WOrds… never cease to amaze & engage

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The lights went out in the theatre leaving the audience seated in complete blackness. That is, except for the whopping great sign that read ‘eisteddfod’ It is the strangest word and as it dangled up there from the ceiling, it looked even stranger. In fact, the man sitting behind me remarked to his wife what a strange word eisteddfod is. I had to agree. While I studied it I thought it could be broken up into lots of little words, like the obvious:
of
is
dot
deed
fed
Wow, I actually began to break into a sweat trying to remember all of the little words I was finding.

A lady sitting near me commented too, ‘Gosh, doesn’t eisteddfod look so weird, it’s as if lighting it up like that has made it look all wrong’.
It was true, the lighting made it look defective…odd, unreal…

The choir began to sing or rather bellow and the guitar strummed loudly and our thoughts digressed from the mystery of the word eisteddfod.
Gosh, I hope I spelt it correctly for the purpose of this blog. Gotta love the english language, it never ceases to amaze and entertain…

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The rOME cHRONICLES: …It was almost a ballroom twirl…

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Moving to a new country always has it’s fair share of settling in dilemmas and ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ can impact on the way you fit in. Most of the time things are new and exciting and other times just plain daunting…Fitting in is the key to enjoying your new life…

Claudia always had perfectly peroxided hair and bright red lips; so much so that the red would seep into the creviced lines around her mouth. Years of smoking had taken it’s toll…
She slipped me the party invite as we passed each other on the stairs. Both of us rushing to be somewhere.

An invite to her daughter Angelica’s fifth birthday, to be held this Saturday afternoon in their apartment on the second floor.

My little girl would be delighted to learn that she had been invited. I probably wasn’t as excited. I knew how these Italian parties went. All the pomp and pageantry of a ball would be executed and the guests would diligently rise to the occasion in their finest attire. I knew I would have to rush out and buy my little one a gorgeous smocked dress with a velvet collar and sleeves so that she would blend in. It would set me back a few thousand lira (no such thing as ebay) but it would be money well spent so that she would ‘fit in’ and not ‘stand out’.

Saturday arrived quickly, Angelica answered the door in her black velvet dress with it’s ballooned sleeves and lace trim. She had a head band to match and so did my little girl.

Coordinated headbands were a must in Rome!

Angelica beamed as she embraced our arrival and welcomed us inside. My little girl handed over the cumbersome present with the crimson bow. Claudia was close behind in a full length red taffeta skirt. I remember the long full skirt matching her lipstick not her headband… Everything looked beautiful… Claudia had excelled herself; she must have worked into the wee hours of the morning to have managed it.

The apartment was brimming with children and parents. I noticed that highly polished silver adorned the white table clothed tables. Silver teapots, silver trays, silver cake tiers and silver cutlery; it shone elegantly as the light through the windows caught it’s attention.

The children were ushered into a separate room to be entertained by a clown. Laughing and clapping could be heard from outside the closed door as the clown wooed a tireless audience.

A maid dressed in her perfectly ironed maid’s uniform approached me and asked whether I would like a coffee or a tea. She gestured to the overflowing table and it’s wealth of foods. The detail to the miniature cupcakes was incredible! Shortly, a butler approached offering champagne glasses filled with the glorious bubbly stuff.

Finally, Erica, one of the mother’s I knew from school arrived. After having completed the ritual kiss to each cheek and formal hellos we both took a glass of champagne. My nerves began to settle as I relaxed into the cordiality of the child’s party.

Claudia flittered from guest to guest, I imagined she might do a twirl soon as her red taffeta skirt would definitely allow it, but no, interrupted by the chain of giggling children emanating from the bedroom I guessed the clown’s antics were over, which left no time for ballroom twirls. Claudia automatically switched to her motherly expertise, pouring drinks and filling party plates.

I sipped on my bubbles and surveyed my surroundings. My little one in her smocked dress and velvet sleeves and not to mention the matching headband had fit in and not stood out.

‘Mission accomplished’, I thought to myself as she turned to look at me grinning from ear to ear,silver cup in one hand and miniature cupcake in the other…

Needless to say, we were invited to many more parties on the second floor for grown-ups too.
Oh and Angelica and my little girl became bosom buddies…

WORDS: How absurd is that word…

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At times words can be kind of strange…don’t you agree?

I was helping my little girl with her spelling homework last night and looking at her list of fourteen words. As she wrote quarter I looked at it once and then twice and then a third time and wondered if she had written it correctly.

I studied it, I brought the word closer to my face, I mean, I really analysed & scrutinised it, but it looked really strange… quarter

She thought I was going a little around the bend. She promised me that she’d copied it down correctly and that I shouldn’t be so uppity about it. But I couldn’t help it…quarter…looked unusual…weird…I wrote and re-wrote the word about a dozen times on a scrap piece of paper…quarterquarterquarter…etc, until my fingertips began to pain.

In fact, the more I wrote quarter the more alien it became. It no longer looked like any word I knew, let alone what it was meant to be. Finally, I surrendered and searched the book case for the trusty dictionary and was pleasingly reassured quarter was written there loud and clear.

My daughter stared at me like I was half mad…she was probably right for in that moment I was bamboozled, baffled by a word as straightforward as quarter.

Have you ever felt the same strange sensation, writing a word copiously and furiously turns it into a nothing at all? Maybe it’s because the more you focus on it, the more your mind refuses it…
Quarterquarterquarterquarter

One thing is certain, my little girl will spell quarter right in her test at the end of the week…

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The rOME cHRONICLES: …and so it goes the tale of ‘the Mouth of Truth’.

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A Roman with very broken English quietly explained the tale of the Mouth of Truth to me with a stern look of seriousness.I was mesmerised, not only because it was difficult to understand him so I clung to each word but also because the story was creepy…

…If you are to place your hand in La Bocca Della Verita’ and you are an untruthful sort of character who tells fibs or even petty white lies then the mouth will chew off your hand, I mean rip it off, bite off fingers one by one as blood trickles down the corners of the giant mouth. The Roman actually played out the biting of fingers with his own hand shoved unpolitely down his throat. It was an unusual scene.

But don’t laugh I actually fell for this… So, having heard the horrific tale from someone who lives in Rome, I was genuinely petrified when it came time for me to visit ‘la bocca’. A teenager, about three people ahead of me, plunged his hand into the cavernous hole. His smile quickly receded as he struggled to retrieve his hand. I gasped, as the onlookers laughed raucously. The teenager pulled out his hand, still wholly intact, waved it to the crowd and moved away.

I felt a little ill, ‘I don’t think I’ll have a turn, non posso…’ I backed into the line of eager tourists, whom with a sense of camaraderie stopped my regression.

‘Tu puoi’, my boyfriend urged me forward. The line forced me onwards.

Crazy thoughts invaded my head ‘Well, we’ve all lied before…but what if I was the unlucky one and my hand really did disappear…what if it was true and a bunch of people I didn’t know watched my hand get crushed,eaten and blood oozing…weeping…?’

I approached dubiously and with my eyes scrunched up tightly, I placed my right hand into the ominous mouth. I’m left handed and I needed that one if anything did happen.

The line of queue waiters stared intently at me and my hidden hand and my boyfriend waited patiently to the side…I managed a small breath…

I survived the ordeal and I still have two hands to show for it, I guess it really was only a tale…it had me going though…and thousands of other tourists too…

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Words:hearing them, seeing them, writing them… & all that blah, blah

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We love to hear words, see words, write words, sing words and remember words…how many times have you heard a fantastic word and thought I’ll use that but you never get the opportunity too because it just doesn’t fit into the context in which you are writing or speaking or it is a word that is difficult to express effortlessly and seamlessly…

Word articulation is pure elation! We all love a good story, the power of words to inspire! Writing words it’s a wonderful thing isn’t it? The moment when your words or those of others make you feel good, it’s great really…

Words; the way they trickle onto the page, slowly at first then they pick up speed as one thought overlaps another and then you are off… galloping even…taking the field like a true winner…then you catapult towards the finishing line and the words begin to slow again, canter and then walk until they come to a complete and satisfying halt.

Then we return to where we began and sometimes re-jig them, making adjustments re-reading and sometimes re-writing it all together. Or hopefully satisfied, you leave them as you wrote them in the first instance… untouched…

The world of words is constantly changing…and finding the right words at the right moment to generate an audience is the crux for instant fortune.

So, I’ve posed this question before: are the writers the masses discontented by the lack of reader response or are the masses the readers discontented by what is being written…?
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Well, I’d better get back to it, writing that is, broadening my vocabulary and using two words that I want to make fit seamlessly…
‘nebulous’…’preposterous’…

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