Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Bandit Country

Up to the nearby village to post a letter. This was the view yesterday morning from the square. One of the few pictures you'll see in this self-indulgent nonsense that doesn't include a glass. After going to the post office I went to the bar to (yes, really) buy a newspaper. For the first three years I'd walk in and it would fall silent, and all the old boys playing cards would stop shouting at each other, turn and stare intently at me for a full five seconds like out of a John Ford film, and then resume their game, but with the volume right down. After seven years, one or two of them actually say good morning. The bar is festooned with dead animals, guns, pennants from hunting clubs and football teams, bottles carved out of wood, faded photographs and acres of real Formica. Paying for the paper, I felt a severe tug of envy when the octagenerian next to me ordered and necked in one go a glass of amaro (q.v.). At a quarter to nine in the morning. If I wasn't Anglican I'd have had a go too, but I've not only got a drink problem but also too much Protestant guilt.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

A quiet night out

Please come around for some supper they said. But it's Friday tomorrow, I replied weakly, and I'm teaching at eight o'clock and I don't finish until one. Oh, don't be such a poof, they said, we're only cooking a plate of Milanese (delicate slices of beef, coated in breadcrumbs, and then fried in good oil), there's a plate of tomato salad and that's it, you'll be home by ten o'clock. Needless to say, at half past midnight we were bellowing out "Canto, canto, canto" and "Rido, rido, rido" and I was begging Mrs Combo for just five essential minutes of grace so I could drink some more Marzemino (an obscure red from Trentino and, in my opinion, the more obscure it remains the better). The bloke in the dodgy glasses bailed out early, as you might imagine.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Sod off, Lady Luck

I've just had to shell out €340 to have something done to the transmission on the Panda (purchased of course from car-dealer Bruno), my Italian accountant says I'm staring down the barrel, there's a badger that has declared war on the fence around the orchard and it's slashing down outside and the bit that connects the camera to the laptop is in The Doghouse and I'm bolloxed if I'm going out in all that rain to get it. So the news about last night's run-in with Mr Booze will have to wait. Instead I would like to show you a picture of an extremely relaxed Giulio the Singer at table during THAT WEEKEND. The ten bottles of wine at a dinner when one of the party (Mrs Combo) wasn't drinking. The photograph is courtesy of T. Savage Esq. Remarkably it is in focus, which is more than can be said for the shots he took later in the evening. O tempo! O mores!

Friday, 2 November 2007

The Day of the Dead

Well, that was a tough one. November 1st is a holiday in Italy and the cemeteries are mobbed. Everyone goes to say hello to the dead. It's also (another) excuse to eat and drink to excess. There was a lunch at our local pro loco, (village hall, for want of a better translation), with a sort of stew of chick peas and glistening hunks of pig fat as the main course. Chick peas are de rigeur on November 1st. And of course, gallons of wine served by the carafe, and re-filled upon request. Five courses and all you can drink for €15. It all kicked off because the bloke who runs the place is a tight sod and he bought a job lot of foul, thin red wine. General mayhem ensued. The good ol' boys shown here said (loosely) "bugger it, we're not drinking this piss" and the one on the left got in his clapped-out Fiat Panda and went and got four 2 litre bottles of Barbera from his cellar. And very nice it was too. He distributed it freely to all and sundry. Italians are like that. The day ended for me sometime around 10.00pm, I'm told.