Posts Tagged ‘Napoli’

Using Global Positioning System to the Doctor.

April 10, 2017

Almost There

The arrival of the driverless car can’t come quick enough. There are far too many drivers on the road that should never be allowed near any car, let alone inside a car.  I don’t actually like most other drivers. There can be no greater joy than driving past a car parked along the highway with a flashing police car stationed behind it. The police car has special investigation equipment to know the history of the car and its driver.  The driver in the car just has to wait in the knowledge the policeman will soon come out of their car and present a fine, or worse. The best of those cases are when the driver is asked to get out of the car and told he or she is not allowed to continue driving because of a lost license, levels of inebriation, methamphetamine use, unroadworthiness of the vehicle or heaven knows what else.

This happened to us many years ago when living in Holland. I was a hippy had a perm done, smoked bongs. Helvi did tie-dying and wore long skirts. Both of us listened to Carly Simon and were ardent admirer’s of the late Trotsky without knowing much about it. We converted a Kombi van in which we took trips to Paris. It eventually needed new tyres but were suitably lax in buying them in time. The police in Holland are sharp and  pulled me over. They inspected the tyres and without further ado slashed one of them with a special knife. We bought four new tyres very promptly.

The Pro-Office remind calendar told us that last Saturday a yearly appointment with a specialist  doctor was due in Liverpool. I felt confident enough to take the journey without plugging in our Tomtom GPS. We had done the trip several times before.

Liverpool is one of those chaotic cities that are so common in Australia. Residential homes, factories, commercial unidentifiable building all thrown about as if by a demented architect out on revenge. In between many vacant overgrown with weeds are allotments littered by abandoned trolley or empty baby prams. The inevitable yawning car yard appears in between all the chaos. The words ‘special’ or ‘closing down’ are strewn about like confetti at a drunken Russian wedding with the groom sprawled out on top of a plate of borscht. The Norwegian Edvart Munch’s The Scream pops up as well.

This visual assault is something we struggle with whenever or wherever we travel by car. The soothing voice of the GPS commentator a much needed anchor to keep me grounded within borders of acceptable sanity. It soothes me; ” turn right after 400 metres.” Or, “take the next second exit after the round-a-bout.” It is so becalming and reassuring.

However, as noted I had not put on the GPS. In a moment of inattention I had forgotten to take a turn to the left. A disastrous mistake. On Toll-ways, a mistake can have dire consequences. Helvi remained silent. She knows my limited boundaries in the area of remaining calm and collected. There were no signs of left turns anywhere. A buzzer in my car went off indication a toll charge had been collected. We finally managed to get off this Toll way and soon found the road to Liverpool again. Helvi took me to task and bluntly told me not to go anywhere without plugging in the Tomtom. “Why do you have one?”, she asked not unreasonably.  Followed up by; ” why do you have it in the car?”

We still made it in time to the doctor and were out of his surgery within twenty minutes. “No worries,” Helvi smiled.  To get back on harmonious levels, I made a point of sticking on the GPS and clicked on our ‘home’ address. It guided us back seamlessly. The soothing voice taking me into my previous conviviality.  We stopped on the way home in a nice pub and shared a Napoli pizza. Helvi had an Italian Pinot Gris and I had a nice schooner of stout.

It all came good, but only just.

 

Playing in the Sandpit of publishers.

February 11, 2016
Table setting.

Table setting.

We all know that hard-cover publishing is hurting. The figures on downloading electronic books from Amazon and the likes are staggering. They seem to be in opposite tandem with the drop in selling  newspapers made from real paper. The toilet roll still hangs in there; but for how long? The number of plies and widths are diminishing already. I believe in Japan there are now paper-less toilets. You down- load a special app, push ‘delete’ after finishing ablutions, pick your fragrance and Bob is your uncle. I suppose with both hands free you can sit on the toilet and manoeuvre all sorts of  apps  and paperless ablutions. There is now a glut of paper but it allows the Finnish Forests to spread out and re-grow. A win win for the ecology.

It is fascinating how publishers hang in there. A real learning curve. You get an automated reply that the submission has been received with some uttering kind words, ‘ you have made your first step,’ but also, ‘we will read your submission which could take eight weeks.’  ‘If you don’t hear from us it means we will not ‘pursue’ your submission any further.’ Some salve the wounded pride and nurture failure with  referrals to doing a course in ‘how to improve your writing skills.’

The top of the pick of publishers are those urging ‘frankness’ in not sending manuscripts simultaneously to different publishers. Yet, the first time book writer is expected to, ever so sweetly, wait eight weeks. Yet no courtesy in return from the publisher in replying in the event of a refusal. Let us assume you send the thing to about ten publishers that have a waiting list of six weeks before not replying. That is sixty weeks of waiting in not hearing a single response. Nice work if you can get it.

We had a pizza last, the ‘Napoli with anchovies.’  I ordered a black beer and Helvi a light. The local pub has taken on the big change in incorporating the best of both worlds. Nice food, cosy comfortable surroundings and now very much family friendly. Lots of kids. Both of us watching young kids running around. Children are naturally inquisitive and enthusiastic. They can’t take a straight step. They skip and hop, fall over and look at everything. The seas still have monsters and the forests full of fairies. Why are we not skipping anymore, I asked Helvi? How come we don’t sit in a sandpit?

Helvi, with her infinite clear insight, answered; ‘that is because when you get older you have learned that there is not much to skip about!’ It is food for thought. I offered that we might just have to do a different kind of skipping. Perhaps sitting here eating the Napoli Pizza with anchovies, watching kids hop about is a kind of skipping too. ‘Sure dear, I love watching them and it passes the time.’

How’s your pizza? The same as yours, seeing we always buy the same Napoli together. What a banal question. Are you tired?

The day had been difficult. I thought I had lost the entire manuscript. I could not find it. This computer seems to sometimes assume a life of its own. It shifts, skips and moves about. I finally found it in a totally different location. I was so upset and H kept urging me; ‘don’t feed your anger.’ ‘You will find it.’ ‘Take a break.’

Easier said than done. We all need much more time in a sandpit.

 

 

Rosaria from Gozo (Aunt Maria and Priapus)

September 21, 2011


The Bovims and Rosaria with Joe, Aunt Maria and the gallery owners lingered on and breakfast rolled seamlessly into a lunch. Huge bowls of pasta and carafes of wine would be carried to their table with lively conversation whetting appetites. Frank departed from pasta and ordered a plate of freshly grilled sardines, garnished with fresh coriander and lemon juice.

‘Why don’t you all come back to London with me and have a look at Wendy’s gallery’, Frank asked? ‘She is having an exhibition of her own work and there is also an ongoing show on lace’. It was an exchange exhibition from a gallery in Belgium’s Ghent. The gallery in Ghent is highly specialised, world renowned for its hand- made lace. Wendy was lucky to get the lace exhibition in her gallery in London. ‘Not lucky’, Wendy retorted, ‘you knew how to manage and talk to the gallery board, gain their trust and influenced them to try England as a venue for their next exhibition’; she smiled knowingly.

Frank had been to Paris recently to once again see his Euro Disney project which finished a few years before and made a side trip to Ghent to see the lace exhibition. While there he showed them a catalogue of the lace dolls including those he had bought from Rosaria.

The excitement of catching a plane to look at more lace in London was very tempting to Maria. She had no qualms in accepting. Joe, with his easy nature had no trouble; the flounder could wait and swim a little longer, he thought. What about Aunt Maria? ’Don’t worry about me, I can sing anywhere and besides, I’ll visit my brother in Naples’. ‘I haven’t seen him for ages. I might even go to Pompeii, have a look at that famous brothel where a visit to the girls of love used to cost the equivalent of an erect penis’s weight in gold’. ‘Now, there was female liberation, she added’.

Maria had never married but was rumoured to have many lovers. No one was sure, but many young men would visit her cottage on a rocky outcrop in Gozo to take singing lessons. In fact, it became a bit of a standard saying, when, some young person who spontaneously burst out into a song, was asked; was it a good lesson from Maria today?

When the group finally finished lunch, they decided to fly with Frank and Wendy to London the day after. His plane was on stand-by and so were the two pilots who were booked into a local hotel. The convenience of having the means to do all that was none more obvious than to Wendy and Rosaria. Rosaria was still a few weeks away of giving birth and the idea that her dolls with lace had sold filled her with joy. It was not just the sale, but that her work was now so much appreciated. All those hours and days of moving bobbins around with the lace finally getting a motive that was hers alone and totally unique.

Next day Maria was already on her bus to Naples which drove direct onto the ferry at the Messina wharf. At the same time the plane took off with Frank, Wendy, Rosaria and Joe on their way to London.

Maria felt a warm anticipation not just to see her brother in Naples but also the chance to see Pompeii. Her knowledge of Pompeii was mainly through studies and magazines. She was intrigued by the idea that an entire culture ‘in situ’ had been re-discovered and that so much was still being unearthed. Of course she had seen the picture of Priapus’ fresco from the House of the Vettii but felt that to actually see this scene in front of her at the place where it all had happened was something she looked forward to almost more than seeing her brother.

Maria was more than a little interested in men’s sexuality. When the singing lessons sometimes strayed to a more intimate level, she did respond in kind. This was never predetermined or deliberate and always followed a natural flow of events. The singing lessons could end up in the young man bedding her down. She liked men as much as singing and somehow thought that art and sex could well be mutually dependent or symbiotic. Looking at some erotic art from Picasso and others, there seemed to be that sex and art often had a common bond. They certainly were not mutually exclusive.

The trip to Pompeii would involve the tour to the erotic Priapus fresco which, she had been told, could only be shown to males. Why women were excluded wasn’t explained but someone told her, that this little sexist oddity was only reserved for English and American tourists. Apparently, the board of tourism had received complaints from some of those that weren’t quite prepared for the sheer size of the phallus. Some high heeled ladies even fainted and had to be brought back by generous sprinkling of Eau-de Napoli mixed with holy water which was put near the fresco to revive those faint hearted.

All in all, those tales of giant erect phalluses, the Pompeian history and cultural habits of the inhabitants, (irrespective of phallus size) was enough for Maria to keenly look forward to her visit next day. She knew the tale that the giant phallus had outweighed the bag of gold coins but had some lingering doubt how this giant upright member could be weighed. She had a practical side to her! She was at the same time also told not to miss the nearby Herculaneum, an excavated snack bar which has a painting of Priapus behind the bar, apparently as a good-luck symbol for the customers.