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Hello World!

During January (Gennaio), I’ve been thinking globally. Yes—hello world!—just like the great Lady A (Antebellum) song. As we begin 2023, it’s good to say, hello world, as our actions have consequences; small ripples can join up to create a waterfall, and so on.

The reality is that it is essential to say, hello world, as nowadays, it really is a ‘small’ world with social media, and even, physically, as COVID has proved …

So, I think it is crucial, as we begin another year to have that thought in our mind—hello world—so that it takes us outside of ourselves. It is easy to get bogged down with first-world problems or to be a victim instead of a survivor. It really is time to change our mindset and stop making excuses (and no, it’s not an easy choice) but how much better is life if we are surrounded by positivity and forward-thinking? Only you can get out there and grab opportunities. Even when we fail, there’s a lesson to be learned and we can use that to make ourselves stronger and improve our skills.

My dad was a great one for embracing a ‘hello world’ perspective … there wasn’t much that held him back! As I look at the photo of my dad, Eugenio Piergioavnni, taken in 1949, when he was twenty-eight years old, I can see why my mum found him striking. In the excerpt below, from Goodbye to Italia, I know it is a bit of a cliché to have him looking in the mirror, but my father was prone to doing that even in his later years. Yes, some vanity was there but I’ve come to realise, in my adult life, that it was a last check to see that all was in order with his appearance and to give himself that ‘go get ‘em’ urging that carried him through life and made him so charismatic.

Hello World!
Hello World!

‘I cannot wait to get out of this house of women and be my own man!’ As I look at the face in the mirror, the pale green eyes of a seventeen-year-old young man stare back at me. They are the same eyes as my mamma. ‘I cannot wait to get out of this house of women!’ I repeat out loud forcefully. I lift the razor one more time and smoothly swipe at the last bit of stubble around my jawline. Splashing the razor in the basin of cold water, I stare at my face again.

I breathe in deeply and flaring my nostrils, I simultaneously lift my black eyebrows, wiggling them up and down. A wavy lock of my dark brown hair falls forward. ‘Porca miseria!’ I swear out loud. I will have to put some more hair grease on. My hair has such a tight, coarse curl to it that only by having it longer and greasing it back can I emulate the smooth, brush-backed look of Rodolfo Valentino. Now that is a man who wouldn’t let women push him around!

In the background, I can hear my sister, Vittoria, playing the piano whilst Mamma practices one of her operas. Vittoria is seven years older than me and already married with a two-year-old little girl called Lidia. But she visits every day and I swear, I have seen more of her in the last year than the previous few years before she got married. We both have dark hair but while my eyes are pale green, Vittoria, who is actually my half-sister, has warm, brown eyes.

I saunter into the living room. Those same brown eyes watch my approach, and I give her a nod. Vittoria has been a second mother to me as Mamma has travelled often for her singing career. Vittoria and I have a close bond, and I have nicknamed her Pistro, as she has a firecracker of a temper. Her lips curl in amusement as she gazes at me. Then, she lowers her eyes to concentrate on the piano keys as my mother emits a particularly complicated warble.


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