Mud Wrestling or running in the vineyard?

Mud Wrestling or running in the vineyard?

During September I decided I needed to lose some of the winter fat I had accumulated to keep me warm during the harsh Italian winters. Yes I know, I also thought Italy was a sunny place where bronzed people drank prosecco while sitting in the sun.

Admittedly, I did think about losing weight during September, but it took me until February before I laced a pair of trainers onto my feet. I actually considered the act of reaching down and lacing my trainers as two separate exercises that I could mark off my list.

Horse

I tried invisible horse riding, but I couldn’t find my horse 

Over the past three months I have lost 8 kilos, that is 17.5 pounds in real money.   I would like to take all the credit for this achievement, but tell me, what else is there to do during the Corona virus lockdown other than running through the vineyards, Netflix binge watching or sighing at the latest conspiracy theory.

Despite it raining, today started off as a wonderful day and just before dinner time it unfortunately just before lunchtime it imploded into one of those days you only discuss with friends over a glass of whisky. It took me thirty minutes to convince myself  that running through the vineyards was a good idea, a way to clear my head and dissipate my anger. It is amazing how anger can help you run up a muddy wet hill,

What anger can’t help you with is running back down the other side. I already had a kilo of clay stuck to each of my trainers, I had about as much control over my legs and the direction I was going in, as one of those shopping carts with a dodgy wheel, and then I realised I was not going to be able to stop or even slow down until I reached the bottom of the muddy track.

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The shopping cart and I more or less had the same control

Sliding sideways  and screaming like a girl, with my arms windmilling in an attempt to control my balance,  I executed a beautiful back flip followed by a near perfect swallow dive into the mud of the vineyard. As I sat there counting my bones and checking for internal injuries, the woman from the Couch to 5K app whispered into my ear, “you are doing great, if you feel ok you may want to increase your pace”. Ok so I swore a little bit.

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Mud does not equal fun.

So here is my take on the day. I have come to the conclusion that A) This morning I shouldn’t have got out of  my warm bed and B) mud wrestling is neither sexy or erotic, mud is cold horrible stuff, especially when you have to run two kilometres to return home, with mud caked up your legs, back and a light drizzle of rain to remind you that you are a little damp. As of today Mud Wrestling has been deleted from my list of fantasies.

 

 

 

Bomb the House

Last night I managed three hours sleep and five hours searching the bedroom and the internet trying to find out what was biting my feet and ankles.

Alternatively go bite Pecora Nera

For sure it wasn’t a mosquito, I know what a mosquito bite looks like. I have plenty of them on my arms.

These things were ankle biters.

My google search narrowed it down to black fly, papatacci, or … cat fleas 😱

I used a complete bottle of mosquito repellent on me the bed and the floor and tried to go back to sleep.

It didn’t work

At 4:30 I awoke to another three bites and an interesting article on how to bomb your house to eradicate fleas.

I was hooked, there was also several articles on why you should not bomb your house… but I was in no mood to read them.

4 should do it

This morning at my local shop, using my fabulous Italian I asked for information.

Me: I need bomb house for beasts.

Shop Assistant: Pardon?

Me: Look leg

Shop Assistant: oooohh! How big is your house?

Me: This big, pointing to his warehouse

Shop Assistant: You need 3 bombs

Me: I buy 4

Shop Assistant: Remove all your pets from the house before using the bombs

Me: Really! No possible leaving cats in house, solve 2 problems?

Flea bitten Scabby Cat

I tried to persuade MishMash to enter the house and watch the bombs going off, but she said she would tell Mrs Sensible what I was up to.

Your in trouble when Mrs Sensible returns

Mrs Sensible is currently visiting ‘the family’ in Sicily and MishMash knows she might have some reservations about me bombing the house.

Run Pecora Nera Run!

I detonated the bombs starting at the top of the house and quickly exited through the front door.

Currently I am sat in a bar drinking Gin and Tonic and waiting for the dust to settle.

I only had 1 or 2

Oh! if you want to know the name of the bars where they don’t measure the gin, message me and I will send you a list.

To date I don’t know if the bombing worked, but I do know I have time for another Gin and Tonic

Happy Days

Italian Health Care or How to Pee in a Parrot

Italian Health Care or How to Pee in a Parrot

In the interest of blogging, I decided to book myself in for a little operation. Nothing too drastic but fun enough for my little blog. On hindsight I should have gone river rafting.

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Medico Competente! I wonder where the incompetent doctors are?

The conversation with the consultant went something like this:

I will make an incision from here to here.

I really don’t want to know.

I will then insert this piece of mesh.

Please don’t tell me anymore.

Then I will stitch you here, here and ….

At that point he produced some coloured markers and drew lines and little dots for the stitches on my tummy.

Doctor, you really don’t need to tell me, because I will be asleep through the operation and I don’t do pain or enjoy hearing about the pain you are going to inflict on me.

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This picture was hung in the hospital reception.

The day of the operation arrived quicker than I had hoped, a mere four weeks after the consultant had drawn squiggly lines on my tummy, I found myself  sitting on the edge of a hospital bed with a hospital gown made of tissue paper and not a single nurse who looked like Jennifer Androne from the publicity photo. If I wasn’t so scared I might have complained.

Fourteen years ago in the UK I had an operation on my nose and throat in a vain attempt to stop me snoring (I still snore) In that hospital they knocked me out before I entered the operating theatre, very civilised.  This time they wheeled me into the actual theatre while I was still awake, the anaesthetist started ripping the tissue gown so he could attached wires and tubes to me, my heart rate went up another notch or two. Pretty soon I was nude and all I could do was helplessly watch nurses and orderlies waltz in and out and stare at the naked scared Englishman.

Pecora Nera, your heart rate is a little high. Hmm so would yours be if you were me.

My consultant walked in and asked me to sit on the side of the bed and lower my chin to my chest whilst pretending to hug a woman. I will admit it took me a couple of minutes to translate and understand his bizarre request.

Sorry doctor but why?

Because I need to give you an epidural.

WHAT!!!!

No, I must be asleep.

You can sleep if you wish.

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As easy as ABC. I love the good advice to relax

Had I not been naked and attached by wires to various machines I would have walked out. Seriously, I did contemplate walking back to the ward. Meanwhile the  heart rate monitor was peaking off the charts.

I actually didn’t feel the epidural, and as I laid down it was really strange, my legs felt really heavy and I couldn’t move my toes.

TMI-1203

I felt like I was on a Texas execution table as they strapped my arms down.

He stuck a pin in my toe, can you feel this?

No

Good. He then pinched my leg. Can you feel this?

No doctor I can’t, but you are not operating on my feet or legs, I pinched my tummy, you are operating here and I sure as hell can feel this.

That was the  last thing I remember, apparently they decided it was far easier to just gas me and get it over with, either that or I fainted.

I came round just as he was knotting the stitches and admiring his work.

Frankenstien

Finally  the Englishman has stopped complaining.

Mrs Sensible was waiting for me on the ward. She helped me pee in a bottle and I decided I had had enough of life and went to sleep.

Later that evening I asked one of the dragons nurses how I was supposed to visit the toilet, (I was attached to a drip which unfortunately didn’t contain grappa)

She said and I quote. “fai pipi nel pappagallo”

Pee in the parrot!!

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Meet Joey the bedpan

Everyone knows pipi is pee and I know pappagallo is parrot because I teach animal vocabulary in the schools.

I repeated “pipi in pappagallo??

She produced a bed pan, PIPI IN PAPPAGALLO!!

Who knew parrots were also bedpans!

At about two in the morning, I had the urgent desire to pee in a parrot. It took me 10 minutes to pull myself into a sitting position on the side of the bed and another 5 minutes to find and grab the parrot by its neck. Just as I was ready, I watched in horror as my pants slipped down to my ankles and as I tried to save them they slid onto the floor. Well good bye pants….

Laying back down was really hard, whatever I attempted hurt. I did consider just sitting where I was until the nice orderly came on duty. But I was not sure the sight of a naked man perched on the side of the bed, holding a parrot by its neck would impress her.

Why didn’t I ring for the night nurse? I didn’t want to disturb her reading.

Big book of torture

The night nurse’s book.

Italy is renown for its exquisite food, let me tell you, their hospitals are not.

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Italian hospital food, brodo and mashed potatoes.

Day one they gave me a small bowl of brodo, which is minestrone without any vegetables or bits floating in it.

Day two they produced brodo and a side dish of mashed potatoes.

I understand the reason for this diet, patients are always very keen to go home to a slice of pizza.

So thank you for the E-mail asking what I thought of Italian hospitals. Does anyone have any other bright ideas?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chi è l’ultimo? Who is Last?

It seems I may have an unusual lurgy. Certainly the doctor at the hospital was most excited about it and invited a nurse, two other doctors and I swear a patient that had been sitting in the corridor waiting to be examined, to have a look at my leg and foot.

Anyway, I might tell you more about my new illness / disease later, I suppose it will depends on how interesting my lurgy  is. Anyway, the doctor sent me to my local hospital for a series of blood tests. You might well be wondering why I didn’t go to my local hospital first, rather than travel half an hour to another town, hmm I have heard people who enter our local hospital sometimes come out far worse than when they entered. I was taking no chances.

After my blood tests, the hospital handed me an invoice with a long line of €3.50 and €4,30 and a couple of €9.00s I was astounded when I added them all up and they came to an enormous  total of €290.50

I decided to pay immediately before I faint from the shock and have to pay an additional charge for a stretcher and hospital bed. I wandered down to the payment machine and watched how an old dear payed her bill.

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This one is out of service. Not too unusual in Italy

The machine wouldn’t accept the piece of paper I was valiantly trying to stuff into it. After three or four tries I gave up and went in search of help.

The woman behind the counter told me I couldn’t pay the invoice until the 3rd of December, because the hospital might not deem all the blood tests necessary, even if my doctor did.

Yesterday Mrs Sensible called into the hospital to collect the blood test results and pay the bill. The machine was broken.  She phoned me and declared we I would have to pay the bill on line and I would also be able to download the results. To say I was a little sceptical would be a bit of an understatement. Yes I managed to pay on line using my credit card, but I had to go to the hospital to sign up for a special password to download anything!

Which leads me to today. Today I pottered off to the hospital to collect my results with my proof of payment in my hand. I actually only had to pay €130.00 some of the blood tests were obviously not deemed necessary.

The hospital has a fifty space carpark, with three immigrants carrying bags of socks, lighters and tissues and other stuff patrolling it. As soon as they spot an empty space they marshal your car into it and then demand you buy a pair of socks or something from them. I ended up with a pair of grey socks, a pack of tissues, and a cigarette lighter, despite the fact I didn’t need any of them and I don’t smoke.

This is the sight that greeted me when I entered the hospital waiting room.

Italians queuing in a hospital

Who is last? Looks like a typical British betting shop.

Installed in front of them is a machine that dispenses tickets, it is there because Italians don’t know how to queue. Normally when Italians enter a doctors or a hospital they shout Chi è l’ultimo? Who is Last? 

If someone in the line throws a paddy and decides to go home, everyone else is lost in confusion. I have seen a doctors surgery drop into near anarchy as the patients  argue who comes after who.

Hospital Bingo.jpg

This is a photo I took in 2012. It still amazes me

To understand how it works, go and read Hospital Bingo

You want to know why they are all  huddled around the machine? It is on a timer and won’t start printing tickets until 10:30 At the moment they are all playing Chi è il primo? Who is first.

I normally have a huge problem understanding which ticket / button I need to press. This poor guy next to me was Italian and even he decided to take two different tickets.

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Not sure which ticket you need to take? Take two or three and play hospital bingo

When my number comes up on the board,  I want to jump up and shout house, or I have number H014 whilst waving it above my head.

After collecting my results, I used google translate and a couple of medical websites to deciphered my blood test results. I immediately said a prayer and promised to stop eating red meat and drinking alcohol.  Feeling a little worried I dropped into my local doctors to let him have a look. He said they look pretty good for a man of my age. Good God! How old does he think I am??

Tomorrow the specialist at the hospital far far away will have a look at them and will probably send me back to our local hospital for all the tests they decided not to do.

Moral of the story. Google translate and medical websites are bad for your health, I suggest you relax with a glass of wine.

 

 

 

 

 

Evoking Grace

Two and a half years ago I received an E mail asking for advice, now everybody knows you should never ask advice from a Black Sheep; especially this Black Sheep. I did try my best to help her and if you are interested here is a link to the advice I gave.

Despite my help Antonia and I now keep in touch via Facebook; although we talk often I have never had enough courage to ask her how useful my wonderful advice was.

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Antonia is a Holistic Life Coach so I was a little surprised when she asked me if I would agree to answer some more questions, for her website Evoking Grace

Even if you don’t want to read my interview, please go over and have a look at her fabulous website or her facebook page.

Evoking Grace Website

Evoking Grace Facebook Page

 

 

 

Get fit…… summer is on the way.

Get fit…… summer is on the way.

Today is an important day, it is the Glorious Twelfth which I am sure you know is the official start of the mosquito hunting season, if you want to get involved, further information can be found here.  It is also the day when Italians start to realise that they might have gained a few pounds over the winter and should consider some sort of exercise or sport if they want to look their best on the beach.

mankini

You need the perfect body for the perfect swimming costume, he is obviously English look how white his legs are!!!

During the summer of 2013 I reported on the bizarre sport of Summer Skiing, I understand the sport originated in Finland and has becoming very popular in Italy, mainly due to the relatively few accidents and because you don’t have to pay for ski lifts and expensive clothes.

Summer Skiing

Summer Skiing, no need to pay for expensive boots and skis..

I know over the winter I have managed to lay down a little bit of winter Insulation fat but I wasn’t sure which sport would be most suitable for a man of my tender years. Please don’t get me wrong, I have not been idle during the winter, every morning I do at least two sit ups, one as I sit up to turn off the alarm clock and another as I roll out of bed. Sometimes I manage a third sit up especially if I hit the snooze button rather than the off button on the alarm clock.

Summer will be here soon and I know that if I take up summer skiing I wont lose my winter fat until maybe the summer of 2017 or even 2018 and the thoughts of walking onto the beach in Sicily and having to hold Mrs Sensible’s bag while she goes for a swim is depressing.

beach-tourist-pic

Let me hold your bag while you go for a swim

Drastic measures cause for drastic actions, I have taken up karate. I know you will want to know which hospital to send the get well soon cards to… at the moment all injuries have been self inflicted. The first three week I started training, Mrs Sensible had to help me in and out of bed, after each visit to the club it took me nearly three days to learn to walk unassisted.

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Pecora Nera is learning Karate, I thought he got his exercise from drinking wine !!!

At times it was so bad, I would not even consider trying to wobble over to open a bottle of wine and that’s saying something. And what is Mrs Sensible doing I hear you ask! Well Mrs S has decided to get fit by walking, she meets up with her teacher friends and they go walking after school. I did consider inviting her to join the karate club but, I don’t know, it just didn’t seem appropriate.

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Mrs Sensible is dangerous enough with her wet wooden spoon.

Besides there are already two very dangerous females at the club, I am petrified of them, I thought females were supposed to be the gentle sex . On Thursday we practice what we have learnt by fighting each other. We are supposed to partner up with someone with the same ability and skill, these two horrors keep picking on me. I really need to consider complaining to our instructor.

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If they don’t stop picking on me I will take up dominoes

It has been one of those weeks…

It has been one of those weeks…

Last week Mrs Sensible phoned the local hospital to book me in for a check up, and before you start leaving sarky comments it was not the psychiatric clinic nor was it a follow up appointment with the dietitian. When Mrs S finally got through to the department, they said “we only book appointments in the morning, call between 9 and 11”  which is fabulous because Mrs Sensible is normally in her classroom between 9 and 11 teaching her chilblains how to sit still and not pick their noses.

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Mrs Sensible hates nose picking

 

The following morning she again calling the hospital and was told “Pecora Nera!! nope he is not on the system, we have recently upgraded the computer and he might have been deleted”

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Pecora Nera… let’s delete him mwaha ha ha!

I have been deleted!!!! How is that possible? Mrs Sensible said she would phone the administrators and try to find out. She talked to a woman for three minutes and then hung up. Pecora, you need to go down to the main office and fill out some forms.

Now I know what Italy is like, so on Wednesday I went armed with my passport, identity card, proof of residence and one of Mrs Sensible’s wooden spoons. It only took a 10 minute search to find the correct office.

Me: Hello I English, please excuse my bad Italian.

Admin: Tell me!

Me: I need hospital appointment, but my name has been deleted, here is my identity card.

She turned to her computer and started clicking buttons and occasionally glancing at me.

Admin: è scaduto

Me: I have expired!!! I am still here.

ComputerSaysNo

She looked at my passport and my other documents, and told me to go to the local council offices and ask them for.

  1. Proof that I am an European citizen.
  2. Proof that I am a resident of my little village.
  3. Proof that I have paid my taxes.

She was not convinced that my UK passport proved anything.

Later that evening I went on my facebook page and ranted about the crazy bureaucracy in Italy. A very good friend of mine messaged me and offered to accompany me to the office to see if she could untangle the mess.

Yesterday we both went back to the office with my little bundle of papers and discussed the problem with a different administrator.

Admin 2: You came yesterday didn’t you.

Me: What did she say?

Admin 2:

The Englishman needs to go to the local council office and ask for:-

  1. Proof that he is resident of his village, the document he has is just a copy of his request to be a resident.
  2. A copy of his wife’s identity card
  3. His identity card
  4. His codice fiscale (national insurance number)
  5. Certificate that his company is registered in Italy.

At the moment I am wondering if it is easier to just fly to the UK and see my old doctor. I did however drive to the council offices and managed to get most of the documents, my accountant is sending over the work related documents hopefully I might be back on the system ASP (at some point)

Oh I nearly forgot, I need your advice with something…..

When I arrived home, the postwoman gave me a very sinister brown envelope, inside it contained a speeding fine!!! I must be very unlucky because I don’t know anyone else in Italy who has ever received one.

 

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You may remember I changed my UK driving licence to an Italian licence, because it was too difficult to convince the Italian police it was not a Ukranian driving licence.

The speeding fine doesn’t say who was driving, they assume it was me because it is my car. I now have two options.

Option 1

Is to quickly pay the fine and burn all the evidence, before Mrs Sensible finds out. Otherwise I will endure a lifetime of reminders about my speeding ticket.

Option 2

Prove or convince Mrs Sensible that she was driving the car and then never ever mention her mistake again…… except when we are in the company of friends.

Its a difficult one.

Thought process

Typical thought process of Pecora Nera when dealing with Mrs Sensible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does this stuff really happen!!!

I received an e mail asking me, what inspires me to write my posts and does this stuff really happen or do I just have an over active imagination. So let me take this opportunity to put the record straight. Much to Mrs Sensible’s dismay, my blog is as it happens here. Mrs Sensible wouldn’t allow me to tell lies or exaggerate. If I did she would hit me with a wet wooden spoon.

Mrs Sensible is deadly with a wet wooden spoon.

Mrs Sensible is deadly with a wet wooden spoon.

How do I decide what to write about?  Well let me give you an example.

Two weeks ago my reading glasses were sitting on my face at a funny angle, so I took them off and tried to straighten them. I heard a little snap and ended up with two monocles, one for each eye.  Mrs Sensible just looked at me as my glasses fell apart in my hands. “What have you done now?” she asked. Nothing I replied as I tried to hide my glasses in my pocket.

A monocle for each eye.

A monocle for each eye.

Breaking my glasses is not a huge problem as I also wear contact lenses. Unfortunately I lost several boxes of contact lenses when we moved house. I can find my corkscrew and my bottles of wine. We have eventually found the kettle, but my lenses are still in a box…. Probably marked Christmas decorations!!

Are they in the box marked Christmas?

Are they in the box marked Christmas decorations?

Like everyone else I have two eyes, my right eye does all the work and my left eye… well it is there only for decoration, it is called a lazy eye. It looks normal but it just refuses to work. When I went for my eye examination for my Italian driving licence, the doctor gave me a paddle to cover my left eye as he tested my right eye. Everything was OK, however when he asked me to cover my right eye and read the letters on the wall, I was tempted to ask him “what wall?” I managed to get around this slight difficulty by removing the paddle and having a quick look at the letters before the doctor turned around and asked me what he had just pointed at.

What do you mean, where has the wall gone

What do you mean, where has the wall gone?

So what inspired me to write this post? Well last week we had the COSI on-line discussion and I was sat in a bar with a glass of wine, squinting at my laptop. I couldn’t find any more contact lenses, my reading glasses are broken so my solution was to wear my normal glasses and over the top of those I put on a pair of Mrs Sensible’s reading glasses, with the double magnification and providing I partially closed my left eye I could read my laptop almost perfectly.

With my multiple sets of glasses I looked quite sexy

With my multiple sets of glasses I looked quite sexy

After a couple of glasses of wine I forgot that I was wearing two sets of glasses. When the waitress who delivered my third glass of wine, looked at me funnily I immediately checked to make sure my fly was zipped up.

The COSI webcam was a bit chaotic, but I enjoyed it. I sat there with a glass of wine in one hand, an ear phone plugged into my right ear and my finger stuck into my left ear to block out the noise of the bar, oh and two sets of glasses on. I think ‘M’ from Married to Italy sent me a message and said Pecora “ your webcam is on we can see you” I didn’t worry too much until I realised what I must look like, after all I was already getting strange looks from the people in the bar.

So do I make this stuff up? No this is life as I know it in Italy

Starvation Diet

Mrs Sensible is being a really, really good girl, she went to the dietician at the hospital this week and was awarded 10 Brownie points and 2 gold stars for being a really good girl and losing another 4 kilos. I on the other hand have not been particularly good and didn’t receive anything.

2 Gold stars for Mrs Sensible

2 Gold stars for Mrs Sensible

For dinner today Mrs Sensible fed me and our two guestaways a very healthy salad with a little bit of cheese and a little bit of fresh salmon and two peppers stuffed with rice. For some reason I only received one pepper. At about 4.00 pm Mrs Sensible left the house and I went in search of food.

I found a very large packet of crisps and decided to wash it down with one or two glasses of wine. Just as I was relaxing and feeling mellow and contented one of our workaways appeared in her running kit and said she was going for a run. I very nearly asked if I could join her, but sanity kicked in and I took another sip of my wine and another handful of crisps.

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This red stuff helps to make me quite philosophical

Twenty minutes later, during my second glass of wine, guestaway number 2 appeared in her running kit and said she was going for a quick run; maybe it was the wine talking but I found myself asking if I could join her…….

How far do you go?

Oh about 45 minutes

Ah ha; do you run the full 45 minutes or do you also walk a little?

I might walk up hills it depends.

So I put on my Booby Charlton running shorts, turned on the Run keeper app on my phone and followed her out the door.

Ready in my Bobby Charlton Football Shorts

Ready in my Bobby Charlton Football Shorts

As soon as we got outside she started to do stretching exercises, it was at this point that I started to feel a little worried. As she bent over to touch her toes, I bent over and managed to touch my knee caps. As she stretched and put her chin on her knee, I stretched and managed to see my knee caps which seemed a long way away. And then we started running.

Pull that stomach in

Pull that stomach in

I know she is only 19 and in the prime of her life but ‘spiders’ how is it possible that she can run up our road and hold a normally conversation.

So how far do you normally run?

Gasp, pant, gasp, not much! pant gasp wheeze.

There is a really nice breeze, this is nice weather to run in.

Wheeze, cough, wheeze, Yes, cough wheeze pant.

I managed to stay with her all the way up to the cowsheds and then my internal organs started to close down and I suffered severe cramp in my left big toe and had to stop.

“Go Go” I managed to utter as she disappeared up the hill.

Feeling a little ashamed and very old I slowly turned around and half ran and half hobbled home.

My runkeeper app didn’t help me either, I am sure I heard it say “Oye old man get running” and “do you want to change the setting from run to walk slowly”

Tomorrow I have committed myself to another run, I just need to find out if workaway number 1 runs slower than workaway number 2, maybe I will quiz them over a glass of wine.

I have quit the booze…

On Tuesday the 8th of October in the year of our Lord 2013 I supped my last glass of wine.

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I have quit drinking this lovely stuff

I am yet to notice any significant health benefits. In fact my health took a downward turn last Friday when I complained of some sort of manflu. Mrs Sensible examined me and said it was probably a bad case of asthma. She promptly prescribed an antihistamine tablet, after a lot of protesting that they only send me to sleep, I dutiful took the offered pill and promptly fell asleep.  I slept from Friday evening  straight through to Saturday evening, only waking up long enough to take another pill and then immediately became comatose until some-time on Sunday.

I lost two days of my life to sleep

I lost two days of my life to sleep

You guys know I don’t trust or like doctors or dentists, but under threats of severe repercussions, if I didn’t do as I was told, I was finally persuaded by Mrs Sensible to go and see the local medicine man, mainly because my coughing at bedtime was worse than my snoring and was keeping both of us awake.

My Doctor is not quite like this, but then again..

My Doctor is not quite like this, but then again..

The doctor diagnosed that I was suffering from Brontosaurus or some other dreaded disease probably related to cervical. He prescribed an intense 5 day course of antibiotics, a little bottle of clear liquid to stop my coughing, pastels for my sore throat and not wanting to be left out, my good wife Mrs Sensible made me use an inhaler for people who are suffering from asthma. We agreed to disagree on the added benefits of using another antihistamine tablet.

I am sure my Italian doc  said I had brontosaurus

I am sure my Italian doc said I had brontosaurus

Last night, which was three days into my treatment, I suddenly suffered a coughing fit. Tears were rolling down my face and the only sound I could produce was whuu whuu whuuuu. My lungs finally decided to go on strike and as I staggered into the kitchen while trying to bang my back in a vain attempt to re-start my lungs; I heard Mrs Sensible drop her mobile phone and come running into the kitchen to help me: she immediately joined in the banging on my back; as she slowly bludgeoned me to the floor I could hear her friend continuing to talk on the phone through the loud speaker, totally ignorant to the fact that she was talking to herself and that my wife was trying to save my life.

My lungs decided they couldn’t withstand any more of the punishing Mrs Sensible was meeting out to them and with a loud gasp of air they started to work again. I managed to squeak “basta basta” enough enough to Mrs Sensible and she stopped her onslaught.

Basta basta I can breathe honestly.

Basta basta I can breathe honestly.

As I slowly got back up to my feet, I cast a quick glance to make sure Mrs Sensible hadn’t taken too much pleasure from beating me to the floor, fortunately all I could see in her eyes was love and concern.

I know Mrs Sensible loves me, really she does.

I know Mrs Sensible loves me, really she does.

OOOH! I have news from Mr Cretino allegedly he has my new Italian driving licence, I wonder which name it will be in. When I get my breath back I will fill you in and when I finish my antibiotics I will raise a glass or two of wine to you all.

Bye for now

Pecora Nera

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Italian Customer Service

Italian Customer Service: Bang head on wall

My UK driving licence has finally expired. The grubby bit of paper the Italians gave me as a substitute, has also expired. My bicycle has a flat tyre.

I was told not to worry, that the temporary substitute licence had expired, as it is normal in Italy and the police will accept it is just another Italian cock up. The important thing, I was told, is to have with you the medical form, that proves you are fit to drive.

That kind of says everything there is to know about Italy.

Do you have a valid driving licence?  No

Do you have cervicale? mm maybe

Links to past driving licence fiasco

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Parts 4 to 349 will follow over the next 5 months, groan

 

 

84 Kilos and counting

I am going on a diet, there I have said it. It is now out in the open and I will probably regret telling you.

I have decided to lose some a lot of weight because, I have read:-

Cognitive reflection’s funny post about joining a fighting class, in the hope of losing some weight and nearly getting himself thumped.

Also Duffer’s thread on the British Expats forum, entitled Fat people I need some help.

And finally, because I caught a glance of myself, in the mirror as I left the shower. I managed to realise it was me, before I started shouting to Mrs Sensible, “Help help there’s a naked fat man running amok in the house”.

I apologise that this is not a very Italian themed post, and I will try not to get too graphic.

didn’t think it was possible for a simple bathroom fixture, for example a set of weighing scales, to induce a near heart attack. But they did. This morning I weighed myself at seven in the morning (84 kilo), ate a little breakfast and just before I cleaned my teeth I weighed myself again. One small bowl of cereal using low fat milk had increased my weight by two kilos. TWO KILOS!!!, as I stood in the bathroom thumping my chest trying to restart the heart rhythm, I kicked the scales and then stood on them again; the scales dropped from 86 Kilos down to 80 kilos. So the foul tasting low fat milk really works.

The bathroom weighing scales have been thrown in the bin.

I have now successfully completed 24 hours on my diet; no chocolate, wine, biscuits or beer have passed my lips.

My favourite biscuits and Chocolate. Did you know Fiesta bars are 8% alcohol?

My favourite biscuits and Chocolate. Did you know Fiesta bars are 8% alcohol?

Full of good intention this lunch, I went for a walk to the local café. I normally drive home and raid the fridge and drink a little wine. However while I was sat drinking my low calorie drink, Mrs Sensible called me with the “where are you and have you eaten the salad I left in the fridge for you?” Ooops, I tried to pacify her, by explaining about my 12 minute walk and that I wasn’t drinking a glass of wine. Needles to say she was not very impressed. I am glad I didn’t mention that it was so hot I was eating a Magnum to cool down.

Tasty but 15.5 grams of fat

Tasty but 15.5 grams of fat

I have also invested in a brand new set of weighing scales, not the old spring type that you can achieve your desired weight by leaning slightly to the left or the right, but electronic ones. They not only tell you how heavy you are, they also tell you how much of your body, is pure unadulterated fat. I am not sure if it distinguishes between fat and saturated fat, I know from the Magnum bar that there was 15.5g of fat and 11.2 grams of dreaded saturated fat, in that cooling delicious ice cream.

My scales are posh, but this is a better picture

My scales are posh, but this is a better picture

Because the new weighing scales are complicated and the instructions are in Italian, I have used google translate to understand the user instructions. The, input your height and age, so that it can work out my height to weight ratio so that it can work out how fat I am allowed to be was easy. I have thought about lying to it and imputing that I am six foot three, and then telling the truth after I have lost a bit of fat. But as a black sheep I know I will get caught. After the input instructions, the Google translate sounded a little strange, it started babbling on about standing on the scales buck naked so the scale can electrocute my feet by battery, to work out my fat and water content. I might have to ask Mrs Sensible about that one.

Apart from scratching and laughing the only exercise I do is walking to and from the car. Before you lot start shouting, I did spend the weekend digging the vegetable plot over, and then two days walking around like an old man, moaning every time I had to stand up.

So please use the comments for advice on how to lose weight.

Summer Skiing in Italy

Driving home at lunch time, I spotted two old dears running down the road, whilst madly waving a pair of ski poles around. Now I have lived in Italy for the past 6 years and so nothing surprises me. But I must say, these two old dears in their stretch running pants piqued my interest.  (Photo will be uploaded later)

So in the interest of science, I have done a little research.

Summer Skiing

Summer skiing. Very safe unless you trip over each other.

It seems that Summer Skiing is considered to be a safe sport. It is highly unlikely that you will fly home from your Skiing trip complete with a plaster cast. Whereas in winter skiing, a plaster cast is considered by many drinking companions, to be adequate proof that you actually did go winter skiing in the Alps.

2 Summer Skiing Englishman in Italy

Skiing in wellies is perfectly acceptable.

The cost of the clothing is also quite reasonable. You do not have to spend the kids inheritance on fashionable ski attire. It is quiet acceptable to go summer skiing in wellies, jeans and a silly hat.

3 Summer Skiing Englishman in Italy

Learners on a nursery slope.

But with all sports, it is very important to find the best summer ski instructor. Here you can see three beginners getting to grips with this demanding sport.

4 Summer Skiing Englishman in Italy

These are not English Summer Skiers, because there is not a knotted hanky or beer belly in sight.

Although I do not condone summer skiing on a beach, in my opinion beaches are for relaxing, and sunbathing, not running around waving dangerous ski poles. It is advisable to check with your  local authorities for restrictions.

5 Summer skiing Englishman in Italy

Summer Skiing in your garden

Your own garden is a very good place to practise Summer Skiing. After all, if you are worried about falling down and getting tangled up with your ski poles, it is better to do so in your own garden, rather than out on the road where someone might have a handy camera.

Summer skiiing Englishman in Italy

Summer Skiing is also an indoor sport.

For those rainy days, and here I am thinking of the people who still live in England, Summer Skiing can take place in the comfort of your own home. A word of warning, cornering around the coffee table should only be undertaken by experienced Summer Skiers. And please mind the dog.

Summer skiing englishman in italy

No special footwear is necessary.

So to recap. Apart from the cost of two sticks ski poles, the cost of this sport is very low. No ski lift passes, no expensive medical bills and you don’t have to freeze to death.

Hospital Bingo

Mrs Sensible sent me on an errand this morning. On the way to work I had to drop off a sample of her wee at the local hospital.

Mrs Sensible gave me concise instructions, she explained which room I had to go to, and that I might have to sign or complete a form or two, a lazy smile grew on my face. Italian form filling is not one of my fortes. When Mrs Sensible saw my grin, she gave me a stern look, Pecora it is important…

So armed with the plastic container and the necessary paperwork I set of for work hospital. When I reached the hospital it took ten minutes of circling the car park before I found somewhere to abandon my little mini. As I walked to the hospital carrying THE SAMPLE two thoughts jumped into my mind, First, how on earth did Mrs Sensible produce so much wee in 24 hours and second how did she manage to pee into the container, I know there was no funnel in the bathroom yesterday. She must be a better shot than I thought.

When I entered the waiting room, I was greeted by this wonderful little ticket dispenser.

The wonderful ticket machine

The wonderful ticket machine

Press a button and it throws out a ticket, but which button should I press? I immediately dismissed button A. I spotted the word urgent, and although for me it was most urgent to get out of here and back into my Mini, I guess THE SAMPLE did not fall under the urgent category.

Closing my eyes, I played eeny meeny miny moe and randomly punching a button. The machine spat out ticket D, good choice I thought. I like the colour blue and I had spotted the word Biologici so I thought I was in with a good chance.

Settling down into a chair in the waiting room, I sat and watched the electronic display board. Lots of A, B E and F’s were called, but very few D’s. Eventually D08 blinked up on the score board, brilliant a wait of only fifteen minutes. Grabbing the container of wee I walked over to the cubicle with number DO8 flashing above it. I proudly laid THE SAMPLE and ticket DO8 on the counter and got ready to try and explain in Italian that this was not my wee but belonged to Mrs Sensible.

A little sample

Mrs Sensibles wee container looked a little like this. Ok  not quiet like this but it was big.

The nurse took one look at the container and my paperwork and shook her head. She took ticket number DO8 dropped it in her bin and said “è il biglietto sbagliato” What, what?? Wrong ticket! How can this be?

Feeling very dejected, miffed and unhappy I wandered back to the waiting room and the stupid ticket machine. I now had to choose another ticket, obviously not A or D. I thought about playing eenny meeny miny moe again or choosing my next favourite colour but there didn’t seem to be a red option. Punching every button I collected eight tickets, much to the bemusement of the little old lady who had been watching me puzzle over the machine and heard me muttering in English to myself.

As I sat down to play hospital bingo, ticket number D09 was called, uffa!! I screwed it up and shoved it into my pocket. F27 was next but I had F 35. Then wonders of wonders E24  as I checked my handful of tickets, I realised I was the holder of the golden ticket. Picking up Mrs Sensibles sample I walked over to yet another booth and silently praying, I handed over both the precious golden ticket and the sample.

Hospital Bingo

Hospital Bingo

The nurse and I commenced the form filling. There seemed to be a little problem with the sample, the nurse, I think was trying to tell me that the container was too big and Mrs Sensible should have used one like this.

Pee bottle

Mini wee bottle

I tried to explain that Mrs Sensible could fill twenty of those in one go and the doctor wanted a 24 hour collection, should Mrs Sensible have used 200 of those?

Huffing and puffing in Italian, the nurse stamped my paperwork and reluctantly took the gallon and a half of high-octane wee.

Later that evening Mrs Sensible asked me how it went, easy peasy lemon squeezy I said, but next time can you take your own pee to the hospital.

Watch the Birdie

I have man flu, I have a sore throat, head ache combined with a really bad case of feeling sorry for myself. This drastic illness struck me down on Saturday. So I took to my bed and sulked as only a man can.

Mrs Sensible coped admirably with me, she force fed me food I really didn’t want to eat, she didn’t shout too loud when I shuffled into the lounge in search of chocolate. I could quite get used to breakfast, dinner and tea in bed. Lunch arrived on a tray, complete with a glass of water for more Italian medicine, and I noted with surprise there was no glass of wine. I decided not to comment on this omission, I thought it might be detrimental to my already failing health.

Sunday was a glorious sunny day and Mrs Sensible wanted to wash the bedding. We are in the depth of winter here in Sunny Italy, and there are only a few good days for drying bedding sheets etc. But first Mrs Sensible had to force encourage me out of bed. She dropped several hints and I managed to persuade her, it was a lost cause by occasionally moaning and requesting items like my laptop, cups of tea etc, with my sorrowful but husky voice. Isn’t it amazing a sore throat gives you a husky voice and when I need one, for example when I was courting Mrs Sensible it didn’t materialise.

All through the weekend my wonderful wife fetched and carried for me, she administered hugs when I demanded them and cups of tea around the clock.

On Monday morning, Mrs Sensible had to go to school to teach her delightful Chilblains, before she left she provided me with breakfast in bed (a tub of yoghurt  some dried prunes in a bowl and a glass of water to take my medicine) Later when Mrs Sensible came back into the bedroom to collect the tray she asked if I had managed to eat everything. Nope I have hidden the prunes under the bed they didn’t look appetising. She looked you know, does that say something about me?

So on Monday morning I was languished in my bed, occasionally checking my e mails for work and snoozing, at lunch time I realised that if I wanted a cup of tea…. I would have to get out of bed and make it myself, uffa! After a shower and  veggi burgers (I really need to pluck up courage and talk to Mrs Sensible about the food she buys, last week it was rabbit, now veggi burgers!!!)

As I was feeling a little better I thought I would pen a quick post for you lot. So here it is.

Last year I took Mrs Sensible to the hospital in Alessandria for a chest x ray. When Mrs Sensible went in to have her photo took, I sat in the corridor talking to a nice Italian lady, who had lived in Canada and therefore understood English. An x Ray is normally a very simple affair, you go in, stand perfectly still, watch the budgie and click all done. But of course this is Italy. For some reason, the guy whose job it was to take Mrs Sensibles portrait, came storming out of the room, followed a few minutes later by Mrs Sensible who had her schoolmarm look.

It transpires, that when Mrs Sensible asked where she was to change, and where was her gown (to cover her modesty) the man said “ I am a radiologist, I have seen lots of naked women, just get undressed and put your clothes on that chair” He may have seen many naked women, but this was the first time he had come face to face with Mrs Sensible.

Mrs Sensible told the radiologist that she had lived in the UK, where they give you a gown and a changing cubical, she also explained about patient’s privacy and I am sure one or two other items. The radiologist gave in and asked Mrs Sensible if she could do the ‘taking the bra off without removing the T shirt manoeuvre’ She obliged and he took her picture.

NHS GOWN

Hospital gown, better than nothing

The lady from Canada, who was listening to Mrs Sensibles latest adventure, agreed and said it was a disgrace that Italian hospitals were so bad. She went in for her X ray and about 30 seconds later the Radiologist exited the room shouting, swearing and waving his hands about. Mrs Canada had decided she wanted to do the bra shuffle as well.

I think we caused a bit of a fuss at the hospital, because the other women who were sat waiting for their turn were muttering revolutionary thoughts such as “ if she didn’t have to get naked, why should I” and “how do you do the bra shuffle, I think mine it too big to do it”

Enough of Mrs Sensible, I am still poorly but as a brave little soldier I have gone into work to see how many people I can infect with man flu.

Self Medicating

A couple of days ago Mrs Sensible went to the doctors. I am not sure why she went, I prefer not to discuss dentists or doctors, as there is always some pain involved, and the pain is normally my pain. However Mrs Sensible returned with a hypodermic syringe that was sporting a rather long and dangerous looking needle.

Big pointy needle

Big pointy needle

What is that for, and where did you get it I asked, while silently praying it wasn’t for me. My wife takes great care of my health by monitoring my crisps and alcohol consumption.

From the doctor Mrs Sensible calmly told me. It is my anti flu jab, do you think you can give me the injection? Me!  Give my wife an injection and be responsible for the pain it will involve. I refuse to even hurt spiders, ants or even daddy longlegs. The only beast I will kill or hurt is the blood sucking mosquito.

No sorry, can’t do it. No way I blustered. Why didn’t the doctor give it to you? He is the doctor after all.

Mrs Sensible explained that the doctor gave her the prescription and by the time she had cashed in the prescription for the lethal pointy looking syringe the doctor had gone home. And besides in Italy it is not uncommon for members of the family or maybe a friend to be a dab hand with the syringe. Mrs Sensible’s mum would do it if she was here.

I am your typical Englishman I frown on pain and syringes. Apart from our scary dentist, the last time I received a needle, was some thirty-one years ago when I had my last and hopefully only tetanus jab. We English take aspirin and a glass of lucozade when we have the flu I tried to explain.

All an Englishman needs when he is ill.

All an Englishman needs when he is ill.

It is now three days later, the needle is nowhere to be seen and Mrs Sensible has not gone down with flu, so maybe she asked our neighbour Luigina to give it. After all Luigina is Italian, she is a dab hand with a pick axe in the garden and has written many books on Italy. I would think a simple injection would be a piece of cake for her.

On a footnote I have looked at our medicine tin that used to contain nothing scarier than a pair of nail scissors and a pack of plasters. Under the control of Mrs Sensible, it has grown to a medicine draw and looking at it we could probably survive a nuclear war.

Sauna German Style

Sauna German Style

Last time I was in Germany I visited a spa and sauna centre, and after the swim I decided to try my first ever sauna so wrapping my towel around my waist I went in search of the sauna rooms.

The first wooden door had a sign with DAME and although my German is limited to words learnt while watching war films, I thought it was prudent not to enter that particular door. The following door had Finnish printed on it, so very slowly I peeked inside. Four huge male Germans were sat on the wooden benches buck naked. It was only as I entered the sauna that I realised that although they were naked, under my towel I still had my trunks on. I am not sure which would be more embarrassing, caught wearing trunks in a German sauna or sitting there naked with a bunch of Germans.

I decided that they were men after all and we are all made the same, just slightly different in places, so I excused myself and retreated back to the changing room to ditch the trunks. Knowing you are nude under a towel as you walk through the swimming pool area while everyone else has a costume on is a very nerve-racking experience, once or twice I nearly chickened out and went back for my costume.

Swimming Trunks

When I returned to the sauna the four Germans were still sat cooking away, so ditching my protective towel I sat down on one of the benches as far away from them as I could. It was hot and I mean really hot; after walking out of the sauna once I knew I would have to stay at least 5 minutes or if I was lucky I might manage to leave when the Germans had had enough.  As I sat watching beads of sweat miraculously appear on my arm I decided that protocol or no protocol, I desperately needed to leave the sauna. It was just as I started to stand up that the door opened and three pretty women walked in. One lay down on the bench and the other two sat across from me.

No one uttered a word; none of the Germans said the girl’s sauna is down the corridor. I couldn’t say anything, my German was limited to halt, ausfart and bitte and all I could think was they are naked, nude, no clothes and oh lord so am I.  I was already cooked to a crisp and wanted to leave the sauna, but now I would have to stand up in front of these women, and no way was I about to wander out with nothing to cover my modesty. My hands had moved from my knees and were now strategically covered myself, which wasn’t really necessary because it is amazing what heat and fright does to a man.

As I sat there pondering what my options were, the sauna door opened and one of the attendants appeared. I immediately thought he had come to shoo the girls out and send them back to the girly sauna, but with quick clever flicks of a towel he forced some of the heat out of the sauna and into the corridor. I thought I could therefore manage a couple more minutes in the reduced temperature.

The attendant then closed the sauna door and tried to cool the room down by splashing water onto the bricks in the corner, lots of steam filled the room and to be honest it didn’t seem to get any cooler in fact I got the impression that  the room was getting hotter. Grabbing his towel the attendant started to wave it in the air above the girls, I glanced across at this spectacle but it wasn’t erotic. To be honest I was too busy trying to work out my exit plan to be worried over erotic thoughts.

The guy then moved around the room to the Germans I waited with bated breath for him to reach me so that I could receive some cool air. When it was finally my turn he started to wave the towel above and in front of me. This guy was either a sadist or stupid what was he trying to do kill me? I had to take a look at his towel to make sure it wasn’t a heat gun; I swear I was receiving third degree burns.

Third Degree Burns

When he had finished his little act everyone clapped, I have decided that the Germans are mad.

I left the sauna as soon as the attendant opened the door and showed the girls a clean pair of heals as I escaped down the corridor. In the corridor with my towel securely fastened around my waist I realised that it hadn’t been as bad as I thought, no one whistled or laughed as I exited, I am sure they would have in England, it was all just so .. normal maybe a bit surreal. I wandered down the corridor and came across two old dears both very old, very naked and very wrinkled who were chatting away sat on their towels next to the biggest Jacuzzi I have ever seen. There were already ten people in it and space for at least another fourteen.  So I made up number eleven and ditching my towel I entered the Jacuzzi.

As I sat amongst the bubbles feeling very relaxed my mind drifted to my wife Mrs Sensible who would be ironing or cooking parmigiana. I am sure she would love to sit in a sauna and relax in a Jacuzzi, but I know there is no way she would do it nude. It is just not done in Italy or for the matter in the UK.

Thanks to Pixby Shumbles for inspiring my post. I did write a post about swimming in the spa but it has disappeared.

A little prayer

Oh Lord please help. I have been a good boy today so why did I have to receive a phone call from Mrs Sensible at 13.50 today to remind me that I have to visit Roberto our friendly  dentist. Lord I am sure you remember the pain and suffering he put me through before. If you can’t remember please plug in your laptop and read this This might hurt a little.

Why Lord did you help my wife to remember the dentist appointment? Did I not pray hard enough on the way to work asking you to make her forget.

Lord if I have to go tonight please either make Roberto too ill to be there or let him decide we need to wait a day or six.

I promise I will be a good boy for the rest of the week.

P.S

Just in case you can’t make Roberto ill and he does decided to drill and fool around with my teeth I am going to take some pain killers before I go. I know I promised I wouldn’t. But these are hard times.

God bless everyone except dentists.

Fingersssssss!!!!!

Image

Winter is not too far around the corner and we have been warned it will be as bad as last year. It is already becoming difficult to dry the clothes outside. In our old house we had a wood burning oven (stufa) in the lounge in an attempt to warm the house while keeping the gas bills to a minimum. I had devised a wonderful method of balancing the metal clotheshorse  on the stufa in an attempt to dry our clothes.

Image

As with all great ideas it was unfortunately fraught with problems not just scorched bed linen but the odd accident.

One evening as I removed the fully loaded clotheshorse from the top of the stufa I turned to my right to stand it on the floor. With amazing speed the stupid thing managed to concertina in on itself crushing four of my fingers between the metal legs. I looked at my fingers which were now securely trapped as if in a giant mouse trap. Then the pain moved from my fingers up my arm and finally started to registered in my brain. I looked at Mrs Sensible and shouted “ah ah ah ah!”

She looked back at me still holding some wet washing in her hands and replied “What what what what” I was desperately trying to prise the clotheshorse legs apart with my elbow and left leg but every time I moved my body the maiden managed to close a bit more. Grimacing and looking to see if there were any of my fingers on the floor I managed to shout “FINGERS FINGERS AHHW  AHWW  FINGEERRRRRS”

Finally she got the message and understood that I was in some kind of pain she dropped the washing on the chair and grabbing  the legs of the clotheshorse she tried to prise them apart.   Finger finger argh I shouted. She was pulling them in the wrong direction and was helping the maiden to remove my fingers.

Quickly swapping direction she managed to prise the legs apart enough for me to pull out my mangled and twisted fingers. I immediately shoved them in the safest place I could think of, under my right armpit.. Mrs Sensible ran into the kitchen and came back with an ice pack. “Let me see” She said. “Ok but no touching.”

“Which finger have you hurt? “This one” She asked pointing to my little finger that was already starting to turn black. “No” I managed to reply “Is it this one” she asked pointing at yet another red and crushed finger, “Nope”. “Which one of them then.” “All of them” I whined. “Why are you grinning if it hurts so much.” She asked “Because I am wondering  how this will sound in my book.”

This may hurt a little.

 

This is a long post but it is for Jennifer at  http://laavventura.wordpress.com who is yet to visit an Italian dentist. The follow is an extract from a book I am attempting to write, please excuse the grammar.

I have suffered with intermittent toothache since arriving in Italy. This is partly because of the bureaucracy and the necessary completion of various forms and to be honest my aversion to pain. I don’t even want the state to pay; well it would be nice if they offered but it is highly unlikely. I needed with the help of my wife Mrs Sensible to work through loads of forms just to enable me to visit a private dentist.

When I first arrived in Italy Mrs Sensible and I went to see a dentist recommended by Angela our landlady. “Go see Dottor Roberto” she told Mrs Sensible, “he is cheap and good; you can’t miss his surgery it is based in the old folks home in Giarole.” If you are reading this book while sat in an old folks home in England or are waiting to be admitted to one put the book down and go and request a transfer to an old folks home in Italy because they don’t smell of wee and old people.

As we entered the reception area of the old folks home we found the door to the surgery situated on the right hand side of the reception area. But before we could enter the surgery we had to walk past a group of old people sat outside the surgery door on chairs and in wheelchairs. Their highlight of the day was to say ciao and come stai? to all the unfortunate patients of Dottor Roberto.

After I had reluctantly sat in the dentist chair my wife explained in Italian to Dottor Roberto why we were there. To involve myself in the conversation I helpfully pointed to the tooth that was throbbing away. After I had shown Dottor Roberto the molar which was hurting he proceeded to poke and then tap each of my teeth in turn with a small metal bar to satisfy himself that I wasn’t kidding.

He started from the right and slowly worked his way down my teeth as a musician might on a glockenspiel. As he got close to the painful tooth I started to become a little stressed. He gave the painful tooth a whack and I yelped; Dottor Roberto smiled with satisfaction. “Ecco!” he said.

After explaining to Mrs Sensible the treatment I needed and after filling out more forms he said he would drill and fill my tooth with a temporary filling. Sitting up in the chair and getting ready to leave I was quite shocked that Dottor Roberto was intending to start the treatment straight away. I protested that there were other patients sat in the waiting room and I even tried pleading with Mrs Sensible that we had only come to have it checked and to see how much it would cost but to no avail.

Doctor Roberto administrated one and then after much pleading a second injection of anaesthetic. He then set about drilling my tooth and putting in a temporary filling.

Charging me eighty Euros for the temporary filling Dottor Roberto then quoted a further 230 Euros to finish the treatment. He explained that I had to be registered with the local health department for him to finish the treatment but not to worry as the temporary filling was ok for two months which should give us enough time to register with the local health authority and to fill out more forms.

The following day my wife and I went to the main administrative building for health in the centre of Casale Monferrato. We asked the woman in charge if we could have the necessary forms so that I could continue my dental treatment. The woman asked to see my medical card. I produced with a flourish the battered cardboard card the UK National Health Service had issued to me many years ago. She took one look at it and shook her head. “It needs to have the European blue flag on with all the stars, like this one” she said producing from her purse her own plastic medical card. I muttered to my wife “that my card had been issued before we got dragged into the European Union by Maggie Thatcher.

Leaving the building without any forms I was still muttering as we got into our car. “I will get my dad to organise a medical card for holiday makers abroad. We are after all in the European Union and then we can wave that under the nose of that stupid woman.” My wife said something about it was me that wanted to live in Italy and so I should stop complaining.

Thinking that 230 Euros sounded a bit steep for a filling and as I was due to visit Sicily where everything is cheaper I managed to delay the treatment even longer.

In Sicily I received a second opinion from my father in laws dentist in the little village of Giarratana. Following a quotation of 120.00 Euros the dentist told Nuccio that he needed more x rays of my tooth before he could continue. Nuccio turned to me and said “Come on we have to go to the mayor to get an x-ray of your tooth.” It sounded a bit strange to have to go to the mayor for an x-ray but this is Sicily after all. When we had located the Mayor I found out that he also doubled up as the local radiologist.

This dentist with his good looks and black wavy hair that is only obtainable from the best Vidal Sassoon hair stylist looked, more like a rich playboy than a dentist. He quickly looked at the x-ray and said to Nuccio “Ha bisogno di una canalizzazione.” As the dentist shoved his syringe and gloved hand into my mouth Nuccio calmly informed me that the dentist said I needed root canal treatment.

As he started to drill my tooth I immediately noticed the absence of any dental assistant. Normally there is a pretty female assistant to take my mind off the pain the dentist is trying to inflict on me. She normally sits there smiling and handing over the tools and operating the various suction pipes. Maybe the playboy dentist was going to involve my father in law who was stood watching. I am pretty sure Nuccio would have jumped at the chance of helping as he stood gazing into my mouth. I also noticed the almost total absence of anaesthetic even my lip wasn’t tingling.

I am of the opinion that a dentist should not be allowed anywhere near me with their drills and other instruments of torture, until my lips are all rubbery and I have lost total sensation in at least one of my ears. So it was with no surprise that I jumped as he broke through the temporary filling and hit the nerve. My reaction did the trick; the dentist declined to complete the treatment claiming the nerve must have an infection. As this was translated to me, I told Nuccio to tell him I will be ok if he uses some anaesthetic.

After hastily inserting another temporary filling the dentist told me to come back in three weeks after the infection had gone. Mr Playboy then handed me his card and said if the tooth gives me any problems I was not to hesitate to call him, although this weekend he was going to Monaco to watch some racing.

So here we are another 6 months later back at the old folk’s home with Dottor Roberto who is no playboy. Indeed I may be mistaken but he looks as though he may have gained a few pounds around the waist but it has been a while since he inserted the temporary filling that was only supposed to last me 2 months.  Dottor Roberto asked me which tooth was hurting. I replied “The one with the white temporary filling.”

Just to make sure he tapped each tooth in turn with his little steel rod. I don’t flinch or jump as he gave the bad tooth a whack. This was because I had taken precautions. I had dosed myself up with the best anti-inflammatory and pain killers I could find prior to leaving the house.

When Dottor Roberto found out about the pain killers he was not very impressed. After giving me a lecture on painkillers and the protocol for visiting the dentist which Mrs Sensible dutifully translated for me, (my wife hadn’t known about the pain killers either) she was giving me that you’re in trouble when you get home look; the dentist continued to explain that it is important that he can tell which tooth is hurting. Now I have always believed there has to be a streak of sadism in every dentist and this episode only goes to prove it.

My wife explained in mitigation that I have a very low pain threshold and he could see that I was looking a little worried so he obliged me by using enough anaesthetic to kill all the feeling on the left side of my face even my eyebrow was a little dead it seemed to be stuck up at an angle like one of Sean Connery eye brows. That coupled with the assorted pain killers I had taken before leaving the house I thought I would be ok.

My wife is as always the interpreter, she explained that if I feel any pain I was to raise my left hand. If I feel any pain he would know before I had had time to raise my left hand that’s for sure.

The Dentist with the help of his young assistant placed a piece of latex across my mouth and securing it in place with little rods that somehow must have been secured in and around my teeth. He then used what looked like a mini pastry cutter to cut a hole around my bad tooth and pushing it in place secured the latex. It was great, no debris from the drilling would drop into my mouth and the dentist wouldn’t have to stare at my tonsils. Although he needn’t have bothered as my tonsils had been removed twelve months previous when my nose was re-bored to stop me snoring like a pig. I have also for many years had trouble breathing just through my nose hence the nostril re-bore.

The latex had effectively shut off the air supply to my mouth and as I still have trouble breathing through my nose, every time I inhaled and exhaled the air that was forced in and out past the latex  made a sound not unlike a whoopee cushion. After a little adjustment both the dentist and I were a little happier. Dottor Roberto held out a hand mirror so that I can watch him drill my tooth. But with a shake of my head I refused it. I like to keep my eyes tightly closed as I grip my hands together in my lap in a difficult effort to control the panic and my natural response to leave the surgery.

As he started to drill I knew that if I relaxed everything would be ok but my nerves were straining; waiting for the inevitable pain. Meanwhile my wife is entertaining him with the tale of where, when and how we met and why we are now living in Italy. I lay there in the chair with my mouth wide open and a corner of the latex tickling my nose every time I breathed in or out, wondering if the dentist could concentrate on my teeth while chatting to my good wife.

The assistant had noticed that I had opened my eyes and that I did not look entirely relaxed and happy. She asked my wife “Lui va bene?” My wife said “Are you ok?” I managed to reply through the latex “Urrrmppph!” At that moment a mobile phone started to ring, it wasn’t mine or my wife’s as just before we entered the surgery we had switched them both off. The dental assistant calmly picked up the offending mobile and passed it to Dottor Roberto… “Pronto, ciao Alberto, come stai. si ok dove si va bene…..”

I was gob smacked; truly astounded not only was my dentist talking on his mobile, he was still drilling my tooth. I tried to signal to my wife with my eyes that I was not pleased and the panic I had managed to hold just under the surface was close to escaping.

After what seemed like an eternity the assistant spotted that I was a little stressed and that my eyeballs appeared to be popping out of my head. She calmly ushered the dentist who was still talking on his phone out of the room.

Italian phone calls are never short and end with lots of goodbyes ciao baci arrivederci si domani ok capisco ciao ciao.

I was still in the chair with the tube sucking away in my mouth the latex burping away happily as the doctor reappeared to frosty scowls from both the assistant and me.

The good news is I survived the procedure. The bad news is I had another appointment in ten days time for him to finish reconstructing the tooth. As I left the surgery I promised the dottor that I wouldn’t dose myself with pain killers next time if he promised not to answer his phone while he was drilling my teeth

In Sickness and in Health

I am as sick as a dog today, I really want to be left alone to lie in my bed and sulk, I don’t want lots of hugs and sympathy from Mrs Sensible, and I don’t want strange Italian medicines or to visit the doctors to make sure it is not terminal. It is not necessary to take blood, urine or any other sample to establish that I have a bad case of man flu.

When Mrs Sensible is ill she requires 24 hour around the clock loving and affection, someone to fetch, carry and generally be there to hold her hand. It is a huge and basic difference between us and more importantly how our mothers dealt with illness. Her Sicilian mother (who is just wonderful and has adopted me) would sit with my wife and make her sweet honey tea, feed her little bits of food to keep up her strength and generally love her better. On the other hand my mum would banish me to my bedroom with a bottle of lucozade and an aspirin. And as soon as I was well enough to sit downstairs in front of the telly, I was well enough to go back to school.

I don’t think the way Mrs Sensible and I deal with illness is just conditioned by our mothers but because she is Italian and I am English. Before I moved to Italy I had never heard of the many illnesses that befall Italians. The Italian illness that immediately springs to mind is cervicale (stiff neck), the slightest wind even in high summer can trigger it. Leaving the house with damp hair will not only get you into trouble with mama and nona but you will certainly contract cervicale. Prevention is the best cure hence all Italians wear scarves even in the summer.

During July a small spider bit my leg and I think I developed a small allergic reaction to the bite, similar to the reaction I develop to tiger mosquito bites. My leg swelled and a little boil appeared. The boil kept popping and growing a little bit. Mrs Sensible told me I needed to go to the hospital emergency department. I laughed and declined, I explained that you only go to the emergency department if a paramedic has just cut you out of a car crash or if you sever a tendon in your hand while cutting gollywog tokens from Robinsons jam jars, something my dad did in 1984.c

Later that week a colleague at work noticed I was limping a little, and after looking at my leg and tutting she told me to andare a pronto soccorso ospedale.  So I went and the doctor and nurse who saw me did not mutter about time-wasting but quickly and efficiently cleaned my leg they then took numerous blood samples, gave me a course of antibiotics and told me to return to the emergency department the following day!!!

On my return to the hospital I received my blood results and once again my leg was cleaned disinfected and re bandaged. The doctor gave me a copy of the blood results and an invoice for 25 euros. Not bad really. It seems Italians will have a blood test every three to five years whether they need one or not, very much like the English renewing their tetanus jab.

Every summer we go to Sicily to stay with the family, which is just great because they just love me to bits. My new-found family will take my side in an argument and will scold my wife even though they haven’t a clue what we are arguing about. The slight downside with staying with the family in Sicily is although the temperatures reaches above 40°C Mrs Sensibles mum and dad will still try to persuade me to wear a vest under my tee-shirt and to always wear slippers in the house. Wearing a vest I am told will protect me from colpo d’aria or roughly translated a puff of air. It seems even if the air is hot colpo d’aria will bring on a bad case of cervicale the ailment most Italians suffer from.