Wednesday, May 30, 2012

the big wheezy...

I’m not travelling with anyone who can sprint. Ever again. Turns out that Exotica of Beaver-hat fame has been keeping her Usain Bolt talents hidden from me.  She’s always been a bit of a natural athlete (how annoying, if she weren’t so fun I’d divorce her) but the day she revealed her full potential, was the day we caught the train to Florence.

We’d already researched ticket prices at the station and had decided that we were happy with the 17Euro’s cost to travel on the (extremely) slow train to Florence. Exotica felt we could get a better deal as, fool I was, I’d showed her the Trenitalia website where it had shown ‘tickets from 9Euro’. 

So, while we were cocking around the ticket line for 9Euro tickets that don’t actually exist, our train to Florence was warming up, unbeknown to us, on the furthest possible platform from where we were standing. It might just have well been IN Florence.

Once Exotica had realised (I like to think that my newly learned Italian hand movements hurried along this realisation) that we would miss the train before we got even close to the front of the line, the fun started. 

With unnerving agility she released ‘The Bolt’, her silhouette becoming increasingly small as she pulled away with remarkable speed. Now, picture me bringing up the rear (both figuratively and literally). It was like one of those war movies where the slow person shouts ‘just go on without me!’ Except, I had the bloody train ticket so I somehow had to keep up.

I coughed up a lung that day and there it still lies, on Roma Fucking Termini Train Station, platform butt-fuck nowhere. I had sprint-induced asthma for the entire day, which was only very slightly relieved by our lunchtime beer.

Exotica thought this was hilarious and still had energy to trawl souvenir stalls to find the just the right ‘Ciao Bella’ T-shirt.  Ciao feckking Bella indeed. I just wanted more beer, broken only with incidences of wine.

I think it’s entirely unfair to tell your travel companion that you’re ‘soooo un-fit’ then pull a move like that. Rotten show-off.

Footnote:  I bought a ‘Universita Firenze’ sweatshirt that day but no-one’s falling for it. Damn.

Friday, May 25, 2012

pwoah! buon-fokken-journo...

My recent sojourn (it wasn’t really a sojourn, I just wanted to use that word) in the land of Ferrari’s and cologne-doused men has left me with the conclusion that Italians are a charming nation of cigarette-fueled, carbohydrate-synthesising, love-machines (though I’ve no personal proof on the love-machine front - I’m just going on what we were told by a 70yr old waiter in Florence).

Phase one of the journey, naturally, was grooming for the flight.  Why in heaven’s name women do this, I’ll never know. It’s not as if when you check-in grooming police will ask to see if you’ve shaved your legs or not.  Nevertheless, shaved, clean and well scented is how I prefer to travel. Just as well really, because flying via Dubai requires you to practically strip naked before you’re allowed through security. Imagine the horror of stripping off to reveal body-hair. Oh the shame!

Possibly the best part about long-haul flights (in addition to the unlimited supply of Bloody Mary’s and not having to cook) is that it’s possible to arrive at your destination looking younger than when you left. I leave home with my face as naked as the day it was born so that when I reach the sample counters at duty free I can apply, with gay abandon, all the extremely expensive face cream that I can lay my hands on.  It’s a wonderful thing, this sampling business.  Have you seen how much that gold La Prairie shit costs?

Possibly, I take it one step too far with the perfume testers. I have to. When else am I ever going to smell of Dior?  So spray, spray, spray it is.  My travelling companion (Exotica of Beaver-hat fame) complained and developed instant hay fever just sitting next to me.

Romans are pretty wild drivers and consequently, crossing a road in Rome is by far the most dangerous thing you’ll ever do, second only to playing a game of toss-the-grenade in Baghdad. I’m not sure if their edginess on the road is as a result of their carb consumption (something insulin related I’m thinking) or the nicotine overload, but all I can say is that every driver has ‘Schumacher eyes’.  Yes, they see you trying to cross the road but give you the death stare, challenging you to the ultimate game of chicken.

When in Rome (excuse the pun) I remembered, a few times over, that shopping is an activity for which I have no stamina.  I also remembered, a few times over but all too late, that Exotica is quite good at it.  Worse luck, she has a penchant of second-hand shops, especially where the garments have been pre-owned by the very poor. Charity shops make me instantly bored and inwardly (OK, sometimes outwardly) I do enough eye-rolling to induce an epileptic fit.

However, the outings to something in the region of 14 charity shops was not all in vain as I came away with the useful insight that charity shops world-wide smell of crotch. Maybe because it’s impossible to launder leather trousers?

When I explain this to Exotica (who remained entirely non-pulsed by my eye-rolling), our lovely Italian friend and self appointed tour-guide CaraMia* says,  

‘Whata eesa crotch?’

I point to my nether parts. She nods sagely.  Exotica interjects, ‘they don’t smell of crotch, maybe just a bit of feet’ because after all, this is by far preferable to crotch.

‘Yes’, agrees CaraMia, sampling the air in the shop once again. 

‘Eesa mora ofa feet’.

As punishment for all the charity shops, I made Exotica come with me to all the posh shops on Via Condotti where I would have to say, the effort is somewhat disproportionate to the effect.  I realise that I’m a total Philistine when it comes to being fashion-forward but really, is all that embellishment and bling necessary?  Do I look like I’m about to turn all rodeo cowboy?

Here’s what else I noticed.  The kids there are all really smart. If you can believe it - they all speak Italian! What’s more, they all have sexy, husky, gravelly voices as if they too started off their day with a Gauloises Blonde.

Dog collars are big in Rome.  There’s even a touristy calendar you can buy of Vatican Hotties.  Not surprisingly, no such calendar exists for nuns. Their outfits are only half as fetching. Apparently, visible head-hair is the clincher when it comes to sex appeal. Visible facial hair, however, is permitted. We hatched a plan (behaving like total teenagers) to make a ‘Tourist Calendar of Hotties’ but got so over-excited when the time came to photograph the fellows that all the shots came out horribly blurred. Such a pity. They were to be Christmas presents for our girlfriends.

I’d go to Italy again in a heartbeat.  I can’t think of any other country that gets away with quite so many weird sunglasses, quite so much carbs, quite so many man-scarves, quite so many handsome men, quite so much aperitivo’s and quite so many pullover’s draped across shoulders.

P.S. TooFastTooFurious asked me this morning if I have any jewelry I’d be willing to sell as he’s saving up for an electric scooter. Mr. PP said he can’t get one because we all want things we can’t have. ‘Like Mom’, he says, ‘Mom wants a Lamborghini but she just can’t get one’. Still, do you think I need to hide the heirlooms?

*CaraMia is not her real name. I’m not telling you her real name. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

to camp...

I got a red-card from TooFastTooFurious this morning.  I said the ‘F’ word and he said he was all out of yellow cards so I’d have to take a red card.

One of the reasons for my cranky outburst was that I’m feeling rather frayed after a weekend of camping.  The ‘To Camp or Not To Camp” argument has received far too much airtime in our house and the only reason I do it is for the kids and partly for Best-kisser (though he says he also does it for the kids but I know he’s lying.) 

You’re either a camper or you’re not.  I’m not. This is only made more so by what I call ‘Camper Snobbery’.   If you tell a camper you hate camping they don’t even bother to disguise their disgust.  They’ll normally retort something condescending punctuated with the words ‘princess’ or ‘royal treatment’, which I don’t find funny in the least. I mean really, a real princess wouldn’t be seen dead camping.

What you’re also definitely NOT allowed to ask a camper is ‘why don’t we stay in the adjoining chalets instead?’ I know this because once we went camping with a camper who said ‘who wants to stay in a chalet?’(all the while sneering at the happy-looking chalet-stayers.)  Naturally, my arm shot up quicker than an over-keen first graders, only to realise that her question was rhetoric. I had to act as if I was raising my hand in some kind of ‘Amen’ agreement.

In an effort to get my head around this camping business, I thought that I should research what makes campers tick.  It seems the most accurate conclusion is that it’s like playing a giant game of ‘Wendy-house Wendy-house’, which goes something like this:

Even though you have your own house with all the shit that you need and want, you pack up all your shit, and some shit that you don’t yet own, and some shit that you're thinking of owning. You then cart your shit to some wasteland – the very best sites are located in dustbowels (yes, deliberate typo) – and then you set up your camp. With all your shit. And then some more shit. Then you get to do all the shit you do at home, (like cook and wash dishes) but with none of the conveniences. It’s a refugee themed mini-break but without the break.

What shit you can’t bring though is the really useful shit. Like good food. It has to be food that can’t go off.  This includes culinary delights reminiscent of the war years, namely canned food and dry biscuits. Some fruit is of course is allowed, but you have to eat it quickly before it starts smelling rank.

Fortunately, alcohol doesn’t go off, though using booze as means to cope hasn’t always been successful.  I once got so shickered that I peed in my shoe.  Due to my reluctance to face the darkly lit pathway-of-death to the insect-infested ablution block, there was more force than normal which proved unmanageable.  My foot was partly frozen (and partly drunk) so I didn’t feel that my aim was skew and it was only when I felt my foot go comfortably warm that I realized my error. 

Naturally, one of the highlights of camping is always the ablution blocks.  They offer wonderful things, like cold showers, which are popular amongst many people. Mostly Thai prisoners.

What made this past weekend especially fun was that Best-kisser (luckily) won the game of Rock-Paper-Scissors for the best camping spot.  It was right up against the stables so we had a whole bunch of flies join us in the tent. They liked us so much that they simply refused to leave. Not only that, but we never felt alone.  Did you know that horses don’t really sleep?  Oh no. They spend most of the night chomping noisily, making farting noises with their mouths and kicking their hooves against something hard or hollow.

The one thing we didn’t take along was firecrackers.  Yes. According to the sign next to our site, this activity scores as ‘highly likely’ amongst campers.  It read, “ABSOLUTELY NO FIRECRACKERS ALLOWED”.  I didn’t realise that there were levels of firecracker allowedness. Some Firecrackers Allowed, Hardly Any Firecrackers Allowed and Absolutely NO Firecrackers Allowed.

I’m going to close this argument by saying that there’s a reason that shack dwellers choose shacks and not tents. They must think we’re absolutely do-lally.

P.S. A friend spotted WheelchairBoy canvassing for free 2nd hand leggings from another victim last week.  Things are getting out of control.