Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Auld Lang syne, for old friends

So many of us will be singing Auld Lang Syne at midnight tonight. first there'll be the countdown and then the raising of glasses and kissing and wishing each other a Happy New Year. Then everyone will link arms in a circle and sing a rowdy version of Auld Lang syneby Robert Burns.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
For the sake of auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my friend
For auld lang syne
we'll drink a cup of kindness now
For the sake of auld lang syne

What it means is that we shall be thinking kind thoughts and raising our glasses to all those friends and acquaintances that have fallen by the wayside. It's a lovely message and just right for New Years Eve. So here's to all the people who have crossed our lives and made the world a better place for us but that aren't part of it anymore. Their kindness is not forgotten because it has helped us on our way.

Happy New Year everyone.
Buon anno
Bonne Annee

Now the day is over...

Now the day is over
Night is drawing nigh
Shadows of the evening
Steal across the sky

Now the darkness gathers
Stars begin to peep
Birds and beasts and flowers
Soon will be asleep

Here we are all thinking about 2014 as it draws to a close. It's a beautiful clear frosty night with a lovely moon. There are lots of celebrations being planned and fireworks are already going off.  The more I think about my resolutions the more I can only think of one this year. To do everything I do with love which is what I always try to do.
I 'm just taking stock, think about the sadness and the joy, the hurt and the pain, the love and the happiness, that's inside me, and that is the only answer. People hurt you, they do, and they don't often see it. They can't do or they wouldn't do it would they?

The verse that I've written above fills me with a calm and stillness because it belongs in a part of my life when I felt safe, the world seemed a warm friendly place, so when I say it I remember that time and those feelings. It is appropriate for the end of the year.

On this evening, the last of the year when a stillness might appear among the noisy celebrations here is a prayer for all those who are going into 2015 with pain and loss in their lives, that they will find comfort in those who care for them and tomorrow morning they will wake up with a chink of sunlight in their hearts.

Lord keep us safe this night
Secure from all our fears
May angels guard us while we sleep
Till morning light appears..

Here's another one from R.L.Stevenson that gives hope in moments of darkness.

The infinite shining heavens
Rose and I saw in the night
Uncountable angel stars
Showering sorrow and light.

Night after night in my sorrow
The stars stood over the sea,
Till lo! I looked in the dusk
And a star came down to me.


Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Nice things to write

Now it's the end of the year and it's time to make resolutions, but before I do that I'm going to rejoice about all the wonderful moments from this year and think about the lessons I've learned from the things that went wrong. I'm very good at worrying, it's one of the things I do best. I got it from my dad. I had frown lines before I was out of my teens.

Here is a short poem from my series poems I could have written when I was ten.

I love the feel of a pen in my hand
Touching the paper and looping around,
a nice round O and then crossing a T
A dot on an I and a bump on a b.
From the first day of school at the age of five
Being able to write made me feel so alive.
Just a pencil or pen there's so much to create
It's a wonderful way to communicate.
There are so many words it's a pleasure to write:-
But my favourite of all is I LOVE YOU.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Earth,water,fire,air in harmony

Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire
Oh still, small voice of calm.

Lots of us will be eagerly reading our New Year horoscopes to see what good things to hope for in 2015. We'll be looking back at the year that is about to end and remembering all the wonderful things that have happened. Maybe we can learn important lessons from the not so good stuff. We might have made new friends, visited new places, learned a new language, got a new job, got married, the list is endless. 
Whether you believe in Horoscopes and Astrology or not there's always some interesting advice and guidance to be found. Who can argue with a horoscope that says something like :' Make sure you avoid disputes' or " show someone you care.'

According to Astrologers we all belong to one of four elements:- Fire, Water, Earth  and Air. This morning I was thinking about how much I love the sight of a fire, because it's very cold. Then I started thinking about water and how essential it is because I could hear a stream trickling through the ice, what a lovely sound it made. then I thought about the Winter earth and how it's full of little seeds waiting for the sun to warm them and of course then I thought of the air and what a pleasure it is to breathe in the sharp clean air after a snowfall.  Well that was a lot of thinking in a very short space of time.
Anyway those four elements that are so essential to human life also need to be kept in balance. We need them all but not too much or too little or we have problems. Too much water causes flooding, too much fire - damage, too much earth... and too much wind, if you see what I mean. So that's like us. We need to be in balance and harmony, all working together and helping each other out.
Maybe you could try writing your own horoscope for 2015 and that way you will get an idea of what is important to you and start doing something about it.
Meanwhile enjoy the rest of 2014.

A fire in a stable

Water in the desert

Fire in the hearth

A stream trickling down

Saturday, 27 December 2014

The North wind doth blow

The North wind doth blow
And we shall have snow
And what will poor robin do then?
Poor thing
He'll hide in a barn
To keep himself warm
And put his head under his wing
Poor thing.

Today we have had the first proper snow fall. It is almost hypnotic to watch the snow falling. Definitely at the top of the list of magical moments. If you are indoors in the warm watching through the windows as big fat snowflakes gently prepare a soft silver blanket for the earth, you can be overcome with wonder. If you are outside or on a journey you have to be careful.  As the snow falls the temperature seems to rise a little, the world becomes silent and there is a softness all around.
Spare a thought for the birds and scatter some crumbs on the snow, especially the lovely Robin redbreast. Here is a verse from a poem by William Allingham (1824 - 1889) about the robin in Winter.

Robin Redbreast

The fireside for the cricket,
The wheatstack for the mouse,
When trembling night-winds whistle
And moan all round the house;
The frosty ways like iron,
The branches plumed with snow -
Alas! In winter, dead and dark,
Where can poor Robin go?
Robin, Robin Redbreast,
O Robin dear!
And a crumb of bread for Robin,
His little heart to cheer.

Special thoughts for someone special.

Boxing Day, Santo Stefano,  26th December, but most of all  the day my mother was born. In 1922, before the days of disposable nappies and central heating.  She made it to the grand old age of eighty nine and she was one of those people that made the world a nicer place. She touched the lives of all who were lucky enough to meet her.
She wasn't afraid of anything and only looked for the good in people. She loved being alive. That might sound a funny thing to say, but you see she had Multiple Sclerosis.
She had a secret weapon though to fight her condition. My Dad.
All my Italian relatives loved her too and yesterday they broke into a spontaneous song of 'Tanti Auguri a te', dedicated to my mum. My little granddaughter met her and remembers her vividly. One day she looked at me and said, 'Poor you, not having your mummy anymore.' That's it really isn't it? Your mum and your dad are your anchors.

Here is a poem for the day by Ann Taylor (1782 - 1866) which is dedicated to her mother. So to all mothers everywhere today, including me...

My Mother

Who fed me from her gentle breast,
And hushed me in her arms to rest,
And on my cheek sweet kisses prest?
My mother.

When sleep forsook my open eye,
Who was it sung hushaby,
And rocked me that I should not cry?
My mother.

Who sat and watched my infant head,
When sleeping on my cradle bed,
And tears of sweet affection shed?
My mother.

Who ran to help me when I fell,
And would some pretty story tell,
Or kiss the place to make it well?
My mother.

Happy Birthday

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas to you all

Merry Christmas to all of you who read my blog, well everyone in the whole world really but especially to you who are reading this.
Merry Christmas and wishing you health, happiness, joy, love, laughter,  good friends, a close caring family-
Here is  a song by Mark Knopfler and Emmy Lou Harris that says it all, not just for Christmas but for every day of the year.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas wishes

Many of us will be watching 'A Christmas carol' during the next few days. Whether it's Jim Carrey or The Muppets the message is clear. Charles Dickens  (1812 - 1870) told us all that we need to know about Christmas.

Here is what he wrote.

Nearer and closer to our hearts be the Christmas spirit, which is the spirit of active usefulness, perseverance, cheerful discharge of duty, kindness and forbearance.

It is  a lesson that needs to be taught again and again.
Here is a short verse by Laurence Housman (1865 - 1870) that is a lovely wish for everyone tonight.

O perfect Love, surpassing sight,
O Light beyond our ken,
Come down through all the world tonight,
And heal the hearts of men.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Poem for you

Cheers and Cin cin, Skol and good health
Wishing you joy, happiness, wealth
But of the spirit, the soul and the mind
Don't hesitate in being kind
If you don't want alcohol just drink juice
What's in your glass is just an excuse
To let your friends know you really care
You're always happy when they are there
Raise your glasses to one and all
Little ones, big ones, short and tall.
Don't waste time being aloof
Don't go waiting till you have proof
That someone loves you with all their heart
If you're together or if you're apart
There's a way to let them know
Even if it doesn't show
Life is  richer for having met you
There's a light in the world shining through
The dark days of fear, trouble and strife
And I'm really glad that I'm your wife.

Ho! Ho! Ho!  .... can you hear him ? The jingle of sleigh bells in the distance...

Santa's on his way....

Monday, 22 December 2014

A Change of Heart

The Perfume counter was right in front of the revolving doors. Customers, on entering the store, were hit by a tantalizing mix of exotic spices and floral aromas to lure them towards the counter. Once there,  they were surrounded by  a dazzling array of posters showing beautiful women on the arms of handsome elegant men. The perfumes were displayed like potions with the  promise that whoever wore this or that perfume  would be transported to a magical kingdom of seduction and elegance. Gemma raised her wrist to her nose and breathed in the heady mix of vanilla and patchouli that Max had chosen for her.  It was an early Christmas present. She thought back to the conversation she'd had with her friend Marsha at lunch time. They were sharing a mince pie and as Marsha brushed the crumbs away she had leaned forward and  whispered;-

' Gemma have you ever noticed how many men buy two bottles of the same perfume.? Don't you think it's funny? Maybe it's one for the wife and one for the lover, so as not to get caught out.'

Gemma felt herself redden. Was it possible that Marsha knew Max was married? She shrugged in response to Marsha's question and dabbed at her mouth with a napkin.
Anyway Max had told her there was nothing left between him and his wife. He wasn't even  going to buy her a present this year, just a box of chocolates  or maybe a CD so their little boys would be happy.

She pushed back her chair and stood up and turned back to Marsha.

'If a man has a lover then he wouldn't be in love with his wife any more would he? He wouldn't care what she thought.'

'Oh don't you believe it Gemma. It's all about having your cake and eating it with them isn't it?  We watched 'Love Actually' last night for the umpteenth time and I told Mike that if he'd better not buy me a CD, poor Emma Thompson, I cry every time I watch that scene. It doesn't take much to tempt a man you know. I've seen so much heartache caused by broken relationships. Personally I can't understand why a woman would want to steal someone else's man, but there you are.'

Gemma felt very uncomfortable. She'd watched 'Love Actually last night too, wrapped in Max's arms. He'd kissed her long and hard and promised he'd leave his wife straight after Christmas.  She'd been seeing him for almost two years now. A weekend away once a month and snatched evenings when he told his wife he was working late. He'd promised to take her to Scotland after New Year and tell his wife he wanted a divorce.

She realized that Marsha was still talking.

'How are you getting on with your course? I think you'll be a great Nursery teacher. My little Sam adores you. It's Auntie Gemma this and Auntie Gemma that. He'll be going to Nursery school in September.  If you hurry up you'll be in time to teach him.'

Gemma noticed an elegant couple approach and went to serve them. The man was very tall and had thick dark curly hair, a bit like Max. How she loved running her fingers through his hair and looking at the way it curled over at the base of his neck. The young woman was tall and blond with a very low cut top and a white fur wrap. Just as she was about to serve them, a very handsome man wearing a Father Christmas hat pushing a baby and holding on to two little boys wearing antlers collided into a large poster of a beautiful woman. Gemma went to help and then served the man who looked quite relieved. As he walked away she thought how lucky his wife was and how she would love a family like that.

When she'd finished serving the couple she thought about Marsha's advice. It was true that she'd been really enjoying the  Childcare and Nursery teaching course. She had always loved being around little children. Her sister was ten years younger than her   and she had  looked after her while her mother went out to work.  Gemma had  taken the job at the Perfume counter to help finance her studies and that's where she had met Max. He had looked so lost and helpless trying to find  a perfume for his grandmother.  When Gemma had suggested Old English Lavender he had been so grateful and asked  if he could take her out for a drink to show his appreciation.

The next thing she knew she was inviting him in to the flat which she shared with two other girls. It had all been so exciting. He was so much more sophisticated than the other boys she'd dated. He knew how to order the right wine in the fancy restaurants they went to, and he took her to the opera and the ballet in London.  By the time she found out that he was married she was completely obsessed with him. He reassured her immediately saying how his wife only thought about their two small boys and her job in the hospital. He was on his own all the time and it was over between them.  Gemma believed him and was determined to make up for all the neglect he had suffered from his wife. 

Marsha walked by and helped herself to a free spray of J.Lo's new perfume from the bottle on the display.

'Would you like to come to us this evening Gemma? I've made some special mince pies with whiskey, guaranteed to bring instant festive cheer.  Mike's going out for his office party. We could watch a Christmas film and maybe let Sam stay up a bit as a treat.'

Gemma picked up a glass bottle and dusted it with a cloth.

'I think Max is coming to pick me up and then we were going to.' 

She stopped, not really wanting to say what they were going to do.  Just lately they'd done nothing but go back to her room. She looked at Marsha and took a deep breath.

'That sounds nice Marsha, thank you. Maybe I could give Sam his bath and read him a bedtime story. It would be good for my training.' She smiled  at Marsha as she moved away and then started to tidy up the  counter.

A voice whispered in her ear, low and deep. Yesterday it would have sent a shiver of excitement down her spine but today it made her feel sad and lonely.

'Hello young lady, could you please help me choose a perfume for my poor old grandmother. I' d be ever so grateful.'

Gemma turned to Max with a bright smile.

'Sorry Sir but it's closing time. By the way which  is your wife's favourite perfume ?''

The silence that followed and the embarrassed look on Max's face told her all that she needed to know.

Fire in the hall, flame in the heart

What is nicer than coming in from the cold and sitting by a fire to get warm on a Winter's day? before the days of television people would sit and watch the fire and tell stories to entertain each other on dark nights, it sounds romantic. In Italian there used to be 'Stories from the falò'. Here is something by the writer of 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' and 'Rip Van Winkle' that is quite inspiring to read at Christmas time. I wonder if he told his stories around a fire, it would be quite scary to go to bed in a candle lit house after listening to 'Sleepy hollow.'

But this is about Christmas and the power of love.

There is something in the very season of the year that gives a charm to the festivity of Christmas. In the depth of winter, when nature lies despoiled of every charm and wrapped in her shroud of sheeted snow, we turn for our gratification to moral sources. We feel more sensibly the charm of each other's society, and are brought more closely together by dependence on each other for enjoyment. Heart calleth to heart; and we draw our pleasures from the deep wells of living kindness, which lie in the quiet recesses of our bosoms. Where does the honest face of hospitality expand into a broader and more cordial smile than by the winter fireside?
Amid the general call to happiness, the bustle of the spirits, and stir of affections, which prevail at this period, what bosom can remain insensible?
It is indeed the season of regenerated feeling - the season for kindling not merely the fire of hospitality in the hall, but the genial flame of charity in the heart.

Washington Irving ( 1783 - 1859)

Thinking about Christmas

Here are some wise words about the Festive season from Henry Van Dyke (1852 - 1933).  They are worth thinking about any time of the year but now there is a heightened awareness about what goodwill to all men actually means. Anyway here is what he had to say about the spirit of Christmas.

Are you willing  to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world; to put your rights in the background and your duties in the middle distance and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground; to see that your fellow men are just as real as you are, and to try to look behind their faces to their hearts hungry for joy? Then you can keep Christmas.

Light  a candle to warm hearts

Always nice to see Big Ben

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Poem for the day by Anon

Have you noticed how many poems there are by Anon? They are often very good, Anon seems almost as popular as Shakespeare when it comes to quick and easy quotes.

Here is a very nice happy Christmas verse by Anon which will fill you with goodwill and cheer.

Now Christmas is come,
Let us beat up the drum,
And call all our neighbours together,
And when they appear,
Let us make them such cheer
As will keep out the wind and the weather.

Today I played the Christmas Cd which I bought on my one and only visit to New York. There is a picture on the cover that is of a painting of the ice rink at the Rockefeller centre. It is surely a wonderful place, filled with a sense of magic and wonder where you can imagine that if you make a wish your dreams will come true.
There is a plaque with an inscription written by John D.Rockefeller (1839 - 1937) with a long list of what he believed in. The first line inspired a film with Will Smith:

I believe in the supreme worth of the individual and in his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Then there is the last line which is what we all need to remember every day.

I believe that love is the greatest thing in the world, that it alone can overcome hate, that right can and will triumph over might.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Poem for the day

My poem for the day is from  The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser (1552 - 1599).
It is one of the longest poems in the English language and is an allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. It seems that she was so pleased with it that she gave him fifty pounds a year but there is no evidence that she actually read it. The verse I've chosen that seems appropriate for today is number XLI, (41).

      The Faerie Queene, XLI

And after him came next the chill December,
Yet he, through merry feasting which he made
And great bonfires, did not the cold remember,
His Saviour's birth his mind so much did glad;
Upon a shaggy-bearded goat he rode,
The same where with Dan Jove in tender yeares,
They say was nourisht by th'la   Mayd,
And in his hand a broad, deep bowl he beares,
Of which he freely drinks an health to all his peeres.'

Two poems today, this one is by Cristina Rossetti (1830-1894).

Hope and Joy

If hope grew on a bush
And joy grew on a tree,
What a nosegay for the plucking
There would be!
But oh! in windy Autumn
When frail flowers wither,
What should we do for hope and joy,
Fading together?

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Poem for the day, Robert Southey

Here is a lovely poem for the day by Robert Southey (1774 - 1843). He was one of the Lake poets and was Poet Laureate from 1813. He sees the beauty of Winter in the roaring fires and festive cheer.

A wrinkled crabbed man they picture thee,
Old Winter, with a rugged beard as grey
As the long moss upon the apple tree,
Blue-lipt, an ice drop at thy sharp blue nose,
Close muffled up, and on thy dreary way
Plodding alone through sleet and drifting snows.

They should have drawn thee by the high-heapt hearth,
Old Winter! seated in thy great armed chair;
Watching the children at their Christmas mirth,-
Or circled by them as thy lips declare.
Some merry jest, or tale of murder dire,
Or troubled spirit that disturbs the night,
Pausing at times to rouse the smouldering fire,
Or taste the old October brown and bright.

Stories to warm the cockles of your heart, Jack

Do you remember Jack and Claire on holiday with their children at the Bar Marchè?
Here they are again doing some Christmas shopping.

The car park was full and they had to wait for a space. Claire put on the twins favourite Cd and they started up a rousing chorus of 'Jingle bells'.

As soon as they were out of the car Claire said she was going ahead with Emma to look at the shoes and would meet him in the cafè in twenty minutes. She gave him a list of presents to buy at the Perfume counter for her mother and sisters-in-law.

 Jack pushed the buggy into the revolving door and caught sight of his reflection in the glass. He thought he looked like Father Christmas with his sleigh He was wearing a Red hat with a white pom- pom, the twins had reindeer antlers and the baby had a brown teddy bear hat. The twins clung to either side of the buggy and looked around them like two miniature bodyguards daring anyone to touch the baby. Jack manoeuvred them all round to the perfume counter and got out his list. In front of him was a tall smartly dressed man with his arms round a tall  stunning blond.. She was wearing a short white fur coat and hot pants, sheer tights and black suede stiletto boots. They turned as Jack reached out to stop the baby from pulling down a display of shiny bottles.

'Hi Jack, Merry Christmas, I say ho1ho1ho. Have you lost your way?'.

It was Jack's old colleague from the bank in London. An extremely successful lawyer who didn't mind who he trod on to get up the ladder.

'Hi Matt, very funny, Merry Christmas to you too.'

'This is Flora. We're doing our last minute shopping then we're off to the Caribbean for two weeks.'

Jack's gaped as Flora's fur coat fell open to reveal a very low cut top that left nothing to the imagination, as his mother would have said.
The twins looked up at him,

'Daddy's a fish, he can blow bubbles.'

They blew their cheeks out and made loud popping noises.
The baby tried to join in but only managed a few bubbles.

'I'm meeting Claire in the café would you like to join us?'

'No thanks Jack, we've got to meet some friends at the Oyster bar and we're already late.'

The baby succeeded in his attempt to tear off a poster showing a beautiful  busty blonde and buried his face in the cleavage. the twins jumped up and down.

' Sam kissing lady !'

The young assistant came round to help Jack put the poster back. His hat had fallen off and his thick fair hair tumbled round his face.

'OOH,  you look just like  Jude Law,' she simpered and touched his arm.

One of the twins took his antlers off and waved them in her face.

'My daddy, my daddy.'

She stood up still transfixed by Jack and turned to Matt and Flora.

'You don't mind if I serve this gentleman first do you,? I think he's got his hands full.'

When  Jack had paid for his shopping he turned to thank Matt and Flora. He was taken aback by the look of admiration on Matt's face and could he also detect a hint of envy?
Once if he'd been asked he would have gone to the Caribbean for Christmas in a flash. His parents had come back into his life after years of silence. In the Summer Claire had invited them  to a family gathering. By some miracle they both came, his father from Spain and his mother from her boarding school. By the end of the afternoon Emma and his mother were inseparable, sitting together in an armchair and reading fairy tales. His father was pretending to be a lion and chasing the twins, who were giggling hysterically and then climbing all over him, delighted with their new cuddly toy.
That evening in bed he had turned to Claire still stunned by the days events.

'How did that happen? What did you do to them?  My father laughed more today than during my whole childhood.'

Claire drew him towards her, ' You always have to give people a second chance. Anyway they're your parents Jack so they can't be all that bad.' She'd grinned mischievously and tossed her long dark hair over his chest. He felt a quiver at the thought of what had happened next.

He held his hand out to Matt and Flora.

'Come round one evening when you get back from the Caribbean, Claire would love to see you both.'

Jack walked towards the lift for the café and paused by the jewelry counter, he knelt down to the twins.

'Would you like to choose a nice sparkly bracelet for Mummy?'

They ran to the counter and peered up at the glamorous young assistant.
Jack quickly pointed to three that he liked and asked her to display them so the twins could choose.

'This one, the one with the hearts,' they called in unison. They held it out so the baby could see.
'Sam likes it too. We want that one, and silver paper and a gold ribbon.'

The young girl smiled at them.

'Ooh  aren't you just so cute, just like your daddy, really handsome.'

She gave Jack a sidelong glance and a  slow smile.

Jack quickly paid and  went to call the lift. He took the children to wash their hands ready for the café.

Then a few weeks ago Claire had suggested that they ask Jack's parents for Christmas. Her mother had enough room for them to sleep there. Emma and the twins could go to the pantomime with them. They could have a party with some of their friends so they could all meet each other. Claire's brother would pick Jack's dad up from the airport.. She made it sound so easy and natural he just went along with it.
His mother rang to say how excited she was, she'd had a book made for Emma with her name as the main character, she'd knitted the baby a cardigan and got the twins a train set. Then when she said ' Your dad and I really miss you Jack, we're so proud of you and Claire is just so lovely', he'd had to put the phone down,  he couldn't speak because of the lump in his throat.

The girls and boys working in the café were all dressed in red outfits with matching hats. There was a huge tree in the corner covered with bright coloured twinkly lights. Christmas music was playing and drawing all the customers into a festive atmosphere. whether they wanted it or not.
He could see Claire and Emma sitting at a table near the  window. They had it all ready for them, a highchair for the baby and booster seats for the twins. There was a bag next to Emma with her new shoes. She was looking at her mother with a rapt expression, hanging on her every word. Jack knew what that felt like, he never tired of staring at Claire's lovely, kind face. He moved slowly towards Claire and Emma, enjoying the sight of the two of them sitting there together. Claire wouldn't turn heads like Flora, sitting there with her hair in a pony tail and her jeans and jumper, but he knew what was underneath.  Jack had watched  his lovely Claire this morning carefully putting on her red Christmas underwear, laughing and posing and  then kissing him under the mistletoe that she'd hung above the bed.

The twins caught sight of  Claire and Emma and ran towards them, clambering over the chairs and  climbing over them like two little puppies. the baby waved his hands and blew bubbles. Mariah Carey sang out. Claire looked at Jack, he caught his breath, Together  they mouthed  'All I want for Christmas is you'

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Poem for the day, looking for love.

My poem for the day is by William Blake (1757 - 1827) and reminds us of something very important. It is easy to love people who are nice and kind and never upset us, but it is the ones in trouble who need it most. At this time we will hear lots of feel good stories. This morning there was the story of a student who raised lots of money for a homeless person who had helped her. In these short dark Winter days when the nights are long and cold here is a short verse to think about.

Seek love in the pity of others' woe,
In the gentle relief of another's care,
In the darkness of night and the winter's snow,
In the naked and outcast, seek love there.


Monday, 15 December 2014

Stories to warm the cockles of your heart, Nina

A cold gust of wind blew along the street, bringing the last few wayward leaves to order. They scuttled into a corner near the ice-cream shop and crowded into a heap as though they were trying to keep warm. Nina kicked them gently with her worn ankle boots, an old childhood habit. She caught sight of her reflection in the window. Her slight figure and neat bob belied her years. She could have passed for a young girl. She sighed and dug her hands deep into her pockets to try and keep them warm. ,She had come out of the factory to do some quick Christmas shopping and hadn't realized how cold it was. The sky was ominously grey and the nearby mountains were no longer visible. Nina walked on to the new emporium that had just opened up, maybe she could get all her presents there. She passed the Florists and paused to admire the lavish display of Christmas compositions. The young girl Giada who worked there was putting some finishing touches to the display of holly and mistletoe centre pieces.

' Did you have a nice birthday? Did you like the roses? Your husband said he's been sending you roses for forty years now. I think it's so romantic.' Giada beamed.

'Oh yes they were beautiful. Thank you. I like the silver glitter too, makes them look very festive.'

Nina walked on thinking about the roses. She had never got over the disappointment of that day all those years ago, when she had just left school. Fulvio had arrived at her house with his small cinquecento overflowing with roses. He had bowed low in a dramatic gesture and told her they were for her and could he take her out. Her mother and sisters had gasped and simpered and ran to tell her father. It was only when they had been married some years that he admitted that the roses were in fact free. His friend Marco grew flowers for the local market and had given him the first crop which would otherwise have been thrown away.
Now every year on her birthday Nina reminded him of this. Yesterday when he came in with her birthday roses she had put them in a vase without looking at him and mumbled

'What's the use of all these roses, they only last a couple of days.'

She didn't see the hurt look on his face as he left the room.

Nina walked past the war memorial. It was covered with garlands and red ribbons, damp and faded now after the November commemoration service. She looked at the familiar surnames engraved on the stone. Most of the family names of her small Northern Italian town were written there. Her mother's brother and her father's cousins, her uncle's best friend, not one family had been untouched. The same names were above the shop fronts and on the local builder's and plumber's vans and in the classroom registers. They told a story of sacrifice and survival. This Winter the mountains would soon be dotted with colourful skiers who would drink mulled wine and hot chocolate when darkness fell, but a hundred years ago there was quite a different scene up there. The soldiers in their dugouts would have watched gun fire light up the moonlit sky and sat shivering and frightened in their greatcoats waiting for dawn.
Whenever Nina and her sisters had sulked or threw tantrums because their clothes weren't washed or their hair was a mess or their boyfriends had left to work in Milan, their mother would point to the war memorial and remind them of the sacrifice that had been made so they could be free.

Nina turned as someone called her name. It was her neighbour Sandra coming out of the perfume shop clutching a whole array of gift-wrapped parcels.

'Oh Nina how nice to see you out and about, have you got time for a coffee''

Nina smiled at her . She liked Sandra. She had been her eldest son's Italian teacher and had given reassurance and comfort when Nina had despaired of her son ever passing his exams. He was now a confident young man in charge of the commercial side of the business and a devoted husband and father, but it had been a hard struggle for Nina..

'Thank you Sandra, I'd love to, I'll do my shopping first though because I've only got an hour.'

?I'll be in the café in twenty minutes then,who gets there first can order.'

Sandra left behind a waft of perfume, she must have been trying the samples. Nina pulled a strand of hair under her nose to see if the minestrone smell had gone. She seemed to smell of vegetable soup all the time. She was forever making soups and stews in the little kitchen at the factory for her son and daughter and the grandchildren. Most days there were six or seven people sitting round the small table. Nina was so tired. She had too much to do. She was a mother, a grandmother, an accountant, a cook and a cleaner.She hadn't been on holiday with Fulvio for years. She couldn't think of the future. She tried to take one day at a time.

Nina went into the emporium with a heavy heart. She greeted the young Romanian girl, Dana, who was married to Giacomo, who worked in the factory.
There was a mirror above the till and for a moment Nina didn't recognize the woman who stared back at her. How had she got so old? Where had all the years gone? Deep furrows on her brow and at the sides of her mouth gave her a permanently anxious look. She felt drab and grey and colourless.

 Dana smiled at her.
'What beautiful blue eyes you have got, you should wear blue to bring them out, we've got some new blouses in just the right shade, they're at the back on the left.'

'I've come to buy presents for other people no time to think of me.'

 Nina then felt ashamed then at her dismissive tone. Dana was probably only trying to be  kind. Giacomo was one of the best workers at the factory.
 She went to the back of the shop to search for gifts. This year had been the worst ever for the factory. Her husband had struggled to keep his forty employees working seven days a week. He was determined not to let any of them down. The markets had changed so much.  After the glorious sixties when their small region had exported as much as the whole of Greece, they were now having to compete with China and it seemed like a losing battle.
 Nina stopped in front of some pretty red nighties with fur trim. There had never been anything like that in the shops when she was young and it was too late now. Fulvio was so tired in the evenings that he went to sleep on the sofa. She would find him in the morning with the television still on. She couldn't remember the last time that she had woken up to find his warm body pressed against hers.

 Dana came up to her.
'Aren't they pretty? I've sent some home to my mother. You can be sort of Mother Christmas. There's one left in your size.'

Nina studied Dana's face. Was she making fun of her or did she really think she could wear one of those flimsy things? There was a strange flutter in her stomach at the thought. What would Fulvio say? She thought of the roses and wished she had shown some enthusiasm.
 Dana was pulling out some boxes.
'Here we are, this is perfect for you. Turn the lights down low and put on some nice romantic music.'

Nina stopped herself laughing as she saw the expression on Dana's face. She really was serious. On an impulse Nina hugged her.

'Thank you Dana, I'll take one and a blue blouse too. I'll come back tomorrow for the presents.'

 Dana gift- wrapped the red nightie saying it was her present to Nina. She knew it had been a hard year. Nina looked at herself in the mirror again. She couldn't stop smiling, was it her imagination or did she look younger, lighter. Her blue eyes shone brightly like a sudden patch of blue sky breaking through the clouds on a rainy day. As she crossed the square to meet Sandra she felt like a teenager planning a date for the evening. Maybe she could ask for some perfume samples.She imagined herself dancing with one of the roses between her teeth. It was as though something had opened up inside her letting in light and new possibilities.

 She would still take each day as it comes, but today was going to be really special.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Poem for the day, Santa Lucia

Today is Santa Lucia's special day. She is the patron saint of eyes so people will be going to ask her to protect their eye sight. Our eyes are our most precious jewels. No matter what the colour or shape they are it is the expression in them that makes them  beautiful.
 'The eyes are the windows to the soul', said William Shakespeare.
'The eyes are the mirror of the soul.' Paulo Coelho.
'The eyes are the lamp of the body.' Matthew 6.22-23

How often do you hear about a cold stare, a warm look. You notice straight away whether someone's smile reaches their eyes or not. The wrinkles that form around our eyes are called Laughter lines, that's what they are., not crow's feet , laughter lines, so be proud of them.

I have two poems for today that are really songs but the words are so lovely I'm going to write them here. One is about Irish eyes and was written in 1912, the other is a song from Naples. I think you can only see the links to you tube if you're on your computer.
I hope you enjoy them.
Oh yes children in Verona will be receiving presents today, they don't have to wait for Father Christmas.

When Irish eyes are smiling

When Irish eyes are smiling
Sure, it's like a morn in Spring,
In the lilt of Irish laughter
you can hear the angels sing
When Irish hearts are happy
All the world is bright and gay
Yes when Irish eyes are smiling
Sure they'll steel your heart away.



And now dedicated to Santa Lucia and please may she protect our eyes, here is a famous Italian song from Naples.



Santa Lucia

Sul mare luccica                      
L'astro d'argento;
placida è l'onda,
prospero il vento.
Venite all'agile
barchetta mia!
Santa Lucia
Santa Lucia

Con quest zeffiro
cosi soave
oh com'è bello
star sulla nave!
Su passaggeri,
venite via!
Santa Lucia
Santa Lucia

Friday, 12 December 2014

Stories to warm the cockles of your heart. Threads of gold

The snowfall during the night had completely covered the For Sale sign.
Jilly went to brush it away, but her gloved hand hovered in mid air. Just for a moment longer she wanted to look at the house as her home.

 She looked up at the beautiful bow window where her dressing table had been. She had sat there brushing her dark brown curly hair and putting kohl eyeliner round her beautiful brown eyes thousands of times. Their first party, back from the honeymoon and eager to have their friends round as a married couple. The house had seemed far too big for a young couple but Tom had inherited it along with the business from his parents. It was her refuge after her traumatic miserable childhood, at last a haven. Tom wanted  four children and lots of animals. It had been so exciting knowing that they would close the door at the end of the evening and go up to their bedroom, freshly decorated by Tom . She had bought a new pink satin baby doll for the occasion. Carole King had been singing on the radio, 'Tapestry'. She'd loved that song , she'd never really listened to the words just let herself be cradled by the soft melody. She only knew the first few lines.

My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue,
An everlasting vision of the ever-changing view
A wondrous, woven magic in bits of blue and gold
A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold.

Jilly walked across the garden enjoying the crunchy noise her boots made in the snow. She looked up at her son Ben's bedroom window. No-one who met him now, a charming dedicated vet with a busy practise in Exeter, could possibly guess what a difficult baby and toddler he had been. All those sleepless nights, his terrible colic and then his learning difficulties that were due to an undiagnosed hearing problem. It had been a challenge for them both, left on their own all the time. She had poured all her patience and humour into bringing him up. His love of animals had saved them both, the little dogs and cats that had been a constant source of joy, hamsters, guinea pigs, they had loved them all. Tom was so busy at work, often travelling away from home for weeks on end, when he came home tired and exhausted she had always tried to create a happy atmosphere to make him want to come back, it seemed that she had spent her whole marriage worrying about losing him.

 Jilly stood still breathing in the crisp air and savouring the tingling sensation on her cheeks. She looked at the flower bed where all their various pets had found a final resting place. She thought of the baby she had lost before Ben was born, maybe that's why she had had so much patience with him, she felt so lucky to have him. Her phone rang startling the few birds who were looking for food in the garden hedge. It was Tom.

'I'm nearly there now, won't be long, sorry I'm late.'

It was a sort of mantra that she had heard so many times when he was away on his trips. She replied as she always had,

'That's alright, take your time, I'll be waiting, love you.''

With a sigh she walked up to the kitchen window and peered in. How many times had she sought solace at the large oak table, going through the motions of putting the kettle on and making tea, her mother's  solution to all problems.. When she'd lost the baby, when her mother had died, when her father had told her that he was off to live in Scotland with a girl from work, and whenever Tom rang to tell her time and time again that he wouldn't  be home after all, he would be late, something had cropped up, he had to stay overnight.

The phone rang again, this time it was her friend Cathy.

'Hey there Jilly, all ok? Your bed's all ready and I've made a Thai curry.'

'Thanks Cathy, 8 o clock ok for you?'

'Great,, and I've got a dvd for us to watch.'

Jilly  shivered as a few snowflakes started to fall. This was going to be another white Christmas.
She thought how different it would be this year and felt an unexpected thrill of excitement. She started humming Carole King's song.

When Ben had left to go to uni she had gone to the doctor thinking she had empty nest syndrome. She was crying all the time and felt like a black cloud was hanging over her. Without looking up the doctor scribbled a prescription for some pills. Then two years ago a new doctor had taken his place. He suggested that Jilly could talk to someone  and stop taking the pills.
The next thing she knew she was sitting in a comfortable armchair talking to a well-groomed young woman called Mary. Through a mist of tears Jilly told her all about her childhood, how she had had to act as go-between with her angry aggressive father and her mum who never had the strength to do any housework or put a hot meal on the table. How she had hoped to have such a wonderful marriage and family with Tom, but he was always away and she was so afraid he would leave her, about coping on her own with her son Ben, about her disappointment at having left school at fifteen with no qualifications, .
Mary made her a cup of tea. She listened carefully but didn't say much. It was only afterwards on the way home that she switched the radio on and there was Carole King. At that moment she saw her life as a shining gem radiating energy and possibility that no-one but she would ever possess no matter what its deficiencies. Her relationship with Tom and her own father might have cracked but perhaps new pathways could be navigated, winding their way round the obstacles and forging better ones.
That evening she told Tom that she loved him , she only wanted him, and did he want her still ?
He looked at her in amazement.

'You see Tom I was listening to 'Tapestry' and I thought of something I read once, I think it's by St.Paul. He says our lives are like a tapestry.. At the moment we can only see the broken threads, the loose ends, the bits where the colour changes and the slipped stitches, but one day it will be turned over and then it will be  a picture and I want mine to be a good one.'

Tom's mouth hung open.

' Ben is opening an animal sanctuary with Misha his girlfriend and says I could work there. There's a cottage for sale nearby. This house is too big for us and I feel lonely being so much on my own. I' d like to see a new family living here. It needs to be filled with laughter and muddy football boots and loud music coming from the bedrooms.'

Tom put his arms round her.

'Jilly, you and Ben are all my world. It's you that have kept me going all these years. I know it's been hard for you but I couldn't have done it without you. Ben told me about the animal sanctuary and I think it's a great idea. I'm looking into early retirement. We'll have a new start.'
He kissed her tenderly.
 I want to be the star of your tapestry, I want to be a golden thread. We'll make it magnificent.'
He kissed her again. This time with all the passion of a new love as though they had met for the first time and were drawn by an irresistible attraction. Then he drew back and wiped away a tear from her cheek.

' We'll find a nice family to carry on the torch here,'

Jilly hugged him tight and tried to stop the tears. Tom held her away from him and he saw her as the lovely young woman who had sat at the dressing table on the night of their first party. He grinned at her.

'Have you still got that pink baby doll ?'

The snow was falling thick and fast and Jilly went round to the front of the house. Tom would be here soon and then they would go to Cathy's for the night and drive down to the cottage tomorrow. Misha was preparing a special Christmas lunch. She was from Belarussa and was delighted that they would all be living near each other.
She put her hand up to the sign and with a swift movement brushed the snow off to reveal the word.
 Tom drove up and parked with a flourish in the drifting snow. As she walked towards him she made a Christmas wish for the new family moving in full of hopes to make a beautiful tapestry of their lives.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Stories to warm the cockles of your heart

A very dear friend of mine has suggested that my Christmas collection of stories could be called 'stories that warm the cockles of your heart.' I like this idea so much and so I am going to dedicate them to her and that will be the title of the collection.
For those of you who aren't familiar with this wonderful expression I looked up the origin. It seems to date back to the seventeenth century. There are three possible explanations :-
1 it could be due to the resemblance of the shape of cockles to the shape of hearts.
2 It may be a corruption of the Latin word, cochleae, cochleae cordis or the ventricles of the heart.
3 it might have an Irish Gaelic origin inspired by molluscs opening when exposed to warmth, notably as in cooking. You know you should never eat a mollusc that has stayed firmly closed during the cooking process!.

Number three is definitely my favourite. Whatever the origin the meaning of the expression is lovely. It means to provide happiness and bring about a deeply felt contentment. There is a lot of kindness in the world and when it appears it always warms the cockles of our hearts.

I hope you'll enjoy my stories. Today just a quick poem for bedtime which my mother used to sing and some photos of warmth and cheer.

Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,
Smiles awake you when you rise.
Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby:

Candle light is always cheerful to see

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

'Tis the season to be jolly

Deck the halls with boughs of Holly tra la la la la la la
'Tis the season to be jolly, tra la la la la la la la la

Last year I told you all about the history of Christmas crackers, about Tom Smith and how wonderful it is to see us all with a paper hat and reading out the jokes. That's the moment that we all become children again. No-one can be taken seriously pontificating while wearing a paper hat from a cracker. So let the fun begin. you might even like to make your own and use them as place names. The only thing that's difficult is finding the bit you  have to pull to make the bang.
Here are some jokes that you can write out and place inside just to hear everyone groaning.

What's the most popular wine Christmas?
I don't like Brussell sprouts.

whine... frignare

What do you get if you cross an elephant with a hose?
A jumbo jet.

What do you get if you cross a chicken with an watch?
An alarm cluck.

What happened to the burglar who stole an advent calendar?
He got 25 days.

What did baby corn say to mummy corn?
Where's popcorn.

Who hid in the bakery at Christmas?
A mince spy, mince pie.

What do you call a cow that plays the guitar?
A Moo sician...

A text from a young man at uni..

No fun, send mon(ey), your son,
Reply... How sad, too bad, your dad.

I'm scraping the barrel a bit here.

What does a man do standing up, a woman sitting down and a dog on three legs?
Shake  hands.

I hope you are able to listen to my link from you tube here, deck the hall with boughs of holly..

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Lighting up time

The moon shines bright on us all

Peace on earth and mercy mild

Oh happy day

Let it be


These are the songs that rang through the crisp air this afternoon as lights came on to brighten the streets and lighten hearts.
Now to lighten up is a good thing. It doesn't mean be superficial , no not at all.Treat others with kindness and greet them with a smile, put your worries aside.
All this wonderful technology that so many people have at their fingertips is often criticized. Too much social networking might deter people from making proper friends or too much sitting around might make everyone unfit. Like everything it's surely a question of equilibrium.
It's certainly much easier and nicer to be able to keep in touch with those you are very fond of but don't have much chance to meet up. If people you care about live a long way away you can keep your relationship ticking over so when you do meet again you don't start from scratch, you can share in their daily joys and cares.
So this post is to wish that all this social networking will bring light into people's lives and bring peace .
Lighting up time

The cheerfulness of the hearth

My poem for the day is by Robert Louis Stevenson about the joys of an open fire. How lovely it is to come inside on a Winter's day and sit in front of a fire. It is quite a hypnotic sight, watching the flames and the sparks flying up the chimney.

In rigorous hours, when down the iron lane
The redbreast looks in vain
For hips and haws,
Lo, shining flowers upon my window pane
The silver pencil of the winter draws.

When all the snowy hill
And the bare woods are still;
When snipes are silent in the frozen bogs,
And all the garden garth is whelmed in mire;
lo, by the hearth, the laughter of the logs -
More fair than roses, lo, the flowers of fire!

A stack of logs by the fire

There's nothing like a roaring fire on a winter day

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Il cielo è rosa, venite a vederlo! The sky is pink, come and see !

What a delight it is on a dull Winter's day when the sky is grey from the moment you wake up, the dawn hardly makes a difference to the light and then in the afternoon the sky makes an effort to break through the gloom and you notice with delight that there are shades of pink behind the clouds. The rosy hues bring a quiet joy and then you might be invited to gaze upon this sight and join in the wonder as seen through a child's eyes.

Today was such a day and so my poem is this verse by Robert Browning which could have been inspired by looking at such a sky.

O never star
Was lost, here
We all aspire to heaven and there is heaven
Above us.
If I stoop
Into a dark tremendous sea of cloud
It is but for a time, I press God's lamp
Close to my breast; its splendour soon or late
Will pierce the gloom, I shall emerge some day.

What a lovely sky at sunset.

Stories to warm the cockles of your heart. Snapshots from the park

There were only a few people left in the park. Just a few families hurrying home to have tea by the Christmas tree and wrap the last presents. A few teenagers wearing reindeer antlers and father Christmas hats gave some welcome cheer to the gloom. Dusk was already falling even though it was early afternoon. Rosalie shivered in her thin silky dress and pulled her woollen shrug round her shoulders. Her blonde hair was swept up to reveal her new diamond earrings ,an early Christmas present from Tom to wear at his office party. Rosalie thought how conspicuous she must look and moved to the railing round the lake, huddling over to keep warm. The ducks were swimming around looking for the last of the crumbs that the children had thrown. Rosalie opened her new silver clutch to see if their was anything there. Sometimes she had a small packet of biscuits, an old habit from when the children were small, but there was nothing, just the modern girls' survival kit of lipstick and concealer. Her phone and money were all in the car along with her keys.

They'd driven up to London in good time to beat the holiday traffic to attend the office party. They'd argued all the way, as they often did now, about the usual unimportant things, like where to go for New Year and if they should invite his mother to stay.
As they'd parked the car in front of the office Tom's phone rang.

Hi Svetlana, we're here, just parking, she's come too, .'

Rosalie turned on her husband , all the anger and fear of the last few weeks bursting out in a fury.

'Who is this Svetlana? Why do you speak to her in such a seductive way? Don't deny it Tom, I know it's wrong but I couldn't help looking at your phone, so many calls and texts from Svetlana, it's me or her. You're never at home and I feel so lonely now the children are at uni. I'm not going to the party.'

Rosalie flung herself out of the car and slammed the door. She didn't see the look of astonishment on Tom's face as she ran towards the park.
She watched the ducks swimming towards her, it calmed her down and her heart stopped racing. She thought the male ducks looked like Tom, all groomed and attractive, she felt like the female ducks, brown and plain..
Rosalie turned to the bench and noticed a well-built unshaven man sitting there and looking at her. He stood up and joined her at the railing.

'We can learn a lot by looking at the ducks. Look at that one, I call her Tonya, and that black one with the white crest, he is Boris, and the beautiful mallard is Karl. They were the names of my brothers and sister, it is like having them here with me.'

He spoke with a heavy accent, Rosalie guessed Eastern European. Close up she could see that beneath his worn overcoat he wasn't well built at all, but thickly padded with newspaper. He smiled at her and she saw the humour and warmth that must have been such a part of him. His face was covered with wrinkles and laughter lines. It was like staring into a rich happy past.

'I was just thinking how funny that nature makes the male more attractive. In humans the man seems to get more attractive as the years go by but women lose their ability to attract as they reach my age.' She sighed and  put her hand on her cheek.

'You are a beautiful woman, any man would be lucky to have you, but aren't you getting cold.? Why are you on your own in the park now?

Some instinct told her to trust the man and she found herself pouring out her worries. She told him about the children going to uni, her husband being made director of his company, her job as a teacher in the local primary school and how all romance seemed to have dwindled away from her life. She felt lost and lonely.
'And then in the Summer my father died and this will be the first Christmas without him..'
Rosalie stopped in mid-sentence, her words hanging in the air. She felt so ashamed of herself. Here she was moaning on and on to this poor man who probably hadn't got a home to go to and was going to sleep on this bench. She put out her hand and touched him on the arm, but he just smiled at her and nodded.
'I understand all this, you are still in love with your husband and that is good, that is why you feel this jealousy, and of course you miss your father, that is live, we are always missing the ones we love or hurting them. He coughed and doubled over a look of great pain crossed his face.
'But come we must get you warm, where are you going?'
Rosalie let him lead her across the park to where the car was parked.
'I haven't got the keys though,' she shivered and her teeth started to chatter violently.
There was a flash of silver as he took something from his pocket, it looked like a razor blade, and then the door was open. Rosalie got into the passenger seat and felt for her bag, she took out all the money she had and the box of cough sweets from the glove compartment. She thrust them at the man who tried to back away, 'No no, kindness is free,' but she was too quick for him and buried them deep in his pocket.
She looked up as Tom called to her, he was running towards her .

'Rosalie, where did you go, I couldn't understand a word you said, I had my headset on. What's happened?'

'Nothing Tom, I just said I love you, that's all. I'm so proud of you and I'm looking forward to meeting Svetlana.'

She put her arms around his neck and pulled him towards her. She held his hand tight as they walked into the party.
Rosalie remembered something her father used to say.
'Help and reassurance can appear in the most unexpected  ways.'

Friday night supper for four

It always seems to be Friday. It comes round so fast. Here is a great recipe for a Friday night. It's nice for friends and family. we are told that we must eat fish for the Omega 3 and this is an easy way to have your weekly ration.You can use spaghetti or rigatoni pasta and serve with a salad of  crunchy white cabbage, thinly sliced and dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, honey and walnuts. Simply combine the first four ingredients together in a bowl  according to taste and then mix into the cabbage. Sprinkle the walnuts on top.

Spaghetti with tuna and anchovies.

300 g spaghetti or rigatoni
olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
5 anchovy fillets
sprinkle of chilli, or paprika
300g good quality tuna in olive oil
juice of one lemon
handful of pine nuts
knob of butter
grated Parmesan cheese

Put a large saucepan of water onto boil for the pasta
Put a small amount of olive oil in a non stick pan and gently fry the garlic, chilli and anchovy slices until they turn into a paste. Add the pine nuts and cook for a few minutes.Add the drained tuna and mix well.
Sprinkle over the lemon juice and some parsley if liked. Add some water from the pasta and mix well.
Cook and drain the spaghetti or rigatoni and then stir in the sauce and cook gently over a low heat for a few minutes. Turn of the heat, add the butter  and stir well. Sprinkle over the grated cheese.

Italian cooking just has to be the original fast food. This supper dish can be prepared in half an hour, just using two pans and all on the top of the stove.
Serve with the cabbage salad and follow with mandarini or tangerines.

Have a lovely evening and a nice weekend