Friday, 28 March 2014

Heel Porn

Gianvito Rossi - electrify!

Have you fallen in love recently? 
I have. They cost XXXeuro !!

I swear I’m trying my best to move on to the next guy. I mean pair of heels. 

This is what I CANNOT STAND ABOUT LIVING IN ITALY. And what’s worse is when an expert internet shopper friend (grazie mille Susi!) joins you for an afternoon of dedicated heel browsing. I surrender! So much more alluring than a dating site. Oh, geez, a thousand times over.

Since when did shopping become so sinful? At first it was just a crazy afternoon thang, or being tossed about between sale seasons, or a guilty shopping bag under your coat when you crept in the door after dark. And the new heels worn only after a couple of weeks so as not to arouse suspicion. 

What? These old things? Had them for years..

But these days internet shopping is hardcore. It’s two steps away from porn. You should have heard the ooohhhs and aaaahhhhs from the kitchen table the other afternoon. The photos favourited and whatsapped. The number of times we came back to our dirty favourites. And how we pored and pored. And pored. Left side view, from the back, oh the lovely shot from the front dyou like these ones??

I swear. Is this what guys do over big boobs and wild positions?

And it truly does feel so sinful. As you go deeper and deeper down the page it is a descent into fiery, credit-card melting depths. To get this far you have to toss your soul out the window or better, sell her to the shoe devil that has overtaken your mind... Jimmy Choo, Dior, YSL, Charlotte Olympia.. Oh the shiver! And these thrills are not cheap I tell you.

And of course the WORST thing you can do is internet shop when there’s a bottle of vodka in the freezer. Right? When you have a couple of hours to kill before a dinner party and the time is just-right. Don’t go there ladies. Don’t open that bottle. Don’t get out those shot glasses.

It will hurt.

Ahh but sinning feels so good, doesn’t it? The shock of the new. The burst of the new season. The touch of new, groomed leather against your skin.

Okay. Deep breath. A bit of yoga or saintly mediation? Nahhh… I promise I didn’t buy a pair. Yet. 

It’s, err, not as if my, um, shoe cupboard is empty.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Wild Beasts of the Earth Will Adore Him

I've been busy. Nooo, not writing another blockbuster, but very much entangled in words. In fact I've been going nuts with words.

Ever walked into an Italian church which is just dripping with marble and angels and columns and symbols and layer upon layer of history you know you should understand? And how about being asked to translate a text about this from Italian to English. A text with bits in Latin, funeral inscriptions, a shift in architectural styles according to the evolution in fashion and technical prowess, and tastes of a myriad of pushy nuns at the helm of a convent complex?

The Sibyl Cumana in Raphael's Sistine Chapel
It was deep. But I think I will remember my favourite bits for a long time. The four sibyls - Samia, Tiburtina, Frigia and Cumana. Don't you just love those names? I could have four more daughters just to use them.

According to legend the Sibyls were prophetesses of the ancient world, who pronounced oracles in a state of ecstasy. These prophetesses lived in remote caves and nearby springs and were sometimes described as the priestesses of Apollo, or his favourites. It is said that when Apollo asked the Sibyl Cumana to choose a gift, she asked to live as many years as the grains of sand she held in her hand. However, she failed to asked for continued youth and became a shrivelled, old woman. When children asked 'Sibyl, what do you want?' she used to answer, 'I want to die.'

Creepy.. Oh and I also just found out that Sibyl is a UK-based confidential Christian spirituality group for transgender people. Gosh! The endless tail-chasing that goes on once you hop online...

And what about this:



In 1550, these words were inscribed on the tombstone of Camillo Pigafetta, Knight of Jerusalem, husband of Margherita, father of 14 children. And there is an even longer inscription on that of his illustrious nephew Filippo Pigafetta, whose achievements included performing in the inaugural production of Sophocles' Oedipus in Palladio's Teatro Olimpico, circumnavigating the globe (in a bucket!), taking part in both naval and land battles from Hungary to Persia, being Pope Innocent IX's secret messenger... The list of Pigafetta's achievements nearly fills a page and makes me wonder about how soft and cerebral our lives are today. Can you imagine setting off to Jerusalem and Mount Sinai on a horse? A boat? Another horse? Delivering the Pope's scrolls up and down the continent?

You know, when I translate historical stuff I always try to imagine these people, living with them for a stretch, just like you live with the characters in your novel or short story. Sometimes I swear I can see them - tinier men and women with folksy clothes and caps and greasy hair, talking crazy dialect. I even saw that Caterina used to be Chatelina. Chattel? Moi?

Then I imagine I can see the unpopulated hills about our town, the dirt roads and wagons pulling into theatrical porticos with columns and manservants in Duran Duran shirts. Everything is smaller except the massive entranceways and church facades which must have been all the more belittling. Horses plop in the street. There are bonnets. It's so tangible, the way the centuries can roll away in a small Italian town and you are standing there, amongst the underwear and ice cream shops, the unsightly McDonalds, imagining this.

The ever-present past and here we are all clutching our mobile phones to our cheeks.