Posts Tagged ‘Happily single’

Spoilt for Choice


Tired Old Tales for Tuesdays

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

A friend commented the other day on the number of male admirers I was attracting in the village. And do you know what? She has a point.

It therefore begs the question; why oh why am I still single?

So let us for a moment consider all my options, and then perhaps you can help me choose between them.

Admirer A gives me flowers from his garden and declares that I am the air that he breathes and his ‘fiore di Primavera’. He enjoys walks with his dog, digging for potatoes, and chain-smoking. Admirer A is married and very much the wrong side of sixty.

Admirer B is tall and rather handsome. Apparently he likes me very very very much, or so he tells me every time we meet on the street; in broken Italian, because Admirer B…

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True Amore?


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Being someone who is fascinated by human nature in general, and cultural differences in particular, there are many aspects of the Italian psyche that have piqued my curiosity over the years.

Most especially, given the unrivalled reputation for romance the country holds, the attitude to love and relationships.

And Italy certainly seems to be a country that thrives on relationships – the necessity of being in one often seeming to override the need to actually be happy.

One only has to go out on a Saturday night to witness the profusion of girlfriends clinging like parasitic twins to miserable looking paramours or trailing pitifully around behind them as they do blokey stuff with their mates whilst attempting to pretend they’re single.

The concept of girl power appears to have been largely ignored: many youngsters will be a couple of years into a long-term relationship before they even finish their schooling and these young (and not so young) girlfriends show not even a glimmer of self-respect as they stalk their boyfriends from pillar to post in an attempt to ensure his fidelity.

Of course the boys are not much better; coercion not being an obvious factor in luring them into such claustrophobic love matches. Rather than grasping opportunities for the independence to explore and grow during their relative youth, they seem to inexplicably prefer often unsatisfying partnerships with girls they seem to care relatively little about; only to then expend huge amounts of energy on repeated attempts at infidelity.

It is all rather baffling.

Certainly the grand gestures are all to be found here if those are what one is interested in: metre-high declarations of love painted in public places, endless file pictures of kissing and hugging couples accompanied by cutesy messages all over social networking sites, a willingness to trip down the aisle… being single in Italy does seem to be something of a rarity, but are people truly happy?

Or does this almost pathological need to be part of a couple mean that many Italians settle for what they can get, as opposed to holding out for somebody who could actually make that vital difference in their lives.

For surely there is no shame in choosing solitude over the wrong partner? Being single is a wonderful opportunity to explore much of what life has to offer as well as getting to know oneself; the perfect recipe for being able to recognise and appreciate love when it does come to call.

This is Status Viatoris, who hates to generalise but honestly, italiani, what are you all so scared of?? in Italy.

The Emotionally Incapable Does it Again


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

It may have crossed some minds that the reason for my recent and shameful neglect of this blog could well be exciting new developments with L.I (a shady and mysterious being, previously referred to here and here).

And it pains me greatly to disappoint, but I fear that L.I must now be referred to under a fresh new moniker; N.R.I – as in Not Remotely Interested.

Because although he has shown himself to be Very Interested in the kudos of being fancied by the local kooky Brit, he has resolutely and niftily sidestepped every single opportunity to make good any of his promising utterances:

Come and drink wine in my campagna! (But it’ll have to be when hell freezes over)

I’ll take you for another ride on my motorbike! (A week come a fortnight next muck-spreading)

I’ll teach you how to dance the bachata! (That is if you don’t mind learning telepathically)

To be fair, all the signs were there; should I have cared to leap off my fluffy little cumulus to examine them more closely. The shaking heads and muttered utterances of certain locals – He’s all talk and no action, that one. Watch it, he has a habit of leading the ladies on. He’s a bit full of himself, are you sure you want to go there?

But on I ploughed in my usual kamikaze manner, determined to graciously bestow the benefit of the doubt and decide for myself; whilst at the same time eagerly lapping up the sporadic progress of our physical relationship coupled with his casual air of possessiveness and his semi-frequent displays of jealousy towards other males in the vicinity – for being metaphorically urinated on is surely the equivalent of being courted, no?

Until finally, reality dawned:

I have been pandering to a man’s ego, but making no inroad into his affections.

He is Not Remotely Interested.

It is time to move on.

For I most definitely lack the aggressive perseverance seemingly used by so many Italian women in their pursuit of the Italian man. The hunting and clinging technique employed by many of these ferocious creatures is beyond me, even though it may be precisely that which is expected by their male counterparts.

I am honest and open in my desires; game-playing has never been my thing. But if you are interested in me, you must meet me halfway; or simply carry on walking.

So perhaps an Italian romance is not to be my destiny.

Back to the drawing-board it is, then… 😉

This is Status Viatoris, happy to carry on treading Life’s lonely path with the most important boy in her life, in Italy!

The Emotionally Incapable Blunders On


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

One of the hardest things I have found about blogging is trying to decide where to draw the line on divulgence. Rather than a question of whether or not I should actually be baring my soul to such an extent, I am usually more concerned about boring my audience with personal details that are neither informative, amusing, interesting or applicable.

The key word in that sentence being “usually”.

Which brings us to my current dilemma: The Annoyance Inconvenience Complication I Could Well Do Without Love Interest.

I confess to being slightly nervous about allowing developments of this nature to play out in front of a wider audience (wider than just my usual circle of giggly girlfriends, I mean), but when I think about all the possibilities such a tale may entail…

Cultural – step by step instructions in how not to deal with intercontinental flirtation.

Sociological – why some 30-something women should really just take up knitting and leave romance to those more equipped for it.

Comic – observe how amusingly quickly an independent woman can lose her dignity when tiptoeing into the dating pool.

… I know that I simply cannot withhold such gems from the public arena – it is both a duty and a privilege to sacrifice my reputation as a sane and rational human being at the altar of a greater public good.

So, back to the Love Interest himself (who in the interests of anonymity, we shall call L.I):

Having made a firm promise to myself not to spend so much time in the pub, I went to the pub. But less so. L.I continued to materialise unfailing at my side on each occasion, and thus our hours and hours of chatting in front of a village audience feigning disinterest continued. And the next time he offered to take me (the 100m) home on his motorbike, I said yes, and was treated to a thrilling swoop round the village, out into the countryside and back again.

– Ladies and Gents (but especially Ladies); let me tell you that there is nothing quite so swoon-inducing as a man who invites you onto his throbbing machine, and then exhorts you to wrap your arms tightly around him so he can accelerate and make you squeal.

But having deposited me safely back home, he whooshed off into the night once again, leaving me un-kissed and none the wiser as to his wishes or intentions…

…until a week or so later, when he suggested I invite him up for coffee so he could teach me some bachata steps, as promised.

– Ladies and Gents; let me tell you, there is nothing quite so charming as a man who can persuade a stone-cold-sober, utterly rhythm-less woman who loathes slow dancing, to whirl round and round and round her apartment with him for two hours until she can barely remember why she ever danced alone. A man rendered even more charming by his utterly un-selfconscious wearing of loaned fluffy white slippers bedecked with red horns.

The evening ended with a passionate bacio, so at last, I was made privy to his wishes and intentions.

Or was I?

Because despite spending two further evenings glued to my side in the pub and a myriad of lingering glances in between, L.I still hasn’t called me. Admittedly he has said that work will be frenetic until the end of Easter (he provides a lot of the greenery for the services and processions), but the age-old doubts and insecurities have wasted no time in creeping in:

Have I read “the signs” all wrong?

Is he only after one thing?

Am I just setting myself up to get hurt (again)?

And most of all:

Why oh why couldn’t he have just kept on walking, and left this girl to wallow in her contented spinsterhood? I was doing just fine without you, Love Interest, how dare you waltz in and turn me back into an insecure, nervous, giggly schoolgirl?

This is Status Viatoris, a pox on all men who turn our lives upside-down without so much as a by your leave, in Italy – in fact anywhere at all for that matter!

Dating for the Emotionally Incapable


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Interesting fact courtesy of Kiwi friend: The word “spinster” referred to women who made their living by spinning wool. Women who married no longer needed to work, but those who never married, span forever… How nice.

Interesting question courtesy of North American friend: How do people in Europe “date”?

It was a question I struggled to answer, namely because I have never really “dated”. The patience required for such activities is beyond me; I want to skip right to the interesting part – no, not THAT part. The part where I find out whether or not the person could potentially be THE ONE.

Because if he’s not THE ONE, there are plenty more exciting things to do with my time; life is short and relationships for relationships’ sake are nothing but a whole lot of bother. Thus, lacking the necessary emotional wherewithal to let things develop in their own sweet time, I instead indulge in a lot of trying to squeeze the unlucky suitor into THE ONE shaped box.

Cue a hefty dose of manipulation with lashings of imagination and a sprinkle of self-delusion…

When I first saw him, my heart went bumpty bump – must be because he’s THE ONE.

There are zero fireworks, but he is kind and dependable and that is what grown-ups want in a relationship – he must be THE ONE.

We have discovered that we were in the same place at the same time five years ago. Can’t possibly be a coincidence – he must be THE ONE!

He’s not shallow and self-centred, he is deep and misunderstood. And nobody likes a challenge more than I do – he must be THE ONE.

I like classical music and living in the country, he likes nightclubs and bright lights. But opposites attract – he must be THE ONE.

There was nothing going on, but one night he had a starring role in one of my dreams – no doubt about it, he’s THE ONE!

But, surprising though it may seem given such promising “signs”, he turns out not to be THE ONE at all, and I am left with a box all bent out of shape and expectations to match.

Since arriving in Italy, that side of my life has been rather more straightforward; Albanians and Italians alike seem to be on the hunt for one thing, and one thing only. Slightly depressing, granted, but at least you know where you stand and can thus pick and choose accordingly.

But a few weeks ago, there was a development…

One night I went out with friends as usual, but this time there appeared at my side a man. I knew this man vaguely, so when he stayed at my side for six long hours I didn’t think a lot of it. Until it happened again the next time I went out, and then the next. Soon we had accumulated about 15 hours of talk-time, and he had started to intrigue me.

He talked about teaching me some dance moves (he’s heavily in to the whole Latino scene), he talked about me visiting him to drink wine in the campagna where he works cultivating ornamental plants, he even offered to take me (the 100m) home on his motorbike. Practically every opinion I hold garners the response ME TOO! and he has taken on the role of protector against the more obtuse”lonely” Albanians who follow me round and round the village like hopeful hyenas tracking an injured wildebeest.

And yet nothing… He has followed up none of his “suggestions” with a possible meeting time, nor has he used the telephone number he now has saved in his mobile phone.

I, on the other hand, have somehow managed to spend most of the last weeks in the pub just in order to enjoy his company. And enough is enough. Rather than trying to rush this to a definite conclusion so I can get on with something else – interested or not interested? THE ONE or not THE ONE? I am going to change the behaviour of a lifetime and simply step away.

I live here. He lives here.

Things can happen in their own sweet time, or not at all.

Either way, it is all good.

This is Status Viatoris, who, if a certain someone ever picks up the phone may be able one day to tell you all about how Italians “date”, isn’t growing-up fun! in Italy.

Painting the Town Rosso


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

I must first apologise for the recent scarcity of posts. I’m on tenterhooks for various reasons, and tenterhooks appear to be an anathema to anything vaguely resembling literary inspiration.

I am also suffering from the delayed shock of having cleared out my French apartment. It was a psychological necessity; only by taking such a step can I truly tell myself that supercilious turd the French notary will one day free me from my Gallic real estate shackles. The downside? I’m now living in a sea of stuff. Stuff in bags. Stuff in boxes. Stuff in piles on chairs and on tables. Stuff I really have no recollection of having accumulated at all. in 2003, I moved to France with less than a Ford Fiesta’s worth of belongings – most of which were books. Now I am the bemused owner of at least four Fiat Punto’s worth, plus furniture.

It would appear that my claims of being a non-materialistic free-spirited nomad no longer hold quite the same ring of truth as they once did. I am now nothing if not all about the stuff…

But lugging boxes hasn’t been my sole activity since I got back to Italy; missing out on the all the Christmas and New Year festivities has required a hefty dose of socialising in order to catch up on lost brownie points. Boozy nights at the local bar, boozy nights at friends’ houses, boozy meals out… Slimming World would most certainly have my overstretched guts for garters if they caught a glimpse of such dietary debauchery.

One friend even managed to lure me down from the safety of the village for a night out in one of the fancy coastal towns. It proved to be an… ummm… interesting experience.

That most cutting edge of fashion garments – the shiny black bin liner puffer coat, was out in force to combat the chill factor. In fact a winter’s evening on Italian tiles does have a dark, almost funereal edge to it, with the girls rocking Mourner Chic and the boys strutting around à la Hip Undertaker. We felt like exotic birds of paradise; me glowing in groovy green and my friend resplendent in racy red. Not that it accorded us any pulling points, of course. For if there is one thing I have learnt about Italy, it’s that from a very early age being in a relationship is of paramount importance to Italians. A reasonably attractive Italian man of marriageable age tells you he’s single? Without even looking, just reach up and pluck the airborne porker as it flaps over your head. Trust me, it will be there.

So are all these young people really lucky enough to have found “The One”? I can only speculate, but when looking around that nightclub at the considerable number of miserable-looking men; skinny girlfriends and young wives hanging with limpet-like desperation from their necks, I know I was secretly drawing my own conclusions.

My advice to any foreign woman visiting an Italian nightclub? Take along some popcorn, sit back, and prepare to drool over gym-tightened muscles pulsating against designer togs, and artfully tousled hair showcasing features of chiselled perfection. And if such a specimen ambles over to you? Let him. Just try to remember that he almost certainly spends more time with the mirror than with a book, and the chances are, he will marry his childhood sweetheart. It’s safer that way… 😉

This is Status Viatoris, who feels much more at home with the muddy hunter/gardener/builder chic of her village, thank you very much! in Italy.

Bridesmade to Measure


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

What’s a girl to do when her oldest and dearest friend stages a dramatic u-turn from aggressive, anti-matrimonial posturing, to blushing bride-to-be?

You’ve guessed it…

So having managed to remain gloriously untouched by weddings for thirty-three long and carefree years, I have just now returned from my second wedding dress shopping trip in seven short months.

This spree differed from the previous one in several ways; notably the exchange of shiny French Riviera perma-tans for pallid Leicestershire chic, but due also to an infinitely more troubling circumstance.

A circumstance that soon had me vulnerable in my bra and pants; clambering laboriously into flimsy chiffon, flouncy taffeta and bodices straining to eject their sizeable cargo.

For this friend has committed what may transpire to be the biggest booboo of her life so far, and asked the least elegant, wouldn’t-be-seen-dead-in-a-dress, can’t-walk-in-heels-for-love-nor-money girl to be a bridesmaid.

It’s me, in case you hadn’t guessed.

I’m ridiculously flattered and scared witless, in equal measure.

The trying-on of dresses was considerably more fun than I had envisaged; our raucous and knicker-wetting cackling at seeing me in actual girl-clothes meant we had the changing rooms pretty much to ourselves.

And it only took three hours to establish that the colour (or rather, anti-colour) “champagne” makes me look like uncooked biscuit dough, that strapless dresses struggle to contain the top deck, that netted underskirts are my enemy and that high heels turn me into a drag queen wannabe – no offence taken; very valid observation.

In a nutshell, dressing me is not shaping up to be the easiest of tasks.

But I hope we succeed, because I want her wedding day to be the epitome of fabulousness and I want to do her proud as one of her chosen girlies (with a possible side effect being the attracting of swarms of gorgeous, single men at the reception, natch… 😉 ).

Wendy and Kristoff, this one’s for you me ducks!

This is Status Viatoris, if anyone’s going to step on the bride’s train or tip red wine on her frock, it’s guaranteed to be me so you can’t say I didn’t warn you, in Northamptonshire.

Fancy a Highland Fling?


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

The summer of 2009 spent in North West Scotland sounded like just the ticket – work a few hours in the local pub, and spend the rest of the time writing, learning Gaelic, walking and reconnecting with nature…


A Highland Burn

Regretfully there were a number of elements I neglected to take into consideration when conjuring up that fantasy: the fact that I chose to work in one of the busiest pubs in the Highlands, for one. Not having worked in the UK since 1995, I also grossly overestimated hospitality industry wages, thus necessitating a 50 hour week. And then there was all the boozy, after-hours socialising – not obligatory by any means, but very hard to walk away from when you are a person of minimal self-control.

And I mustn’t forget the biggest and most unexpected spanner in my Highland works: the moody bisexual lover.

Oh yes, no girl should be without one of those in her past. It makes one look frightfully modern and open-minded, don’t you know.

Just a rainbow…

Actually that is a lie.

It’s horribly confusing, and potentially very damaging to a girl’s self-esteem. Lured in by tales of world travels, an exotic background and a bloody-minded body clock tempting me to desperate measures (don’t worry, I have since removed the batteries…) I found myself caught up in an obsessive tangle with a most unsuitable man.

Sexuality aside (he professed to love “women’s souls”, but his eyes certainly preferred young men’s legs, and his memories of past seductions – primarily of inebriated younger, heterosexual men – were fresh indeed), he was financially unstable, slightly delusional and apparently hell-bent on convincing me that I was lacking in most meaningful areas.

It took me nine months and a visit to the other side of the world to come to my senses, and it may be a while yet before I stop kicking myself for my lack of judgement and my utter stupidity.

Num nums

Anyhoo, he warrants not a mention more, and thankfully he is not my sole memory of seven months in Wester Ross. No, I also have a whole stack of other memories to fall back on: taking orders for local delicacies I would rather have been eating – prawns, mussels, oysters, scallops, haggis, steak, cranachan; tearing my hair out trying to find seating for the queue of tourists snaking out of the pub door, fielding endless questions about Monty Halls (don’t ask), getting constantly stuck behind bloody tourists driving at 25mph on winding single track roads;  not to mention the many, many blurry evenings spent consuming far more liquor than was good for me…

They maybe bendy, but 25mph IS STILL TOO BLOODY SLOW!

And although I never did get round to the Gaelic, like all the other Sassernachs now residing up there, my vocabulary was soon splattered with ‘wees’ and ‘ayes’, and there was generally a good craic to be had.

I have lived in small communities all my life, but I don’t think anything can quite compare to the isolation of some of these tiny outlying villages. Everybody knows exactly what you are up to, probably even before it has occurred to you to get up to it.  Many of the residents greatly enjoy the pub and the wealth of drams it has to offer, but there are still those who live bound by the strictures of the Kirk, the Wee Free, or even the Wee Wee Free (I have yet to learn the differences).

Alcohol and depression are two prevalent problems in these areas (the rigours of the climate and the sheer remoteness surely being

Looking at a loch

contributory factors) but there is still a great sense of community spirit which especially comes to the fore during the ceilidhs that are put on by local bands throughout the year.

There are many aspects of life which for necessity’s sake are not lived as they would be in the metropolis, but even these communities are not immune to the adverse affects of Southern bureaucracy. Only recently the Post Office, in all its great wisdom, and from the comfort of its HQ somewhere in Englandshire, decided that post vans should no longer carry anything but mail. So older and/or carless people, who would have relied on the postman to drive them to the next village, or collect their shopping, were suddenly cut off.

(Globalisation? Centralisation? I don’t know what you call it, but it has definitely brought with it an inability to think outside the box or take into account that humans do not all live identical existences.)

The scenery wasn’t ‘arf bad

So despite not doing any of the things I had intended to do, and instead doing a lot of things I had absolutely no intention of doing, I am still very glad to have been able to spend a summer in such a beautiful and unique place. But should I ever make my way back,  a writing, Gaelic learning, walking and reconnecting with nature orgy would most certainly be the ordre du jour…

This is Status Viatoris, Hey! Madame Poisson and Mademoiselle Noix, I’ll take the lowe road if you’ll take the high one! in Northamptonshire.

Just Another Fish Without a Bicycle


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

It is going to be a long, long winter if every comment I make about the weather is met with:

“You just need to find yourself a nice man to warm you up.”

Although I should be used to that sort of thing now. During the summer, one of my admirers sat down next to me, looked deep into my eyes and actually voiced the immortal words:

“You must find it very hard, being alone.”

And then, whilst cuddling my neighbour’s dog recently, (not a euphemism, I can assure you) I was hit by this nugget of helpful wisdom:

“You want to stop hugging that animal and have some children of your own to look after.”

Without even mentioning the gaggle of quite obviously unsuitable, and much older men who truly seem to believe that they are in with a chance of climbing under my snugly French duvet.

Thus to the outside world it seems to appear that at my age, even if I’m not yet gagging for it, I must at least have been forced to lower my standards considerably.

So I would just like to say to all these men, once and for all:


And if the capital letters and the exclamation mark imbibe that statement with overtones of excessive womanly protestation, here are some of the reasons why, in this case, it honestly is true:


1. Life is a lot more simple – nobody with whom to turn a little niggle about washing-up into a bellicose power struggle.

2. I do not have to constantly compromise on things that are important to me – something that is ideal whilst I still have goals that I feel are necessary to my personal growth.

3. When making plans, I only have to think about myself, and of course Pooch. (And pack a smaller suitcase 😉 )

4. I do not have to share my double bed (except with a creature who is cuddlier, less wiggly, less snorey, and gets a lot less grumpy when I end up with all the duvet, than any man I’ve ever shared with).

5. My desire to have children is directly linked to whether or not I meet the right person. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll remain childless, and I’m fine with that.

6. My past relationships have not been successful, and I am the common denominator. Before I can face taking the plunge again, I will need to work out what I do wrong.


Essentially I am  a big fan of that old adage ‘Mejor sola, que mal acompañada’, or ‘Il vaut mieux être seule, que mal accompagnée’ or even ‘Meglio sola, che mal accompagnata’.

In other words, after years of believing that true contentment is only possible when sharing a bicycle made for two, I have decided that I might well have got it all quite wrong.

I think that true contentment when sharing a bicycle made for two can only be reached when you have first found it pedalling your solitary path on a bicycle made for one.

This is Status Viatoris, who needs a man when they have a paraffin heater and a nice cup of tea, in Italy.

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