My Sunshiny Life











I couldnt have attracted more attention in Palermo than if I’d walked down the street naked.  Old ladies were shocked, cars slowed down, people stopped in their tracks.  My crime you may ask?  I was using a parasol to block the harsh rays of the sun from my very fair skin.  People looked at me as if I were a leper. 

At the start I ignored the suggestions from my group that people were staring, but when a wrinkly old lady said to me in Italian “The sun is the most beautiful thing in the world and you’re blocking it out” I had to agree that the locals were disturbed by my sun accessory.  If I’d spoken Italian then I might have pointed out to the leathery old lady that she would have done well to keep her raisin like face out of the harsh African sun a little more. 

Now that we are in Lipari my parasol still gets attention, but not so much.  Yesterday a man said to me that its transparent so no use as a sun protection anyway, I beg to differ.  It really made me think about how involved these people get in someone elses business and how it must be like living here full time.  I asked Lisa to teach me how to say mind your own business and leave my umbrella alone but she diplomatically suggested a friendlier tone “non ti piachi”?  which means “you dont like?” 

Lets see how I get on with that, but if you hear of a Sicilian local chased around by a mad woman with a parasol then dont be surprised.

Sun Smart Parasol

Sun Smart Parasol

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{July 5, 2009}   Henley Regatta

The british class system has never been more obvious to me than yesterday.  We went to the Henley Regatta and there was a definite social divide.  I also discovered that people don’t go to Henley to watch the rowing, they go there to see, be seen and to drink lots of Pimms.  People watching was the main attraction and there was plenty to watch! 

There are SO many rules and regulations surrounding the regatta enclosures, even the plebville Regatta enclosure that we were in, of which anyone can apply for tickets and gain entry to.  There wasn’t a dress code here, but most people got into the spirit of the day and wore lovely sun frocks and there were head pieces a plenty.  The rules were about where you could take your drinks, you weren’t allowed them down by the river, or past another point down the other end and men in full suits (which must have been VERY hot) would stop you from moving past in a polite yet firm manner.  This meant that many people didn’t see the action on the water all day, preferring to sit in the garden by the bar.  We scored a table in the garden area, beating off a very presumptuous man who slid into the seat as the other table were departing and pompously told us he had six in his party so Miss Grant and I weren’t welcome.  He didn’t know who he was dealing with, as we took OUR seats, gave him a withering look and comment and continued our conversation.  We ended up taking over the whole table as Dee, Cynth and Jaim arrived.  Girl Power! (sorry, know that is cheesy, can’t help myself)

The Stewards enclosure is full of rules and regulations and there is a several year waiting list for this enclosure – here, it’s REALLY not about the rowing, it’s about a social occasion dahling!   (This is an excerpt from Wikipedia on the Stewards Enclosure)   The Stewards’ Enclosure is also known for a strict enforcement of its dress code. Men are required to wear a “lounge suit, blazer and flannels, or evening dress, and a tie”. Women are required to wear a dress or skirt that covers their knees, and are “encouraged to wear a hat” (although women wearing hats is often frowned upon in higher rowing circles). Anyone not suitably dressed can be refused entry, no matter their prestige in rowing or elsewhere.

Bec couldn’t have put it better as she commented when we were leaving, ‘I don’t like being down the bottom of the food chain’.  Quite frankly, neither do I.  On the events I normally go to, the money dictates how you play it out, like at the theatre – you choose your seats based on how much you want to pay for your ticket.  Here, you don’t have that option.  It was a nice day and I don’t think the Stewards Enclosure had a lot more to offer than the Regatta one (from what I could see) but knowing that I wasn’t allowed entry had me a little piqued.

Here’s our digital diary of the day’s events…

LMS and Miss Grant

LMS and Miss Grant

Icecream Appreciation Society

Icecream Appreciation Society

Dee and Me

Dee and Me

Tom Cruise best glasses, raybans or aviators?

Tom Cruise best glasses, raybans or aviators?

Patriotism on the 4th of July

Patriotism on the 4th of July

 

Us with the 'please don't take your drinks there' man

Us with the 'please don't take your drinks there' man



{April 10, 2009}   Would you save a stranger?

I’m quite disturbed by a programme I’ve just watched. (Channel 4 catch up, love it!) The title of the programme was ‘Would you save a stranger’? This is something that I have thought about a lot, living in a big city and I feel very safe in London.  I actually feel much safer in London than I do in New Zealand, after all there’s safety in crowds, right?

Some of the stories documented in this programme showed instances where people were attacked in a large crowd and no one intervened. That raises the million dollar question. Would you? Would you step in, putting yourself at risk to save someone you didn’t know?  I know I would, well I hope I would but I guess it depends on the situation.  Two guys beating up one guy is a different scenario to ten guys beating up one guy – would I still put myself in the middle?

I’m the sort of person who asks people to turn their ipod down on the bus and who tuts in annoyance at people chewing their gum loudly.  After all, the fragile threads of our social fabric are held together by frowning upon and shunning anti social behaviour.

The most fraught experience I have had was when I challenged a teenager on the bus who had his ghetto bullshit music blaring tinnily out of his mobile phone. It was about 7pm and I was hungover, tired and cranky, having had my Xmas work do the night before and very little sleep. The bus was packed and I was about four seats in front of him, as he sat slouched on the back seat. I turned to face him and asked him politely to turn his music down. He adopted what he thought was a mean ass expression, but it was really a sullen teenager pouty face. He refused. I asked why. Just because. I turned around in frustration, then thought actually you know what, that isn’t good enough. So I turned around again, slightly self conscious and blushing but unable to stop myself, and asked how he’d feel if I got on the bus and played Dolly Parton that loud  (take that punk, I’ll 9-5 your ass).  There were a few sniggers but people were still desperately avoiding my gaze and pretending the situation wasn’t developing.  His response was to shrug with as much attitude as he could muster. I was on a roll now though,  telling him ‘no one likes your music’ and asking ‘why don’t you wear headphones’? I just received a glare in response. Then a guy a couple of seats away said don’t be a dick mate, turn it off. Nope, no luck. Well I needed some support for my ‘turn the music down you lousy taste in music little twat’ campaign.  So I asked for a show of hands for anyone else who wanted his music turned down. I raised mine high and got a couple of half hearted hand raises but everyone else steadfastedly looked the other way. I resigned as chairman of the ‘turn the music down you lousy taste in music little twat’ campaign and sat in my seat day dreaming about morphing into Angelina Jolie and kicking his ass, flicking his annoying mobile out the window.  It wasn’t until I got off the bus and started walking in the cold, dark and wet winter night that it occurred to me that he could be a knife carrying thug and may have followed me off the bus.  Well, luckily he wasn’t but it could have turned out a lot differently and would those people on the bus have helped me… I don’t think so.  They probably thought, gobby cow, should have kept her mouth shut.

The problem is, if everyone keeps their mouth shut society doesn’t work.  So I am going to continue to be that girl on the bus who tuts when people are chewing gum loudly, when they have their music blaring out and when they act in an anti social manner.  I would step in if I saw someone being bullied and I am going to keep faith in humanity that someone would do the same for me if I ever needed it.



et cetera