mercoledì 28 dicembre 2011

Pink ballerina

As a little girl, I was the mildest lamb ever: goodmanners and smiles were my daily bread. Not enough for the sisters at my convent school, which opened its greedy "portone" on the timid slope of Saint Sebastianello, opposite - in philosophy and shape - to the grand staircases of Piazza di Spagna, that were at a stonethrow, yet as near as heaven to hell...
Sister Saint Thomas, a silvery beauty, with haunted black eyes that never smiled, was the principal. She tamed us, the pupils, in misery and humility and kept the school going thanks to her firm grip. I never liked her cold ways, her boxing looks, and even her bautiful face and smart, slim body, scorned me. All the opposite, in my memory, Sister Francis: she was round and white and sweet and had pockets that sung in mistery. I would have given two bars of chocolate to my worst enemy, the Strada girl, to know what was in those dingling, dangling, dancing holes, silver bells hidden under the black and blue habit... Sister Francis tought us english. Long poems, and never ending bits of pure shakesperian poetry. She fought against the italian way of saying "de" instead of "the" and "dis" instead of "This" and had eyes only for one of us who had had her father, long before, in the school and had left his shadow in her heart.
When Sister Saint Thomas entered the classroom, we all stood up and firm and said: "Goodmorning sister!", as chorus line girls. One day, she opened the door, came in, everybody except me (I was lost in my bumble bee thoughts...), jumped on the seat and up in the sky. She glanced around, spotted  me and said, pointing and index finger that stang: "You are superb!". That day I went home crying. My mother had no ears for me. her stern glance told me that life was hard and one had to survive and no crying please. Only my brother Marco asked me what had happened. I burst into tears and said: "What does superb mean?" But he too did not know.

sabato 17 dicembre 2011

My little white Christmas

There was no  Christmas tree dressed in lights and gold, in the Ponti family, no jingle bells to sing in the snow, and above all, certainly, no red nosed, plumpy, Father Christmas, flowing in his white beard, to come down from the unexistent chimney of our household! Not at all. My mother, who was married to pure style, considered an armful of ill mannered and consumistic junk all the bric a brac shopping of the 25th of december which was, to her,  nothing else but the day, as clear as water, the Child was born. So, in our house, only the crib sat, from the eight of december, full of shepheds and sheep on a dark table. A candle shone bright in front of the Virgin and her spouse, but the manger stood empty for many a days to come. At night, when I was about to go to bed, I could see, from a distance, the little flickering fire drawing shadows on the good and on the evil and I do not know why I felt cold and shivered...
Because we did not have our polar present express, of course it was baby Jesus in blood and bones who came down from heaven only to bestow on us, the lucky ones (God knows why...) his holy gifts: a doll for little me, a pack of Airfix soldiers for my brother Marco and who knows what else for the rest of the family. To thank the dear baby for taking a trip to earth, we left in exchange (but I do not reckon it was convenient for hime...) some nuts (with no nut cracker which made me wonder) and a glass of hot milk which was to become icy cold as the night ate up her dancing hours. On Christmas eve the family gathered around the crib and I had the honor to put the baby in his poor throne and to set the table (nuts and milk) for his nightly supper.
On the 25th of on of these crib Christmas, I woke up with the white fingers of dawn creeping through my shutters. I was up in a dash and silently crept downstairs to see if  baby Jesus had eaten his nuts and drunk his milk. All I saw was my mother, busy in front of the crib, putting away milk and nuts...

martedì 13 dicembre 2011

The little mermaid

English, to me, had the sunny face of Jane. She arrived, straight from Sydney, on a silver winter morning. I loved her red fluffy hair and her milk white skin spread with golden freckles. Jane, a mother to me. English, my mother tongue...
Together with Jane, another australian girl, her name wa Sheila, came overseas. From Oz with love, and landed in my cousins home, where my uncle - who was a satyr and a doctor -  chased her ruby beauty from one room to the other during long sleepless evenings. She stayed for a couple of months, I don't know what happened between her and him, I only know that, one day, she packed her bags and went, in between the sobs of my cousin Betta. She then returned to her dear homeland and to  her loving mother who only loved her dead son... Her mother had no place in her wounded heart for the wounded girl that Sheila was. So Sheila, without the deep roots of maternal love, started afresh a new life. A life that she made up day by day, in rain or shine. A life that she could boast about with indifferent strangers. Every year she got the chance to chit and chat on her lovable  life during a cruise that skimmed truth and waves. She had two kids, the pigeon couple, she had a lovely husband, did someone want to see the pics? Here is Rosie and John, isn't he just gorgeous? She said she was a psycologist and a mother and a wife. But she was only a lonely woman. When the cruise was over, she was back in the sepulcral flare of her dark mother. "You are back", the old woman would say. And then the days rolled  on like clouds galopping in a winter sky. One day, during her cruise, Sheila, with a smile on her face, threw herself in the waters. No more lies. A woman said that she had turned into a mermaid...

sabato 10 dicembre 2011

The God of old dolls

On the wake of Christmas, in the magenta french car that belonged to  my father, off went the Ponti family to San Giuliano, where my mother's mother, my nonna, had a pink house lost in the shapeless, ironed, grey countryside of Friuli,. Ours was a long, everlasting drive that started in fresh morning, with the dogs barking hello, and ended when the night had spread its black mantle on the blue sky in front of the green gate that led to what appeared to me as a dreamland: the "casale" of San Giuliano. It was, as I said, a pink beauty, with porches in the front that looked  like bridges of eternity, and  a lovely solar clock painted ib tio of the front door, a clock that, believe me, was  as useless as it was lovely.... My grandmother, nonna Stella, wore sugar candy hair the colour of lilac and she fussed around our arrival, all dressed in pure black and grey, as we took out our bags and luggage. The garden, that was silver and silent when we arrived, seemed to wake up in the flurry of our voices and shouts. We, the five Ponti children, flew here and there and everywhere. Each one of us seeking our personal magic things and places. I, for one, run for my doll, my celluloyd doll, old and battered, dressed in a shattered pinnkish frock, with hair that looked like the tail of a mouse. She clicked her weary eyes in the delight of seeing me... One sad evening, on arriving to San Giuliano, I found my doll missing. I run to my granmother, in dismay. A new doll, a Furga doll, in her brand new striped dress looked at me with her stupid, twinkling smile. And I... I started to cry. "God would loose his patience with you, Ester!", my mother snapped.

venerdì 9 dicembre 2011

My Leopard

We used to have two watch dogs in the villa, to guard us from the unknown world outsine, a couple of alsatians that lived their little life either closed in a cage  (when we had visitors) or in and about the big green garden, best friends of us, the little ones. I loved them all, beacause I could speak to them the language of real life, that has no words or grammar, but most of all beacause they had fluffy ears that I could curl and shake. But Iago, let me say it, Iago big, blond, grand in his doggy way, was the king of them all. He   borrowed his name from a shakespirian play and was to share it, many a years after, with the newborn of one of my brothers...
Iago was fierce and noble and beautiful and he did bite many a person, uncaring if prince or butcher. He bit them all, as democratic as death. One fine may morning, with the sky as blue as a chinese painting, while I was still, cosy, in bed (being it a sunday morning) I heard, out of the blue, the clitter clatter of tragedy and discontent. My mother shouting, someone else running along the entrance lane. "Iago, Iago", yelled one of my brothers. I wa up and awake in a twinkle, and I dashed, in my white and pink nightgown, down the lane, towards the entrance gate that was red and a bit rusty. There I saw a big man, with a jolly face, white curls pasted on his powerful head,a nose made out of dough. I recognised him on the spot: as being Luchino, a real sicilian prince, nourished in pure  blue blood. I walked slowly closer and he said, with a big, pink smile: "Hello Ester, Iago has tasted me". I turned around because I heard yells and shouts, but that smile, how can I ever forget it...

domenica 27 novembre 2011

The sound of the devil

When I was a ittle girl, more or less during the reign of Julius Caesar, one could easily tell good from bad. Madeleine was good, for instance, and Marigold too. And they - two paper characters that stood out of the books I dearly loved - were definatlely my heroines and my best friends too..And they were good, as good as crispy bread out of a pat-a-c-ake oven... They both smiled at the good, in fact, and frowned at the bad. As easy-beasy as that and they, the little paper girls, helped me, the flesh and bones sister of theirs, in my little day by day life, to sift  wheat from chaff, and walk with the sun inside.  To me, not only little girls like me could be good. Also Maria, the step mother of the Von Trapp children in "The sound of music" was good, oh, ever so ever so good! How I would have liked to have a mother that had the same eyes and smile of my Julie Andrews dream! I loved her songs, the favourite things and Edelweiss and all the others, which I knew by heart. and I  sang and danced stepping on the stones of my imaginary brook. I watched the movie over and over again as soon as I could, of course, in that old wolrd in which I lived, that did not have computers nor Dvds...
So my little life went fastly by, in good and bad, the years rolling by like raindrops from heaven and nothing confused in my heart. I marched along, with Madeleins yellow hat on my head,, thinking that things were rather black or white, no grays no moulds to ruin my clear horizon. One day, I might have been in my teens then, here comes a friend of one of my au pairs, an american girl, with purple eyes and a native american flare, a somebody in jeans from Atlanta. I d not recall why it happened, but she stated talking of the sound of music. Did I know that Maria was not the angel showed in the picture? Did I know that one of the Von Trapp hildren died crazy? I did not of course. And  while she went on and on breaking my black and white dreams, her eyes changed colour, I swear, they darted, red as fire. When she went away I coud not remember the lyrics of my edelweiss song anymore...

giovedì 24 novembre 2011

My irish fairies

I was, at that time - aproximately, some twenty or maybe even thirty years or so ago - spending a couple of months in Dublin in a pretty little house, with a staircase winding up towards my bedroom and a little green garden sparkling day and night, in rain or shine, at its back. It was a long and narrow garden, and it looked like the dainty tail of my little irish home...
 In the house, only me, my hostess and her old mother, slim and tall, skin like pearls, who baked the loveliest soda bread I had ever tasted in my life. I ate and drunk and chatted and spent my time reading and visiting museums and prehistoric ombs. Always ever so nice and polite with Miss and Mrs Ro who were ever so nice and polite with me. Of course I had no friends of my age, but as I had always loved the company of poor little me (even if I had four brothers of my own at home in Rome) that was not a big problem at all. I could survive, I reckon. And I did.
But one day a phone call arrived and my miss, in frenzy, announced me that the daughter of a friend of hers, a Susan (maybe...) who studied history of art, wanted to invite me at a party somewhere out in the country. It was arranged for me to go. Of that night, I only recall a funny egg and mushroom dish - "frittata" we call it in Italy - that seemed to be the humdrum of the party. Everybody, asked for more. Except me. It had a weird and funny taste. After dinner everybody crammed outside, in the dark and cold, to spot - they said - the little people. And thery did. At least this is what they told me. I looked and looked, no lepricauns, no fairies, no pixies.  Only a black and bleak night and around me, dropped on sofas like old duvets, only sleepy faces and, when they glanced at me, funny round eyes and laughing mouths...
I did see the little people, though, but some days after that funny party. I saw them at the Hellfire hotel that haunts from the hills the quietness of the Liffey. I saw them all, fairies and lepricauns and trolls too, running up and downhill, changing the colour of the grass as the wind came and went, sweeping the earth, with its rich, silky mantle,,,   . 

domenica 20 novembre 2011

the platypus can wait

When I was seventeen, with a bennibag full of dreams and homesickness, I was packed up by my mother in a big indian jet and sent to Australia. Of the trip, nothing, I remember only a beauty of a hostess dressed in a yellow sari, a smiling sun going up and down the aisles of the airoplane. Her red, third eye blinking at me while she brought me, in a hush hush, banana crisps which were new to me like dawn in heaven...
I arrived in a sunny Sydney morning and Jane, the au pair of my heart and soul, came to pick me up, her bushy red hair beaming just like her eyes. Of those days spent in the bright winter of the Antipodes, a memory sticks out of the lot. I am, with two friends and a Mister Bellam (a little man with round Trotsky glasses and hair stiking up like the spikes of and Echidna), in a little hut in the Blue mountains, all around me the australian wilderness, next to a little barren hill, a merry brook dancing downwards down under. Perfect to spot a platypus, says Mr Bellam, jumping in his trainers. The girls, lazy and sleepy, stay inside, sitting by the fire, talkng the nonsense of teenager dumdrum. As for me, the italian,  I go platypus watching. There we are, in the middle of nowhere, a girl and a man, two strangers in the australian bush, with keen eyes and sawn mouths, and our mind focused on little wet platypus... We spent the morning, ate our lunch, and waited and waited, in vain, till the sun started to brush its teeth and go to bed...
"Did you spot the platypus?", asked one of the girls, as soon as we entered the shelter. Our long faces spoke much more than words. After a sausage dinner, off to bed.
In the middle of my sleep, with a ray of sunshine sleaking through the small window, I felt a hand shaking me hard, my italian name like an echo of me. It's mr Bellam. Not a word. I follow my Virgil, with eyes wide shut, in the break of day. And there, in front of our door, I see them: two kangaroos a-boxing.  The platypus can wait. 

sabato 12 novembre 2011

Fairyland at last

Ireland is for me the sunny, freckled face of Ann.
She had arrived to my parent’s home, in Rome, through the winds of chance that blew in the school I attended. It was a convent school, for girls only, with a big, spooky door that opened in the mornings to gobble up the pupils and windows that peeked over the shadowy, timid Salita San Sebastianello that crawled up from Piazza di Spagna to Trinità dei Monti.
“There... is... a girl from Ennis...”, the principal had said to my mother, in a weird, shaky voice that had little to do with the frightful bulk of a nun that boxed me on my ears if I dared speak during the rosary.
“Perfetto!”, my mother said in italian, because she did not speak a word of the language she wanted me to learn.
Ann arrived on a grey Sunday morning, carrying a tiny pink bag which contained all her belongings. She had a small, pale freckled face, and all aound it savage, brown curls. Her chin curled up too, longing to touch her nose which poured down as if ready to fall. She was no beauty. She beamed at me and I thought she was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. She smiled to my family, but I thought that all those smiles only belonged to me.
“Mathilda is for you!”, she said, handing me the cutest ragdoll I had ever seen. She was dressed in purple and red and had a pair of button black eyes which stared at me from  the stars up above.
“My mother made her! Isn’t she adorable!”, came Ann’s voice. Then, with a tump, Ann sat down on the floor, beside me. La Mimma, our faithful housemaid sighed in despair: “What is this “signorina” going to teach to the little one...”.
I learnt to look for  Fairyland. Ann was convinced that the door was inside the great big cupboard where the sport stuff was kept. We looked and looked, fishing under old tennis rackets, dirty trainers, shabby tracksuits. Nothing. Mathilda watched with her black, keen eyes. Ann decided we should explore the garden and that is what we did. We looked beside the headless statue, inside the beheaded olive tree, in the old kennels of the dogs. We even went into the green shed where the rusty wheel barrows slept in peace and quiet.
 I asked Ann if we could look for Fairyland also in my parent’s villa in Sardinia. She answered that fairies do not like the heat and sun.
When we got to Sardinia, Ann started to feel sick. Her legs ached, she could not walk, her face was white as milk. I thought it was because we could not look for the entrance to Fairyland and said so to my mother. She did not listen to me. My mother rang my principal, and my principal rang Ann’s family in Ennis. Two days later Mrs Q. arrived. She packed the little pink bag, she talked gravely to my mother about a sickness that bore a kind of tender name, she thanked her for the blessed gift her daughter had received. The two mothers shook hands.
“I’ll see you soon! Be good to Mathilda”, said Ann to me with her moony voice. I never saw her again, but I did find Fairyland.
Many years later I visited Ann’s mother in Ennis. She led me in a small parlour. We sat, silently, in front of a cup of tea. Ann smiling in every corner. Then all of a sudden Mrs Q. stood up and showed me to a door. She opened it: hundreds and hundreds of Mathildas sat on sofas and stools and benches and cupboards. Their frocks had stolen the colours of the rainbow, black eyes watched me in mirth, a cloud of beauty and grace. Fairyland at last.


lunedì 31 ottobre 2011

Lolita in Rome

When in Rome, spot Domenichino's masterpieces that are here and there and everywhere in the Eternal city. Some of them are in shy churches, others in glorious ones. Start with the magnificent fresco that is hidden to the crowds in the little chapel of Saint Andrew (Oratorio di San'Andrea) beside the monumental church dedicated to the famous Pope Gregorio Magno (address, piazza San Gregorio 1, MetroB, Circo Massimo). It represents the martyrdom of Saint Andrew. What a deadful sight! But, look closely... more closely... Can you see, in all the violence of the scene, a little, rosy cheeked girl? She is looking straight into your eyes, not a bit interested in what is going on, as if saying: “I'll be here, forever young and beautiful Not like you, ha,ha,ha!” A little cheeky Lolita of the Seventeenth century.
And she is not Domenichino's only Lolita. Oh no! You will find her twin sister, maybe a tiny bit older, in a painting called “La caccia di Diana” (Diana's hunt) that is kept in the Galleria Borghese (Piazzale del Museo Borghese 5). There she is again, the little mocking beauty. This time she is in a pool of water, leisurly bathing. But her eyes are on you. The smile on her pink lips is that of eternal beauty that scorns time and age.
Not only nimphs for this extraordinary   painter who owes his name – it means little Domenico in italian - either to his timid nature or to his dwarf size height. In the grand church of San Luigi dei Francesi  (Piazza San Luigi dei francesi, 20). You shall find the beautiful cycle of frescoes that tell the stories of Santa Cecilia, martyr and patroness of music and “bel canto”. Another little beauty, another “signorina”, a pious one, but, all the same, cousin of the other little Lolitas...

mercoledì 26 ottobre 2011

Trousers and blue jeans

Did you knnow that, Giuseppe Garibaldi, our italian national hero, the man who made one and all this bootlike country called Italy, wore denim trousers, in two words, blue jeans? Yes, Italy wa denim-made. If you happen to come to Rome you can check it out with your own eyes and see the very pair of jeans that he wore during the mythical "spedizione dei Mille", visiting the "Vittoriano", in Piazza Venezia. This marble, gigantic monument badly wanted by the piedmontese (the Savoy kings) who wanted to display their might and power in the Rome of the Popes overlooks the Via del Corso and was never loved by the Romans who called it for years on end "the typewriter"...
Trousers? I held my breath for a moment and wondered: when did the Romans, meaning our anciet fathers, stopped using the "toga" (the white cloth that looks like the priestly garments in the catholic tradition?) prefering the easy going trousers? I found the answer in the Galleria Pitti in Florence, many a time ago. I found myself in front of two stautes. One was of a Parthian captive, the other  represented Augustus in all his youthfull, laureate, classical beauty. I looked and looked and, all of a sudden, I realized that the parthian, the persian, the barbarian, with his messy hair and fierce face, wore trousers and shoes that looked like our modern Clarks! And that Augustus, with all his beautiful curly hair crowning his head, still wore a toga that left his knees bare and had sandals in his feet, fingers in the wind. And all of a sudden I understood that Augustus was the past, never to come back...   

domenica 23 ottobre 2011

Pizza Margherita story

And now, for a change, let's have a sunday evening pizza together. Do as the Romans do and listen to the story (if you want to...). Even a pizza Margherita, the traditional, simple, delicious plate - that even angels come down from heaven to taste in Naples (for a soft, thick one) or in Rome (for a crisp, slender one) – has a long, long story to tell. Did you know, for instance that “La pizza Margherita”, only tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, olive oil and basil, has a birthday? Well, I assure you, it has one indeed: it dates back to the 11th of june 1889, when a famous neapolitan “pizzaiolo”, Raffaele Esposito, decided to offer to the queen of Italy, Margherita di Savoia, a special italian pizza treat, that bore the colours of the italian flag: green (basil), white (mozzarella cheese) and red (tomatoes). She loved it and asked for more... He, together with his wife, Maria Giovanna Brandi, had prepared, as you can immagine, more than one type of pizza. The traditional kind, in those long lost days, was not like today the pizza Margherita, but a simple white pizza, with grated cheese on top, all clustered with “cicinielli” (baby fish).
Margherita di Savoia, the piedomtese beauty that had descended the Boot all the way down to Naples (a place that was familiar to her like the North Pole), granted a pair of wings to the everyday meal of the neapolitan crowds... She loved the taste and simplicity of true life baked in an oven. It does not surprise the italians who know by heart the famous saying that goes like this: “La regina Margherita mangia il pollo con le dita”. Her fingers were her forks when she ate chicken! It means more than that, of course. A lady, a queen, but a woman at heart all the same. A woman who loved pizza. Just like all of us.

venerdì 21 ottobre 2011

Stars and evangelists

There were five of us, little ones, in the villa. We flew down from heaven holding hands, first the twins and then, every second year, in this order my sister Sara, my brother Marco and last and maybe also least myself: Ester. When my mother found out that she was pregnant for the fourth time, with three little boys running around the place and one little girl hiding behind her skirts (something that she hated...), she sunk on the sofa and heaved outloud for everybody to hear: "Not another one!". This was my sweet welcome in this world. She tried her best to loose me, easy task as, during my nine months stay in her pretty womb, she moved, with her large italian family, from an ground floor apartment off the parco degli Scipioni to the white villa, a paradise of garden and rooms, that was to become our house for good. I can just see her, face - let's say - to the wardrobe, pushing and pushing with all her migh, red cheeks and all. I, myself, dancing inside her, happy as a bumble bee, in a lovely shake shake... I was born on a winter's day, without a name. I should have been Matthew, if a boy, beacuse my mother wanted the poker of the evangelists. Gian (for John) luca (for Luke) was one of the twins, two names in a go, good shot! Marco (for Mark) the third son, so only Mathhew was left over for little me, the Matthew that I saw, much later, on a Caravaggio painting in the dark church of Saint Louis of the French near Piazza Navona. A light hits the fellow and his face goes: "Me?", fingers pointing to his chest..  That could have been me. My grandma Stella (for Star) came to the rescue: "Why not call her Ester?". Ester, a star, like herself. That was that. I was Ester and God bless me. 

giovedì 20 ottobre 2011

The voice of the dead

In the Ponti household, tradition wanted the masters to be either professors or sultans. The “professors” were family men, loyal to their wives, backs straight, guardians of the papers, knots and  thorns of the family; the sultans were quite their opposite: skirt chasers, windy in thought, moody and, often enough, they themselvers core of the family problems... The lawyer, my father, was of the first type; his brother, my uncle, of the second. They both got married in those long lost years of the late Fifties and they both had five children and, funnily enough, both had  twin boys: the major twins (my brothers) and the minor ones (my cousins). Age made the difference, my brothers arrived eight years before my cousins did and so, that is that.
My mother was all but a “professoressa”. She wore short, quick hair when all around her women paraded cotton candy heads; she married in short, no veil, no nothing, when brides, in those days of memory, looked like sugar cakes. The wife of the journalist, my aunt, to soothe her loneliness due to her husband's balloon head passed long forlon afternoons recording the voices of the dead. “Did you hear them?”, she asked me once with pleading eyes. I only heard deep silences and the rustle of the tape. My mother, ice in her eyes, said: “We must go now...”. And we went.
Many years later, I was watching, for the sake of someone else, a James Bond movie that my father, already passed away, loved like a life he had not had. I thought wouldn't it be great if he was here! In that I heard a furious rattle coming from the kitchen, as if some neighbour was hammering nails at that time of night. I translated the language of the dead. My father was saying: I'me here too! The voice of the dead.

domenica 18 settembre 2011

Like a duckling

We lived in a white villa at the feet of the Aventine hill. The villa, a snowy duckling hatching its eggs (us) in the middle of a big green garden run by invisible boundaries. The "pratone" (the big meadow) where bush and pine trees were kings and queens; the "praticello" (small green) where my brothers used to play soccer because the grass was cut as short as a shaven head of a marine and the "boschetto (little wood), the reign of shadows, where the sun was banned for good. Then there was the "stradone", the big brown path that led to our door,  the runway for our bike turmoils.
Two terraces crowned the beauty of the house. One was pink with cotto and spread with daisy tiles; the other, carpeted with river pebbles, was all ups and downs because of the madness of the pine roots that seemed to emerge from hell...
The villa too was  divided into two. On the two top storeys that tickled the sky lived the Salini family; on the ground floor, flowers and grass on our nose, the Ponti family, us. To me, as a little girl, the garden was all in the wooden shed lost in the pratone, full of useless ladders and shovels and rusty mysterious tools: my hiding place, my shelter. All of a sudden, a flash in my memory. I am running mad towards my little green hut,  a little thing of about six years old, I am running and my father is after me, shouting and green with rage. I run and run, but he is closer and closer. Then I turn around, stiff and still, and: "You fag" I shout. I do not know ther meaning of that word but, to me, it's like a scratch. I close my eyes, waiting for the blow. That never came. When I opened my eyes, one at a time, my father was laughing red faced and all.