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During my latest visit to Rome, whilst waiting for my luggage to appear, I happened to overhear a conversation going on between youngsters at the airport. It was a while ago, they were part of a school trip and were returning home to spend the rest of the weekend.

“Ok guys, I’ll see you on Facebook!”

“Yeah, see you there then!”

The spotty “Emo” teen actually used the verb “to see” to define what was going to be unequivocally a virtual encounter with a list of names on his computer screen. Gosh…. Me and my friends used to meet down the street, on the same spot: the benches under the trees “See you at the benches!” was the general invitation among us. None of this Facebook nonsense.Then it struck me. Why am I surprised? And why do I think I am not another victim of virtual-living? Listen to this extract of conversation between me and my other half:

“Hun, what are you doing?

“I’m just finishing to harvest some potatoes….”

“Come on! We’re running late!”

“WAIT! It took them 12 hours to grow…. I can’t miss the harvesting now or they’ll all go bad…”.

So very important.

Or, more scarily:

“Hun, Gabriel needs changing, I think he’s pooped…”

“Oh…. Crap…. Do you mind doing it? I’m still arranging some stones around my plantations….”

And even:

“MARCO! You are burning our dinner, can’t you see? WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING ON THAT STUPID PHONE OF YOURS?:”

“Uh? Oh! Sorry…. I was just planting some watermelons for the night….”

Me bad.

Before you start wondering, no, I haven’t ditched my city living in favour of a countryside existence revolving around cockerels, cows, muddy wellies and apple-picking festivals…… I wish I could…. I have fallen for another trap: The Smurf’s Village. A cute little virtual village where you get to be …. Well….. GOD!

I decide what to build and where, also I get to decide what to plant and how to lay down roads and stuff. It gives me the thrill of an outdoor stroll, with all the birds chirping and the little river murmuring away under the bushes and no muddy boots to deal with afterwards. It sounds like a teenage nerd dream, but here I am , 35 years old, with a son to look after, trying to jostle my day between nappy changes and potatoes to be harvested. What the fuck! So sad, really.

Furthermore, I do come from the countryside, back in Italy. My dad would start vomiting crucifixes if he knew that I spend the evening planting potatoes and digging trenches for my irrigation plant. God knows he had to restrain me and throw me in the trunk of his car to get me to the land and do some work with him. What can I tell you? Me and dirt under the nails don’t go together.

But returning to the impending demise of my real life in favour of my virtual one, why is it all happening? Is it happening only to me? I mean, the signs are all there: I do my food shopping online and get it delivered at home on a weekly basis (Ocado.com, Nifeislife.com), I do my internet banking, my bills get paid online, I socialize mainly online (Facebook, A Small World) as all my friends are in a full-time employment whilst I am a full-time parent, hence isolated from the physical world. I even use Skype to get in touch with people across the globe and have a ‘face-to-face’ chat whilst sitting comfortably on my sofa. Scary uh? I could easily live my life without ever leaving my sofa. The image of the morbidly obese lady that was found dead on her sofa and had to be ‘peeled off’ it, as she spent so much time sitting on it, she was welded on its fake leather cover, sprung into my mind. Oh my God! Am I going to get fat? Luckily my sofas are upholstered in linen. That was a close call….

I don’t even remember when it was the last time I wrote a letter…. It seems unthinkable now that we had to write to somebody to stay in touch. As a nearly-recluse teen, I used to write my knuckles off to a large number of pen-pals…. I used to have several sets of letter-paper and envelopes and several sheets of stamps. My I have wasted so much time…. Today, the email has killed off the romantic art of letter-writing in favour of a no-fuss, not time wasted electronic reality.

Also, I never carry cash on me. I always seem to have cards. Whatever money I have to spend each month is a ‘virtual credit’, a number on a computer screen that keeps going down each time I make a purchase on my card. At the end of every working month, at payday, we get a credit into our account and we could spend it all without ever touching a penny. So there. The 80% of my life takes place in a virtual bubble. Now even the Smurfs are here to lure me deeper down in the cyberspace and away from my reality.

Computers rule the world, they have made our lives better, more organised, more efficient, more productive, more convenient. Our laptops have made us more independent, more ‘in control’. In fact, we are so independent that we are facing isolation more than ever. The sense of control or productivity, the perceived sense of being organised… All of these reassuring notions, get so strong because they tap into our laziness, our unsociability, our desire to escape natural selection and social competition. Which is what we’ve been doing ever since we moved our first steps into the world. If Darwin’s theories are to be believed and also considering that, through science, technology and medicine we have ‘exonerated’ ourselves from the laws of natural selection, are we going to fall prey of a virtual-reality selection? The survival of the fittest replaced by the survival of the fastest broadband?

It all seems an exaggeration, and yet, if you think about it, to somebody, it only takes a click of their mouse to erase me or you from their lives. If I am not on your screen, I don’t exist anymore, my name, face and details irrevocably consigned to a bottomless virtual limbo. That’s precarious living. With the ever more readily available internet connection advancing, what’s going to happen to the world as we knew it? To the little post offices on the corner, the little shops where you can always find that particular item you cannot find anywhere else, to the telephone that helped us stay in touch with far away loved ones for so many years, what’s going to happen to our well beloved money?

What’s going to happen to us?

Are we going to evolve and mutate into some sort of sofa-sized potatoes with long tentacles, not very mobile and agile, but very fast at typing?

Are we going to get square eyes? Eyes that are resistant to the retina-burning effects of overexposure to a computer screen light?

It seems a reality that is already creating some concern among health organisations.

A year and a half ago, in Italy, at the Policlinico Gemelli in Rome, a new ‘Web Addiction Unit’ opened to the public, with the aim of treating all of those people that, whether by choice or circumstances, find themselves embroiled in a dependency from their online existence, to the point of neglecting their real lives.

Scary thought….

Even scarier the fact that, after 18 hours, my pumpkins are ready to be harvested on my Smurf’s Village and I am here writing….

Sorry, gotta go.



Q

I'm absolutely loving this song at the moment... I'm playing it everywhere. The Pierce sisters, from NY, apart from being infuriatingly stunning, also are talented musicians. The video has the flavour of camomile tea and seventies shampoo's commercials. Lovely bunch of hippy-wicca-loving-supermodels.....
I lovelovelove it!
Looking forward to hearing the rest of their album once it's released.

Enjoy!

Qx




Hi everyone!

Please, please, please have a look at this gem! It's a new comic, created by my friend Mickey, another proud gay papa with a lot of creative energy!!
His comics are fresh, direct and extremely endearing. Just to go back to my previous post about sexual education in schools.... What a wonderful day it will be the day Mickey's comics will find their way in the classrooms across the world!
Am I raving you say? Listen you lot, if you gotta have it, let's have it all!!!! World domination!!!! ;o)

Thank you Mickey! You truly are 'Fabtastic'!


Q



Hi all,

no, I'm not referring to any kind of outdoor pursuit in my title, even because I am a very indoor-kinda-guy, not to mention the british weather allowing very little to countryside frolicking, unless you are a duck....
No, I was referring to recent news of public outrage at the material just approved to be used to teach sexual education to children as young as five.
Said material (you have a preview just here below...) features a series of cartoons illustrating in a 'child friendly' way, what really happens in the sack between mummy and daddy (when they have the time and have worked through the boredom of being married to each other for 20 years).
Sarcasm aside, it made me chuckle like an idiot, the sight of "Ways mummies and daddies fit together" as in "Ways in which mummies and daddies can have sex".
The ensuing cartoons feature a couple lifted by helium balloons whilst mummy is riding daddy 'bucking-bronco-style', daddy does not look very impressed by the stunt, but mummy is having a blast!
In another sketch, the two 'athletes' are engaged in a banging intercourse, with mummy always on top, on a space-hopper...... Which reminds me, I might want to buy one at some point.
Yes for my son.
Obviously, the creators of this material, were not beating around the bush. Sex it's what it is, no storks, birds and bees, eels and caves.... Just two people engaging in a sexual act.
But!
As it's children we are talking to, for good measure, let's throw in balloons, and space hoppers and teddy bears....
And here the things get a little disturbing for some.
I understand.
How do you explain sex to a child in a way that is 'purified' from all the 'XXX' connotations it obviously possesses?
I mean, supposing that you would want to, how do you explain to a child what an orgasm feels like?
Yes! They have even covered this topic (and oral sex, anal intercourse and masturbation....).
They resorted to describing orgasm as a "sort of tickling that starts in your tummy and spreads all over your body", explanation that has been duly completed by a drawing of a baby being tickled on the tummy with a feather by another little girl.
Another 'gem' was the cartoon of a man and a woman in bed with the description "As they cuddled, your dad's penis moved gently inside your mum's vagina and the sperm flowed out...".
Even the explanation of terms like 'masturbation' or 'prostitute' had me a little thrown.
Please don't think of me as a prude.
I really am not.
But, before formulating an opinion on the matter, I had to sit back for a while and mumble over the lot.
I came to the conclusion that the uneasiness many of us experience with the subject is originating from OUR OWN relationship with sex and sexuality, and had nothing to do with the idea of a young child being explained what masturbation is. I mean, a lot of grown up individuals out there even have a problem admitting that they masturbate (and THEY DO!!!). God forbid having to describe that to a child.... Your child!
You get me?
I don't have a warped idea about what sex and sexuality are, but I, and many like me, have to consider the personal growing process that allowed me to reach and fully mature my sexual identity.
I cannot prescind from my own sexual education and experience when faced with the task of having to 'teach' something like 'the facts of life'.
All the uneasiness perhaps originates from being raised a catholic, in a country (Italy) that still relegates sex and sexuality to the realm of the unspoken, following a strong influence of the church in all such matters and a society which is still largely blind to the importance of sexual education for children, unconsciously relying on the most powerful contraceptives they think they have: fear and sin.
Fear of contracting diseases, fear of accidental pregnancies, fear of sinning in front of God, fear of being the only teenage whore of your class who lost her virginity at 15, fear of going blind for masturbating. Bless the church, the ignorance and the sexism.
These three once powerful forces at work in society, are no longer enough to keep the lid on a tsunami of teenage hormones.
So, unfortunately, with youngsters deserting more and more church-pews on sunday in favour of bars, clubs and virtual chat-rooms, the rise of teenage pregnancies and misinformation about STDs are rife.
I'm not even going to preach about the idiocy of relying on religion-taught morals to keep your children safe. I said it before: if you rely on religion to keep your kids on the 'straight and narrow', then you are a failure as parents.
But let's move on.
Here in the UK for example, we have the second highest number of teenage pregnancies in Europe.
Not bad for such a progressive and forward thinking country uh? So, what does it all come down to?
Wether to avoid embarrassment at all costs, or out of the desire to keep our little ones pure and innocent for as long as possible, we are in fact failing our children ladies and gentlemen.
This is what it's coming down to.
Our uneasiness with the subject "sex" is leaving our kids at the mercy of whatever institution grows the balls to say "You know what? Someone needs to tell it like it is!" and I applaud this courage.
I call it courage because, in spite of having a huge rate of teenage pregnancies and a rise in STDs among youngsters in UK, so far, every initiative aimed at changing this sad statistics is met with disdain, shock, even public outrage. And yet they try. Courageously.
The kids themselves are lamenting an inadequacy of information regarding sexuality, safe sexual behaviour and STDs.
Obviously someone is not doing their job, and I think it's us.
I do admit, certain initiatives should not prevaricate the right every parent has over deciding what a child should or should not know.
I think that, in the aftermath of the release of this new educational material, many parents out there felt 'cheated out' of their right to choose what teachings expose their children to.
Or perhaps we only like to moan because it's easier to point the finger at a third party when they mess up their task of educating our children.
I for one think that, maybe, it's a bit too early to start talking about orgasms and masturbation to a five year old. I don't believe that a five year old needs to know SO MUCH about sex.
I personally would limit the explaining to how babies are made, and subsequently, in the following years, moving to the subject of sex as part of life and not necessarily as a tool for procreation: sex is enjoyable, hence touching into more delicate areas such as the personal gratification we get from having sex. The orgasm, the reason behind so many hours of strenuous exercise. We all want it, we all crave it. This deserves to be explained. As much as the consequent behavioural patterns of all those that follow their dicks around chasing the next orgasm and nothing more.
Again, I am not recriminating or moralizing, I used to be free and single as well once upon a time, and I have also been fairly adventurous at times, but ALWAYS safe and smart about it.
Sex is fun.
Denying this is like telling your children that Jesus died of pneumonia.
What we must stress is the responsibility that comes with such 'fun'. That changes everything.
See? Once admitted to myself that sex is something I rather do than talk about in an auditorium, everything fell into place in my head.
Even the freaky couple shagging on the space-hopper.
The bottom line is that there is not an easy way to describe or teach or illustrate sex and sexuality to our kids, and by throwing in bubbles and party-hats, it wont stop you feeling ill at ease with the task of having to tell your 5 years old what an orgasm feels like.
A tactful honesty is definitely recommended, but you will reach the point of having to call an orgasm an 'orgasm', and masturbation 'masturbation', wether you turn it into a Disney movie or not.
How comfortable are we with that?
In fact, perhaps those drawings were not designed to appeal to children, but to make the parents feel more comfortable.
Maybe it's us that need to be re-educated out of the shame?
Whatever the case may be, I am all for a fair vote, let's vote to decide wether to have a compulsory realistic and fair sexual education in schools or not, but, should we go for the second option, let's make it a personal responsibility of each of us to give as much clear, fair and unbiased information about sex and sexuality to our children. After all, if, in years to come, our kids end up fooling around, it will most certainly involve another peer.
Would you want that peer to be of the misinformed sort?
Didn't think so.
Let's not blow the chance of freeing sex and sexuality from the grips of ignorance, bigotry and church-morality for our children.
Let's give them the tools to lead a happy and fulfilling (sexual) life.
Showing indignation towards who's trying to do this on our behalf just wont cut it.
Ok, I'm off to get that space-hopper now and.... How many helium balloons do you think we will need to lift off the ground?


Q




Hi folks!

This video is for Silvia, one of my readers, because she doesn't know me, yet she has always nice things to say about me (and not always to my face, which is even more endearing...).
I don't know what kind of animal you are, I don't know if you've ever been hunted down, or what boxes you like to tick, but I know beauty when I see it and I know you see it too.
Beauty is a great way to forget our scars and be optimistic again.

Grazie del supporto Silvia, sei davvero un tesoro!


Q



P.S.
Sacha Puttnam is one of my favourite composers.Check out his work with Chris Coco "Remasterpiece" on Itunes.... x
Hi everyone!

Please watch this video (if you have not already done that...) and let me pre-warn you that I am neither a racist nor a Xenophobe....



As an ex fashion student, fashion designer and fashion-employed person, I am sincerely aghast at the spectacular fall from grace of John Galliano, one of the most brilliant designers alive today.
Only yesterday I got into a debate with some friends and the outcome of it all was me being called a hypocrite, as I was (apparently) insensitively trying to minimise what is in fact (???) a HUGE thing.
In all the horror of this accident, that I DO NOT CONDONE OR ENDORSE, there is something that nobody is noticing: a 50 year old man, drunk out of his wits, sitting alone in a bar, nursing his drink, getting taunted by some girls that poke at him for fun, as you would poke at a poisonous snake from an advantage point,with questions, laughter, and fake disapproval ( I even doubt those people know anything about the Shoah...). These lot were simply lucky enough to have caught a very famous man on camera, drunk, spitting abuse at bystanders. Imagine if it was Madonna instead.... Or Mel Gibson.... Apparently he hates the jews too....
I doubt they would have engaged in the same behaviour if instead of John Galliano sitting there was merely a John Smith.
Also, what is really dangerous here, is not a racist rant in the relative privacy of a bar, but the fact that this video went viral (the video is from October and obviously kept as a treasured possession within the phone-memory of the owners as a sad claim to fame...) hours after Galliano's arrest. Where is the hypocrisy now uh? Perhaps some of us get offended and disgusted and shocked 4 months after the thing happened and decide to show the world what an asshole John Galliano is.
I know I am threading on dangerous ground here, I mean no offence to anybody, but I still think that Dior's reaction was totally disproportionate. I understand that in a business that appeals to so many jewish women ( wealthy haute couture customers in the world are between 200 and 2000 if statistics are to be believed, and good part of them are jewish women ), one does not want to bite or alienate the hands that feed so many.
I can appreciate also Natalie Portman comments on the matter (she doesn't want to be associated with Galliano in any way...).
What makes me think is the fact that, barely hours after her comments, Dior gave Galliano the sack.
I remind you that Miss Portman is the hottest thing on the planet at the moment, thanks to her recent Oscar for Best Actress and she is testimonial for the new Dior Cherie perfume. She is also a beautiful and proud jewish woman.
I hope that friends of Mr Galliano will come in to give the world a better image of this disgraced designer, to whom Dior owes a net profit of over 3 billion € since he took over as creative director in 1996.
Going back to the video, do you see a man that really hates jews and loves Hitler (yuk!) or a poor drunken bastard (yuk yuk!!) ranting at strangers?
No matter who you are, how much money you got and how famous or talented you are. When you have that much alcohol in you, you are only a poor drunken bastard. This is what needed to be helped this time.
I hope that Galliano has enough blood in him to satisfy the thirst of all the people baying for it.

Sad day for fashion.

Q

N.T.S. (note to self): when drunk in a stupor, make sure you don't have vultures around you trying to make you look worse than you already are with their mobile camera phones.....

P.S.
A friend told me that everyone is replaceable. It's true. But wasting a true genius on such trivial matter is nevertheless a shame. I think it could have been avoided.




Hi ya'all!

Do I sound like Tyra Banks? Good! Ok, as promised in my last post I wanted to share with you my latest bitching and this time it involves British Airways....And the brits in general. No ok, I'm exaggerating. It's mainly concentrating on a particular passenger, seated in the business cabin, two or three rows behind me and Gabriel.
My son is now 21 months old, has just started walking, he is every inch the inquisitive and active little boy he is supposed to be and it's quite difficult to have him to sit still on my lap for longer than 1 minute.
Now, as you can imagine, this can cause quite a problem during a flight, especially during takeoff and landing, when he is supposed to be sitting on my lap, ridiculously strapped to my seatbelt with an oversized and totally inappropriate orange baby-seatbelt (me and Steven had a good laugh about it when we flew back from the US with our then three-weeks old baby in arms that was supposed to be strapped down with an orange seatbelt that was too big to even stay put without slipping off....I mean.... It's bullshit or what?).
So, to cut it short, after having to endure the longest two hour flight to Rome of my life (I was one inch from performing the whole Cirque Du Soleil routine to keep Gabriel entertained in such confined space...), and when it looked like he was happily dozing off in his seat, the time came for the plane to land and for me to strap my son onto me.
This didn't go down well AT ALL and Gabriel began a screaming fit that lasted throughout the landing procedure and got so intense that he threw up all over my hand (yes... I was desperately trying to catch every bit of vomit with my bare hands, as we were about to touch the ground and couldn't reach for wipes or tissues and I was terrified at the thought of arriving in Rome with my clothes covered in vomit...).
Needless to say, the flight attendants were barely looking on, expressionlessly, elbowing each other saying "Uh, look.... He threw up....".
Twats.
Gabriel was unrelenting in his tantrum, so, as soon as we touched down, I had to quickly undo his belt, then mine, and reach for some baby wipes.
"THE AIRCRAFT IS STILL MOVING SIR!" one of the flight attendants yelled at me, like I was doing something terribly wrong.
"I KNOW! BUT I MUST DO SOMETHING AS YOU LOT ARE SO RELUCTANT TO UNDO YOUR BELTS AND HELP ME!"
I was trembling with anger and frustration. Gabriel's vomit dripping from my hands so that I made a nasty mess all over my seat and the floor.
The whole business cabin was staring at me, like I was some lunatic out of the asylum without meds, some smiled, one italian gentleman simply said "Ah! The joys of being a father!" and smiled knowingly.
But, as Gabriel was still belting out his loudest tantrum yet, another guy just said in a posh british accent "He should just give him a slap!".
Now, I am not really sure about who he was, I didn't really pay much attention, you know, I was busy trying to pick up the pieces of my self esteem as a parent, covered in sick.
But these words hit me like a bullet.
I think I blushed so much I could feel the heat all the way to the tip of my ears.
To make matters worse, the flight attendants chuckled at this idiotic remark, making me feel like I was a teenager being bullied all over again.
As soon as the doors opened, I flew out, with Gabriel still raving, and disappeared inside the terminal.
I felt like shit. I felt like one of those parents people snigger about for not being able to 'control' their kids.
Control their kids.
How do you 'control' a 20 months old boy that just wants to see and touch everything?
I suppose I could always slap him into submission, as it was politely suggested to me, but you know what? I think I'd rather wipe my vomit-covered hands all over that fucking planes' upholstery and the attendants' faces.
Our luggage took about 1hr and 10 minutes to turn up and during this time, Gabriel had finally succumbed to exhaustion and fallen asleep on my shoulder.
Now, try standing for over an hour with a 20 month old child asleep in one arm, whilst with the other you do everything else.
Of course, as I was travelling by myself I opted for checking in the stroller as well, not having enough arms to carry everything.
Said stroller was exactly the very last item to appear on the conveyor belt, in spite of the priority tag on it and my prayers to Jesus, God, Mary and Papa Smurf.
I was one inch from crying in pain.
Then the suitcases arrived and I slammed them onto my trolley with sweat dripping from my nose (we found a very warm weather in Rome, and my four-ply cashmere sweater was just a little bit too toasty....).
I finally came out of the terminal to meet my mum and our driver, sweating like sunday roast, smelling of vomit and with a face like a slapped arse.
Mum was just ecstatic about having her grandchild all for herself for a whole two weeks, so she snatched him out of my arms and left me trailing behind her and the driver, looking like a beaten up dog just out of a fight.
I sent a text to Steven: 'We're here! The weather is amazing! Mum is all over Gabriel and I can't wait to get home and have a shower. P.S. I'm not fucking doing this on my own anymore!'.

The flight back was not less eventful, mainly because Gabriel was then fully able to walk and intended to do so everywhere.
I must say, I never felt most unwelcome on board of a plane as I did then... To keep Gabriel quiet I started walking him up and down the aisle and, while a lot of passengers looked on smiling and passing nice comments, some others were positively put off by the sight of a toddler.
The highest concentration of assholes was of course in the business cabin, where eyes were rolling and foreheads were crumpling up at the very sight of my little Emperor.
We tried to find some diversion by exploring the toilets and the area where the Trolly-Dollies prepare the meals, but I was dismissed unceremoniously:
"This is a working area sir. You need to move!"
"You can't come here sir!"
"There's a trolley behind you waiting to move through sir!"
I was desperately looking for a smile on those pasty faces, thinking that maybe they were only doing their job and reluctantly were telling me to move.
My ass!
Those dragons were just as friendly as Satan on Xmas morning.
"Any food for you sir?" the lanky blonde attendant asked me as I was wrestling my son trying to reach for the crisps on top of the trolley
"No thanks... I'm fine.... I can't really afford the luxury of a lunch at the moment..." I just replied smiling and hinting at my little one
"Uh.... Why is that?" she asked me looking puzzled
"Well.... This is why!" I said, pointing at Gabriel
"Oh... Right.... Oh well..." she said, and moved on.
Thank you very much bitch.
I remember Steven telling me that on board of BA flights, the flight attendants cannot do enough for children, even offering to sit with them as you consume your meal in peace.
What movie was that?
In this movie the flight attendants were all lanky, old, stern-looking and hard as a piece of fried-up bacon. I think they would've been happier to throw us both out of the plane, rather than sit with Gabriel whilst I wolfed down some food.
Not that I would've wanted them to. But it would've been nice of them to ask.
Also, if it wasn't for me buying some sticker-book in Rome prior to departure, Gabriel would not have had anything to do on board except annoy the attendants with his very presence, as on board there was no colouring book or anything else for children as I would demand from any serious airline catering for all passengers.
Overall, I am now left a bit worried about my next trip to Italy with my son as I know what to expect, not only from him, but from the BA on-board crew.
There is no help whatsoever on their part, the child is yours and yours is the burden, the shame and the inconvenience of getting covered in vomit.
Fair enough.
As for me, I'm definitely taking BA out of baby.

Rant over, thanks for listening.


Q