So. An update. Let's see. For various reasons that we need not go into at this time, I am learning Italian and moving to Italy. I'm fairly sure this is a bloody stupid idea, but since I'm going along with it anyway, I might as well enjoy it. At least Italy seems to be well supplied with good bookshops? To date, I very much like Italian verbs, which conjugate prettily, and am significantly less fond of Italian nouns, which come with an unnecessarily extensive and confusing set of prepositions: apparently I'm quite happy to remember whether one uses, say, the dative or the ablative (as in Latin), but confronted by a host of pesky little 'a's and 'a + article's and 'in's I retreat in confusion.
The house to which I will eventually (deo volente) be moving has many attractive and desirable features, although these do not currently include wiring, plumbing or, in some areas, floors. Obviously, undertaking a major renovation of a property uninhabited for at least the last 50 years, in a country the language of which you do not currently speak, with absolutely no experience renovating anything, is a sensible and obvious course of action, and I cannot understand why more people don't do it.
I can't help noting that in the last year – a year in which I was supposed to finally settle down and stay in one place, I ended up at various points in Albania, Chile, Columbia, Croatia, Ecuador, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Malaysia, Panama, Peru, Turkey and the UK, plus miscellaneous airports*. Which does seem rather a lot, when I list it out like that. (And then of course I decided to move to Italy.) Perhaps it's time to accept that I'm just not cut out for this whole staying in one place thing? Possibly the fact I've averaged over my entire life somewhere between two and two and a half years per home might have been an earlier clue to this.
Luckily, even at that far distant point – doubtless considerably more far distant than the current builder's estimate – when the work now envisaged on the Italian house is complete, there will still be a number of areas that could use further work, which is a very good thing, because moving again would be a major pain (both to sell the property, given the less than brilliant state of the Italian property market, and because it will be the first time in 7 years all my possessions will be in one place, and the thought of packing them all up again is daunting even for me) and it hasn't escaped my notice that the moment part way through last year when I hung the final picture, completing the decoration of the last room in this apartment, was pretty much precisely the moment I started making serious plans to leave. I really, truly am abysmal at sticking in one place. (I'm not even going to pretend I actually intend to live permanently in Italy, as opposed to just using it as a base. At this point everyone, including me, would have to know I was lying.)
What else? My grandfather, to whom I was very close as he pretty much brought me up, died in August. Given his great age this was not, obviously, a surprise, although since his age was combined almost to the end with good health, largely unimpaired mind and remarkable strength I had got around to thinking him pretty much eternal. ( Cut for discussion of death )
Well, that was last year. What, I wonder, of the year ahead? I aim to post more (proper meta, I mean, not more self-involved rambling); hopefully also my Italian will improve, or I will find a phrasebook with helpful sentences such as 'Why are there five sets of plans of this property lodged with various government offices, all different from each other, and every single one inaccurate?' and 'But you were supposed to have finished strengthening this wall last week'. Oh, and that meme currently doing the rounds? The one that assumes you have so few books piled up around you that it's an easy task to figure out which one is nearest? Taking my best guess as to the nearest books, my sex life will be summed up either by "In the later Indo-Aryan languages, as in the later languages of western Europe, rhyme became a regular feature of verse" or "However, in 1874 the harvest in Bosnia and Herzegovina failed". Frankly, I find both these options unpropitious, especially the latter: I can only assume I read the wrong sort of books. So I'm unilaterally altering it from the first sentence of pg 45 of 'the nearest book' to 'the book selected at random from nearest bookcase', which gives me the altogether more attractive "Such reminiscences could include youthful liaisons with singing girls, or represent singing girls as part of the beautiful 'scenery' of the far-off land." Dear 2012: I expect singing girls.
* At one point I flew in transit through both Houston and Moscow. In one of these airports: I got off the plane; queued up to show my boarding card; queued up again (while being regaled by tannoy announcements anent not saying anything which might be considered inappropriate nor behaving in a suspicious manner, but immediately obeying all commands); was cross-questioned as to where I lived, what my job was, why and whence and whither I was travelling, and finger-printed; queued up again to pick up my cases; queued up yet again to check them back in; queued up to be given the world's most incompetent full body pat-down (seriously, I have no idea at all what they thought wouldn't be picked up by the regular metal-detector but would by their half-hearted and undertrained groping); queued up at the gate to present my boarding pass once more; and queued up to be lined up against one wall with my carry-on against the other wall for the benefit of a sniffer dog. At the other: I got off the plane, looked round the shops and wondered if I felt like having a cup of coffee. One of these two airports is located in the land of the free and home of the brave, but somehow I'm having trouble remembering which.