Wednesday, February 06, 2008
This morning. Bessie barking like mad and confronting a sheep dog as a local shepherd artfully guides his sheep past our early flowering marigolds. A medieval scene.
It's Super Tuesday in the US and Carnival time here. I'm checking the primaries results on the internet and all I can here is sheep bells. And the news comes up that Italy is to go to the polls again. What? This is a disastrous decision meaning another weak government blackmailed by minority parties.
Who bribed who?. I'm asking myself.
Get the picture?
Understand why I feel confused and perplexed?
And this is yesterday evening in Sarnano. the whole town gets blocked while the carnival passes through. I suppose the western theme had something to do with Super Tuesday. Do you think so? Or the state of the Italian Govt? Or the speed of Italian trains?
On Sunday I went up to Padova where Lorenzo and I had an opening for one of our Red&Blue Art Factory shows..back on Monday after staying overnight. Couldn't face the drive so took a train. Have you ever traveled by train in Italy? Hmmm! Wanna talk medieval again? (See how the themes are overlapping in my mind?)
It's the same day that Spain announces its spectacular new rail system. Two hours from Barcelona to Madrid. And if the train is more than two minutes late you get a full refund!! Can you imagine Trenitalia ever offering that.... the economy would collapse overnight (if it hasn't already)
There's me trying to get to Padova from Porto San Giorgio on the coast. It's Sunday morning and I arrive 15 mins beforehand having wasted half an hour trying to get some cash from a hole in the wall.... Tried three, none working.
There's a herd of customers by the ticket office which is closed with a hand written message on window which says we open at 11 o'clock with an arrow pointing left and the words 'use the machine'
But nobody knows how to. One after the other we try, dialing up destination, class of ticket etc to be instructed to then dial 'OK'. But there isn't an OK button and the train is about to arrive---- Look I say, let's all just get on and explain the situation to the inspector and pay at the other end. They all turn to me as one and say 'What are you crazy and be fined 50 euros?' Oh he'll understand I say. 'No he won't..we've been fined before in the same situation'
Then suddenly pops up a young lady from the town who says 'Hey that's the OK button bottom left, the one with nothing on it...the letters have worn away' So hurriedly we get out tickets, me last of all as the train pulls in and I get one only to Ancona because one of the ladies in the queue advised me not to try and get a ticket all the way as she lost E50 on one of these machines a week before. Oh my!
So on the train I am and it's ten minutes late already and I'm doubting if I'll have time to get a ticket for Padova at Ancona.
Then (of course) arrives a ticket inspector who sneers at my ticket and says I have to pay a E50 fine because it isn't stamped.
I say, you should be ashamed!
'Trenitalia is a disaster. It symbolises everything that's wrong with this country and you should be ashamed working for such a crank organisation. there were twenty people
trying to get a ticket this morning, the ticket office was closed, the machine didn't work, the train is late and I probably won't have time to get a ticket to Padova and now you're saying I have to pay a E50 fine?
'It says so on the rules he says'
And service , I say, do you know what service is? All these people paying money and treated like this?
I'm only doing my job he says, and you're foreign aren't you (as if this is an explanation for the difficulty he is experiencing)
What's that got to do with it I shout?
OK, OK, he says and signs my ticket and lets me off the fine.
On the station at Ancona (I just managed to get my ticket in time) I see an poster saying 'Travel by train and make a smaller carbon footprint' and feel an urge to scribble something apt and rude over it...but have no time.
A great time in Padova..nice opening with lots of people.
And when I get back (to cut a longer story short), I stop at the ticket office at Porto San Giorgio on the way out and say to the guy behind the triple strength attack- proof glass 'Look the ticket office was close yesterday morning and there were lots of people trying to get a ticket from this machine here and the OK button is obliterated and it caused a lot of difficulty for people'
'It wasn't closed' he says.'This ticket office wasn't closed'
I lose it again until he finally confesses that true it was closed and what's more the OK button is obliterated, did you know that?
I'll fix it he says.
I wonder, I'll check next time I pass.
Obama's ahead in the first counts and Italy is without a government.
The sheep are settled happily in a nearby field and Graciella and Quinto are up a tree cutting there vines.
I say I think it'll snow next week.
(it's wish talk because my daughter and grandson are here and I want to take him skiing)
And guess what happened when the sheep came back later in the afternoon?
Socksie (that's him on right) nearly got murdered by three sheep dogs. He was cornered and made a break for it but ran into the herd of sheep: made a swift turn about but straight into the dogs who were so suprised they hesitated and he luckily made a leap for Bernie's tree and just escaped a snapping mouth. So Lili gave him Reichi and he's calmed down but we have had to lecture him on the evils of the outside world (Marimmana dogs in particular)
Posted by Michael Eldridge at 1:38 AM