Coming Soon!

Coming Soon!

I’m very excited that the new edition of A Rosie Life In Italy (Book 1: new edition) is now available for pre-order from Barnes and Noble! There is bonus ‘stuff’ in the back of the new edition, and it has a beautiful new cover so it will look great on your book shelf… have I convinced you enough to buy it yet??

The Smell of a Memory Explosion

The Smell of a Memory Explosion

A first draft of a scene for A Rosie Life In Italy 6. It might make it, it might not or it might be edited to read completely different: 

“Florence is nice, but I was expecting more. I’m disappointed with it,” says my friend Fatima who is visiting the city for the first time.

“Oh, I’ve heard about this. There’s a name on it, Strendhal Syndrome, it’s like Jerusalem syndrome.”

“Isn’t Jerusalem syndrome when visitors to the city have a psychotic religious break down and believe they are the next Messiah or some religious figure from the bible? That is definitely not what I am experiencing. And Strendhal syndrome is when travellers are so overcome by the beauty of all the architecture and artwork in Florence that they begin to hallucinate and get sick. I think I’m having the opposite,” says Fatima who is much better at facts than me.

“I know! It’s like Paris Syndrome – when Japanese tourists are so disappointed with the reality of Paris that they get sick. It’s an extreme form of culture shock. A day with me in Florence should cure your dis-Strendhal Syndrome or maybe we should call it Strendhalitis?”

We meet at the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella. “I’ll take you on one of my look up-look down tours.”

“Explain what I am getting into?” Does Fatima know me well enough already not to trust me?

“When walking around any Italian city street,” I say explaining, “you need to look up, as there is always an unexpected fresco or an architectural detail that makes you want to stop and stare. But then you need to look down, so you don’t break your ankle on an unexpected step or wobbles in the cobbles.”

“Okay, so where are you taking me to first to trigger a love of Florence?”

“The pharmacy,” I announce as I start to walk. Fatima looks perplexed, following me around the corner and down an unimpressive street.

The pharmacy I am taking her to is no ordinary pharmacy, it is the Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. The waft of bergamot, rose and sandalwood strengthening with every step from the entrance, encourages her to keep moving forward into the wow-ness of the central room, with frescoed ceilings and walls brightly lit by a magnificent, massive glass chandelier. A mouthwatering, witchy display of old style glass bottles with glass stoppers, concoctions of herbal elixirs, soaps and perfumes with smelling card sticks are lined up in polished wooden display cabinets and ready for testing. It’s a delicious step back in time to an apothecary full of lotions and potions, with perfumes created to bring back memories or create new ones.

“Do you know the sense of smell is the most acute awakener of memories?” I state to my friend as I sniff one sample and the explosion of the scent in the back of my nose immediately transports me back to my grandmother’s dressing table and her 4711 perfume. In a two second memory dump I can vividly see the detailed grain in the wood of the heavy piece of furniture against the wall of my granny’s room, blackened by years of polish. It’s three-way mirror where my mother would check the back of her hair before going out with my dad on Monday and Friday nights and I would play with and marvel at how I could ricochet the back of my head to infinity by tweaking the mirrors towards each other. I can physically feel the resistance of the heavy, wide drawers refusing to budge back or forth if not heaved with the same force on each side.

It was this dressing table that gave me the lifelong desire for drawers with runners on the sides that glide effortlessly back into place without the need of sweat or painful nip of a finger.

I had forgotten her mirror. I wonder whatever happened to it.