Monday, 2 March 2009


Saving up can be hard. Especially if you've lived your life on credit and enjoying Happy Hour all day, every Saturday in your mate's boozer.

Missing the summer of 2008 with a passion now, only four months till July but still feeling like I should be back in Plakias, getting ratted on Raki and waking up with women I don't remember bringing home. My old man moved out there in about 1996 and has had a whale of a time, settling down permanently a couple of years back and enjoying a life of retirement in a place which has a transient backpacker population that drift in with their Karrimor rucksacks and love of booze from March till November.

I finally bit the bullet on Sunday and started reading the first Harry Potter book. I had held off on this for a long time because:

a). I refuse to let anything be better than the Narnia chronicles;
b). I was well aware that they'd probably be just as good as I'd been told and I was fundamentally jealous of JK Rowling.

True enough, it's proving entertaining. Kind of Terry Pratchett but less aggressive. I've heard rumours it took her 5 years to write Philosopher's Stone with a cold cup of tea by her side in some horrible cafe, on an old fashioned typewriter. No wonder she always looks so fucking miserable.

A meet up of some peeps from Couchsurfing on Saturday night for dinner and beer was fun, although I spent most of Sunday feeling sorry for myself with a thumping head. Rome being Rome we got to the restaurant on time and were told to go and wait in the cold on the doorstep for about half an hour until our table was free. Several very cute women, three of which were French and one from Israel. The bar we later went to was either 6 Euros for one pint of lager OR 12 Euros for a pitcher provided you have student ID. Luckily I do even though I'm not supposed to. Hee, hee!

Night buses are reliable but a complete bum ache. The one I got on at 4am was empty and I had to fight not to fall asleep for the 45 minute journey, doubly so because I knew that I then had a 30 minute walk home from the bus station. Yuck! Oh well, the price of having a good time.

Thursday last and I took a spin into the centre of Rome after getting an invitation to a screening of Fellin's “La Dolce Vita”. Considered a classic of spaghetti cinema it also launched the word Paparazzi as one annoying photographer in the film has that as his surname.

The events I normally go to are organised by Couchsurfiing and consist of parties, pub crawls or dinners with gallons of house wine and pizzas the size fo truck wheels. THIS event was organised by the more high brow We got to the bar to find a screening room at the back with a buffet laid on. A small glass of red wine was 5 Euros and after getting comfy we realised the movie was 3 hours long and in original language with English subtitles.

I lasted about half of it.

My attempts to be civilised and ingest some culture didn't work so I'm back to getting drunk on stong Napolitan ale and asking fit women for their phone numbers. Like the Classic range in your local bookshop, watching black and white period pieces is a pursuit you should undertake only if you've got a double barrelled surname, two golden retrievers and eat quiche. While Oliver Twist may be a literary treat, give me Stephen King any day.

Last night was Saturday so rather than mope about the flat watching Lord of the Rings again and eating pasta I met a female pal up at Termini and we found a bar which sold local Roman beer for 4 Euros a pint. The barman asked if I wanted a strong one and it was only as I staggered back for the 3rd round that he casually mentioned that the beer was 8.2% ABV. I was supposed to get up this morning for a trip to some donkey racing up in the north of the city but was festering in my pit nursing a sore head and a parched throat until lunchtime so took a rain check.

Right near my house is a park with an obstacle course designed for those of us who would like to entertain the myth that we can be as fit as Daniel Craig was in the opening sequence of Casino Royale (the crane chase, not the fight in the bogs). It has vast space to run in, uneven terrain and lots of wooden devices to do push ups, sit ups and even some overhand grabbing. I went there yesterday for a run and was well pleased with myself right up until I tried to grapple my way across the overhand thingy, only to rip both palms to shreds. Think I should take my cycling gloves next time.

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