“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice” Nelson Mandela

As I already written I’m sponsoring a 8 years old Rwandan girl named Divine through Food for the Hungry. It takes about three/four months to get one letters because both mine and hers, need to be translated in English and it’s not easy to deliver mail to remote villages, that’s the only negative side of sponsorship.

This time the letter was a “get to know me better” kind, an update about Divine’s favourite activities written both in Kinyarwandan and English. My goal is to learn some basic sentences, so I will be able to wish her a happy birthday or cheer her in her language, but it’s very hard to learn.

The girl in the picture is 9 and asked me to take her a photo while she was drawing to reply to her faraway sister and asked me to share it on social media, so other families might be inspired and consider to become a child sponsor.

If you have kids or younger siblings, this could be a life changing experience also for them. They learn that the children in need aren’t just the numbers or the nameless people they heard about on tv. They realize that they are kids like them, who go to school and like to play as they do. They develop a bond with that sibling who live in a faraway country, get in touch with a new culture, different uses and ways to live.
Sponsoring a child is a chance of growing up in culture, love and compassion that involves the whole family.
Consider this, have a look at FH projects and choose to change the existence of a child, of their family and community… and of course your life!

Link here: https://www.fh.org/give/sponsor-a-child/

TRACK OF THE DAY: Diamonds on the soles of the shoes

“If you happen to pass by 84 Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me?” Helene Hanff

I’ve just read this delightful non fiction book and I absolutely loved it! It consists of the two-decade long correspondence and friendship between the reserved Frank Doel, an employee at Marks & Co. Booksellers at 84, Charing Cross Rd in London and the New York based writer and bibliophile Helene Hanff. She is an avid and enthusiastic reader looking for rare second hand books who doesn’t like the dirty, broken editions she can find on NY stalls so she prefers buying them overseas. From the start we can appreciate the contrast between her American informality and Frank’s British professionalism, but as long as the story goes she establish a friendship with him, his family and all the employees of the library and the correspondence becomes informal and heartfelt. We gradually see Helene becoming intimately involved in the lives of the shop’s staff, sending them food parcels during England’s post-war shortages and sharing with them details of her life and career.

I’m grateful that this book had been published in the 70s and that it’s a true story, a modern fictional writer would have inserted a love affair between Helene and Frank who was married and had two daughters, ruining the spirit of the book. Because the magic of this book it’s in its innocence. The rare and pure friendship established between people who live so many miles away thanks to letters.

That’s so relatable to me: I feel so unloved and underappreciated by everyone I live with, while I feel like I’m another person when I’m virtually or in person, with my overseas friends.

I recommend this read to all the book lovers, those who like to browse little bookshops or used book stalls and, like Helene, love “inscriptions on flyleaves and notes in margins”, like “the comradely sense of turning pages someone else turned” and are fond of “second hand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest”.

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The Marks & Co book shop located at 84 Charing Cross road has closed, but the street, located in the Charing Cross district at the west end of the Strand in London, is still renowned for the variety of the second hand books shops and independent book stores. The biggest and most known one is for sure Foyles opened more than 100 years ago, but the main road and also the side streets are full of little gems.

The road is named after the homonym district, where, in front of the railway was placed one of the twelve crosses that marked the route of Queen Eleanor funeral procession. It is in central London, very close both to Oxford street and Leicester Square, so with countless of shops, theatres and places to eat.

A little curiosity: in the Harry Potter books, The Leaky Cauldron pub is in Charing Cross Road.

TRACK OF THE DAY: Friends will be Friends – Queen

 

“Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch”

There’s a part of the novel “About a Boy” by Nick Hornby where Ellie and Marcus see in the newspaper that Kurt Cobain committed suicide and Ellie gets so sad that she gets drunk, then jumps out of the train and throws a boot at a music shop that had a big Kurt Cobain’s cardboard in the window. She wanted to punish the shop owner who, according to her, was trying to exploit her idol’s death, to make money.

When a musician dies, it’s so sad to see that many greedy shops raise CDs prices and that there is an invasion of merch, without mentioning those who feel like to mourn their loss even if they had never listened to a single song. Was Chris Cornell right when he said that an artist’s work isn’t fully appreciated until their death? Or is it simply the mercenary or narcissistic desire to take advantage from the situation?

Luckily it’s not totally true, thanks to common people and fans and their sincere tributes (on socials I still see a lot of posts for Chester Bennington as I saw for David Bowie last year), sign that the death of a great musician can create a collective sense of loss and nostalgia. They may be gone, but their music and the feelings it gives, will remain forever.

I’m writing this because three days ago it was the 25th anniversary of Jeff Porcaro’s premature passing and the grief is as strong as if it had happened yesterday. As a huge Toto fan, music lover, drummers’ estimator, it’s still something hard to overcome.

In my opinion he’s one of the greatest drummers of all the time and this goes beyond his drumming skills (I know that plenty of drummers can play a Purdie shuffle): it’s about his personal groove, his consistency and also it’s something that goes beyond the notes. He took seriously his profession, he played with passion and dedication, not only with Toto, but also as a session musician. He was one of a kind artist and I totally agree with Steve Lukather that when Toto perform, it’s like Jeff is on stage with them.

(OT: I know that if someone posts something on Snapchat or Instagram story it’s to make it ephemeral and I’m not one of those disrespectful accounts that leak and share these things. But a friend sent me this video of JD playing the Rosanna half time shuffle: it’s something I’ve been craving for four years. So I hope Josh won’t mind… and neither you).

TRACK OF THE DAY: Josh Devine performing the famous Rosanna shuffle

“What doesn’t kill you makes you wish you were dead” BMTH

So, another negative thing happened to me, one of those I couldn’t predict or control and the first inevitable question has been: “Why do bad things keep happening to me?” and after venting with my irreplaceable friends, I tried to react. Nothing is working at the moment, here’s how I debunked every possible solution given to this question.

  • Even in the worst, there’s some good waiting for you. I tried to list down what’s good and what’s wrong in my life, I tried to ignore that the negative list is way longer and easier to be filled, but honestly, the glad game didn’t work. Because bad things are still there, unsolved, no matter how many things I’m grateful for are written in the other column.
  • Write down your history, analyse it, once you find the wrong patterns, you can begin to change your life. I could write an entire book, the problem still is: I have health problems who lead me to mental illness and don’t allow to have a proper job in order to earn the money I need to cure myself and get rid of an abusive relationship. The picture i very clear, how can I change the colour palette? Next.
  • Bad things happen to everyone. That’s the polite version of the sentence “others have it worse”. Given that it would be sadistic to feel better thinking about to those who are having a worse time, it doesn’t change the fact I’m in pain. Or doesn’t solve my problems, it may only help me to develop a positive attitude or to be more concerned about others.
  • You are responsible of everything that it’s showing up in your life, flip your way of thinking and it’s going to get better. This is bullshit, well, mostly. It could work when you’re griefing for the end of a relationship, or because what happens depends on your bad habits. You’re entitled to change your life and a positive mindset will be surely helpful. But this doesn’t work when you’re given to diseases, no way. I could face them better, but I won’t heal. I could be the best fighter and I can assure you I’m not sitting down here all day being a cry baby, but things only get worse.

There are things that can’t be changed, only faced, but I’m tired of fighting, really. Why me? And don’t tell me that life (or God, it depends on your belief) is giving me burdens I can bear, because I’m not that strong, really.

TRACK OF THE DAY: Nobody can save me – Linkin Park

” A friend who dies it’s something of you that dies” Gustave Flaubert

This day is never easy for me. Whoever said that time heals all wounds, was lying because each time I walk past the place where my best friend was involved in a car accident, I still close my eyes. And honestly I still wait for her to pop out from behind a tree how she used to do in our games or to hear her voice when the phone rings.

If the bond was strong, friendship never fade despite death, time and having new friends. We were 17 when it happened, we grew together, we had a special place where we used to play with dolls or Barbies, the same place that has witnessed our secrets and confidences about our first crushes. It hurts sitting there alone.

When a friend grows their wings it’s hard above all because it’s about someone like you, around your age and in the following years, at every milestone of yours, you ask yourself how your friend could be. Alessandra. Would she be a mom? Would she have a job? Would she be happy? Would us still be friends? I don’t know, I just miss her.

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This is a personal blog, so don’t look here for a way to cope with grief for a friend’s loss. Personally the only thing that works for me is music: artists can express what it means better than any so called “expert”, their words may caption perfectly how you feel. Look for your grief song, the one closest to your experience and play it on repeat, there also are dedicated playlists on Spotify. It helps a lot, above all on days like birthdays or anniversaries.

Mine is “Never Fade” by Josh Devine and Ollie Green: JD experienced the premature departure of one of his closest friends who was very young and put in music his feelings. Those above are the words I held in my heart, unable to express them until this song came out. I’m playing it since this morning: I’m sure Ale likes it, she loved music so much!

I love you my friend: you will be always missed and never forgotten.

TRACK OF THE DAY: Who knew – Pink

“If it wasn’t for music I’d be dead” Chester Bennington

I wish music was enough. Another one gone too soon.

I can’t call myself a real fan of Linkin Park, I just loved their songs and be grateful to them because they introduced me to nu metal; then I started listening to Korn and POD and many others. I have a playlist on Spotify with the most meaningful songs of my life, among the many beautiful ones of Linkin Park, I chose “Crawling” because it has always touched me emotionally. How many times I’ve listened to it, curled up in my bed, crying. I added another one today, from the band’s last album, that is “One more light”; I find it devastating, all the lyrics of last album are shattering if carefully listened after Chester’s passing.

“Who cares if one more light goes out?
In a sky of a million stars
It flickers, flickers
Who cares when someone’s time runs out?
If a moment is all we are
We’re quicker, quicker
Who cares if one more light goes out?
Well I do”

Goosebumps.

Many things have been written about Chester Bennington, the most heartfelt came from fans and colleagues, personally JD’s glistening eyes while talking about how much his songs influenced him and inspired him to make music, were more meaningful than a billion of empty words.

Media seized the moment to talk about mental illness, depression and how it’s important to ask for help. For sure: opening up to someone, therapy and meds works, but let me be brutally sincere: not all depressions can be cured. Not if you’re a grown up person who realised the real entity of their problem, if you’re trapped in a dark tunnel with no exit. Looking for help may help if you’re a young person who can still change their life, not if you’re Chester or Chris or someone like me. I know that depression will be on my side, I have good days, even excellent moments, but I know she’s always with me, ready to devour my sanity when I feel sick, hopeless, ignored or simply down.

Another thing. A real depressed person barely shows it or talk about it: look at Chester’s pics on his Twitter, read what he said about his new album or about his life (“I have such a lust for life now, such a positive outlook” he said). He looks happy and passionate, he loved his family, job and fans.

I’m wondering what Chester was thinking when he wrote his farewell letter to his friend Chris Cornwell, if the sentence “I pray you find peace in the next life” was something he hoped for himself.

“The best traveller is one without a camera” Kamand Kojouri

<We were walking and you exclaimed:

-You’re pretty when you smile: you get dimples,

-They’re wrinkles.

You laughed, then you looked into my eyes and sweetly said:

-I love you because you never take yourself seriously!

So I grabbed your arm and screamed in my head: “Please, say that you love me again!”>

As I told many times, I love exploring London. One area that is barely mentioned despite of being surrounded by posh neighbourhoods like Maida Vale, West Hampstead, Queens Park and Kensal Rise, is Kilburn. I hope that the fact author Zadie Smith decided to set her new novel “NW” here, will give to Kilburn more visibility.

It is very easy to get there since the transport link is fantastic, I came here from the Bakerloo line, hopping off at Kilburn Park.

This area has been traditionally Irish for a long time, but now it has a huge and diverse mix of nationalities and races (I saw a large presence of Italians, for example). It is claimed to be dodgy at night, but the main street is always full of people. This one is a very long road called Kilburn High Road and it has chain stores (Primark, M&S), pound shops, a beautiful library, a famous cinema (The Tricycle Theatre), independent stores and a few pubs. Fun fact: Ian Dury formed his first band in 1970 and called it “Kilburn & the High Roads”.

Despite of being originated as an ancient trackway, a part of a Celtic route between Canterbury and St.Albans, High Road it’s not very attractive. Just a long serie of two storey buildings that make it look cheap.

In Kilburn Square there’s a very lively market where you can find mainly fabric, candles, hand made stuff and flowers.There are plans to redevelop it and revalue the whole area, but until now nothing has changed.

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I didn’t eat there, so I can’t suggest any gluten free option.

Last year I visited the S.Augustine Church, an Anglo-Catholic Parish Church consecrated in 1880 and affectionately known as the ‘Cathedral of North London’, one of the finest examples of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture. It is beautiful! I don’t like taking pics inside churches, so if you want to visit it, the church is generally open half an hour prior to the advertised service times and for up to 20 minutes afterwards. Additionally there is normally access on Tuesdays and on Saturdays in the morning.

I will surely come back: there’s one thing left to see, The Good Ship, a well known music bar actively committed to bring the best bands to Kilburn; it is also a place where you can see performing a large variety of artist, since every kind of entertainment is welcomed. Moreover there’s a 100 CD juke box and until the coin mechanism is fixed (probably never, they say) it is free.

TRACK OF THE DAY: Periscope – Papa Roach feat. Skylar Grey