Friday, May 22, 2009


OK, I know, you're right....I'm lazy!
I could, and I should, write a blog everyday and....well, what I usually do is wait until something completely absurd strikes me, (usually about the trials and tribulations of living in Italy), and then I pounce! (for all that the world cares)
But recently there's been so much, so much, that my critical mind has been swamped and overwhelmed.

Oh! You're wondering what the photo is all about? No connection really but..
It's me eight years old. I was so sweet! My sister was down in Le Marche and she brought me a DVD of old family photos. I remember this one quite clearly. It was taken in Kent, in the hop fields. My mum and dad were Battersea Cockneys and hop-picking was what you did if you were poor by way of a holiday. So where was I last weekend? In Kent, in the same area where this photo was taken. Oh, this time with friends Tony and Sheila in a posh pub with a refined menu and a polite Polish waiter and a rude English waiter too. I remember also a family of foxes playing in the garden of the cottage where we stayed and the owner bawling me our for hobbling around in his wellington boots. But I was a happy little chap and told this story to a group in London that same weekend; I'd gone on a workshop weekend and we were asked to remember a happy time in our lives.

So, here I go again with a simple tale of yesterday. And you can take this as a metaphor for all the thousand and one tales I'd like to relate to you but haven't the time. (for example the one about the traffic cop with dark shades).. or last weekends riotous Pizza party at Bernie's...Wow!!

Now you're going to wonder what all this has got to do with the following tale of yesterday. Not quite sure myself but I think it's as J.P.Sartre said, hell is other people. Of course he was referring to the French so he was spot on there but sometimes, sometimes, Italians are a pretty close match.
So back to yesterday, we reach the end of our little road and there, wonder of wonders is a team of workmen laying tarmac. First of all, let me explain that a year back all of us in our little community of Sant'Ippolito signed a petition appealing to the Mayor for a tarmac road because our sand road is a perpetual disaster. And yesterday there they were! Sealing the road. And as we gleefully drove on to the fresh tar, the workmen started to yell at us and the boss came hurtling over to the car shouting 'Get off, get off!!'

The conversation

I said what do you mean get off? where to?
He says 'Didn't you see the sign?'
What sign? where? I ask.
The one at the other end of the road, he says.
The end of which road?
The one two K along this road
Why did you put it there, nobody uses that road? All of us (some 50 people) use this one. So how would we know?
Well the sign is there he says and you should have seen it and now you're ruining this fresh tar.
You're not listening to me and why are you doing this part of the road? It's been fine, it's the rest that needs attention.
He shrugs his shoulders..
We've only been told to do this bit.
But it's a waste of time and money.
What do you expect, this is Italy?!

Now if there is one phrase which guarantees a complete meltdown in my brain it's this one.
But Lili touches my arm and says 'Go!'
So I take a deep breath and drive off.
I spend the next half hour repeating 'This is Italy, this is Italy, this is Italy!'
Calm down, she says, let's go for a swim in the lake. So we do, and it's gorgeous. Deep clear blue water and not a breath of wind.
This is Italy too, she says.

Like our new road?
It ends 100 metres along from here. just look.

Oh, and guess what? The local elections are next week.
Got the connection? As voters drive past they will think 'Hey, that Mayor is good, he's fixed that road at last'