The rOME cHRONICLES: From the Mouths of Babes in Pompeii

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‘Do you think that’s what he reeeeally looked like Mamma?’ My little girl asked quizzically peering through the cage-like wall separating us from the stone clad creatures inside.
‘Well, I think, before the volcano erupted, they were normal people going about their daily lives, looking relatively normal and…’ She stopped me before I could continue, ‘but they look so small’. She pushed her face into the cage so as to see more.
‘…there were children too in those days darling; they’re the small ones’. I pointed to the small cemented figure lying near what appeared to be it’s mother. ‘See, his or her hands are cupped up over it’s mouth and nose’.

She pulled a sad face. ‘Gosh, I feel really bad for them, it’s so horrible’. Her voice trembled a little as if she was going to cry. ‘Do you think they were watching TV when this all happened?’ She frowned as she proposed her innocent question.

A man standing behind us chuckled. ‘Only a kid would ask something like that’, his strong English accent echoed in the confines of our small prison.

‘Yes, from the mouths of babes’, I said as I hugged my little girl’s shoulders. She looked up at me waiting for a response to her very serious question. ‘How about you and I go and find daddy and we’ll talk about it on the way?’ I nudged her in the direction of the exit. The man smiled as he stepped out of our way.

Outside, the air was thick with dust. Pompeii was a huge dust pit with eroded buildings. It was beautiful. When I was in high school I’d studied Latin and had always wondered where Caecilius and his clan had come from. Standing before a frigadarium all of the questions I had asked in class were present in the 40 degree Celsius heat. Answers, answers written in every alfresco, piece of pottery, cracked tile or solidified figure.

Tourists love this place, backpacks strapped on, water bottles in hand. Hours spent happily trudging from one tumbled-down ruin to another. It was hard to imagine that this was once a bustling and thriving city and that a volcanic eruption would destroy it forever. How many lives were destroyed that day? History books quote numbers of deaths but what about the lives of those who knew the deceased, who lived in nearby towns? Many of their lives were destroyed too. Maybe there were families in different towns, fiancées and men working away from Pompeii.
I contemplated the ripple effect and wondered…

My little girl wondered about the TV and I wondered about the spread of loss.

Two girls, different generations and different ages with two different thoughts happening in the same place…Pompeii.

She still remembers it you know…

‘Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings’.
-Jane Austen

Could I be so bold as to tack on to the end of this blog my sheer excitement that Jane Austen has been decided upon as the first female to grace the ten pound note in Great Britain. It couldn’t have happened to a more audacious and outstanding woman. A long time coming…

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The rOME cHRONICLES: The tale of Italian boy meets blonde girl in a place called Rome

Just like Cinderella she kicked off a shoe around midnight. Although it wasn’t a glass slipper, instead a black clog that Paolo detested. She’d bought them when she lived in London. They were comfy, clompy and well ugly…

Paolo had enjoyed their evening together.
He’d wanted to kiss her lips almost instantly…

He prayed that showing her Rome-by-night would make her fall in love with him and his city. The Colosseum, the Foro Italico and Piazza di Spagna were particularly breathtaking beneath a moonlit sky. He watched her, taken in by the exquisite details of her face as she gazed at the beauty of his city’s favourite monuments. He studied her lips, the fall of her hair and her astounding blue eyes as she burst with contagious vitality. She was nothing like the Italian women he’d known. Most of them were still living at home at her age and hadn’t flown to the other side of the world in search of adventure. She was uncharacteristically like no one he had ever met.

She laughed and smiled a lot; not because she was acting silly but quite simply because she was happy…

He felt happy too, really happy and laughing as hard as her made his heart smile.

He had no idea how long she would stay, he knew she was a tourist and their days were numbered.

He’d have to turn on his charm to make her never want to leave…

As the clock in the Piazza struck twelve he knew she was his Cinderella.

Cinderella

The rOME cHRONICLES: The tale of the pregnant pause in a Roman post office

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Being pregnant in your own country is hard enough, but it is amplified in a foreign country when your grasp on the language isn’t perfect…

She waited in her thin cotton dress with it’s shoe string straps, she was one of many in the serpent line and foreign tongues outnumbered her.
Her pregnancy was in its early stages and her bump was noticeable to her but not so much to others. Mostly because others were too busy with their own lives to be concerned with that of an Australian girl and and why should they concern themselves in her life anyway.
The line moved at a snail’s pace. She still hadn’t made it inside the door. The human serpent weaved around like the check- in at the airport. She began to fan herself with the bill she held in her hand, which was the purpose for standing in this line, to pay the telephone bill. The temperature started to rise as the sun reflected off the glass doors. She was feeling a bit light headed and imagined she probably should have eaten the rest of her croissant this morning.

Gradually, she made it in through the glass doors. There was no air conditioning and a stale overpowering stench filled the post office. People hovered close to each other. Personal space was not respected in Rome. She felt the man behind hers breath on her neck. It made her feel uneasy so she shuffled ahead, lightly touching the woman in front of her. The two cashiers were busy chatting. One was dragging on his cigarette and sipping his espresso in a minute plastic cup and the other, a woman in her forties, was in an in depth conversation with her customer.

The line moved ahead. She glanced at her watch. The office shut in less than an hour which meant she’d been in line for almost two hours. Her legs began to ache and perspiration trickled down the back of her knees. She was eighth in line now; she began to wave her bill frantically as beads of sweat coated her upper lip.

‘Signora, signora’, the cashier’s voice increased in volume as she stared right at her. “Venga, venga, lei e’ in attesa’. That’s when the uproar broke out. The cashier had very gently encouraged her to come forward because she was pregnant. Then the incoherent voices screamed tortuous words, ‘non e’ incinta, e’ la segretaria di qualcuno!’
An angry elderly man exploded, arms thrust in the air. Rudely, he told the other serpent line travellers that she was only someone’s secretary and wasn’t pregnant at all. He’d created an entire life story for her without knowing the details.They tut-tutted in chorus.

She had no secretarial skills…

She was just standing in a line like everyone else…and she was pregnant…

As she approached the cashier’s window her tiny frame showed the signs of defeat and exhaustion. Constricted by the thickening lump in her throat she seized an uninvited pregnant pause and then in poor Italian she spoke to the cashier. Embarrassed by the excitement all she wanted to do was to fly like a bird out of the confines of the hideous cage.

Bill paid; she left the post office to the snarls of evil faces she hoped she would never lay eyes on again…

The rOME cHRONICLES: The tale of captivating an audience in Rome

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The loud voice boomed across the Piazza, ‘Roll up, roll up ladies and gentlemen, step right up’. The audience, now quietened, began to move forward with cautious steps.
The man with the black top hat beckoned them closer, ‘Don’t be afraid’. You could almost smell the stale liquor on his breath.
‘Don’t be shy, I say, do you want to hear a story?’ His voice had reduced to a mere whisper. You could almost hear a pin drop, no one breathed.
‘Do you want to hear a story?’
If I’ve got you now then I’m happy because I’ve managed to capture your attention!

Rome is a city that rarely sleeps and where the luxury of self centeredness prevails. She is a city where finding a parking spot in an overcrowded Piazza is reason for applause. I used to do this with my little girl, it’s true, and she would cry out, ‘Hooray Mamma, we got one’ and clap her hands together vigorously. Our dreams would then be crushed when out of the blue someone from a side street would nab our sacred spot like a seagull dive bombing a single chip. The search for the parking would begin again…
Rome is a city of pure indulgence juxtaposed by sheer poverty nestled in side streets. It is friendly and unfriendly at the same moment ready to snag an unsuspecting foreigner at anytime. Buy a can of coke in the heart of the historical centre and pay a fortune just because you are a tourist. Watch an Italian buy the same can of coke from the same shop and pay half your price.
This is the reality.
Ask for a mortadella sandwich and watch one slice of mortadella be placed in your bread roll. Wait for an Italian to order the same and have three or four slices stuffed inside.
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I used to always say Rome is so much fun for a tourist because they are in awe of the eternal city, wandering around mouths agape unaware of the little traps being laid for them. I was once one of them…
When you come to know the idiosyncrasies of this city is when you come to wish that you were a tourist again. Try battling the overwhelming bureaucratic system and having babies in a place that is not your home.
…But… what a learning curve. Rome aches with wonder and beauty. A cornucopia of treasures awaits you even when you aren’t looking for the gold.
…What you love to write or what you love about what you have written may not appeal to the masses. They say ‘every one of us has a story within’ and if you talk to someone & tell them you are writing a book they will also tell you that they are writing one too…
So…let me leave you with this…are the writers the masses discontented by the lack of reader response or are the masses the readers discontented by what is being written…

It's all in the words..

It’s all in the words..

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The rOME cHRONICLES: The tale of a sipper cup in Villa Doria Pamphili

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Her ponytail swayed as she ran past me, a white dog trailed her with tongue protruding. It was unable to maintain her speed. It was a steaming hot day in Rome and the towering trees did little to shade the number of people here for their Sunday in the park outing. We’d had to park miles away today and my toddler’s legs barely made the journey to the park. Now, she was hot and bothered and guzzling on her sipper cup of water. ‘More, more, Mamma’, she lamented as she tipped her cup upside down with the proof that there really was nothing left inside.

I picked her up and walked further on to find a water fountain. Water ran freely in Rome, the fountains always offering gushing water for anyone. I saw one up ahead. I knew it was a fountain by the number of thirsty tourists who had planted themselves on top of it, wetting their faces and hair. No Italian would act in that manner. An Italian would either bring their own cup or elegantly cup their hands to receive the water. We stood in the queue while the tourists frollicked under the spout, their clothing was wringing wet as they enjoyed their game. A passerby shouted as a shower soaked his joggers, ‘Hey, basta delinquenti’. I’m sure the tourists appreciated being called delinquents! I chuckled to myself. I imagined when I was a carefree tourist I was doing the same. After all it was stinking hot and the water was free…
Now that I’d grown up and had my own child to look after, I waited patiently in the line, had to set a good example.
Finally we refilled the cup and lasted another hour at the park before my toddler was far too hungry and tired to stay any longer; her curly locks sticking to her forehead.
As we made our way to the gates of Villa Doria Pamphili people lay snoozing in the shade, joggers continued their run and panting dogs wanted to go home too.
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One life: a tale of an Aussie girl in Rome

A journey always starts somewhere…

“Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere.”
― Isabelle Eberhardt, The Nomad: The Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt

The travel bug is contagious & thanks to my Dad who has been travelling for as long as I can remember, I too caught the bug.

I can distinctly recall sitting at the window as a little girl, waving Dad goodbye as the taxi driver whisked him away to the airport. I would remain behind the festoon curtain until the car had sped out of view and for moments after, I’d sit crying.

This is me ‘The teenage mutant Greek ninja turtle’ ready for action in Athens, Greece at the beginning of my journey.

That's me!   Greek Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

This is me two years after the start of my journey…
Yes, I’m on my way to the altar…

That's me, on my wedding day

The happy couple…
I was to learn that the pull & drag of home would never leave me…no matter how strong your love is…

Just married in the red room Rome

My novel memoir is the story of how a young Australian girl came to marry a Roman and live in Italy for 10 years. It is a story inspired by an old box of letters I found tucked away in a cupboard.

I hope that once published ( hopefully :)) it will encourage other women and men to chase a dream and live vicariously, for we are given but one life…

Mum & Dad were left waiting at the window for 10 years until I came home…

Thanks for taking the time to read.

Tale time: the rain beats down

imagesCA9E3W39imagesCAHQVTHMI love short stories with impact, with enthrall and with suspense.Don’t you?

How many stories offer the thrill of riveting suspense?
How many women live for their children and their husband?
How many live each day waiting? Waiting for what in essence?

“If all the world hated you and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved of you and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

‘The phone rings, it is pouring with rain outside and the kids are screaming. ‘Hello, Burton household’, she chirps, faking happiness.
‘I’m um..blank..call..ing..to..off..er’.
‘Listen, you are breaking up, hang on’. She mutes the phone with a cuffed hand. ‘For goodness sake, will you shut up , you noisy kids, I’m on a phone call’.
She uncuffs the phone. Muffled screams and taunts continue through the walls to the kitchen.
‘Sorry, what were you saying?’ She continues through the crackles, puffing on her now half lit cigarette.
‘I call from..Sc…on..doo..Maam..’
‘I can’t understand a word you are saying’, frustrated now her words mixed with fury, ‘the line is crackling’. A murderous scream drowns out her fragmented conversation.
‘Awwwww, that hurt, I’m bleeding’. Her phone call ends as she rushes to the adjoining room.
Terror marks the faces of her two frightened children as one lies motionless on the floor.’