RDP #21: Italian

Bellaggio 1995

This is Bellaggio in 1995, a little village on the shores of the Lake of Como. Switzerland is sandwiched between a few countries and many tourists do not know they have been there until they have crossed Switzerland and arrived in another country. Living in Switzerland has the advantage that in a few hours, the motorways not being one big traffic jam, you are already in he land of spaghetti and wine.

There were not many opportunities for Mrs. Angloswiss and Mr. Swiss to escape when the kids were younger, but they were now at the age when you could leave them alone for a few days, and relive the good old days when we were young and lovely. We had heard of Bellaggio as one of those places where the Hollywood stars like to go and so we made our way via Lugano. We had not reserved anything, it was just on the chance that we find a hotel On the week-end we arrived  there had been a Bernasconi political conference in Bellagio and as we arrived at a very good hotel, the various business men in suits were leaving. We were lucky we had the choice of the rooms. Bellagio is a land tongue on the lake of Como, so we had a view of water on both sides of the room.

Bellaggio is a wonderful place and also goes up and down like most Italian villages. One restaurant remains in our minds, the food was good and the service. It was situated at the side of these steps. We were in Northern Italy. The first thing I noticed in the restaurant was a shelf with various wine bottles, for show. One of the bottles showed Mussolini on the label. The boss of the restaurant would sit at a table in the evening, and when customers arrived he disappeared into the kitchen to cook, but his favourite pastime seemed to be sitting at this table and being the capo di tutti capi.

He had a son who would also be hovering around in the restaurant, but mainly saying hello to the guests, especially the female ones.

I remember one afternoon Mr. Swiss and I took a walk around the area. There were some lovely gardens, and old villas and we saw the son of the restaurant owner. He had an American lady on his arm and was showing her all the sights. She only had eyes for him it seemed. He was really the rooster in the basket in Bellaggio and two days later we saw him again with another lady on his arm, this time an english lady. Was this pure Italian?

I also made my acquaintances in Bellaggio, but it did not bother Mr. Swiss so much.  I was then 49 years old and having my last fling in Italian.

Bellagio

We left Bellaggio for home and stopped at Lugano on the way in a restaurant with an outside terrace. The sun was shining, we felt good, looked at each other and realized we had the same thought. We then booked in for two nights at another hotel on the lake of Lugano. The kids did not need us, they were on holiday as well getting a break from mum and dad. This was the Italian way to do it.

RDP #21: Italian

RDP #20: Check

Dogs waiting

“Hey Monty, do you think she has forgotten us. Monty, Monty, I am talking to you.”

“Wuff.”

“Is that all you have to say, just “wuff”. It has been an eternity since she tied us up to that post. I have read about dogs being left like that. She could at least check now and again to see if we are still here and not stolen.”

“Wuff and cool down Cuthbert. I am enjoying this rest and no-one steals dogs who don’t know who there daddy was. They prefer a pedigree, like who was your great great grandfather and all that. Puts a bit of value on the ransom money.

Do you really want to be locked in one of those dog boxes outside? The last time she did that there was a poodle in the next box. He wouldn’t even share a bark with me, too busy trying to chat up the pekingese in the next box, said he didn’t have time for a rough one like me. No, this is comfortable so she should take her time.”

“But I am hungry and am fed up with all those strangers walking past and patting me on the head. I am slowly getting a headache. They could at least offer a biscuit now and again.”

“Stop moaning Cuthbert, you are too fat in any case.”

“I am not fat, that is all fluff.”

“Look I think she is coming, but she is talking to that lady she knows, the one with the bulldog.”

“Not that slobbering one. The last time he turned up I had to have a complete wipe down on the car seat and even that didn’t help. Nothing worst that sitting on a car seat full of bulldog slobber.”

“Keep calm Cuthbert, I saw the bulldog outside locked in the pen. All the other canines moved away as far as possible from his cage, they were getting sprayed all the time. What are you doing, stop acting so stupid standing on you back legs and wuffing all over the place.”

“I am just showing our owner how much I missed her Monty. You could also show some appreciation. It would mean double biscuits.”

“Double biscuits, might be worth a try. On the other paw I will stay where I am, she will give me a biscuit in any case. No reason to stoop to canine begging level. See, she gave me one  and I did not have to do degrading doggy stuff to get it. Cuthbert you still have a lot to learn.”

“But she returned, she did not forget us.”

“Of course not, she is a human doggy owner, they never forget their dogs and she had to pay for her dog licence, money talks all languages, even bark. Have you ever seen a hound left at the entrance to the supermarket. Even the slobbering bulldogs are taken home.”

Dogs waiting at supermarket entrance

RDP#20: Check

RDP #19. Shaken

Fiat 127 Top - my first car

I loved this little car, it was my first, a Fiat Top 127. At last I could go to work under my own steam without being dropped off by Mr. Swiss. A second car is a financial burden, but we were both working and my car was my financial burden. And so there I was with my own four wheels.

About a two years later it happened. Driving to work at lunch time a car in front of me suddenly stopped and went to the right. He had already bumped the car in front of him and wanted to avoid more damage. I, of course, did not know there was a car in front. So  it got a second bump from me and my little Fiat got quite a big bump with bits and pieces hanging down from the front.

Suddenly there was action. People involved flashing papers, driving licences being produced and suddenly a young lady appeared from an office opposite asking if anyone belonged to the XYZ insurance company where she worked and could help to deal with problems. Me, I had no idea, I do not have car accidents very often, actually it was my first. After everyone calmed down and details were exchanged I managed under almost steam power, to get to my garage. I felt like crying, but the garage manager cheered me up by laughing, although I was still shaking.  I then learned the technicalities  of a car accident. I had the car repaired, it was all not so bad, although it did lose some anti freeze liquid shaken out of wherever it is stored.

My second accident was more comfortable as it happened just near where I lived, on my way home from work. I had now progressed to a fiat UNO. The car in front did not break in time and drove into the car in front of her. I naturally was surprised and knocked into her car and the one behind me completed the chain reaction. They all started getting their papers out, and I remained cool. I said the my home is just opposite, so what if we all go to my place, sit down at the table and do it all in comfort.

This was apparently unheard of, but a welcome suggestion. An hour later we had finished our discussions, worked out who was who and even made some little drawings with cars A, B and C. Mr. Swiss was away on business, I think in Germany, and I was expecting him to return any moment. Yes, he walked in the door to see me with two strange men and a lady at the dining room table.  Instead of greetings from a lonely wife he was confronted with discussions about a car accident. The lady involved was not Swiss, she was some sort of South American and was a bit lost with all the technical stuff and Swiss German. She asked if she could call her husband. I found why not, the more the merrier,  so her husband also joinced us. It really got comfortable, and no, I did not offer any coffee. i did not want to overdo it.

These things can happen I suppose. There was a slight accident when I drove backwards from a parking place and the car opposite also drove backwards and we met in the middle. That was an easy one and being woman had a logical solution. Both of us were guilty as driving backwards you are always in an advantage, so I said everyone pays their own damage. I think the guy was relieved and I never heard anything from him again.

RDP #19: Shaken

RDP #18: Stellar

Full moon behind the clouds

“Dracky look, it is a full moon night tonight.”

“I thought it might be, bring me my sunglasses Morticia. I am feeling my age.  I am no longer the youngest.

“And what’s all this with the sunglasses? Vampires do not buy sunglasses at the opticians.”

“Of course not, if Nosferatu saw me I would be the laughing stock of the coffins. I order them online.”

“I noticed we are getting more parcels lately, but you should really keep Alfie tied up in the garden. Since the postman lost a finger  after his last visit he now just throws the parcels over the quicksand instead of bringing them to the door. Werewolf bites are not very pleasant. It took a while to show the postman the safe path without sinking into the mire and now the parcels sink in the sand if he doesn’t aim right. You were lucky that Alfie thought it was a game and retrieved the glasses.”

“That was why there were teeth marks in the frames. Naughty boy Alfie”

“Growl, growl”

“Down boy, take your teeth out of my neck.”

“Where has the romance gone Dracky. 300 years ago you would take me in your arms and hitch onto my neck and make the most of it. Today you even order the blood online from the blood bank. You hardly leave the coffin.”

“I am feeling my age Morticia and you know I love you, we are tied together by some mysterious sort of blood group.”

“Let’s open the window and gaze at the stars and the moon together.”

“You must be joking Morticia. Think of all those bats flying around outside. They will think it is an open invitation and fly in. Some of them might even be vampires in disguise and my next delivery from the blood bank is only next week. There will not be enough to go round. You know how greedy they can get. It is late and I am feeling tired.”

“It used to be “the sun will soon be rising and we must hurry to celebrate the remains of the night”. Where are you going Dracky?”

“To the cellar of course, where are my bat slippers?”

“They are in front of the fire to keep them nice and warm, I know you hate having cold feet.”

“Another problem when I get older, Dr. Mabuse said it is bad circulation and he should know. How comes you keep so fresh Morticia.”

“No problem, but I go out for my blood supplies where it is fresh and young. I know where my blood comes from. That blood bank stuff is suspicious and I am sure they freeze it now and again to keep it fresh. They even deliver it in refrigerated boxes.”

“You think so, perhaps I will accompany you the next time.”

“Why not, but not in your bat slippers, at least wear a decent pair of shoes and forget that t-shirt with the words “I am not aneamic, I always look like this” people might start to believe it.”

RDP #18: Stellar

RDP #17: Antediluvian

Fly

All this eternal life stuff can get boring. You think I only live for a few days? Forget it. I have been here for so many years, they call me Methuselah. Of course not everyone has the luck to get away with it so long, you just have to make sure you are in the right place at the right time when the ship arrives. Now that surprises you, doesn’t it?

I will now let you all into a little secret, although no-one would believe you if you told them. Even the humans are forgetting where they came from. Where do the flies go in the Winter? You never see us, because we are not there. We tend to fall asleep when it gets colder, the deep freeze syndrome happens, and the ship arrives. At least we think it does, that is the story we are born with. It is all in the feelers, because we never knew our mums and dads, they just left us to get on with it, you know survival. We are sucked up by the ship and off we go back to the warmer areas where we stay until the deep freeze begins again and we are then returned to where we came from, instead of being  sucked up we are blown out I suppose.

There are a few newcomers, but they only have one thing in mind, and that is food. I survived all that years ago and have seen it all. You just have to be clever and dodge the fly swatters and everything stays fine. In the antediluvian days, before all this plastic stuff was invented, we were swatter free. No surprise attacks from above, just a human hand, but they never did understand the aerodynamics of the situation. We feel a wind blast before the human even thinks about about raising his hand.

Flies do not die under natural circumstances, only by accidents, and they do happen. I say just keep away from bread and jam, and cakes, even fruit can be a threat and then you will survive. Look where we live. Imagine if you spend a complete summer in a heap of cow dung and even enjoy it, and survive. You can survive anything. I still have a few ancestors around and we reminisce about the good old days up to the necks in … you know what.

We were the first and will be the last. Think twice before you take a fly swatter in the hand, you will be reducing the first witnesses of creation. Forget what the rats say, they are just show offs, without us they would be nothing.

Fly

RDP #17: Antediluvian

RDP#16: Target

Blue Tit aiming for food

Now this blue tit has a target before its eyes. Hanging from a branch is dinner, a net packed with all sorts of goodies and the bird is thinking about it, but not very long. The canteen is open and it is time to feed.

My target is often shopping for food, because no-one hangs it on a tree for me, or puts it in the cupboard. I have to fetch it myself. Having targets in life are a way to solve problems.

When I broke my leg in January everything fell apart for me. My daily routine no longer existed and my life at home was turned upside down. This all being coupled with having MS. Of course Mr. Swiss helped. From the beginning at home I cooked the food. He fetched it from the supermarket according to the list and I cooked it. That was the first target achieved. Although I must say I really had to pull myself together with a leg that did not function accompanied by a walker to give me support, but no-one went hungry.

The next on the list was the daily cleaning plan. I know it is not the most important thing to do, but it was for me. It was part of my life, and I enjoyed that part of my life. Things were where they should be and there were no odds and ends or bits and pieces laying in the corners on the floor. I have a stone floor and like to wipe it over in the morning: just with hot water, but it stays clean. I had to forget the living room, it was too big and too much. The kitchen had to have a clean up daily. I mean who has a kitchen that stays clean all day? No-one. My eldest son took over the ironing with a little help from Mr. Swiss and they also took care of the washing machine.

In the meanwhile I was making my target plan. Cleaning with a walker in the hand that I used to carry the mop and vacuum cleaner was very complicated, so my first aim was to ban the walker. The next step would be to do it all with my stick and eventually with just my own two legs.

The accident happened in January and 6 months later I can do it. It is a slow process, but I set my targets weekly and it worked. I am still not able to clean the bathroom or shower as I used to, but now have a wonderful cleaning lady who does it for me once a week as well as the kitchen every two weeks. Today I can do it all again under my own steam. I learned that you need patience above all, Rome was not built in a day. At the beginning you have a feeling that life will never be the same again. I had pain at night in my broken leg, and sleepless nights. Today I really do not know what the problems were because Mrs. Angloswiss is back again.

I was getting advice about not doing these things, it is really not necessary every day. I was overdoing it with the cleaning. That might be, but one thing people forgot was that it did not bother me. I still had time to sit at the computer and write, I still had time to go out in the afternoon in my wheelchair. And the best was the first day when I accompanied Mr. Swiss on the shopping trip, because from that day on I did it every time. The big achievement was last week when he could not go shopping on Monday so I took the car on my own, drove to the supermarket, did the shopping  and came home: mission accomplished.

And I have now banned my walker to another room. I spent every night with it next to the bed in case I had to get up. Now I get up and my stick is enough to get me to the bathroom. My target theory worked, I can do it again.

RDP#16: Target

RDP#15: Cataract

Rain 31.05 (7)

As soon as it rains, there are cataracts of water everywhere. At last a gutter was fixed above our entrance to the apartment block last year when a complete renovation was carried out. Now, instead of getting wet newspapers and letters from our letter box, they remain dry as the water in channeled to the exit. Of course you could get a free shower if you did not notice, but the water runs on the side out of the way.

This reminded me of an occasion in our house in East London where I grew up. It was built in 1884, had no bathroom and the toilet was outside in the garden. I grew up with it and got used to it, although the spiders that lived outside in the toilet, especially in the summer, were a nuisance. The advantage was I never spent too much time in the toilet.

In Winter it could become quite precarious because our water pipes were all fixed outside All the water from our sink and the rainwater collected and poured into these pipes. It worked, although in Winter now and again the water might freeze, as it did one Christmas, actually Boxing Day which meant we had no water in the kitchen.

This particular Christmas, not only were our water pipes frozen, but the sink was blocked and the water could not escape. There was a remedy for frozen pipes as it often happened. We had something called “lagging” which were torn remainders of material that you draped around the pipes and eventually the ice would melt.  Later on Boxing day evening mum went to the kitchen, which was upstairs in our two story slum, to see if the ice had now melted. Of course it had, the lagging did the trick and water was flowing again. Mum had left the water tap open to be able to check. The problem was she forgot that the sink was blocked.

It was then that we realized cataracts do not only occur in nature. Our cataract had filled the sink, overflowed to the ground and was already a mini waterfall as it fell down the staircase. And, of course, it also seeped through the floor. Luckily electricity was not discovered when the houses were built so there was no electric wiring in the floorboards. It was all outside the walls. However, the lower floor was now quite damp. Luckily since grandad passed away, no-one was living downstairs. Of course a certain amount of damage occurred, so mum reported it to our insurance.

Insurance? Yes we had one, but nothing special or comprehensive. The insurance man came and said that walls and floors were not included in the policy. Mum was only paying a few shillings and the only object that could be replaced was an alarm clock, which we did not even realize we had.

I still remember the picture today of mum feet deep in water in the kitchen because the pipes thawed. I must have been about 10 years old at the time. Mum and dad spent all night trying to mop up the water as best as they could. It seems the house dried out eventually and I still lived there until I was 20 years old with mum and dad. Eventually the house was demolished and mum and dad moved to a house in Essex, where they at last had an inside toilet and bathroom.

Living in houses that originated from Victorian London in the East End of London was not fun. I still had the old gas holders on the wall in my bedroom from the original build of the house.

Norah Street
Our street before the houses were demolished.

RDP#15: Cataract