Chasing Ghosts

It’s well past the time most people are in bed. I’ve turned the DVD player off after three episodes of Dynasty, the 1980’s American soap that involved actors hitting their marks and delivering their lines with very little actual acting taking place. I’m not really into TV where you have to invest large chunks of your life before you reach the conclusion, but back in the 80’s I loved Dynasty, the glamour, gloss and dubious storylines were all part of my Saturday night. My group of friends would all gather at someone’s house prior to going to a club, we’d all watch Dynasty, the Linda camp on one side of the room and the Joan (my camp) on the other. We’d have a few drinks and revel in the absurdness on the screen, hoping for a cat-fight between the two leading ladies, before we dressed for the evening and hit the town. As I watch the show again, (season three) thirty years later, the memories drift by like ghosts.

I open the front door, the night air is warm, there’s a slight breeze covers me with a welcome hug across the shoulders. The dogs race out into the darkness, their black coats making them invisible in the night-time. I hear their paws as they race up to the top of the road, there’s a rustle of grass and they break into barking mode. Olive has a typical terrier bark, short bursts of high pitched yelping and Alfie has a baritone bark followed by a drawn out howl. I reach the top of the road where there’s a street-light and I can see them, they’re among the olive trees, obviously looking for something. Olive darts behind a tree quickly followed by Alfie, they both stop and stare into the distance. I peer into the greyness wondering what they are looking at but see nothing but trees. Suddenly they both jerk their heads to the left and start barking, neither one moves, they remain stationary as they shout at nothing, suddenly Olive breaks away and she runs, Alfie is still a pup so follows her lead and he bounds off between the trees, his long legs making him look like a stilt-walker who’s become unstable. They reach the spot that spooked them both, give a few half-hearted barks and pad back towards me, satisfied that whatever was in the trees, they’ve seen off.

We stroll back down the road towards the house, Alfie sees something and barks again, Olive joins him and they’re off again, back up to the olive grove to chase ghosts. I sigh and wander back towards the dogs, knowing tonight will be one of those nights when getting them back into the house will take longer than usual.

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Olive and Alfie

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Swedish Meatballs, Storms and the Electric Mosquito Box

Last week when the weather was good, we replaced the horrible tiled living room floor with a new wooden one. The weekend arrived and with it rain. A thunderstorm raged throughout Saturday night, great forks of lightning skittered across the night sky, and sporadic sheets of lightning lit up the Abruzzi countryside like a stadium. Now I like a good storm and it helps to clear the air, which has been quite humid for the past few days, I see storms as nature’s thermostat so to speak.

Sunday arrived and reports of a tornado causing some devastation up in northern Italy are in the news. Thankfully the most distressing thing we’ve had here in Chieti is a neglected bag of cement that is now sodden and useless. So we eat breakfast as the iPod shuffles and Petula Clark, sings Downtown. “That’s what we’ll do,” I chip in, interrupting Ms Clark, “we’ll go downtown, so to speak. Let’s have a trip out to Pescara.” As we need some essentials, milk, bread, wine etc. we head first to the large Auchan supermarket near the airport; what a mistake this is. The store is packed with shoppers and the handful of checkouts open have queues fifteen people deep. Oh well, as I’ve already said previously, waiting is the Italian national pastime. Back in the car with our purchases stowed in the boot, the iPod shuffles and Marilyn Manson, starts to play, A Place in the Dirt. I’m not in the mood for Mr Manson’s rock on such a sunny day, so do something I rarely do, I manually move to the next track, and Sting, sings, Fields of Gold.

We have lunch in Ikea, the canteen is spacious, much bigger than any I’ve seen in any of their English stores, but the Italian’s take lunch seriously, it’s a time to relax over a plate of pasta and chat. The store has a clever little trolley device that means one person can stack and wheel up to four trays of food from counter to checkout to table. We have a small beer and Swedish meatballs with skinny fries, before clearing our table and heading into the store. One thing I’ve noticed that’s very different to self-clear restaurants in the UK, is that the Italian people actually do clear away their trays. In UK branches of fast food stores, I’m always amazed by the people who leave their table covered with the remains of their lunch, expecting someone else to clear away the table detritus for them.100_6291-crop

Back home I look at the electric anti-mosquito device I’ve purchased, it’s a sort of light attached to a speaker that emits a high pitched sound that I can’t hear but apparently repels the vicious little insects. I’m dubious but at just five euro, I’ll give it a go. The dinner dishes are put away just as the rain starts again, it’s coming down in great sheets, big fat blobs of liquid pelt the ground tossing up dust and sand. With video and TV watching quickly eating up the temporary internet connection’s meagre monthly allowance, we’ve resorted to watching DVD’s in the evening and at the moment we are almost at the end of the second season of the eighties TV drama, Dynasty. Joan Collins plays a great TV villain while Linda Evans has spent much of season two, either weeping or mostly doing rabbit-in-the-headlights face acting.

Monday morning arrives after a night of constant rain, the only good thing is no extra mosquito bites, so did the device actually work or did the rain keep them away – only time will tell. I lie in bed listening to the plop, plop of rain coming down the chimney before getting up and poking my head outside. My herb planter is submerged, the plughole in the sink cum planter hasn’t been able to cope with the deluge. Suddenly there’s more rain, a heavier burst pelts the house and drives itself sideways against the windows. Oh well, I think I wasn’t planning on doing anything special today. Water is running down the lane and I’m half expecting to see Noah come around the bend in his ark.100_6289

I’m about to make breakfast when more, plop plopping is heard, this time it’s in the living room, water seems to have been forced under the tiles and is now dripping into several pools on my nice new wooden floor. Where’s Noah now, I think, I heard he was handy with wood. Maybe he can sort out this new problem.