A new novel by Veronica Di Grigoli – ‘The Dangerously Truthful Diary of a Sicilian Housewife’

A new novel by Veronica Di Grigoli – ‘The Dangerously Truthful Diary of a Sicilian Housewife’

A new novel from one of my favourite bloggers. A must read for all lovers of Italy and humour

The Dangerously Truthful Diary of a Sicilian Housewife

Have you wondered exactly how I met Hubby and spent my first year in Sicily? I learned to iron white vests, I became a champion dodgem-car driver, I had a gigantic baby, and I even had my teapot torched by a gangster. This book is like the 100 funniest blog posts you haven’t read yet…

AN ENGLISH WOMAN TAKES ON PARENTHOOD, THE MAFIA AND A SICILIAN MOTHER-IN-LAW, ALL AT ONCE

Available on all Amazon websites worldwide, in paperback (and soon on Kindle too)

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

front cover

What happens when a London business consultant becomes a Sicilian housewife? 

Veronica has just dumped the world’s worst boyfriend and plans to become a career spinster. But when she flies to Sicily for a friend’s wedding, she accidentally falls in love with one of the groom’s three-hundred cousins.

She plucks up the courage to leave her family, friends, job, house, car and collection of seventies disco albums, and moves…

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A cautionary tale about waxing

During February Mrs Sensible was invited to go to a sauna in Liguria. I was not invited because it was an outing for her girlie school teacher friends. I protested about sex discrimination and Mrs S protested that the last time I visited a sauna I went Al naturali. It appears Italians wear swimming costumes in hot steamy saunas.

While Mrs S was deciding which swimsuit to wear, she also decided she required a bikini wax. When she suggested I help her, I pointed out my aversion to pain and suffering and declined to get involved in any way.

Laugh! I could have cried

It is sometimes quite difficult to refuse to help Mrs Sensible. In the past I have under protest, had to hang the washing, wash the car and even fold and put away my socks. So in February I found myself gritting my teeth and holding Mrs Sensible’s skin taut as she quickly applied and expertly  ripped away wax strips. Mrs S is made of stern stuff and she never flinched, it did however bring tears to my eyes.
So let’s now roll forward to yesterday. Mrs S announced we had been invited to the beach by her sister. She also told me she wanted a bikini wax and as the local beautician was fully booked I was once again drafted in as her waxing assistant. I took the opportunity to wander off to the bedroom and take a quick afternoon nap, in the hope the waxing was completed by the time I woke up.

I was rudely woken to the sound of Mrs S warming a waxing strip between her hands in the bedroom. This particular waxing strip didn’t look like the one we used last time, it looked more like something you might use to seal a puncture in a car tyre or maybe wrap around a leaking pipe.

Mrs Sensible’s waxing strips

As I held her skin taut Mrs S applied the waxing strip to her inner thigh. To make sure it was secure I gave it a little pat. It was at this point that I suddenly started to have doubts whether we would be able to remove it. Mrs S grabbed the corner of the waxing strip and gave it a tentative tug, it didn’t budge. So she gave it another pull and a small corner lifted off her skin. Grasping the corner and pulling she managed to slowly remove the strip, leaving all the wax and offending hair still well and truly stuck to her leg.
With a lot of tact I asked Mrs S where she had bought the waxing strip that was currently stuck firmly to three of my fingers and the little hairs on the back of my hand. I found it at the bottom of my make-up bag she told me, I think it might be out of date. As I stood, looked and pondered the problem of green wax stuck to Mrs Sensible’s leg, I realised I had seen less wax stuck around a Chianti bottle than was currently stuck to the top of Mrs S leg.

Less wax than on Mrs Sensible’s leg

Mrs S walked into the lounge (still with half a kilo of green wax stuck to her inner thigh) and sat down to phone her sister to tell her that we have a small crisis and might be a little delayed. When Mrs S put her phone down I suggested she should soak in a hot soapy bath and try to remove the wax. As she stood up she encountered another small problem, maybe even another small crisis. The wax had completely glued her thighs together.

There are times no matter how difficult it is, that it is important not to laugh at someone else’s misfortune no matter how funny it might seem, and I am alive today because I managed not to laugh or even grin as she waddled like a penguin in the general direction of the bathroom

Mrs S waddled to the bathroom

As we drove to her sisters, just a little later than we had planned. Mrs S turned to me and said “what are you thinking about” nothing I replied. You are she said I know you too well. Don’t for one minute think you are going to turn this into one of your blog posts.

As if!

What Makes Expats Grumpy?

In May I received a message from my contact page from a really nice lady called Rossi Thompson. She said she was writing an article for the Daily Telegraph on What makes Ex Pats Grumpy, she asked me if I would like to contribute..

Would I like to contribute!!!! I immediately reached for my muse (a glass of vino rosso).

An Englishman in Italy is in the news

An Englishman in Italy is in the news

As I sipped my glass of wine, I pondered what is it that makes me grumpy. I didn’t think not being able to find my flip flops would be earth shattering news, Nor would her readers be interested that being asked to cook the evening meal made me grumpy (I tried to get out of cooking by cremating everything, unfortunately Mrs Sensible soon cottoned on)

Chicken marinated in a light tomato sauce

Chicken marinated in a light tomato sauce.

With the deadline looming I asked Mrs S, what makes me grumpy. If you are married you will realise this is not a question you should ever ask your spouse. Out of the 487 items she listed before I suddenly switched off and went deaf I chose three items and if you want to read what they are please click this link.

I would like to thank Rossi for asking me to contribute and I would also like to thank the editor for not deleting my submission,.

Rossi Writes http://www.rossiwrites.com/

Rossi’s Facebook page

Telegraph Article

Furbizia

Furbizia. From furbo (“sly”) +‎ -izia (“-ness”) cunning, cleverness, sly, cheat. A barman who can give the wrong change and convince you that €20 minus €6 = €4

This Englishman loves living in Italy, but if Mrs Sensible had her way, we would be on a Ryanair British Airways plane back to the UK. I try not to complain too loudly about Italy, because I am afraid Mrs S will drag me kicking and screaming back home to England.

So why do I dare complain about Italian Furbi? Because over the past couple of weeks the C.O.S.I group have been swapping E-mails about a certain Florence apartment company who asked one of the C.O.S.I bloggers to promote their business and then welched on the deal. Not only didn’t they pay the fees, but they made the mistake of contacting another member of the C.O.S.I group to help promote their business!!!!

COSI Group

So why are Italians Furbi? I would like to blame the Italian taxation system which is pazzo.  Many Italian citizens, find ingenious ways to avoid paying their taxes. As more citizens avoid paying the taxes the higher the state raises the level of  tax. I am not condoning non payment of taxes, (I pay mine because if I didn’t Mrs Sensible would beat me with her wet wooden spoon) but when you look at the way the state uses our taxes and the huge salaries of Italian members of parliament or directors of state owned business, you kind of understand why some people try to avoid paying them.

Honest! You can trust me.

Honest! We don’t earn much.

Unfortunately no one is safe from the Furbi.

Gambrinus in Pisa managed to cheat Mrs S and I, when I took her on a romantic trip to Pisa, well it would have been romantic if I had listened to her advice and booked a hotel before we left home, instead we drove around the ring road for 2 & 1/2 hours looking for a place to stay.

After we found a grotty little B&B we walked hand in hand in pitch darkness to admire the leaning tower of Pisa, on the way back to our B&B we called into a bar to buy a bottle of water. With my much improved Italian I announced “I need bottle of water” the barman handed over a bottle and I turned to Mrs S and said “that has just cost me €4.00”, as I counted my change Mrs S realised the till receipt was illegal. As she started to explode with anger, I pushed her out the door to discuss the little problem on the street. Walking back to the B&B, this time not hand in hand Mrs S took out her mobile and phoned the finance police, which started a hilarious chain of events. (Chapter 27 of my book that I promise will be out this summer)

Mrs Sensible and Pecora Nera

Nearer home one of our local bars mistook me for a tourist after noticing I was wearing flip-flops with jeans and hearing my outrageous Italian accent.  Me a tourist, I have been here 7 years!!!!! The barman decided to take this golden opportunity to short change, even I was almost convinced that a brioche and cappuccino should cost €6.00 (normally €2.20 and the change from a €20.00 note should be €4.00 As I used my fingers and toes to work out how much change I was entitled to, the manager came over and asked me why I was still counting my pennies. Needless to say I don’t use the bar in the Cittadella Casale Monferato anymore.

Pecora Nera

Some Italian businesses try not to issue receipts, in this way the transaction does not appear in their accounts, and they pay less tax. Under Mrs S instruction I requested a receipt from the local garage, who promptly wrote €100 on a grubby post it note!! I refused to go back a second time even with the threats of Mrs Sensible ringing in my ears. Is there a moral to this story?

Yes, I think there is; if the statesmen of Italy acted in a responsible way and treat their citizens as adults instead of naughty children, the citizens might behave as adults.

berlusconi-eyyy_1489087c

Berlesconi in office for 9 years

The problem is Furbizia is as ingrained in the Italian culture, as fishing is in England and it is almost a national past time and will take a generations if ever to change the behaviour.

This post is part of the latest topic of our little blogger group, COSItaly, on how to be a good tourist/cool summer tips. Check out facebook page

Can I have a comb over please?

Can I have a comb over please?

Don’t you just love having your hair cut, and choosing which style to opt for? As I creep into middle age the number of styles I can choose from are slowly dwindling. Up until I was fourteen my dad tackled the problem of cutting my hair with a shaver he had brought back from Hong Kong. I was sixteen before I realised I could go to the barbers and he wouldn’t be offended, well not too offended.

I also remember waking up one morning with a  dreadful hangover and a full blown Michael Jackson Afro after I foolishly invited a hairstylist to attend one of my parties. The memories of Christmas 1981 when I was forced to attended several Christmas and New Year parties with the Afro has scarred me for life. My dad suggested I blow dry my hair flat, or he could cut it all off with his shaver. I tried the blow dry technique as I didn’t think the bald look would suit me.  If Joy is out there, I have forgiven you.

I woke up looking like this

I woke up looking like this

In search of a decent hairstylist I spotted the following  sign as I was driving through Cuccaro,  Earlier that morning Mrs Sensible had pointed out that with my flip flops and my hair I could almost pass for a mountain man. I wondered what Mrs S would say if I came home looking like the man in the poster.

Beard

Beard and Boris Johnson hair

My hair was long enough for the hairstyle but I might need a year or two to perfect the beard. I went in search of the X-Men in Fubine and pondered which style I could get away with, without sending Mrs S in search of her wet wooden spoon.

Should I maybe choose the mid-life comb over?

The middle aged comb over

I just love that tie and comb-over

Or maybe the mullet

The Mullet

Earl and his Mullet

I was saved from asking for a either, because my Italian only stretched as far as tagliare mio capelli per favore. Please cut my hair.

And so they set to work, the lovely assistant washed and towel dried my hair and Gotta styled my hair. They did such a good job that Mrs Sensible has told me that I should continue to go there.

The coolest of hair stylists

The coolest of hair stylists

The coolest of hairstylists can be found at Via Pietro Longo 13, Fubina (AL) or at his Face Book Page

Tips for the intrepid tourist

The Cosi Group are a pretty impressive group of sensible bloggers. I am still amazed that they invited this Pecora Nera (black sheep) to join them.  Their recent posts on travel tips for tourists visiting Italy was awesome. Here are my travel tips for the intrepid traveler to Italy.

There is an art to packing a suitcase, you will need to find space for your swimsuit (unless you are visiting Cinque Terre where there is a nudist beach) your summer frock for when you are visiting the pizzeria and of course if you are visiting me you will need to pack 2 family packs of Walkers crisps, a jar of Branston Pickle and some books.

Only pack essential items

Only pack essential items

You have probably used a couple of weeks of your holiday entitlement and spent part of your savings to visit Italy, and there is plenty in Italy to see, so on the run up to your holiday get as much rest as possible so that when you start your holiday you will have plenty of energy to enjoy the excitement of flying with Sleazyjet EasyJet.

Mrs Smedhurst of Bridlington fainted with the excitement of flying with Easy Jet

Mrs Smedhurst of Bridlington fainted with the excitement of flying with Easy Jet (Don’t worry she woke up when my camera went CLICK)

I am often asked if I use the low cost airlines for my trips to and from the UK and what are the differences between them. On Saturday I flew to Gatwick with Sleazyjet Easyjet and returned from East Midlands with Crying Air Ryanair. The big difference between the two airlines is, one uses orange planes and the other uses blue ones.

When flying with one of the low budget airlines, you must remember you will be sat cheek to jowl with  others who can’t afford British Airways who enjoy flying budget airlines. Space is very limited and so make sure you make yourself as comfortable as you can.

Make yourself as comfortable as you can, even if it makes others barf.

Make yourself as comfortable as you can, even if it makes others barf. (sorry for the blurred photo but I was giggling at the time)

When you land you will be ushered into the nearest cattle bus to transport you from the plane to the airport, please remember personal hygiene is a must. I have never considered Old-spice or Brut cologne to be nice, however there are times it smells 100 times better than 60 people who have just flown in a cramped airplane and are now crammed into a bus waiting in 35° heat on the airport tarmac.

Help

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to capture the woman who was suffocating in her winter coat.

When you finally arrive in Italy, please remember to sample the traditional local food. Don’t go wandering around looking for a fish and chip shop, there isn’t one. I know this because I have spent the past seven years trying to find one. Last weekend when I visited England I had a perfect opportunity to sample the delights of traditional English food.

I spent the weekend eating enjoying traditional English food, KFC, Tandori Chicken and this fine Chicken curry and rice

I spent the weekend eating enjoying traditional English food. KFC, tandori chicken and this fine chicken curry and rice

You will have read that Italy is the fashion capital of the world. We take fashion very seriously, whenever I leave the house in my flip-flops Mrs Sensible goes crazy and demands that I either wear proper shoes, change my jeans for shorts or stay at home. According to Mrs S, flip flops are suitable footwear for the beach or if you are wearing shorts. Wearing jeans and flip flops is a no-no. Obviously you can completely ignore this advice. (I do)

And man-bags are worn by lots of men, so if you want to get in touch with your feminine side, now is your chance. Obviously you need to be careful or you might end up featuring on somebodies blog as this poor man has.

How not to wear a man bag

How not to wear a man bag

As we have already pointed out, you have spent your hard earned cash to come to Italy and you expect to have a good time. In England wine, beer and cider are normally associated with having a good time, please try to get to the hotel room before you start celebrating your holiday.

Burp

At least he was wearing shorts with his flip flops

In Italy we can normally spot an English tourist because they are as white as freshly fallen snow, which then goes to a nice rosy red. Some of you may have used the local sun beds and will be a nice orange colour.  We have wall to wall sunshine, please use lots of suntan lotion or you will burn.

The following is a good example of before and after effects of suntanning.

White bits

White bits

And finally feel free to wear the clothes you are most comfortable in, after all it is your holiday

Be yourself

Be yourself

This post is part of the latest topic of our little blogger group, COSItaly, on how to be a good tourist/cool summer tips. Check out facebook page

And finally the first COSI Video…. I was too shy to add my old wrinkled face.