Saturday, March 29

The Book of Love

So...due to my friend posting a video of two, rather handsome, Croatian cellists playing AC/DC on their cello's on Facebook I spent an hour chasing music and this is what I discovered:

In 1999 'The Magnetic Fields', an indie band from Boston, Massachusetts, released '69 love songs', literally three volumes of music that consists of 69 love songs, after the guy who started the concept decided that his original idea of writing 100 was just too many. Number 12 on Volume 1 is called 'The Book of Love''s at 27:27 on the following video.  The lyrics are what grab my attention, they're everyday lyrics...would Disney describe the "book" of love to be boring?  And then there's the singer's voice, the writer of the song Stephen Merritt.  He has the voice of someone you'd never in a thousand years recommend began a singing career but he's obviously become successful by doing so...

Fast forward to 2004 and Peter Gabriel sings a cover of this song for the soundtrack of the film Shall we dance?  Peter Gabriel's version has a more "commercial" sound, with a full orchestra.  Here is a 2012 performance:

In 2012, the same year as the video above, the writer of the song, Stephen Merritt, records this.  Ukulele and that strange, not completely tuned, voice.  It's raw, hauntingly enticing, he's singing for real.  This is raw, like crunching vegetables fresh from the allotment.

And so...we come to today and my discovery of the two guys and their cellos.  The chaps, called 2CELLOS, have played with Elton John's band, and already have a pretty big following, like HUGE.  For their second album, in2ition, the two Crotian chaps asked the Italian singer Zucchero, who's also a busy man having collaborated with many artists in his time, to record an Italian version of the same song and I think this is amazing.  Music, when it's "real" and "raw", created just because you decide to try and write 100 (69) love songs, is simple, and heart-achingly so.  It's difficult to lose the beauty of simplicity when it's been captured.

I like simple things that have been created from complexity.  Take a fish finger for example.  I had them for dinner yesterday.  All I had to do was turn on the oven and put the fish fingers in the oven for a set amount of time.  If I had to make fish fingers from scratch that would be irritating.  I'd have to source the fish somehow, gut it, fillet it, descale it and  whatever you have to do to fish, then shape it and cover it in breadcrumbs.  To me, Stephen Mirrett's song is a fresh fish, beautiful...real...but a little bit bony.  Peter Gabriel then took out the bones and filleted it and then 2CELLOS and Zucchero covered it in breadcrumbs so that now we have the fish finger version of "The Book of Love".  I'm sure someone will get the analogy.  Either way, I think this is ruddy brilliant:


Tuesday, March 25

Hiring a car is always a gamble.

so I got stung by the car rental company.

I come back to my rental car, two weekends ago, and it's been know, a big looooong scratch down the side of it.  A brand new car at that too.  "Oh well..." I think, "...I paid for that no excess thing."  Yeh.  Never trust your car hire rental agreements.  Apparently because I didn't pay for the "Car Protection Plus" AND the "PAI something-or-other", I have to pay for the damage.  The funny thing is that these two things were not even an option when I booked the car on the internet, or when I collected it.  Going to try and sort that out, see if I've got a leg to stand on with that nonsense, only God knows.

So.  In light of that, I've bought a years cover for rental hire, considering that in the next five weeks I will hire a car for three separate weekends, in two countries. That way I may have a little bit more chance of getting my money back as the idea is you just hire the car with the rental company's base insurance then if there's any problems you pay the rental company's excess then claim it back from your insurance policy.

In all of this I'm feeling ok.  Money is only money at the end of the day, and having a car for a weekend is worth so much more than "money".  The freedom of cruising through the Italian countryside, winding through small hill-top towns and stopping off to take in the scenery is what I'm working my butt off during the week to do.  With my bicycle there are just some places I cannot get to as easily, although I'd definitely give it a go!

And on that note, a friend of mine is raising money for Macmillan Cancer Nurses by cycling from London to Paris...that's definitely further than my bi-weekly cycle to Francavilla.  So if you're wondering where your next tithe, or charitable act should go to, I suggest this cause.  All the proceeds my friend and his mate raise will remain with the Isle of Wight branch of Macmillan who help cancer sufferers and their friends and family through the tough times that cancer brings.  If you're like me, you'll have known many, many people who have been diagnosed with cancer at some point or another so I put that cause "up there", with the others.  You can sponsor them here.

Wednesday, March 5

Bye bye biscuits, cakes and pastries

So Lent is upon us people. You know, the '40-day' fast...that's actually 38, 44 or 46 days depending on whether you count Sundays, end on Maundy Thursday or keep going to Easter Sunday.   I'm not going to skip Sundays and I'm going to wait til Easter Sunday starts so that's 46 days without cakes, biscuits or pastries...

I always used to think that these '40 DAYS' were the 40 days that Jesus endured in the wilderness directly before Palm Sunday, that he travelled straight from the wilderness into Jerusalem but this is incorrect.  The 40 day fast actually commemorates the 40 days Jesus endured in the wilderness after John baptizes him and before his ministry in Galilee: Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, and Luke 4:1-13.

I find it curious that all this time I have 'believed' that Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days before entering Jerusalem when actually he was ministering in Galilee.  All the time I've literally been sleeping on the "truth" as it's written in 3 of the 4 gospels.  This is where it's clear why man needs a saviour, someone to clean our slate of sins because we can't even translate bible teachings clearly to kids in a Sunday school...let alone deal with birth, death, and everything in between.

All in all, I hold faith as the belief in something that is unseen, something that is 'unbelievable' but persists through prior experiences and present decisions.  I suffer on many occasions from 'doubt' as I mix with 'believers' and 'non-believers' regularly.  But...I keep going, faith is personal.  I try to face the questions and fears I have and search for answers: from the bible, in conversation with others, through websites etc.  However I place an importance in not believing one source.  Everything needs to be cross-referenced and then sealed with my hearts approval.

I have what many would call 'morals', I know I place rules and sometimes unnecessary expectations on my path BUT my life experiences have always ended more positively when I've been more focused on loving 'the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind' and loving 'your neighbour as yourself' (Matthew 22:37, 39).  It can be really tough but hey, I don't need biscuits, cake or pastries in the long run...right?!

N.B.: I found out today, that here in Italy, well in Pescara at least, well according to my school cleaner who is my fount of knowledge on all things knowledgable, she's giving up something in May, rather than now...something to do with the Virgin Mary or something...rather than Jesus.  Make of that what you will...

Sunday, March 2

no news is good news

So nothing really "new" to report...but then saying that...there's been quite a lot of productivity recently....

Starting from the most recent things and working backwards:
  • Managing to speak to my Grandma on Skype:

...yep...that's a picture of frying pans...

  • My first official friend in Pescara, who moved to Rome a year back, came back to Pescara for a dinner.  It was great to see her and plans have been made to visit her new place in Rome later in March.
  • I made a cake: a lemon and lime drizzle cake.
  • I discovered my cousin's wedding falls on the same weekend as my best friends children's christening so I can go to both AND the brother may even be able to take me for a "spin" (not literally I hope) in a plane, being a pilot an'all...which I had forgotten!
  • I received a copy of the registered contract for my apartment's rental agreement.  Using the registered rental contract I missioned on down to the Ufficio Anagrafe to register my new residency.  I found out that I have actually been registered all this time with my original address, marvellous!  Now I'm registered at this address the notice has been put through for the police control to confirm I live here so that I can then get a carta d'identita.  With the carta d'identita I will then be able to open an online Italian bank account that has reduced fees (i.e. is free to own and not €50) and has no charges on bank transfers or standing orders (rather than €3 for standing orders or €6 for a direct debit).
  • Thursday morning consisted of a two and a half hour talk to my best mate...utter bliss.
  • My Mum and my Godmum came to stay.  They were given the full Pakes in Pescara experience: a few hour with my children at work; a tour of a point of interest in Abruzzo (gole di saggitaio and Scanno), eating everything in sight including pizza, pasta, and of course, arrosticini; plus meeting some of my friends.  I think they gave the thumbs up to my apartment and were impressed at how much space I have :-)
  • Spending a weekend touring Pescara/Abruzzo with my friend and her visiting sister was entertaining, as the differences in English and American cultures/use of language can make things that little bit funnier.  Especially when there is a convertible automatic car involved.
  • Hosting my Bible Group at my house.  Hopefully I will be able to maintain this as it means I can actually attend the group.  If it's at somebody else's house I'm usually to tired to go, or it's too far away!  I just have to hope that my friends don't all have birthday's on Tuesdays as this week I had to cancel.  This would have been resolved if I actually stored my friends birthdays somewhere...ufffa!!!
  • Oh and did I mention I booked my flights to America?!!