Venetian Sighs: 8th May Italy

20170508_124630The day before had been a long drive through the rain and the farmlands of the Po Valley, through silent sleeping towns. It was a Sunday in Italy, I’d forgotten that Italy is the epicenter of the Catholic world and Sundays are observed here, big time.

Oh and I’d figured out who the priest with the mischievous face was whose picture had been everywhere Brescello. He was familiar somewhere and turns out wasn’t the local revolutionary I’d initially thought. He was ‘Don Camillo’ the star character in 5 films taken from a series of short satirical stories set in post war Italy and Brescello was where it had been set and shot had become a classics and are still regularly screened nowDon Camillo and crucifix

The themes of the stories were a tongue in cheek take on the clash between the Roman Catholic church (Don Camillo) and the Communist party, (the Mayor Peppone or Big Joe) of post war Italy, again I felt I’d arrived in accidentally in a historical place and I’d been really happy to just be there Brescello.20170507_142228

Every town and village we rolled through that Sunday was closed down, maybe a flicker of a light in a half shuttered bar, or now and again we’d get caught in cluster of cars, behind a Grandma or Grandpa out on a Sunday visit, peering over the wheel creeping along with 10 cars behind trying to get past20170507_143124

The plus was that that was the only traffic on the road until we got into Padua where everybody in the Po Valley except Grandma and Grandpa seemed to have gone to spend the Sunday, it was packed.

I’d had a wonderful visit from my Mum on the way, I know these things may seem strange at times and I have wondered if I should write them at all, but I’ve worked hard, focused and practiced for many years and it’s just a part of my life and is very matter of fact to me

It had been a long drive and I’d drifted into a very quiet place within myself and had just opened up. I’d made a couple of sandwiches earlier and had dropped the contents of one into my lap, trying to eat and drive as the road had taken a turn

I’d clearly and heard someone say dryly

“You’re a messy eater”

I’d said playfully “Oh ok, and who is that?”

The answer came straight back with a resounding

“It’s me, your Mother”

It really tickled me and was playfully told off for laughing too, my mum could be very funny at times

So I’d chatted as we neared the city, I asked and I’d explained a few things and lets just say, I was heard. Later on in Padua I’d spent an hour basking in the incredible energies within the astonishing Basilica of St Anthony and later sipped a few beers working away in café bar somewhere lost in the lanes of the old city20170507_231952

Next morning I’d slept through the alarm and woken at 10am, which is unheard of particularly on the side of a busy road. I’d woken in the night and not been able to get back off to sleep. James had come to me in a dream, we’d held each other tightly, long lost friends, both of us had wept, saying over and over

“Sorry, so sorry”

So I’d read some more of the “Lost language of Plants” by Stephen Harrod Buhner until the birds had got really loud and light began to creep under the dividing blind

I’d put the wax earplugs in, the birds really were making a racket and next thing I’d woken with a jolt and jumped up immediately as I realized the time. I peeped to see if I’d got a ticket as parking restrictions began at 8am, but none there, phew. I had a bird bath in our little sink, sorted everything I’d need for the day and in a few minutes slid the side door open and stepped down into the street and there right in front of Pearl was a traffic warden

I said gently “dooay minautos?”

He’d just nodded and smiled a lovely smile, it surprised me and I looked twice at him, as it was so warm and genuine.

As I’ve said before the road signage in Italy is pretty good and so it was easy to find the way from Padua towards Venice but boy it wound through a seriously ugly industrial wasteland, then the motorway through more industrialized carnage and bad land on that industrial poisoned coast, ugly desolate and shameful.

As we drew near I’d remembered Mark and Karen where I’d built Pearls interior. We’d been chatting and he’d said ‘when you get near there are parking lots’, and ‘you can then take the bus in’ I remembered a little light had gone on and it came back on again as we approached Venice. So I’d watched out, I saw a couple of random parking signs and on instinct I turned off. It sounds easy as I’m writing this but on all these unknown roads there can be quite a high anxiety.

When I returned later I realized that had I missed that turning there would have been no turning back, it was the last one before the bridge across and would have been a long detour all the way back out or a load of hassle once in there, you’d have to see the turning, it was remarkable I even saw it never mind turned off.

I was a little nervous leaving Pearl all the way out there. It said 4.50 euros for the day but there were no attendants to be seen. I figured there were hundreds of other cars parked, so smoothed my feathers down locked her up and set off walking down that dusty derelict road looking back now and again nervously over my shoulder. I peered into a porta-cabin window and spied a young guy who pointed me further up the road towards the bus stop.

The bus came within minutes, I hoped on, nobody asked for a fare so I presumed it was free, within about 30 seconds we were tearing across the one and only road into Venice, with the sea on either side. It was all quite surreal, there was Venice with its domes and all its romance sitting on the ocean like a foggy glass domed ornament, a misty mirage and getting closer

My Grandad had served in Italy in the war and had come to Venice. He’d said it was the most romantic city he had ever seen. My Mum, had always wanted to visit there and don’t think she ever did, so yesterday I’d invited them both along.

The bus was packed, everybody going to work, Italians selling trinkets and food, Bangladeshis selling selfie sticks, and tall slim chiseled Africans selling imitation Gucci handbags. Venice looked just like the pictures I’d seen and I laughed at myself, of course it did. I just wished I’d not seen them and that I’d discovered it all for myself, I was looking forward to it, it was such a treat

Ten minutes later the bus pulled into the island bus station ,everyone disembarked spilling out in all directions as if the bus a balloon had been punctured. I stood still looked further afield for the direction of flow, spied a bridge that seemed to lead off into the ancient place20170508_132317

Venice is actually a floating city and consists of 118 small islands now connected by canals and bridges. Remarkably the city was built on wooden platforms that rest upon hundreds and thousands of 4 meter wooden stakes driven down into the sand of the islands.

After the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century Barbarians were raiding Rome’s former territories in the north, so for safety the nearby population had escaped into the marshes and onto these islands. Initially they were temporary but they then began building more permanent platforms and then the stone buildings on top of those platforms. It has to be said the Romans have always been able to build.

You’d think that wood would rot, but because its under water and driven into the sand and as they’re not exposed to oxygen they decay more slowly, also the constant flow of salt water around and through them has petrified the stakes over time turning the wood into a stone like structural support. Quite remarkable really when you walk around the beautiful atmospheric city with everything resting upon those old wooden stakes and platforms.

I set off into the labyrinth with no map and nowhere in particular to go trying to avoid getting caught up behind groups of college kids who blocked up the narrow lanes. Soon enough I was away over the bridges, beneath the arches through the hidden squares and under the billowing drying sheets of a Monday morning20170508_131814

I treated myself to some Gnocchi and an Americano and sat in the window looking out and along a picturesque canal, 12 euros, bargain, it sorted me out and slowed me down. I’m not sure where I went from there, who does in that maze of streets and waterways, I was just settling into myself and becoming peaceful in that beautifully crumbling atmosphere, dreamy and magical with the smell of the sea working its way inwards.

I’d been watching the people getting on with the daily stuff as I wandered around; I’d thought a venetian taxi driver looked like a cool job, they had long brown, great looking powerful boats, or maybe a white van man boat, doing removals, what a cool job in there, even the bin men on their huge barges looked chilled, the locals waved at one another from behind the wheels as they popped out for what ever cruising through the oyster encrusted canals walls

I found it hard to take a photo there too, I thought so many times ‘oh I know this’ and everybody had a camera or a phone camera and I mean everybody, it was quite disarming, somebody would lift theirs for a shot and other people would come and join them. I didn’t take ‘the’ shot so many times and kicked myself later.20170508_133338

I of course popped into the churches, quite a lot were pay in, which I always find a little objectionable, so I asked at one if I could just go an sit quietly, I just wanted to open up, I’d had word I’d have company today. I don’t mind what church or denomination or a temple is, I’ll go and sit in there, they are repositories of energy and designed for that purpose. So tucked away quietly in a corner in my leather bikers jacket I sat and worked hard bringing the energy in and up, it took a little effort, but I began to warm and glow.

I asked if my Mum was there, I felt her faintly my Granddad too, I was puzzled as it all seemed so quiet now. So I worked a harder but no seeing, nothing really came except that I was now absolutely glowing. I’m such a dummy at times, I’d connected and hadn’t realized it, I’m so nosy always looking for something to happen instead of just being, just the way I am but quiet exasperating at times.

I stepped out from the shadows of the old church with its darkened grimey masterpieces and spent the next few hours wandering to who know where in a deep and profound inner conversation. I wasn’t sure whether to write this, but honestly it is the reason I came out this time on my own, I’d wanted to connect, I’d missed it and connect I did, so here goes.

A year or two ago Stephen Fry the TV personality had been on some TV program or other going on about how wicked and evil God was and yet claimed to be an atheist. That was quite a puzzle and yet if God didn’t exist his version of the world was basically of terror and yet it seemed it was all Gods fault.

I’d realized or perhaps ‘I believe’ that he was expressing a deep sadness, a frustration, an anger and projecting it outwards. Somebody had posted it on facebook and I’d quipped something on the lines of “Oh poor me” It created what seemed like a mob mentality at the time jumping to his defense “leave him alone, poor Stephen” I even got called a troll and I sincerely meant no offence. I learned a lesson, do not ‘quip’ anything on line, you will be misunderstood

Last night as I was working I’d dipped into facebook and saw that he was

apparently going to be charged with Blasphemy, I think in Ireland for calling God “An utter maniac” and I think he’d said “evil” again, again quite a statement for an atheist I thought. But to even consider charging him for blasphemy is simply ludicrous isn’t it, they all seem to be playing into one another’s hand and any publicity is, good publicity right?

In the original piece I’d seen he’d gone on about viruses and about worms eating children’s eyes and now he talking about children with bone cancer and getting obviously very upset and I am not brushing any of these obvious tragedies aside, simply trying to stay on a point, for now

Stephen fry is a very intelligent likeable guy, but he doesn’t seem very emotional intelligent and that is the point. He is projecting outwards some inner angst, whether he is aware of it or not and it had spiked my interest again the night before.

Stating that God is cruel and vicious and evil is ‘to my ears’ coming from a person who is in pain and from what I have heard and read about Stephen, he seems to have had a long history of depression dealing perhaps with his homosexuality or perhaps other issues, and personally what floats your boat, however a person finds to express love and where ever a person finds love is ok with me or even plain old sexuality if it harms none, to me its nobody else’s business.

But here I suspect some crushing defeat from long ago, some injustice, a loss of personal power a wound that has been internalized. Emotion therefore an energy that will find expression and an outlet, it has too. Who knows what it could be, only him perhaps, but it seemed to me to his world become unfair and unjust, vicious, cruel, and evil and he’s pinning it on God.

I had my own fare share of defeats as a child, didn’t we all? I catch myself sometime in the act, and many times after the act, responding to those hurts still, but “what ever pains us we must journey there” right? We must find out where the wound is and stem the bleed, heal the wound.

Most of those who clicked ‘like’ gave no reason for their ‘like’ to me they simply confirmed that they are afraid of the world. That the world needs to be tamed, tarmacked, and cured, brought into line, made predictable. I found that saddening.20170508_131357.jpg

I realized it was just the springboard for a whole lot of thoughts that flooded in as a walked those narrow streets over the bridges, easy, glowing and free in my considerations and ideas that came to me. We should all make time to go and be, sink and swim within ourselves, well that’s me, I consider it a necessity, its work I enjoy.

There is pain in the world, there is illness disease and there is always death approaching, but there is life right now, that force that energy and it will find expression, there is and will always be reason and a reason, at times perhaps out of our understanding simply because of how we’ve been taught to believe; that God is outside of us, to consider that god is also within seems a conceit, how dare we, such arrogance, but it is nothing of the kind.

There is a creative force that responds to you, always, consistently, never failing, unswervingly, unfailingly, so be mindful of what you think and be careful what you put down the kitchen sink, there will be repercussions consequences and effect, your action and your will and importantly your unconscious will be answered.20170508_144756

The big guy with the beard is a metaphor from a time to help understand an idea and concept, to enlighten, some went on to use it to control. There is a creative force that just is and it will respond to the environmental factors and it will respond to you not by you begging but you by acting with a clear intention whatever that intention is. This is the garden and that too is a metaphor

There were so many other avenues that I flowed along as I walked; the seed of potential, all that is contained within us already when we are born into this world and how that shoot, the personality is already formed, all that that implies and how it is then influenced by the family and the environment it finds itself in; The book Lucy had bought us “The Lost Language of Plants” confirmed to me Nature is alive, the natural world around us is conscious of us and what we do to it, it will and does respond to what we do, and this is where virus and cancers come in. It is not Gods will, it is our unconscious living that seems to create all these ‘terrors’. Does that sound random? I mean it with as a deep clarity as I can at this time and at this point in my understanding in my life.20170503_125215

Strange ‘disease’s and new epidemics’, children with bone cancer? The Black Death was once put down as the wrath of God too, but turns out there were certain conditions at the time that created it’s emergence, also living in filth at the time, a perfect environment for lice to breed and rats to carry them into our homes, nothing to do with God, all to do with the environment we had created.

Would people really like someone or thing, some force somebody to come on down and explain that in fact, we are living in ignorance, perhaps even in denial. But then what about our free will? People don’t like being told what to do and so it’s is our journey to discover for ourselves and so to know and in the end so we shall

I cannot tell you why a small child has bone cancer, I will say again it must heartbreaking would seem unjust and cruel, if it were your/my child, but there will be a reason and it will be an environmental one either the thoughts the child has been living in and amongst or environmental ones they have been ingesting and absorbing, there will be a reason and in the end it will comes down to us, not God I try not to buy into all that anxiety, I wish to be rid of it so that our intellects can be put to better use, for all of us, though it should be said provocation can be very useful at times.

Our feelings colour the world and that is how it should be, that is the real magic, ignorance poisons and corrupts and our fears lash out or have a need to control. I have fallen for my own many times and we have to look inwards to find where that seed took root, truth is “there are no foreigners and you are not alone”20170508_143504

Cruelty perversion and violence are the result of a chain of events that culminate at a certain point, those forces began somewhere and that point, that seed needs to be understood for us to be free, for these things to stop

There is a creative force that just is Call it what you will but it will and does respond to you with what you expect either consciously or unconsciously. It suggests great responsibility and hard work on our part, not kicking and screaming and “tell it to stop” You make it stop, find a way.

There was a whole lot more and I filled the pages of my notebook with ideas that continued to flow all that afternoon. I still have so many questions that led on from that idea and I realized of course in the light of all this that of course they had kept their word and had been with me, just been quiet stood slightly back, I had worked hard to open and lift myself and I’d been given a lot to think about.

I felt it begin to ebb stopped and wondered where I was. I looked up, oh yeah Venice, cool. I found myself in front of the circular Church of Santa Maria Maddalena with its eye, pyramid and circle symbol above the door and the inscription “Sapienta Edificavit Sibi Domum” directly translated means “Wisdom Has Built Her House” which I found quite remarkable. I felt I’d done it justice with my time there that I’d used it well. Italy is full of narrow pastel coloured alleyways, so what to do in amongst them, well imagine, communicate, think, get to work.20170508_134405

It had been a great afternoon.

I had no idea how to get back to the bus station so again thank goodness for the phone. If there are any of my old Team Leaders reading this from the Network days, I have thanked you all so many times for that going away gift, the telephone with the wonderful camera and the GPS It has been invaluable, I could have been still be looking for a way out of Venice island20170508_134301.jpg

I was really hungry too and by the time, eventually, I got back to the bustling busy bus station I was wobbly with fatigue. I’d sensibly, and I don’t say that lightly, photographed the bus stop with the name of the stop. I asked the driver of the first bus I came too

“Via Della Liberta?” and showed him the pic

He just said “Si” It turned out to be the next stop, first one on the other side of the bridge. He was good enough to just stop for me and let me off.

Then back at Pearl I stepped in made a couple of sandwiches and placed them carefully on the front seat on a paper plate,

I quipped “Is that tidy enough for you”

The answer came immediately ringing back “Yes, much better”

Mum. I was laughing

From there after a little bit of hassle getting the gate to lift and get Pearl out of the car park and I was off. I thought I’d take the blue SS14 road and didn’t plan going too far, just to where ever I felt. As usual signage was great and we swooped past the airport along the busy road through the farm lands to a place called “Comune di Portoguardo” it was about an hour drive but I figured I was nearer to Slovenia where I’d drive to next day.

After toughing my way through the little congested town. Pressing on pushing in one more street, till I surprisingly came out in a beautiful square with beautifully carved white war memorial of a spirit stood in the saddle riding a powerful horse and behind it a massive leaning church tower, the area along the coast is sand and marsh land and all that weight, I’d thought as I looked up, make sure the foundations are solid before you go building any towers.

I spent the evening writing, sipping gorgeous and surprisingly low cost red wine in a beautiful bar just off the square listening to far away soul R&B. We were safe there, though I was feeling a cold coming on my teeth and jaw were aching, I think I may have Ian’s “coff” coming on. The reason for it. Too many cold damp nights and spending that one extra night with them, mind you it was well worth it and I’m tough I’ll fight it off.

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