The Turks say that Istanbul is like a prostitute – beautiful, but dangerous. I decided to portray the intensely stimulating mix of beauty and danger, which so characterises Istanbul, in my novel “Evil Eye.” The day-dreamy heroine, Celeste, is dragged into a mysterious adventure of threats, violence and narrow escapes which makes its way though … More Istanbul, the Prostitute City
Mine does. He’s eight. People often comment on how much he knows about animals and their evolution. A few days ago I was watching a film with him in which this bizarre little animal appeared: “That’s a honey badger,” he told me immediately. “They love eating honey but they sometimes attack lions to steal their … More Does your child know more than you do?
Until recently, in my part of Sicily, owning an iPhone was so cutting edge and high-tech that it was basically one step away from being an astronaut. In a culture where speaking is impossible without bilateral full-arm gesticulation, it was fairly obvious that talking to people using just two thumbs would feel far too restrictive. … More Big Brother Is Watching You
This afternoon we went for a walk around central Palermo. In Piazza Politeama we saw these fellows. The man at the bottom was sitting cross-legged on a glass tumbler. All along Via Ruggiero Settimo there were buskers playing drums and guitars, there were fire-breathers and jugglers, there were men on stilts making balloon animals for the … More Multicultural Sicily: The Good, the Bad and the Downright Ridiculous
We celebrated Christmas this year with roughly forty people. I could not count accurately as they were Sicilian, therefore unable to keep still. There were four different pasta courses. One was spaghetti with olive oil, lemon zest and cheese, served in a bowl carved out of a whole Parmesan cheese. Another pasta course was with … More Christmas in Sicily with Santa’s Smallest Elf
Throughout early November, the weather here in Sicily is often still warm and summery enough to go for a swim in the sea. We Sicilian housewives are still walking about in our boob tubes and hot pants (or something like that) while our poor fellow Europeans, up in Germany and England, are getting wet and … More Festival of St Martin: Time for Children to Drink Wine and Play with Naked Flames
Sicilians, like many other Mediterranean people, give little gifts of sugared almonds to all their friends when celebrating the key events in their lives. If they are fancily wrapped sugared almonds, they are called confetti. If the almonds also have a gift attached, the whole thing is called a bomboniera. Sicilians take this art form … More What does “Confetti” mean in Italian?
One of my little boy’s milk teeth fell out recently. He now has two outsize grown-up size teeth at the centre of his mouth, and a space each side of them. He looks like a rodent. “Do you want to leave it under your pillow for the tooth fairy?” I asked him. “Or do you … More What did YOU do with your milk teeth?
In Sicily, if you open your mouth and say something about the Mafia, if you just pronounce the word Mafia in public, the reaction will be sharp intakes of breath all around you and horrified silence. It is a social gaffe even more hideous than meeting your new mother-in-law with your flies undone whilst going … More Padre Puglisi has been Beatified. Can we PLEASE talk about the Mafia now?
My little boy had a fantastic idea yesterday: We should institute an International Joke Day. This is a day when everyone tells every one else a great joke, to cheer up the whole world. I think he is a genius, and so I officially declare that tomorrow, Monday 22 April, is International Joke Day. IF … More International Joke Day
Sorry I haven’t written any posts for so long. I’ve been too busy mopping up puke. My little boy has vomited almost every day for the last three months. The house smells like a bleach factory, and I am buying new mops from the local hardware store so often that the cashier there thinks I … More La Traviata and the Italian Art of being ill Dramatically
I electrocuted myself yesterday. I was cleaning the toaster and I forgot to unplug it first. That’s what having a seven-year-old with verbal diarrhoea and real diarrhoea, both at once, can do to your mental faculties. Whilst emptying the equivalent of three whole loaves of bread, transformed into burnt offerings, out of the bottom of … More The Top 5 causes of Death in the Home: Doing Housework
Yesterday, someone in Belarus hacked into my Facebook account. What did the Slavonic sod want? What did he find out about me? I have images of him in my head, in his standard-issue East European shell suit trousers, toasting his friends with a bottle of Stolichnaya in one hand and a samovar full of beetroot … More We Sicilians Want Some Privacy, Capeesh?
Sicilians have their own unique playing cards. They look like this: The fishermen in my village are always out on the seafront, playing cards on upturned barrels between their fishing excursions. They all shout loud enough to startle the dead at certain card plays. They smack their winning cards down rather like a butcher hacking … More Sicilian card games