The Missing Dwarf

How do you dispose of an unwanted dwarf?

Now there’s a question most of you will never have been asked before, although I do suspect it’s a particularly common one for some members of the Renegade Writers.

I like living in the countryside. A rural setting really suits me. I guess you could call it semi-rural really, as although we’re on a hill over looking a valley and surrounded by olive groves and fields, we not too far from a town, shopping centre and other amenities. I like the quiet that comes with living in the countryside. I go to sleep with the window open and all I hear is the click of cicadas, the hoot of a distant owl and the occasional  barking dog. When I wake It’s to birdsong and the rustle of grasses in the breeze. Today at 06.45, Alfie decided to let me know he wanted to go out; clever for a five-month old; his cold nose on the sole of my foot did the trick of waking me. The morning was misty following yesterday’s welcome thunderstorms and there was very little birdsong. I put the kettle on and switched on the iPod, adding my noise to the day and the Squeeze classic, Cool for Cats played as I dropped instant coffee into mugs.

One of the benefits of being semi-rural, is that there’s always somewhere to walk the dogs away from traffic. Not far away is a dried up riverbed next to vines of ripening grapes and little pockets of olive trees. The road through the area is safe to let the dogs walk off their leads as there’s very few people that drive along it. I love taking the dogs there, it’s great for them to nose around and discover new smells, they chase each other and hide from their humans behind the bamboo; No doubt sniggering like naughty school-children as they hear their names being called.

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Alfie Mac managed to get his head into the shot top left

The only thing that ruins these moments of pleasure is fly-tipping. The selfish act of fly-tipping is not a problem just for Italy, it’s  a problem for rural areas all over. I grew up in a semi-rural part of Staffordshire and the lanes around our house would sometimes overnight grow a pile of rubbish or miraculously a beaten up of sofa would appear in a field. Even down our lane here in Italy, someone has bothered to drive up at night and deposit an old mattress down a slope that leads to some redundant olive grove. There’s always a mattress or a fridge. I think these items must be the most difficult for people to dispose of, either that or they just don’t know how to get rid of them.

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If getting rid of household items poses a problem for some people, what about disposing of unwanted dwarfs? As I took a diversion from the main track down a little pathway, worn away by passing feet, I came across another example of fly-tipping: this tipping was of the Disney persuasion. In the rough grass lay a set of concrete garden ornaments, these were shaped into the guise of Disney’s version of Snow White and her dwarf friends. However there’s only six of her vertically-challenged mates with her; one of the dwarfs is missing.

As I stand looking down at these concrete cadavers I ponder the name of the missing dwarf, could it be, Happy or Grumpy, possibly Bashful or Doc, maybe it’s Sneezy. Could it be Dopey, it may even be Sleepy.  At my side Alfie nudges me, bored with standing still and my attention is taken away from the Disney death, and as we wander back up to the main track I debate the plural of dwarf, is it dwarves or dwarfs. No doubt the answer will be found with a Google search. The Plural of Dwarf explanation

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Abandoned Appliance

I’ve just sat down to enjoy my coffee before the builder arrives and the peace and quiet is transformed into a cacophony of  drilling, hammering and French expletives. The iPod shuffles and the 1970’s pop-classic, Living in a Dream by Dee D. Jackson starts to play as I hear the builder’s jeep roaring up the lane. I put some more coffee into the machine, he’ll no doubt be ready for a hit of the black stuff. This reminds me that I must do some research for an article about Italians and their love of coffee, that an editor has requested from me. Rock music spills from his jeep as he opens the door and kills the ignition; the fly screen opens and before he can say good morning, he’s ranting about a washing machine. I ask him to calm down and try to understand what’s upset him. “Has your washing machine at home broken?” I ask. My question receives a puzzled look and he shakes his head. “Ours isn’t installed yet,” I explain, “if you wanted to use it,.” More head shaking, followed by, “You’re crazy. Of course I can’t use yours, I haven’t installed the electrics for it yet.” I ask him to explain the problem and he just turns and storms off up the drive to the lane, turning once to call my name. I join him and discover that someone has dumped an old washing machine in the lane. (This discovery is accompanied by French expletives.)

“Why do people do this?” he rants, “there are places they can take these things to, instead of dumping them in the countryside. Pah, Italia.” I explain that this happens in England too, Italy isn’t the only country where people too idle to properly dispose of household appliances dump them in the country. He looks at me and screwing his eyes up says, “No?” I tell him that yes it happens in England; Once more adding reality, to his imagined perfection of England. (You should have seen his face when I mentioned its binge drinking problems.)

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The comune provide places where people can take large items to, and in reality the person who secretly left it here in the cover of darkness, probably drove further to dump it here than they would if they had taken it to the official tip. It wouldn’t surprise me if the culprit hadn’t scoped out the area previously. I recall seeing a car on two occasions that isn’t local, maybe the driver is the washing machine fairy and this is a special little trinket from a fantastical realm?

We make our way back and as he’s sipping his coffee the iPod shuffles and the strumming, guitar opening of Welcome Tomorrow by Love and Rockets starts to play. The builder puts down his cup, wrinkles his nose and says, “Musica inglese, pah!” before walking downstairs to carry on with the bathroom tiling.

Three days later a passing Romanian looking for scrap metal stopped in the lane and with the help of his heavily pregnant wife hitched the washing machine onto his truck and drove away with it. I just hope anyone passing doesn’t think it’s a pick-up point for scrap, imagine the builders mood if he arrives to find in its place a couple of televisions and a fridge freezer.

I don’t care how long you’ve been…

It’s been very remiss of me to neglect my blog this past week and I can only really offer one excuse, I’ve been having too much fun. I did actually pitch six articles to various editors in the UK last week so I’ve not been completely lazy. Like all writers I do make notes as things that interest me occur, thus storing up potential blog entries or magazine features for the future. Today’s is a previous incident that I’d overlooked, so rather than leaving the notes lying dormant like bed-sheets in a cupboard, I’ll take them out and give them an airing.

A few weeks back we were working downstairs on the house, which meant we couldn’t hear any traffic passing in the lane. The post-lady, a young girl in her twenties always peeps her horn to let us know we have mail. (For mail read, bills.) So imagine our surprise when we emerge from downstairs to discover an old guy next to his ape forking garden waste over the wall. I quickly lose all Italian vocabulary and use that accepted English phrase to gain someone’s attention. “Oi.” The old guy looks around and sees me, “Yes, you.” I say walking up towards him, my sleeves are already rolled up so I’m unable to roll them as I walk to add to the menace in my voice. I reach him and he says, “What.” Obviously in Italian, then continues lifting forkfuls of weeds up and tossing them over the wall.

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By now the builder has arrived to ask him what he’s doing, explaining that we now live here and he can’t come and tip his garden waste on our land. The old guys response is, “I’ve been tipping it here for about fifteen years, no one has ever complained before.” Our builder does his best to explain that no one’s complained because the house has been empty for twenty-five years. I understand a little of the conversation, and add my two-penneth, “I don’t care how long you’ve been…” You get the gist, not that it’s of any help whatsoever.

The old guy then points out that we have dumped lots of rubble on the land, “So it’s the same.” We explain that it’s not the same as the rubble is ours and so is the land. Our builder reiterates by telling him that the garden waste belongs to him, but the land doesn’t. The old man then asks what can he do with the waste from his orto now. I’m about to be facetious, but the builder throws me a glance before the words can leave my mouth, and more diplomatically says, “You can leave the rubbish here this time, but don’t come back again.”

The old man leaves and our builder returns downstairs, and I’m left alone in the lane waving a fist in the air and proclaiming to the wind, “Come back again old man, and I’ll show you where you can stick your rubbish.”

Apologies for the less than entertaining photographs.100_6457