October 2006 Archives


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I went to visit my friends Roddy and Francesca in Rome a few weeks ago, and wanted to share with some of the fine people who didn't get to come with me.

Here are a few pictures:

Roddy, on our way into town
That's Roddy. I moved back to Edinburgh to be closer to a number of people - and Roddy was one of them. He's a great guy; we were flatmates for a while and had a good time while he was here. Now he lives in Valletri, just south of Rome.

Can you believe it's this fertile in October?
These gardens were actually Francesca's parent's next door neighbour's. She is about eighty years old and permanently hunched over; it's possible to grow everything you need to eat for a year on about an acre of land in this part of Italy. I've never seen anything like it, even in places I'm used to thinking of as being rich and fertile. Of course, they have 2000 years worth of topsoil built up - and it was about 20 degrees.

Ack, ack, ack! Where's me spinach?
This is one of Roddy and Francesca's olive trees. They'll probably get 15 or 20 litres of olive oil off of their trees - and they'll probably use it all in a year. This is all the more amazing because they are both in pretty good shape; 20 litres of olive oil is about 162,000 calories, or enough to put 50 pounds of fat on you if you have it in excess of your requirements. They haven't had a chance to try the oil from these trees yet, but we had some from their parent's trees, and I was grateful for having lived long enough to have tasted such a thing. It was nearly clear, with a slight green tint and a pungent olive aroma. My tongue sang as the oil swam past it; I put it on everything - bread, pasta, salad, tomatoes, steak, bruschetta. I wanted to drink it straight, but that seemed a bit much.

Come and taste!
They had a two persimmon trees in the back yard; they had told me over the phone that they had fruit trees, and kept saying they had a particular kind of tree that I hadn't heard of before. They new the name in Italian but not in English. They were persimmon trees. The persimmons were ripe globes succulent flesh, dangling from each branch begging to be tasted. So sweet, so sensuous - I couldn't resist taking frequent breaks to wander down to the larger of the two trees and gently coax a bundle of bright orange snack from its branches. They were so ripe that the skins were splitting, so full of juice that my face got covered in it, the sweet sticky nectar caught in my beard.

Persimmons were Grampa's favourite fruit. He would have loved these.

Some are sweet and some are sour, some are silk and some are leather
They had an apple tree, and lemons, too - and a hazelnut bush and oranges and grapes and artichokes. Roddy brought fresh artichokes over from Italy once and he and Ingriida and I steamed them and ate them with Hollendaise. It was a moment of bliss.

They had date palms as well, heavy with fruit not yet ripe.

Very pretty, and the flower is sweet.
It very rarely freezes, so citrus fruits fare well; this tree was so heavy with fruit that it's branches were starting to sag.

I always wondered: if Caesar composed music, would he have written an Etude Brute?
The forum, where the senate met. This was the one night we went out drinking. Well, eating and drinking. We weren't able to get a hotel and the trains stop running at midnight (ridiculous, isn't it?) so we took a taxi back to Valletri. Roddy and Francesca made me sit in the front seat, next to the driver. Their logic was that I was comparatively huge, so the guy would be initimidated into taking us on the journey. As it turned out, their logic was impeccable. He didn't want to drive us that far (it's about forty minutes) and tried to chuck us out. I gave him a glowering stare - and he drove us home.

This was one of the twin churches built right next to each other. They were majestic and solemn and the photo doesn't do them justice.


Rome was gorgeous, a sensuous treat, the echoes of a decadent empire and still audible on the streets. I'd say that it was a sad place, but the truth is that it was only me who was sad, so the beauty of it was haunting rather than joyful.

the rest is silence

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I love my mother.

I call her Maman, but in my head I still call her Mommy.

I can remember when she knew everything and could do anything.

I always squirmed when she held me.

I'll never do it again. I promise.

I love you, Maman.

Dennis Leary talked about happiness in one of his stand up comedy routines.

He said that happiness comes in small bundles - you eat the cookie, you smoke the cigarette, you have the orgasm - and then it's over. Back to reality, back to your dull job or your boring marriage, middle class existence or whatever.

In my case, happiness came last night in meeting a pair of really sweet people: Julia and Danni, both from Germany and over here to study journalism for a semester. They're from Darmstad (I hope I spelled that right) and were just really kind and interesting.

I had them over for dinner last night and I'll get pictures up soon for the rest of you. I just couldn't find my camera on the night.

The RIAA and the Donner Party

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My friend Merseydotes used to say that she'd feel some sympathy for the RIAA when Kid Rock was forced to eat Joe C because poverty left him with no choice but cannibalism.

When Joe C died, I felt horrible for having laughed so heartily at her joke.

Weight, part III

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I'm a big fat bastard. The kind that eats all the pie.

Or I was, anyway.

Before I left for America, I weighed 250 lbs, which is 17 stone 11 or 113 kilos. It's a lot. I was heavy.

That was the 11th of July.

Today I weigh 206 lbs, which is 14 stone 11 or 93 kilos. It's a lot less.

Just sharing.

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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