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They Say It's a Tall Man's World

I have felt personally victimised by tall people my entire life. In primary school, I was the shortest boy in the classroom. This meant that when we did earthquake emergency training (seismic-country problems, you wouldn’t get it) I was always forced to be in the front of the queue as I was deemed most likely to perish in a stampede. Then the miracle of puberty hit and almost immediately brought me up to a very respectable 5’8ft (5’9ft if my hair is cooperating and I’m wearing Docs). I thought my days as a short man were over, as I prepared myself to observe the world from new, once unreachable heights.  A young me, short and temperamental Then I moved to the UK, the place where dreams go to die. According to very reliable data found on the internet® the average height of men in Italy is 174cm, which makes me above average (by a meagre 1cm, sure, but still… hips don’t lie, and neither do weird internet surveys that don’t disclose their research methodology). In the UK, however, the ave

Valerio's Press Review: "GQ Magazine, April 2021"

Welcome to Valerio's Press Review, the series in which I read a magazine or newspaper (okay... look at the pictures) and write mean things about the people in them. It's fun! 1) A revitalising afternoon of clam-digging on Southend beach? A day of snorkelling by the port of Dover? Make sure you pack Rolex’s newest submarine watch! You don’t want the fish to think you’re poor.  2) Dolce & Gabbana’s latest collection. The question on everybody’s lips is: do you really want to look like your rich friend’s beach house bathroom? The answer is, and always will be, yes. 3) Sam Claflin for Barbour. A GQ insider told me that his puzzled expression is due to the fact that, for the whole duration of the photo shoot, Sam couldn’t help but wonder if he’d remembered to feed the cat before he left his flat. Models... they’re just like us <3 4) GQ’s Staycation must-have items. If you were stranded on a desert island and you could only bring one item with you, what would it be? Duh! A £32

People-watching Diary - Vol 1

10:03 Happy couple jogging in the park. They’re drunk on a cocktail of oxytocin and protein shakes. They share a penchant for leisurewear. I bet they have a joint Instagram account, where they post pictures with caption such as: “Couples who run together, stay together”. I hope they keep running. Away from me, if possible. 10:09 Man who is shorter than me (this doesn’t happen often). He is dressed in black from head to toe. He is sporting a suspiciously fresh haircut and he’s clearly feeling himself. That makes one of us. 10:15 Man walking three French pugs (they’re all identical). He has a face tattoo (who did you kill while in jail?), tracksuit bottoms tucked into ankle-length sponge socks and a rolled-up beanie hat. I am sure there’s an interesting backstory somewhere there. 10:21 Mother of two accompanied by her ageing single friend. She is forced to push a buggy and engage in a conversation about poo-stained nappies. Her eyes are soulless, a permanently sorrowful grim is stamped o

On Flopping

Is there anything more pathetic than an aging child prodigy? If I had to pinpoint the exact moment when the seeds of self-delusion were planted, I would probably have to go back to 2002, to a musty reception room in a small town elementary school on the outskirts of Naples, where a well-meaning teacher solemnly announced to my mother: “I have no doubt that he will become someone.” I didn’t know what that meant but my mother ecstatically repeated it to my dad that night at dinner, who in turn reported it to my grandmother - next thing I knew, I was unofficially elected “most likely to succeed” in my family (which also translates to ‘’most likely to have a nervous breakdown in his early 20s when the realities of adult life will inevitably dismantle the castle of expectations cemented with years of groundless predictions on the future success of a child whose only interest at present is Pokemons and Mars bars).   Eighteen years later, I can confidently tell you that the level of self-delu

Getting on with it

A friend of mine messaged me the other day about an opportunity to pitch a piece for a new magazine looking for articles about happiness and well-being. She swiftly withdrew her suggestion upon realising I had literally nothing to contribute to the subject. I can’t seem to shake off the ever so slight suspicion that my particularly abrasive brand of defeatist sarcasm is unlikely to go down well with an audience that’s after feel-good stories for a much-needed start-of-week pick-me-up (that’s enough hyphens for today). Life in the time of Miss Rona is predictably slow. Aside from the customary episodes of wretchedness which stud my life that I have already discussed at length on this platform, I have very little to write about. I am of course binge-watching the Crown (hence me casually using words like “wretchedness”). I have also decided to finally do something about my life-long shampoo addiction and reduce the frequency of my hair washing from once every 24 hours to once every 30 hou

A Day in the (New) Life

The end of the summer holidays is famously a time of reckoning and personal revolutions. I managed to complete a cross-country European trip while narrowly avoiding mandatory quarantine. I drank red wine and spoke bad French with hot étrangérs while roaming the streets of Paris. I had short walks and long drinks on beautiful Italian beaches. I ran errands in small independent Neapolitan shops. I walked to and fro in the big travel corridor that is life and now I’m back in my East London double room that’s really a single room with a double bed and a bedside table that’s really an Ikea chair with a table lamp and a box of expired Kalms tablets. I’m standing in front of my overflowing wardrobe. That’s usually the place where big life-altering changes take place. It’s a war zone, the sublimation of months of chaos and disorder. Three piles of trousers and shorts and sweatpants. A chest of mismatched socks. A shelf packed with woollen jumpers and baggy sweatshirts. In my tradition of havin

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 imposs