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29 October 2017

ROME RETURN

Leaving aside for a moment the cultural, historic, aesthetic, gastronomic, cinematic and other wonders of Rome, on this return trip I was struck by the invasion, occupation and dictatorship of the automobile. It’s universal of course but I saw it in sharper focus in this city to which all roads, ironically, lead. Double parked everywhere no matter how narrow a street, looming impatiently over your shoulder as you cross on white lines, cars seemed like a plague of giant cockroaches. All the comforts of having private transport bubbles furnished with entertainment, navigation, air-conditioning etc. become absurdly useless because in a city with a zillion private bubbles they will, of course, compete fiercely for space and speed and the result is hell: road-rage, traffic-rage, parking-rage, accident-rage, fuel-rage, pollution-rage, drunk-driving-rage, death-rage and so on. Obviously. If cars are allowed to rule the world humans become their slaves.

But the best thing about Italy is the Italians. I love the warmth, the ease, the wit of communication, the way words roll deliciously on the tongue before becoming speech. I do very little talking in my normal life so Italian verbosity is always both thrilling and overwhelming. I forget a lot of words in Spanish and Portuguese which I used to speak easily but Italian has stayed whole. Maybe because of intense conversations, many letters written and received but most of all the family connection: my older sister Anne, creatrice of the Teatro Club di Roma, her late husband, the writer and polymath Gerardo Guerrieri, their two talented daughters Selene and Indira with their inimitable spouses and children. I am grateful that destiny landed me in an international family in which every single individual is memorable, so memorable that I really should do a portrait of every one of them. Okay I will. I’ve just put it on my To Do list.

Anne and Selene, Rome 2017

My niece Selene Guerrieri Martinelli and my sister Anne d'Arbeloff Guerrieri. Rome, October 2017

This trip was a totally unexpected gift from an old friend who rang me out of the blue saying he had booked tickets for us to attend a performance of Tosca and he was offering me the return flight to Rome. An absolutely un-refusable offer. Why Tosca? Some years ago, when Gaetano was in London, we listened to the dramatic aria "E lucevan le stelle" (Pavarotti does it brilliantly) and were especially fond of that deep BOOM just before the condemned Cavaradossi sings "E non ho mai tanto amato la vita". Afterwards we fooled around imitating the BOOM. That's all there was to our Tosca experience - neither of us particularly an opera lover. But Gaetano remembered that long-ago moment and I was deeply touched by his gesture.

Gaetano Trusso

 Gaetano Trusso, Rome, architect, painter, poet, with two of his paintings inspired by Persian texts. He has translated some Persian poetry into Italian.

Unfortunately he was cheated by one of those online ticket fraudsters who sold him very expensive balcony seats in which Gaetano could not see the stage at all and I, perched on a high stool, saw only a corner slice of the action. It didn’t matter - the evening and the whole trip were still memorable

Tosca, finale

My view of the stage, Tosca.

Rome Opera House audience

Bar girls, Rome opera house

Bar at the Rome Opera House.

Men at lunch, Rome

Romans eating lunch in the sun.

Restaurant grafitti, Rome

I also finally got to meet in real life a longtime blogging friend, Cynthia Korzekwa, Mistress of Transforming Into Art Everything You Throw Away. Her blog is Art for Housewives but her talent cannot be categorised. I only spent a very short time with her but it was enough to cement our friendship.

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15 October 2017

JOWLS

Do you make yourself laugh? If not why not? I do, quite often. This video is one example. I beg your indulgence, I know it needs more editing but I've just posted it on Youtube in hope it might encourage me to pursue silliness seriously. If we can't laugh at and/or with ourselves, well, we must be taking ourselves too seriously.

You can see it on Youtube here.

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13 October 2017

MINDCHATTER

"What's on your mind?" Facebook asks me in its mindless way. Okay here's what's on my mind right now: mindchatter.

Like when my mind is replaying what I've said or written to someone, or what they've said or written to me, or repeating something I told myself an hour ago, or a week ago, or maybe twenty thirty forty years ago, as if I needed reminding even if it was chatter then and still is chatter now.

Mindchatter when the replay/repeat button in my head is on all the time. Except when I turn it off. Which is when I'm asleep, or reading, or engaged in demanding physical activity (pleasureable or not) or...this is the big OR...when my mind is free of chatter and I allow it to be the tool which it is, an instrument whose function is to make something, create something.

Mindchatter is the spanner in the works. The blunting of the tool. The rust, the dust, the mildew, the mould.

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11 October 2017

WORD ASSOCIATING

Looking through the window of a bus I'm sitting in, stopped at a traffic light, I read an orange neon sign inside a restaurant as: JUKELESS BAR. Look again and see I was mistaken, it says: JUICEBAR. Look once more and read it as: JUKE'S BAR. Then the bus moves off.

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4 October 2017

MIND THAT GAP!

You know how some things that are pretty obvious suddenly hit you as if they are revelations? Well, yesterday, one of those hit me in the shower. Hot water needles gently pricking the skin, watery acupuncture, often seem to have an AHA-inducing effect on me. Here it is, summarised.

We are all strangers to each other.
We are all one.
Both those sentences are true. 

Sitting behind the intricately self-assembled camera obscura through which each of us views the world, we are strangers. As strange as a giraffe is to a spider, even more so, because of all that extra human baggage we carry. No matter how close we may be or think we are to another human being, the fact is that the way we perceive and experience life, the universe and everything is different, possibly radically different, for each of us. Whether family, friend, spouse, lover, colleague, member of the same club, school, country, political party, religion, ethnicity, social class, you name it, we may share the same tastes, opinions, pursuits etc. but whatever factors unite us make no difference, deep down, to the fundamental gap which exists between one individual and another. Why is this gap so often and so universally a problem? MIND THE GAP! The mind is the gap. The gap between your mind and mine/his/hers/theirs.Why can’t we celebrate the fact that we really are, on the inside, very different from each other? The differences are, after all, what all the great stuff in art, in music, in poetry, in literature, in philosophy etc. originates from. Yes, consensus is essential if anything of value is ever to be achieved on the local and global level. But isn’t it equally essential that within the unity, any unity, we recognise and admit those differences which exist within ourselves and within every other individual? And learn from them? A lot more could be woven from these strands but I’ll leave it with an image.

Srangers

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