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This Is Not a Story About Paris

“I don’t like Paris,” the man on the riverboat muttered under his breath, “It’s beautiful - but it’s not for me.” 
I turned the other way, as the boat slid along the Seine. The sun set and my rage rose. It took this man two days to pronounce his final judgement on something that had to survive countless wars and revolutions to become what it is. I wanted to stand up and shake him and ask him: “all this talk of beauty, but what do you know?”
I was overreacting. Sure, the beauty of Paris demands your attention and cannot be ignored. But the man on the boat had a right to an opinion. This was not about Paris anymore.
I flew to France on a whim, intending to stay for a couple of days. Life in London had gotten too heavy. Some days, it felt as if Jean-Pierre Jeunet was assigned to direct the movie of my recent past. Most things stopped making sense. 
It must have something to do with everything that’s happened in the past year: I have accumulated so many failures that it has become impossible …

The Day I Quit Playing Games

Love is a losing game, Amy sang. I don’t know if loss is the inevitable outcome, even though that’s where all the signs seem to point. But she was right about something: it is a game. And a bloody difficult one at that.I am not a player. I don’t even like video games. I haven’t played one in years. But I still remember what it felt like when, sitting on the floor of my small green bedroom, I turned on my PlayStation 1 and listened to the climax of the console engine as it warmed up. I would then glance at a picture of the Virgin Mary on the wall and gave her a complicit nod: “Come on, Mary, we’re on the same team here. Help a brother out". I was ready.The games started: Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, Crash Bandicoot, Silent Hill. I squinted my eyes at the screen so hard I thought I would break it, Matilda style. My hands were tense and sweaty, clutching a controller that burned like lava in my hands. Each session felt like a matter of life and death. And in my small world, it really…

Blue Ticks, Last Access and Other Modern Dilemmas

In the short and complicated history of digital dating, it has often been the case that people who seem brilliant on WhatsApp turn out to be lacklustre in real life. But I would like to divert your attention to the other, more fascinating silent minority: potential suitors who are fun and intriguing in person but disappointingly “meh” over text.The colonisation of our lives by social media and instant messaging apps means that, when you start dating someone, you’re effectively getting to know two people at the same time. Smartphones have determined a  fission of our egos along two different dimensions, online and offline, with predictably nuclear consequences. The problem starts when the two personalities within an individual not only don’t overlap, but are also in direct conflict with each other. People’s romantic conduct is articulated through different layers. Their performance is the result of countless variables that have to be factored in before you finalise your decision on whe…

The Unexpected Magic of a Dry Spell

At some point at the beginning of this month, after another dramatic press conference by the government, we were told to pick someone to form a ‘“social bubble” with, a person we would be allowed to visit at home and even spend the night with. After a careful and detailed period of deliberation that lasted a total of 120 seconds, I decided that social bubble was just Borisese for “you can shag again” - but only with one special person. 
First of all, I am not taking advice on sex and monogamy from Boris Johnson. No m’am. Secondly, I spent the whole of lockdown having nervous breakdowns, repotting aromatic herbs and traumatising every living soul who showed any interest in me. It was no surprise that, when the time came, I had no one to bubble up with.After getting over the initial disappointment, I also realised that… that’s not such a bad thing after all. You know, after 14 weeks of resisting and persisting, winning and conquering, I am finally beginning to reap the fruits of four mon…

The Love Series: La (Not So) Dolce Vita

Being Italian has been the single most beneficial asset in my dating life. Growing up in Naples, I was just a guy. In London, I became a “charming” Italian guy. In Milan, my Neapolitan accent is a liability. In the UK, apparently, it’s the sexiest sound known to man (and woman), the immigrant version of the siren song.After taking residence in the Big Smoke, I quickly realised that Brits have a very precise idea of the Italian man, made up of mainly preconceived notions. They’re harmless for the most part, certainly romanticised, often flattering, but prejudiced nevertheless.You know what they say: if you can’t beat them, join them. And join them I did. I first came to terms with the extent of my super-power that one time in 2015 when I held the door for a middle-aged woman at a Pret in North London. I said something like “after you” or “good morning” and as soon as she heard the effortless way with which the Rs rolled off my tongue she almost dropped her butternut squash salad on the…

The Love Series Podcast: "Everything is Copy"

For the last episode of this season of the podcast, host Valerio Esposito trades places with some of the most vocal guests from this series, who take turn to listen to their favourite stories about love and loss (dramatic readings included) and ask the difficult questions we've all been dying to hear. Click on the following links to listen to Episode #6 of 
The Love Series Podcast 







No Such Thing as Safe Distance

I have spent a great deal of time attempting to manage my feelings and not enough trying to understand them. I have, at different points in my life, experienced all the various emotions resulting from common life events: love, failure, relationship breakdown, bereavement. Then the world was hit by a global pandemic.

An unprecedented event for myself - and for a whole generation. My immediate reaction was the same as most people’s. Surprise, incredulity, fear – for myself, my parents, my friends. Panic, conspiracies, self-medicating. Exactly what I would expect from it. 
It’s a frightful state of affairs. The main focus is to try to survive. But there’s more. There’s got to be more. It would be silly, almost irresponsible, not to take the opportunity to reflect on the emotions resulting from this extraordinary set of circumstances, to learn from it things that otherwise we may never have questioned.
I have caught myself swimming against inexplicable waves of excitement and adrenaline sinc…