Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day.

The day when love’s in the air. The day when heart-shaped decorations are hanging pretty everywhere. The day when themed chocolate and treats of all sorts stack up at each main joint of the city.

The day when boys and girls hold hands, exchange flowers and sweet presents. The day when restaurants are packed and couples eat fancy gourmet food. The day when men miserably run out of money to impress. The day when being romantic is rather fair.

The day everybody thinks it’s commercial but they end up celebrating it anyway.

The day you yourself think it’s commercial but you wouldn’t mind opening the door and finding the person you love. Just like you do every day but today more than others.

The day when you get back home and sit alone – and it’s just another day.

But then my cuz knocks on the door holding a bottle of red wine.

And it’s again Valentine’s Day.

Jim
The Britalian Post

The apology

“Oh, I’m sorry!”

If you’ve ever been in the UK, you’ve heard this word innumerable times.

Every time people do something, say, inappropriate – like unintentionally bumping into someone while walking, asking to quickly move aside, opening a door when one is coming through, doesn’t matter what it is – the word ‘Sorry’ will be always echoing sharp.

It must be a sort of a local habit type of thing, that kind of politeness that mainly expresses fake and uninterested platitudes rather than truly kind intentions. That is, people don’t really mean it. It will always be a mean ploy, a shitty apology to veil a repellent so-what attitude. It’s a lie!

But then though, you figure it’s not a cultural thing at all; and it should be clear by now that I’m not referring to Britons or their manners. As all people just act alike. All people can build a rather good apology to beautify their lies – the truths they seek to convince themselves with in the first place.

A lie.
She who manically dancing and partying for her birthday – her infinite beauty that hits so damn hard on everybody. The night is feisty, and so is she. Given so, she keeps quaffing alcohol rashly, sticking her deadly lips deep in bottle tops – just to feel happy, to kill that loneliness, that emptiness somebody dug in her. To feel like feeling nothing, to stiffen those muscles that cause emotional pain: love.
She gets lost in all that, she lets herself go on the dancefloor, she abandons her cause the same way it abandoned her. She embraces that positive vibe and goes down pretty hard. 

She rubs against many, and then against him – modelling her body on his shapes, adapting her curves to his lust. And he doesn’t miss the chance; he knows it’s the right time to take advantage of her.

She turns, they kiss – arousal, she feels it.

Everybody though turns the other way. Nobody wants to watch. Nobody wants to be carrying the burden of what they see happening. Nobody wants to have to lie.

But then though, as soon as she regains control, she starts draining alcohol through her thick tears. She runs away – she knows that it was a mistake. She dashes into her friend’s arms. Shuttered. Crying. 

Now she has to lie. Quickly.

She gains compassion. Empathy.
“Poor little thing. She only wanted to forget him, to go over and start over. She was just in pain. She didn’t mean to let herself go. She was just in love.” 

And she with a trembling voice, “It’s because I love him and he just rejects me! It’s his fault damn it! He made me want to do it. He dragged me into that. I didn’t mean to… Sorry! Oh, I’m sorry!”

You know. Every time people do something, say, inappropriate, the word Sorry will be always echoing sharp.

Bitch.

Jim
The Britalian Post

Mind the gap

I hate the Piccadilly Line!

It’s slow, it’s rammed, trains go missing, and every stop is a pain in the ass. Like being stuck on the bus on Green Lanes for ages wasn’t enough – and just to cover about one mile and spare of a terribly trafficked road. 

So I finally go down the station and hear “Next train in…” – God only knows when.
‘Ooooh come ooon..!’
Then you can’t board the first coming train, nor the second. Maybe you get lucky with the third or fourth. You squeeze in, your face splashed onto the door, the armpit of the guy next to you right across your head smells like rotten shawarma, the killer breath of some girl on the other side and the bomb farts of some corporal terrorist who comfortably lets rip right in the middle of the train. They join forces to make your journey a memorable morning experience.

No complaints if it happened now and then but I kinda get the feeling that these people work in the TFL’s customer retention – or detention!

Result? I’m always late! At work, at night, when meeting friends. Thanks Shit-adilly Line!

Yet, it is the giant of the TFL, it is one of the most important lines in London – one of the longer and more paramount. It covers the distance from Cockfosters, through Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, to Heathrow or Uxbridge (depending on the branch).
Trust me, I was so damn relieved when I moved to another place away from that line. So relieved that I no longer had to suffer from disruptions, delays and packed platforms.

In the beginning.

After a while, I came to realise that I totally relied on that route, that no matter what it would always take me home. I thought of how fast and efficient it was in its non-peak hours, that I felt so safe that I didn’t even need to pay attention to the stops. I would always know when to get on and off – Mind the gap! – and whatever the distance, in the end, I would always reach my destination.

But…yes… After a while, I began to feel the gap.
I realised I was missing something only when I had lost it. 

Isn’t that what we all do?

We all realised it when he went missing, when he was gone. We all felt like an important part of our daily journeys was just over. So used to have him travelling around, so used to his presence, that now his empty desk laying abandoned in a sharp silence is the gap we mind the most.

Yet, he was the giant of our team – always reliable and paramount, although…
Although he was secretly going through his peak hours, running way too long distances, even for a giant. 

Eventually, he had to slow down his journey and hasten his departure. He had to disrupt his roaming, delay his desires and take his belongings with him.

Ultimately, his train terminated here.

Good luck, dude.

Jim
The Britalian Post

Same old story

“She ain’t listening, J.”
(Chuckling) “They never fucking do, Ed!”

Yeah, same old story.

Earlier that Saturday, I met with Edward in Holloway Road to do some jamming at the music studio. As we had still an hour before the studio let us in, we made a stop at The Coronet for some pints on the terrace out the back – just a chat and some beer before jamming.

Edward and I talk a lot, and when we’re not offending each other, we talk so much crap: frustrations about work, inconstant ambitions, questionable people, troubled relationships. Life. Oh, and of course, music and the latest concerts. Then he always ends up mentioning something about Metallica and wanting to hustle me into one of their concerts – which I would only attend for the company. 

“Fuck off you phat ass! I’m not gonna go see that shit!” – yelled I.
“You are shit, you disgusting cunt!” – Ed said back.
Yeah, we kinda love each other.

At times, it takes me a while to understand what that motherfucker is saying because of his baritone voice and that articulated West Midlands accent. Other times, my vocabulary just sucks and I’m missing his words. Not that me being Italian makes it any easier for either of us – like, me getting lost in my own concepts, him trying to shape words out of my mouth. 

All in all, no matter the context, the culture, the language, we seem to really understand each other. And pretty well. He’s a good listener, and I think so am I. Maybe boys got it easy, or maybe we have natural empathy and we feel we can figure each other out at our deepest. Unless he starts speaking some undecodable slang that OF COURSE I’M NOT GOING TO UNDERSTAND, YOU PUNK-ASS!

So after the studio session, we dropped the music equipment at my place and headed to The Finsbury pub – the one right opposite Manor House station. Good company, live music, beer. 

Nobody can ever say that we are not social people and up for partying, so as the bands were done, we started dancing to the DJ’s music and interacting with the other folks around. Actually, Edward was the one who bumped into an interesting conversation, that went more or less like this:

Edward: “Did you like the bands?”
Girl: “I’m Dutch.”

E: “What are you doing in London?”
G: “My sister is here with her boyfriend, but she’s Swedish.”

E: Are you enjoying the DJ?”
G: “I love this venue!”

E: “?????????”
G: “@..%<~#\$!)”

“So, how did it go?” – I asked thinking he got somehow lucky.
“She ain’t listening, J!” – said Ed, visibly disappointed.
(Chuckling) “They never fucking do, Ed!”

Folks, same old story. No matter the context, the culture, the language: boys and girls will never understand each other.

Jim
The Britalian Post

[UNTITLED] The girl in the tower

Think of those fairy tales we were told as children.

Think of how they remain impressed in our minds and stick to our memories. Think of how we grow up fascinated by those impossible stories and romantic plots. Everybody remembers those famous titles, those characters that stand out for their heroism, bravery and passion, all in an era back in the time where magic, mystery, love and chivalry were still commonplace.

And from a commonplace, one would likely expect to read about a beautiful princess imprisoned in a lonesome tower and about her long lying in wait for her rescuer to turn up; about a handsome prince who leaps into impossible enterprises to bring her to safety – purely out of love.

Fairy tales are basically commonplaces, facts that recur almost in the same order and lead to a happy ending. The key is probably in them to be told out and be widely known, as well as in their famous titles – as if all fairy tales had one.

Some stories from today perfectly reflect this structural refrain.
Terrible news was broadcasted two months ago! A tower block burned down in West London causing the death of almost 50 tenants. The fire at the tower block was allegedly due to poor electric wiring and low-quality elements. Firemen intervention was prompt, however it didn’t prevent damage to the building and the nearby area. In the tower, a young Italian couple got stuck in their apartment and had to fight for their lives in the blazing fire. They say, she called her parents for a final farewell, while he could only hold her hands tight until they acknowledged that no rescuer would turn up and that their fate was already written. They remained victim of the fire and their bodies were eventually found burned but still hugging one another. The news was on the media and in London, everybody learned about the one which will be remembered as the fire at Grenfell Tower.

But as said, other stories might not get to be as famous as fairy tales, and although nobody will ever learn about them, they’re still tales to be told.

The girl who lived in the tower belonged to a wild South.
The termination of her commitment left her without any certainty – aimless, careless. She mostly stood staring at the outside world from the window on that third level. Her eyes would be drawn by the contours of the typical row of English houses and would then meet the one on the parallel street where her friend used to live, right before she gave up the city for a change for the better – or the easier. That messy backyard was a spot of wonderful memories – drinks, chats, and fun moments – and perhaps she can still picture the two of them in that safe and steady spot. Perhaps, in that backyard, she can still see their final farewell on her leaving party. Still hugging one another – tight.

A smile would illuminate her face.

But before long, her look would lose itself in the dense grey of that gloomy sky, full of ashes, whispers and noises she couldn’t hope to face. Anxiety got ahold of her: that being a prisoner rather than a princess started contaminating her vivid and joyous personality. That feeling of failure, of betrayal, that door slammed in her face. All was painfully overwhelming.

Over time, her luminous blond hair turned dark brown and so too did her ice-blue eyes. What happened? She was not too demanding, she was not too obsessed with her own vices and comfort zones, she was not even alone – though loneliness wasn’t late to come. That’s why she laid her hopes in that inconsistent and vanishing love, in that prince who should have climbed all the way up to set her free from those hurtfully oppressing walls. Truth is, she wasn’t tired of begging someone to love her. So she kept waiting.

Day after day, the waiting never fulfilled its promises. The knock on the door didn’t come and she remained locked in her regrets, in unwittingly unsettling indecision.

What bind kept her tied to that place? Why did she stay?

She simply couldn’t run. She remained stuck in the Pemberton tower, torn between love and acceptance.

Recently, someone passing by the tower saw that girl staring at the window. She crawled out and stood still on the cornice. Seeing her on the edge, that guy on the street started shouting out loud. He ran towards the tower and tried to enter the main door apparently locked. She was going to jump, “crap, she’s really going to jump!” He called for help, caught the attention of the passers-by and asked for their intervention. People turned out at the tower but none of them could see anything on that cornice. “I swear to my life a girl was standing out there.” – claimed he all shaken up.

But nobody believed. Nobody could see.

She had just disappeared.

From a fairy tale, from a commonplace, one would likely expect to read…well, one would just expect to read about it. But so many stories remain untold, untitled, and nobody knew that that girl had actually disappeared in the July of 1720.

Facts say she died forgotten in that commonplace, in an unknown fairy tale. In the one that by then had remained untold and untitled: the story of The girl in the tower.

Jim
The Britalian Post

I have a dream

Have you ever wondered if what you’re living is real? Have you ever thought or felt that life could be something else than what it actually is? What if it’s all a projection of our minds and things exist only because we create them? What if the people we see are just holograms that our eyes display? What if it’s all like The Matrix?

What if it is just a dream?

Despite the “profound” questions on the meaning of life, there’s nothing wrong with having a dream and believing it’s real. To have a dream and to pursue it could positively impact our lives and perhaps lead to some big changes: as a fact, a well-known man named Martin Luther King relentlessly claimed it out loud.

Wise speeches aside, a common man clearly pictured in his mind what a real (and ideal) world could (or should) look like. Segregation, integration, discrimination, acceptance, are themes that thoroughly capture the last decades, and today digesting and incorporating the diversity is up to individuals, who are supposed to come together and fight for a compromise.

For a second, let’s separate MLK from the notorious person he was and have a glance at him as a man.

A common man. A man whose blood is as red as anybody else’s, for all that matters. During the steps of his political and social activism, he goes to bed one night and lightly shuts his eyes. He starts dreaming. He starts elaborating thoughts in his mind: all he’s been fighting for, all of the failures, the rejections, but at the same time he tirelessly elaborates the opportunities-to-be and that dream becomes simply clear. That powerful refrain breached the crowd, motivated the people to pull the plugs that had them living as holograms; projections vanished and they began to properly see each other. That was freedom. That was beautiful. That was real.

Eventually, that was no longer just a dream, it did exist: for right actions do exist.

A common man. A man whose blood is as red as anybody else’s, for all that matters. In all his hyper-activism, he goes to bed one night and lightly shuts his eyes. He starts dreaming. He starts elaborating thoughts in his mind: all he’s been fighting for, all of the failures, the rejections, but at the same time he tirelessly elaborates the opportunities-to-be and that dream becomes simply clear.

She came. After all that arguing, she eventually accepted the invitation. She was there wearing that miniskirt and those bi-colour thighs you like a lot, Dr Marten’s style boots, and a bomber jacket that prevents her skinny body from freezing. She was standing there – glowing, gorgeous – along with a big trolley on her right side, which meant she would stay for a while; still physically weak from the heavy flu she took but beautiful like no others.

You’re stunned! 

That was a hell of a surprise, the sweetest ever. Smiling, she would ask: “You happy I’m here?

You choked in the attempt to say something, so you just approached her, to kiss her, possibly embrace her. And while your hands were stretching towards her, her words made that vision unreal: “Cool…but this is just a dream!

All of a sudden, that feeling of when you’re leaving the dream to go back to reality, the instant return from Morpheus’ arms, the waking up and realising it wasn’t real.

It was a long journey, although it took just one day. One day, a 3-hour flight and a one and a half-hour drive. A few hours to try to make the dream come true, to look into her eyes and show her your love is real, to prove that it could exist, that the two of you could exist, together. To prove that the two of you could fight for a compromise and overcome the diversities. A few hours to hold her hands and ask her to marry you…

“…I…can’t…”

I’ll ask again.

Have you ever wondered if what you’re living is real? Have you ever thought or felt that life could be something else than what it actually is? What if it’s all a projection of our minds and things exist only because we create them?

What if it remains just a dream?

On waking up, people won’t come together and fight for a compromise. Like The Matrix, holograms reload, projections revive, and again you can’t properly see each other.

For right actions don’t exist. Nobody exists. She was just a dream.

Jim
The Britalian Post

Imagine

Imagine. 1971. A masterpiece for music history. The soundtrack for everything. A melody that never stops resonating.

As a Beatles fan, I belong to that group of people that have been hating Yoko Ono for dragging Lennon away from the Fab Four. Yet, if it wasn’t for her, we wouldn’t have had so many of the greatest hits that were composed right after the band split up. 

Is she a musician? A painter? An artist? I’ll never get that. I just know she had a deep influence on Lennon’s songwriting and music style. An influence that generated different outcomes: the banned naked pics, the acts of solidarity, the wish for a better world. Or maybe it was just love: pure, romantic, and untouchable love.

That’s an example of life becoming music, or vice versa.

Together they were oddly extravagant. Together they were unique: solid, strong, unbeatable. United.

But then someone decided that such love wasn’t to exist. Someone decided to dismantle that perfect gear, to remove all the pins to make it collapse; to add an eternal pause at the end of that wonderful pentagram. 

Someone decided to pull the trigger.

This is what was supposed to happen. A disgusting and depreciable worm, a species of the lowest and most insignificant insects in the world shall take her away from you by ending your tiny life.

A fucking traitor!

Yoko wasn’t aware of that horrible plan, she was just a victim. She held John in her arms. Tight. And she would never forgive that guy, she would never accept what she’d lost from the very beginning. Loving hurts. 

But theirs is just an idyllic story.

When it comes to reality and real people, she was no victim. She was the one who crafted that plan, she was his partner in crime, the one who strove to get that felony accomplished. The one who enjoyed herself while offering her mortal lips to wrap the killer’s body. The one who felt sexually and morally satisfied. She made him shoot! You fucking traitors! How good must it feel to be under the spotlight for drawing such a shamefully crafty plan? What an artist! 

Nobody actually pulled the trigger. It was much easier: people don’t need a gun to place a hole in your body.

And while dying after that gunshot, your mind was just blurred, confused, glazed. You would only want to scream out loud ‘SHE’S MIIIIIIIIIIIINE!!!’

Hell, you would never let her go.
And today…

Let’s go back to the song and how amazing it is:

Imagine there’s no heaven …
… Imagine there’s no countries …
… Imagine no possessions …

. . .

Imagine all that past hadn’t existed and you didn’t need to pay for it.

Imagine you were smart enough not to have met her that night. 

Imagine your hands weren’t shaking and you couldn’t feel her, touch her, kiss her.

Imagine you hadn’t caught that flight and rushed back into her arms.

Imagine you didn’t have to run away.

Imagine she hadn’t looked at someone else the way she looked at you.

Imagine how long you’d have lived for her.

Jim
The Britalian Post

One thousand and one Arabian nights

In December 2011, my family, my aunt’s and various members of my extended family, decided to spend the week till Xmas eve in Sharm-el-Sheik. A hot December was new to me and someway odd, though it was worth experiencing. 

I had never been in Egypt and that was an opportunity to visit a small part of it, at least–sincerely said, not that I went nuts for Sharm (nor would I even go today), it’s such a touristy area.

Let’s cut this short. 

The resort was fantastic. From the bar at the main entrance, you could see it stretching over for hundreds of meters till it crumbled into a wide quiet beach. Pools, restaurants and bars all over – the latter were the ones we would attend the most. (Hey I’m not the only good drinker in the family, what did you think?)

We also took many trips to visit historical spots and characteristic towns, hidden beaches and the coral reef, the dreary and lifeless desert and posh casinos.

Mmm…For me, thumbs down!…

It just was not what I was expecting. Not that I believe in cliches but, what about the land of the 40 thieves? What about its magic and mysterious appeal? And the mythical characters of the bedtime stories? All ruins of a forgotten era buried under thick layers of golden western ashes. The leftovers of a population knelt to a new dominion: the green touch of a European Midas.

This acknowledged, instead of going to the sea, lying under the sun, enjoying the transparent water, I would sit in the hall and study for an exam – indeed, me! My parents definitely couldn’t believe it. At the time my focus was more into my studies and my band. We were launching an EP for Xmas and an album was due to go live asap on the new year. The Xmassy mini-EP consisted of 3 songs: acoustic versions of 2 songs included in the album and a guitar-and-voice track. Cool stuff!

That aside, can’t find any other reasons for my lonesome behaviour. Either Xmas puts that mode on or I’m a kind of weirdo. I second that!

All in all, even if Sharm had no charm, the time in there was pleasant. The company was fun and the trips on the coach turned into pure comedy. 

Few days after, still before Xmas, I turned 24. On the night of my birthday – the midnight of the 22nd – we stopped at a bar straight out of the resort to open a bottle of champagne. Suddenly, all the people that worked in there, gathered around me and started singing some Arabic song. That was droll! Must say: people there still got a thing. 

And from that moment onwards, I started learning that many individuals had thrilling stories to tell, unique tales of a culture so different from mine. Our guide, in fact, would tell us of mysteries, legends, ancient uses and habits that Europeans can only admire: stories of Bedouins, of the desert’s bandits, of magic arts and connections with the afterlife, of glory and fallen kingdoms. Fascinating!

How can you not think of Aladdin? How can you not think of a flying carpet, of a magic lamp and a feisty Genie that grants all your wishes? 

I can’t say whether such things really happened in a time back then. Yet, something magnificent can simply be true.

Assuming that not all feelings can be explained in words, let me try to describe one specific night. 

A different world, a different sky, a different moon.

That moonlight. That absurd shimmering effusion radiated some enchantment and magnetism that would make one night last a thousand. It was in the air: medieval folklore and legendary myths could have arisen from the sand to interrupt the silence. No surprise.

I was by myself sitting on a short wall under a palm out of my bungalow, and although I was wearing earphones, the placid music couldn’t distract me from that huge and blazing moon – closer than ever – that along with a lucid dark blue sky were wallpapering the weird veil of secrecy that had wrapped the resort. The atmosphere was surreal.
I swear to my life that the finest European night will never be as beautiful.

Fast forward to the present day.

We often go have dinner at one of the Turkish/Arabian restaurants that give onto Harringay Green Lanes, which is only 5 mins walking from my place.
Who is “we”? Alex and I! Do you remember my cousin?! That’s the one! 

Anyway, the food there has very high standards and I undoubtedly rate it 5 stars, as well as the impeccable service. One of the waiters always puts on an extra-large smile to greet us and we are always treated with the utmost kindness. 

Time after time, this guy started inviting us in for a mint tea and some sweets on the house–in fact, he seemed to enjoy our company. We would talk a lot. We learned about his glorious story, his difficult roaming to London, his tumultuous past, his 70-hour-a-week shifts. Nonetheless, he looked always extremely energetic and unstoppable with his can-do attitude and hard-working ethic. His appearance was more of a fit stylish European fellow: a boy of manners, smart-dressed, and in great shape. His robust look, captivating tone of voice and fierce personality, were solid traits of his esoteric background, features of centuries of enthralling roots. He was special: he was a vivid and intriguing untold mystery.

Once, he asked us to spend a night out together and got in touch a few times to make arrangements. Unfortunately, due to various commitments, advance-planned stuff, or just being awfully tired, weekdays (the only days he was available) are not always a good moment for us to hang out. Thus, although he had asked us out several times, the night never happened. 

We stopped going to the restaurant for a while.

Going a bit off-topic. You got to know that seldom London devours people from the inside. It’s not just the long commuting, or the intensive days of work, or the unstable housing conditions. It’s the sempiternal need for rushing, the feeling of being always in the wrong spot, the lack of long-lasting relationships and people you can trust; it’s the chaos, the insecurity of what will happen the next day. And all consume you till you grow bags under the eyes, expressive wrinkles, and some hair come grey. London makes you stronger on the outside but weaker on the inside, by acting as slow-spreading cancer.

In this very moment, while I’m writing, I’m standing at the bus stop with hundreds of people in the hope that the 341 won’t be too late. History repeats itself. And I seriously need a beer!

Back to the story. 

A few months later, we went back to the restaurant for my dad’s birthday (my parents had come to town for a week). Ali was there: all done up and smiling as usual. Only one thing had changed: his look. His eyelids were heavy, his cheeks limp, his mouth shivering. His movements were slow and his speaking almost nonsense. He told us he had started a second job – that ended him having half a day off – because he was in need of some extra money. 

His words had no more confidence whatsoever but got liquefied into an unconscious flow of tired thoughts that he would randomly throw up. 

The mysterious Arabian guy – the guy with the enchanting background and the majestic past – gave the way to a common cold European-Londoner fellow, a somebody that has been corrupted by a forced materialistic lifestyle to survive in a different world. He was now equal, he was no exception. The unforgettable Arabian nights, the legends, the eastern wind, by now only belonged to a faraway land. 

Ali wanted only one night, just one single night. But we were way too blind… As blind as London made us.

Ali was alone. 

Ali is alone. 

But Ali is strong and won’t quit. 

. . .

Sometimes I walk by the restaurant and look inside through the big windows, and can’t stop thinking of that night.

It was too late.

In the real world, the Midas’ touch is no legend, and his body began to rust. His infinite roaming had finally stopped and he was granted a special night that would last a thousand. 

Where is he now?

Ali is now in the stories of one thousand and one Arabian nights.

Goodbye Ali.

Jim
The Britalian Post

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