Tuesday 26 February 2008

the beginning

**Strawberries! Are in town and they are splendid! Huge, red, sweet, and succulent, and so cheap as not to be believed.

***I have been laid low by a bitch of a chest cold. I hope to be back in form by the end of the week...


There I am on the treadmill and running for all I’m worth – face shiny with moisture, getting more and more red (that’s how you tell the real blondes and redheads by the by), my trusty and loved iPod blasting away in my ears with Springsteen and Guns ‘n Roses cheering me on, and I find myself ogling, I mean really there’s no other name for it, the handsome chap on my left who is also running. Then looking out to the front I notice that cute guy I had noted earlier who has a ‘way’ about him, a handsome thing as well, who is on the floor snapping out pushups as easily as handing out business cards, with the sweat glistening off his taut biceps and his flat abdomen; then the young trainer by the weights starts doing his “I’m a real athlete” stretches right in front of my treadmill. Up and down, up and down he goes, stretching those inner thighs. The upshot here is that I am having sexual fantasies about strangers, and grinning like a fool! My only hope is that they either think I am really enjoying my music tracks or I’m simply nutty, which is a concern of mine as it may be true. As I find myself percolating testosterone, I’m thinking that sex in Italy might be a really good idea.

I have no moral or ethical concerns over the matter– I’m not married, he’s not married. I certainly don’t have any objections to sex without marriage. All right I have an almost non-existent history of it, but I don’t object! I am blessed, or cursed, with an excess of self-esteem, that talk show staple, that concerns me in much the same way as those who don’t have any, since it is apparently the norm not to have any - so I’m not too terribly worried about taking my clothes off, albeit I think at this stage of my life I prefer candlelight to being naked on the beach in the afternoon sunlight. As we have discussed before I really like sex, and I miss it. So what is the problem? Not a problem really, just a lack of the familiar. And therefore my only conclusion has to be that sex should be on the agenda for Italy. What’s that old saying, “Women need a reason for sex, men just need a place.” It appears that my testosterony self has both.

So now I must check my lingerie drawer to make certain I have the right amount of lacy, silky stuff and if not I must make a run to La Vie en Rose.

The big decision made, I prepare to pack. My instructions when I queried Hassan, “What should I pack?” was cryptic.

“As little as possible and something for dinner.” A man after my own heart…

Once again the trip began with Ali the chauffer-body guard and a trip to the Casablanca airport, this time, where Hassan’s plane was waiting to take me to the airport in Naples. “A car will be waiting to bring you to the villa. I’m sorry I can’t meet you there but in order to have this time without interruption, which is my intention, I must finish up here and meet you there. Will that be all right?”

The phrase from Col. Jack O’Neill comes to mind, “Yeahsureyoubetcha.”

The flight from Casablanca to Naples was a little over three hours and a private jet is the only way to fly. In addition to the two pilots up front I had my own flight attendant, Aisha, who plied me with café au lait and offered sweets and fruits of all kinds. I had silk cushions for my head, a couch on which to stretch my legs out for reading, and unlimited room for carry-ons. Yes, the private jet route is the way to travel. I forgot how much I like this and very much I hate commercial.

Customs in Naples was taken care of in a private office and took no time at all. I was then escorted to my waiting limousine and the trip to Positano. I had asked Hassan to arrange matters so that it would be daylight still during the drive down. The Amalfi Coast is one of the world’s beauties and brilliant to behold. As we entered Positano the sun had just begun to touch the waters of the Mediterranean and give birth to the nightly light show – the soft shades of amber, gold, pink, and salmon always make me sigh with delight. It was about fifty degrees or so and there were sailboats still out, and the tourists boats to Capri were bringing back their day visitors. Then the car began to climb the hills in that pattern of ascending circles like a top spinning. We came in above the town and then took a road that led us around the pedestrian area where no cars are allowed, and back over the top to the villa that sits clinging to the side of the hill above the town below.

I was greeted at the door by the butler. *Signore Hassan will be here in one hour. Would you like to go to your room and refresh? Would you like something to eat or drink?”

If the French language is silk to the ear, then Italian is sable. “Yes, some tea would be lovely. Thank you.”

Another old saying? Making plans is an excuse to hear the gods laugh….

Ciao for today lovely readers.

Wednesday 20 February 2008

First the background…

The Amalfi Coast road follows the whole of the Gulf of Amalfi and reaches from the peninsula of Sorrentine to Salerno. It is perhaps, the one part of the coast in the whole of Campania where the villages and towns perfectly harmonize with the beauty of the landscape: the range of the Monti Lattari (Lattari mountains) lies directly on the sea and forms an indented coast line with many outreaching cliffs and coves. In this part of the world the gardens of the villages cohabit with a natural and typical vegetation of the Mediterranean area, a huge part of which is still untouched.

The surrounding nature is dotted with luxury hotels, unique restaurants, bed and breakfasts of particular style, and private villas decorated with antiques and modern luxuries, and a pathway called the Path of the Gods.

According to legend, the God Neptune founded Positano when he fell in love with the nymph Pasitea.

The town is built in a charming fashion on terraces on the steep rocks of the Monte Comune, and around a small, well-protected bay. The hills look to be constructed of dwellings of various sizes and the soft sunset colors of Italy.

Positano has earned its worldwide reputation as a must place to visit, not only because of the beauty of its surroundings, but also because of the shops that produce made-to-measure clothing in the distinctive "Positano style".

It has been home to many well-known artists (Seminov, Zagarouiko, Essad Bey, Clavel, Kovaliska, Massine…) and is the setting for the "Premio Internazionale per l'Arte della Danza" (International award for dance arts) honoring the choreographer Leonide Massine and various fashion shows ("Modamare a Positano" – Swimsuit Fashions in Positano).

The church of Santa Maria Assunta features a dome made of majolica tiles as well as a 13th Byzantine century icon of a black Madonna. According to local legend, the icon had been stolen from Byzantium and was being transported by pirates across the Mediterranean. A terrible storm had blown up in the waters opposite Positano and the frightened sailors heard a voice on board saying "Posa, posa!" ("Put down! Put down!"). The precious icon was unloaded and carried to the fishing village and the storm abated.

Positano has been featured in several films, including Only You (1994), and Under the Tuscan Sun (2003).

Protected from the Northern winds by the Lattari Mountains, Positano has a mild and dry climate. The structure of the town is very original; its buildings cling, in tiers to the rock face. The small houses, all huddling on top of each other, so characteristic of Positano, form the subject of endless photos. The vibrant colors; the white of the buildings, forming a perfect canvas for the bright flowers which decorate the houses, and the small artisans', shops with their multihued cloths, present the visitor with a vista which is almost difficult to believe. Then there is the smell of the leather used for making sandals, and the restaurants specialized in fish dishes, and the bustle of every day life...

From white to floral patterned, the cloths and materials used by the local artisans are an essential part of ‘Moda Positano’, now a recognized label. This fashion phenomenon, exploded in the nineteen fifties as a symbol of freedom, transgression and madness against the rigid dress codes of the period. In addition to clothing, Positano is known for the production of accessories. The Positano sandals, flip flops, wooden and cork clogs, and cloth slippers with rope soles, are made by famous shoe makers, and by cobblers, who are able to create pairs of shoes, by hand, on request, while the customers wait outside.

Approaching from above the town, one is greeted by a vista of lemon and orange groves, flowers, trees, small allotments, olive groves and gardens which continues right down to the sea. Positano is completely pedestrianized and a porter service is available from the start of the pedestrian area to deliver baggage to the various hotels. Cars are left in the car parks of Piazza dei Mulini where porters can be found. The town ‘of stairways’ is truly enchanting, with thousands of unique and hidden corners. It’s like an beautiful Stairmaster with great wine at the end as a reward – now that’s my idea of a pleasure incentive based workout plan!

From a historical and archaeological point of view, the Villa Romana, the defence towers built in the XVI century, of which there are in total eight, three internal; Torre Sponda, Torre Trasita, and Torre del Fornillo, and five external; the cathedral of St Maria Assunta characterized by the imposing majolica dome, are visible from almost every panoramic point of the town.

Positano offers breathtaking views and beautiful beaches; the Marina and the Spiaggia Grande, which are at the foot of the town and the smaller Fornillo and Porta di Arienzo beaches on either side. Great for those before lunch and after dinner romantic strolls..

The Grotta la Porta cave in which prehistoric remains have been found is of interest. Traveling inland you will find Nocelle, a small town which can be accessed only on foot, and traveling upwards there are the Peaks of S.Angelo ai Tre Pizzi, Monte commune, S.Maria del Castello, Conocchia, Campo de "Li Galli" and Paipo. AS well as the Ponte dei Libri Bridge that crosses a beautiful valley.

To the South and East, one gazes out across the water to Punta Licosa and the island of Capri, in the distance, the small archipelago of Li Galli. The island group is made up of three islets: Gallo Lungo, Rotunda and Castelluccio. In ancient times the islets were thought to be the residence of the mythical Sirens; in more recent times they have become the hideaway of artists, such as the choreographer and ballet dancer Leonid Massine and Rudolph Nureyev, and are now under private ownership.

Positano was a prosperous port of the Amalfi Republic in the 16th and 17th centuries. But by the mid-19th century, the town had fallen on hard times. More than half the population emigrated, mostly to the United States of America – explaining the upgrade of Italian food in America.

A relatively poor fishing village during the first half of the 20th century, it began to attract large numbers of tourists in the 1950s, especially after John Steinbeck published his essay about Positano in Harper's Bazaar in May, 1953: "Positano bites deep", Steinbeck wrote. "It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone." True words indeed.

Ciao lovely readers.

Monday 18 February 2008

words and the moon...

I love words. Here are a couple I have only recently come in contact with, and thought to share. It’s also a hint to coming attractions. No, I haven’t developed any sudden urges to dance to excess; I’m talking location. Stay with me people.

tarantism |ˈtarənˌtizəm|
a psychological illness characterized by an extreme impulse to dance, prevalent in southern Italy from the 15th to the 17th century, and widely believed at the time to have been caused by the bite of a tarantula.

ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from Italian tarantismo, from the name of the seaport Taranto , after which the tarantula is also named. Compare with tarantella .

tarantella |ˌtarənˈtelə| (also tarantelle |-ˈtel|)
a rapid whirling dance originating in southern Italy.
• a piece of music written in fast 6/8 time in the style of this dance.
ORIGIN late 18th cent.: Italian, from the name of the seaport Taranto ; so named because it was thought to be a cure for tarantism, the victim dancing the tarantella until exhausted. See also tarantula .

Think azure seas, brilliant wine, food that only be called luscious, a setting right out of Versailles or Hampton Court, and romance worthy of “An Affair to Remember” or “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” (without the ordnance)… And, there was a tango. Um huh.

I have to rest up a bit, and then I will tell you.

Total lunar eclipse in Morocco on Wednesday
Rabat, Feb. 18 - Moroccans will have the chance to appreciate a rare total lunar eclipse this Wednesday night (00h30), the last of its kind until 2010.

A total lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, Earth and moon line up with the Earth in the middle. The Earth throws a shadow across the moon, so no sunlight illuminates the moon's face.
The total eclipse portion begins just after midnight. That's when the moon completely enters the Earth's dark (umbra) shadow, taking on a dark red or rusty appearance.
Although no direct sunlight reaches the Moon during an umbral eclipse, a small amount of long-wavelength (red) sunlight bending through the Earth's thin atmosphere gives it some illumination.
After the total lunar eclipse ends, the Moon will pass through the penumbral shadow, where a slight darkening of the Moon may be noticed.
No special filters or optical instruments are necessary to view this phenomenon, and, unlike a solar eclipse, it is entirely safe to watch.


Saturday 16 February 2008

adventures past and present...

Points of business:
I am not in possession of my laptop for a few days, as Q says, “A writer is either out having adventures or writing about them.” I am at present – having one. (see the woman smile wickedly) Theretofore I am posting an adventure from some time ago in Fes.

Second point: in answer to one of the comments from my lovely readers: I have abandoned none of my regular reads but I am unable to come by except occasionally for the past and next month. While I was away my Internet was cut off and bureaucracy here is a raging river of unending branches that send you off to the desolate land of “Quoi?” It may be some time before I have home Internet service again as I will be in and out of the country, so I only have a connection for an hour or so every other day at my office. I will be back, seeing what you are all up to and writing about when I can.

If you are lacking physical affection or the feeling of being valued in your life, which according to many studies will actually prolong your life, come to Morocco.

An excellent example of the unsolicited affection and general feeling of “ah..”, is my lunch in Fez a few months ago, and when you say “lunch” in Morocco – think European. It is, at minimum, a three-hour affair.

We approached the Palais de Fes, which sits on the turn in the road as you approach the Bab Recif gate in the Fez Medina, at which time I made my token remark, “If only they would tart up the front a bit.” The front of the building is home to a defunct fountain, a donkey stand, several out-of-work fellows who are in the sunset of life and various bits of floating trash, as well as groups of people doing the Fez thing – sitting. The entrance to the huge building which houses the restaurant on the terraces of the roof, is also home to guest rooms, an inside dining hall, and a cavernous carpet store on the bottom floor. You have to sprint your way through the carpet store, eyes fixed firmly on your target, which is the stairwell, located across the widest expanse of the store. The obstacles to this goal being the salesmen who own the store, and more bothersome the numerous young men hanging about at any given time who will, “show you the way”, and then expect to be paid for the uphill tour. Persevere to the stairs; you can only go - up.

One of the great things, among many, about the Palais de Fes is that you get your pre-lunch workout on the way. The stairs are steep, but enclosed with a landing on each floor if you need to catch your breath. As you breach the landing just before exiting on the first terrace, you pass the kitchens. The door is always open and you are treated to the sight of the cooks chatting away, or sitting on the huge marble counters, or on this day the owner, Azzedine Tazi, coming out, shelves rolled to his elbows, a sheen of moisture on his face from the heat of the kitchen to embrace us, literally.

“Ah you have come! This is wonderful. I am so pleased to see you,” and then a string of French, which sounds great, whether you can understand it or not. Today I get numerous complements on my djellaba and the notice that “…and that is no tourist-djellaba!”. Yes, the French left their mark in many ways, not the least the ubiquitous albeit different, fashion sense. He then tells my daughter how lucky she is to have such a mother. And you think I come here only for the food?

We have come here in the hot months of September and October. We came during the near-perfect month of November, and now in the chill of December. The service has yet to be anything short of wondrous, and the food always dazzling. The service and décor meet my standards, and the food measures up to Q’s – you just can’t beat that!

There are three terraces on the roof set at different heights. They can accommodate parties of any size I should think. We, because I don’t like to eat outside, always eat in the enclosed dining room at the top. There are baguettes along the wall cushioned in a deep and lush looking purple. The fireplace sits at the far end away from the entrance. There is a large settee next to the fireplace under the far window. The entire dining room is enclosed in glass windows that in the warmer weather slide open to accommodate the wonderful breezes that always seem to haunt this altitude. As you sit at the smaller cedar tables, decorated in the Moroccan style, along the window-side you have a panoramic view of the Medina below and the hills that surround Fes. The buildings of the Medina, in various stages of white and beige, sport laundry and satellite dishes in perfusion. From the windows you look down on the roof of the next level terrace, which is topped year round with boughs of red and purple bougainvillea and draped with white jasmine. The far terrace is also roofed and open to the breeze; it sits below and across from the highest dining room. The flocks of birds of various sizes and colors swoop down, out, and through the flowers, passing the windows as they wing their way up and out to the surrounding hills.

When you arrive there is seldom anyone else there. Whether this is because the Palais de Fes is more active at night or we have been lucky to find it this way I don’t know, but it is always wonderful.

More later…


Monday 11 February 2008

aren't you someone famous?

The waiters at Kiotori (the Japanese restaurant at Mega Mall) want to know if I’m an actress, a “famous actress”! What do we read into that? “My goodness no! Why would you ask that?”

“It is your manner… like a famous actress yes?” Picture five, very handsome (Kiotori has the best looking waiters overall – Paul’s has the best looking one in Morocco but that’s another story) standing around me and grinning expectantly. I felt like Santa Claus on Christmas morning, but I’d been caught without presents to present…

All righty then, if you chaps say so, but “NO,” and what does that mean?! Not diva behavior, I reserve that for people I don’t like. I think my verbal/physical interactions, without the ability to converse fluidly in their language, is misinterpreted for charisma? If it gets me the best table (the one with an outlet) and great service, then I shall work it. I am NOT, however Mr. DeMille, ready for my close up! For the youngsters in the crowd, refer to Sunset Boulevard.

Everywhere in Soussi and Agdal is Valentine’s Day – the gym, the Mall, the shopping area in Agdal. It seems surreal somehow. Large and small velveteen red hearts hanging on red ribbon seem to be the attraction of the day. No Harlequin covers spotted – yet, but a huge red arch in the shape of a heart at the entrance to Paul's! I will try to get a photograph for you before it is gone.

It is February and it is SPRING here. This is official as it came from a Rabat taxi driver… I have whiplash from trying to spot those three days of winter, sigh. Where are my sandals? In truth I never put them away and was wearing them in January! Let me make my list again of why I like living in Morocco… In truth I have thought of moving on in the past few months, but every time I give it serious consideration either my landlord or someone at the gym/salon does something that makes staying very attractive. And I either have been here too long or I must stay – as I think the Moroccan sense of time has made a significant effect on my manner of functioning. When I was at reception at Dessange making an appointment, I was informed, “You can come in at nine, or ten..?”

My response was one of shock that anyone would expect me to rise early enough to make a nine o’clock appointment! THIS from the Queen of Punctuality, the “I’m a day person” of legend! I said, “Oh I think eleven is quite early enough thank you,” and received a look of understanding and approval! Not only that, but I actually did not fret over making it early (my normal wont) to an appointment last week, so as to prevent being at all late! Oh dear…

And speaking of Valentine’s Day, here’s some dinner conversation for you: What makes champagne fizz?
It’s not carbon dioxide, it’s dirt.
In a perfectly smooth, clean glass, carbon dioxide molecules would evaporate invisibly, so for a long time it was assumed that it was slight imperfections in the glass that enabled the bubbles to form.

However, now photographic techniques have shown that these nicks and grooves are much too small for bubbles to latch on to: it’s the microscopic particles of dust and bits of fluff in the glass that enable them to form.

*Technically speaking, the dirt/dust/lint in the glass act as condensation nuclei for the dissolved carbon dioxide.

According to Moet et Chandon, there are 250 million bubbles in the average bottle of champagne.

Chekhov’s last words were, “I haven’t had champagne for a long time.” And John Maynard Keynes said, “My only regret in life is that I did not drink more champagne.”

German medical etiquette of the time demanded that when there was no hope, the doctor would offer the patient a glass of champagne. Now that’s my idea of good bedside manner.

And yes you incurable romantics out there, you know who you are, there is very likely a Valentine’s Day story on the horizon…


*”Book of General Ignorance” by Lloyd and Mitchinson

Friday 8 February 2008

a subject universally known...

Falling hopelessly in love is described in the Arabic as basbasa – literally ‘to make sheep’s eyes.’ Why sheep’s eyes are associated with amorous glances is unclear. As an elderly gentleman from Damascus put it, “It means to look at someone…illegally. In a way designed to cause trouble, to make people talk.”
The Italians say fare il filo a qualcuno – literally, ‘to do the string to someone’, this phrase means “to check someone out” or “to have your eye on someone.” Quite different from what “stringing someone along” means in English!
In Yiddish it is bashert – it is the word for the idea of two hearts that were meant to meet, it is fated.
The Romanians say mi-a ramas sufletul la tine – This very romantic Romanian phrase means, “my soul has remained with you,” or “my soul is with you”, to describe the feeling of falling in love. I love that one.

I like men. I like the way they smell. I like the way they think - solution over debate, facts over speculation. I like the hair on their bodies in places that can keep a skinny woman warm. I like the way they like women. I like the way they can talk with their eyes even if they can’t dance. I like the way they laugh. I like the way they continue to make me feel sexy and desirable, even though I am now a woman of a certain age – I appreciate that chaps - I thought it would be all over by now. I love flirting and I appreciate a man who does it well. I like a man of few words and I like a man who can engage in conversation as a blood sport. I like men who send flowers, and I like men who send planes. I like men who are warriors, and I like men who are poets and philosophers. I love a man who loves his wife/girlfriend/fiancée’ and talks about it – nothing sexier. I love men who love children and animals. I appreciate a man who can sing or dance or both, but I love a man who loves opera.

I really like sex, I do. I like the entire package – the pre-foreplay where your chemistry sends out feelers to his chemistry, and the pheromones decide that in spite of the fact that he does not have just the right physical requirements that you list as necessary or preferable, or in spite of the fact he does – something in the mix is right and dance of feints and passes begins.

The Italians use several different ways to get across the idea of sex, and, as in English, the euphemisms have various degrees of offensiveness. To scopare means “to sweep” (the broom is implied in the verb and associated with another tool). Trombare, “to play the trumpet”, is another, and ciulare, “to swipe”, is a third. An especially impolite version is abbiamo trombato come ricci: where the English do this “like rabbits/bunnies”, the Italian animal is the hedgehog – making one think that the passion must be more intense to overcome that animal’s natural defenses.

The French, as usual when it comes to these matters win the word game for me – s’envoyer en l’air is literally “to send yourself up in the air”.

I love that first kiss where you fall into it – gently at first, then questioning, then giving answer to the question asked with your whole being.

I love the physical manifestation: the sweet early morning kind, the hot and sweaty kind, the tearing off your clothes kind, the it’s a gift kind, the pool table kind (personal history), the I’m too tired but its too good to pass up kind, the oh sure I’ll try that once kind, the turning over the furniture kind, the could you excuse us kind, the let’s make a baby kind, and the you are my greatest life’s happiness kind. . I like the power play of who can make the other sigh and be unable to move for an undetermined length of time. I like the exhaustion and energy that come after. No massage in the world can provide the kind of relaxation that comes in the afterglow, and that desire to sing is beyond explanation eh?

Even when you don’t love your partner it’s good, and if you do love them it can be incandescent. It is the most personal kind of communication if you do it right.

The Spanish, a bit over the top as usual when it comes to matters of the heart, cry abrasarse vivo! This expression literally means “burn with passion”. Jean de La Fontaine, the cool, satirical seventeenth-century French writer of fables, mentions a Spanish story he tremendously admired where a young man, in order to get to embrace his woman, burns down the house and carries her out through the flames, making it literally a story of “burning passion”, as well as arson.

Ha’ mouro na costa – “There’s a Moor on the coast!” Obviously a cry of warning – the Moors first invaded Portugal in 711 C.E. and occupied Lisbon and the rest of the country until well into the twelfth century – but no longer of actual Moors. This is exclaimed when someone is in danger of losing their heart.

And to give the French the last word, as is only proper when it comes to matters of the heart, or the libido – a great mystery revealed: the phrase, rouler un patin, is how the French say “to French-kiss”! Literally translated, Je lui ai roule’ un patin means “I rolled a skate to him”.

Why am I on this topic? Well… it could be the fabulous massage with the oil that smelled like musk and sandalwood in a warm and slightly steamy room I had yesterday, or it could be I’m thinking over a proposition I’ve had recently…. Sigh.. I’m just thinking..


*credit to Erin McKean’s “That’s Amore!” for facts on international expressions of love.

Wednesday 6 February 2008

feel free to applaud..

5 February 2008

How nice to return from an unpleasant journey to the prospect of reward! Dear Ian and Debio have bestowed upon my own self the Excellent Blog Award. How grand is that? Thank you both for thinking so well of me. I appreciate the gesture. As an official approval junkie, I can never have too many awards and you can never give me one too many times.

Today, after a month of “it is coming”, my Barbie Washing Machine arrived. It is very cute, but I am somewhat concerned as to the plumbing accoutrements as both the “technician” and Abdul kept repeating, “No problem,” and smiling. Now any of you who have spent time in India know that is the phrase that strikes fear into the heart. I am at present putting through a load downstairs, and carefully monitoring sounds… Should I mention that all the instructions are in French? Yes, I know I never read the instruction manual of anything – unless and until there is a problem – but I’m just saying… Ah and success! No flooding of the kitchen, no ruined clothing, no pink knickers (a long story of my beginnings in the world of domesticity as an adult), and no electrical fatalities. I call that a win.

6 February 2008

It’s official, that older woman I’ve seen at Abdul Latif’s house is his mother. How do I know this with such certainty you ask? Because this morning on my way out of the Oudayas he stopped me, “You tried the machine? It is working?”

“Yes, it seems to work quite well,” I said.

“But I see you have clothes out. Your clothes on the terrace. It does not finish?” He was referring to the clothes I had put on the line on the terrace this morning to dry while I am off to my office in Soussi. His inference was of course, that the washing machine would also dry the clothes. Keeping a straight face was one of my better examples of self-control. He then spent some time explaining to me that there is a criminal gang on the loose in the neighborhood of the Medina and the Oudayas – young men are apparently whizzing by persons as they walk along, and grabbing the bags and computer cases or whatever right off and then keep going. Having personally observed the feeble speeds of the mopeds in our area (think hair dryers from the sixties or a 1950 vacuum cleaner or Roman Holiday) I feel quite safe but I appreciated the warning as I was rather loaded down this morning with my computer bag and my gym bag.

I’m off to Casablanca at the end of the month – a meeting. I haven’t been there in ages and I’m thinking of staying over a day for a walk about to see what is the same and what has changed. Not my favourite city, so no longer than an extra day I think.


Monday 4 February 2008


4 February 2008
And even more difficulty than expected!

2 February 2008
I tried to post yesterday but apparently it is not just the Oudayas where the Internet is dodgy at present. The nice chap at the neighbouring table said it had been this way all week. So..

1 February 2008

Lovely readers,

Forgive my absence. I have spent the past week in one of the lower hells of Migraine Oblivion – not a place I should care to take any of you, and one that would give Dante new insight into pain and despair. A place of no reality but the now, and no colors but black. A place where your time is up only by decree of some unknown power, and one to which you have no means to supplicate for release. Yes well, enough of that…

So how’s the world? I have been “in the black” and have no idea of what has transpired. Today I am up-again and have taken myself over to the Mega Mall to see my little part of the world and have (you will love this) some excellent Japanese food for lunch. Yes, sports fans you heard it here first. From the woman who brought you Curling in Morocco – excellent Japanese cuisine in Rabat/Agdal. I love it. Gods, Dulwich mum should be here, everything posh is on sale! Horrors of horrors, I don’t NEED anything. I hate when that happens.

It is February and in four months I shall be someone’s mother-in-law! This is not a role I have ever spent any time envisioning for myself I must say. He is a lucky bugger – I mean really, he gets not only my brilliant and beautiful daughter who cooks like a Cordon Bleu chef, but moi for a mother-in-law! How easy is that? He he he….

Q, bless her, is running quite mad with wedding plans. She and her grandmother have it all well in hand, and I await my orders. My child and I learned a valuable lesson when she was ten-years-old. She had a project to prepare for school, and I of course wanted to “help”. Now know this, we two are beyond fortunate in that we get on so well (it does take some planning). On that occasion her personality and independence of spirit, as well as intellect, asserted itself and the battle royal ensued. And I, of course, could not understand why she was upset – I was helping (which means of course, I was doing it all). After some serious tears, recriminations, and pacing – we came to the undeniable conclusion that in some very basic ways we are more alike than we ever knew, and if we wanted to continue our loving and mutually beneficial relationship we should NEVER again have me “assist” her with any project. Answer questions? Yes. Supply materials, yes? Comment on results? Absolutely. Contribute ideas? Certainly. Hands on? NO! And we live happily ever after. All to say, I decided while she planned HER wedding it was best I was on another continent and supplied cash. I shall buy my outfit in Paris, have my hair and nails done, wear my Paris-shoes, a brilliant hat, and attend, be gracious (yes, even to those – you know who they are- that I don’t like), and I have no doubt, shed tears into my Venetian lace handkerchief.

I love this month; it always seems a good time just by its quirks for something magical to happen. So good luck with that lovely readers.