, fra il raffreddore e le orecchie tappate a causa del volo, ho sentito il concerto in stereofonia, filtrando buona parte delle voci circostanti. Quindi, a ben pensarci, potrebbero avermi chiesto di smettere di cantare, ma io non li ho sentiti: non dico che d'ora in poi tenterò di ammalarmi 3 giorni prima di un concerto, ma nella sfiga generale ho avuto il mio momento "à la Pollyanna" e ho trovato un lato positivo nella sfiga generale.

Come da tradizione, anche questo concerto si è rivelato una fantastica opportunità per studi e ricerche socio-antropologici. Non fossi stata troppo impegnata a cantare "Ashes of American flags", probabilmente mi sarei potuta interrogare sul motivo per cui il tizio accanto a me abbia deciso di andarsene a metà concerto.

C'era un ragazzotto non troppo ubriaco che tentava di fare colpo sulla ragazza accanto a lui. Purtroppo lei non era altrettanto ubriaca e lui sembrava in grado di dire le parole sbagliate e fare le cose meno azzeccate, con il solo risultato di farla innervosire sempre più. Ah, l'amour!

O il motivo per cui il tizio con il cappellino abbia deciso di piazzarsi proprio dietro al ragazzo-armadio in prima fila; a parte il desiderio di scassargli le scatole, può esserci stata anche una lieve vena suicida dietro le sue azioni?
Insomma, se vuoi un posto in prima fila, mio caro ragazzo-cappellino, arrivi presto e non passi due ore a bere al bar. E soprattutto non ti piazzi dietro al ragazzo-armadio! Insomma, l'hai visto? E' il triplo di te e con una delle sue mani potrebbe staccarti la testa e usarla per giocare a bowling con le costole, staccate con l'altra manina. Ti è andata bene che non era il buon SViN in prima fila: forse un po' più piccolo di ragazzo-armadio, ha di sicuro meno pazienza e si sarebbe fatto pochi problemi a usarti come sgabello per vedere meglio il concerto.

Quando ho comprato il biglietto per il concerto, ero ancora a Londra. Ancora non sapevo che di lì a pochi mesi mi sarei trovata in un altro paese.
Ero in una fase abbastanza tetra, non la peggiore ma comunque brutta abbastanza da sentire il bisogno di qualcosa di bello nel futuro a cui poter pensare. La promessa di qualcosa di migliore.
Per un po' ho lasciato il biglietto sulla scrivania, per poterlo guardare e potermi ripetere che c'era qualcosa di bello ad attendermi. Ora ho un altro biglietto appeso in bacheca. Lo guardo ogni tanto, una sbirciata veloce tanto per confermare che è ancora lì. E per pensare alle cose migliori che aspettiamo arrivino dal futuro, ricordandosi però che è meglio andargli incontro e non rimanere pietrificata sul posto...