Being Local

With the iPod shuffling I drove to the bank ahead of tomorrow’s closure due to it being All Saints day, Spandau Ballet play Chant No1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On) 12” Mix, as I park up and join the queue at the cash machine. It seems like everyone in Selva  Piana needs to get cash out. I’m standing behind an elderly lady who’s humming a discordant tune to herself, when a man asks me if I want the bank or the ATM. I explain I want the cash machine and the whole queue that’s lined up in front of it moves, they’re all waiting to go into the bank and the cashiers are operating a two people, out, two people, in, system.

After withdrawing some cash I head off up the hill that leads to Vizzarri, Somebody Told Me, by Eurythmics plays as I pull into the car park at Scriz, a family-run independent supermarket. I’m picking up a packet of De Cecco pasta when the doors open and there’s a commotion by the fresh fruit. I hear a lot of excited English voices as a group that have arrived in a mini bus enter the store. A man at the front is talking to the group and a couple of excited ladies pick a packet of biscuits up and examine the wrapper.

I’m down at the sliced meats section talking to my friend behind the counter when the group arrive and stand behind me. I order some cooked ham and my friend is cutting me four slices when I hear one of the biscuit women exclaim, “Isn’t it lovely when you hear them speak Italian.” I am slightly tempted to ask what she’d expect to hear, Cantonese, but my friend asks me if I want anything else. I’m ordering six slices of prosciutto nostrano (traditional dry-cured ham) when the group leader addresses them saying, “Here you can see the locals buying their sliced meat and cheeses in much the same way they have been doing for years.

Although it’s only a tourist group, it’s a nice feeling to be considered a local; although the people who originate from here would never consider me that, to them I’ll always be that crazy foreigner (quello straniero pazzo).

Talking about being crazy, as you know I have a few OCD issues, one of which is related to my job as a writer. I only use Staedtler pencils, it’s irrational I know but I genuinely find it difficult to take notes using any other brand of pencil. Most ex-pats get sent HP sauce, Cheddar and other food goodies from back home, but imagine how happy I was to be sent over these beauties:

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Being Creative with OCD

We have a house guest in a few weeks, which means we have been cracking on with the work required to complete the second bedroom. The walls have been re-pointed and plastered, the floor is laid and the spare bed/futon assembled, so all that’s left has been soft furnishings. My friend Vivienne, dropped off some fabric and I have had a day or so being creative.

After leaving school I did a few months training as a tailor’s cutter; unfortunately the business folded, but I did come away with hand-stitching skills. Add to this my OCD and you get even stiches that must be the same length Smile.

My first job was to create a new headboard for our bed as when we stored it in the bathroom in March it got wet and the suede became mouldy. As we have rustic walls and wooden ceiling and floor I went for a patchwork effect, which I think has turned out rather well. I did fight with my OCD to stop it being too uniform, as I wanted a less than perfect grid effect.

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My next task was to make a curtain for the window in the second bedroom; one can’t expect a guest to stay without any privacy from the outside world. So once again I selected some contrasting fabrics and began stitching a curtain. After adding a backing and fitting a rail it’s up at the window. The problem is now I want one for our bedroom window too, which means more finger pricking with a needle.

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Talking of OCD, regular readers are aware of my preference for pencils over pens, and my particular liking for the Staedtler brand. I was finally unpacking boxes that had been packed up in readiness for our move to Italy. One such box was packed back in 2009, and when I opened it I found a stash of Staedtler pencils hidden away. I’ve added them to my current collection and think I now have enough to last me until the end of my days. Will this stop me purchasing more, I doubt it.

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