Thursday, 2 October 2008

Talking and Boozing with Italians


Italians love yapping. Anytime, anyplace, any topic. Give them a chance 'though to speak in public on a subject about which they have more than passing knowledge and they seize it with both hands, clutch it to them and snog it until their tongue is aching. And so it happened at the reception for the new 'University' which is to be (if anyone bothers to enrol) a languages unit as an offshoot of the University of Genoa. It should be a banker however because it is in a remote hilltop village (pop. 173) with no public transport connections whatsoever. But don't worry because you lot paid for it via the EU's regional development fund. The people at the table above are all language specialists. And they went on. And on. And on. For about one hour and forty minutes. It honestly seemed like two days. Talking bollocks of course. All against a backdrop of gentle snoring from some of the old boys from the village who scented a free drink. The old buffer seated second from the right with the white hair is the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Genoa. More about him later.
However, everything comes to him who waits. Afterwards there was a rinfresco in a 15th century cellar belonging to the local council. All red wine and decent grub, including little crispy pan-fried ravioli. Delicious. Being a borderline alky (water always finds its own level), I soon found myself boring two Germans, an Italian and the V-C glassy-eyed with London drinking tales (big nod to Lord Ashley). The old boy (the V-C that is) could certainly stick it away.

Two hours later (after having fended off a frantic Mrs Combo on the 'phone) I found myself with the dregs of the group in this private cellar in the village. On the left of the table is a model of the US Cavalry Fort at Tuscon made out of fag packets and corks and the other is of St. Peter's in Rome made conventionally out of polished wood. Just cop the posters on the wall.

The biblical-looking owner's cellar is a shrine to the 70s. I had never met him before. Here he is extolling the benefits of a Remington razor. I think him and his mate opened some eight bottles while we were there and there were only six of us. My final, hazy memory of the evening is leaving the cellar and seeing the V-Cs enormous wife staggering around in the garden trying to find the way out. There was a bizarre green light flashing under her lower clothing. I think it may have been a warning that her bag was full.

9 comments:

Peter Ashley said...

Oh Ron I can't tell you how much this has cheered me up. Just bloody brilliant. Where to start. Well, the woman taking the mike in the top pic. looks quite fit. But the architectural models. There's a book here- the Vatican made out of Brillo Pads, Mother Russia in Volgagrad fashioned from empty All Day Breakfast tins. I now know, thanks to you, that somebody, somewhere, has done it.

Fred Fibonacci said...

Well done Ron. A classic post: it's all there isn't it? What a night you must have had. Oh, to have been there, swapping architectural notes on the El Paso fag packet model (so accurate! So moving!)and sharing the joys of the shaver power point declamation. First rate.

Vinogirl said...

Those models...wow! Who has the time?

Diplomat said...

Sorry for not visiting recently - Those models are brilliant - all of them. This may be a reflection of my age or state of mind but i did find myself more excited by the table top models than the wall-mounted ones. i once had to make a likeness of an autostrada accident on the custody desk of an italian police station using fag packets and match boxes, the taxi was a pack of Marlboro reds and a box of tissues served as the coach which was on it's side at the bottom of the embankment - my piece de resistance was in the employment of a pack of condoms loaned by the arresting officer to explain the part played by the fat American tourist on a motorcycle who caused the whole thing and was no longer able to explain himself.

Ron Combo said...

Vinogirl - Italians who retire from the State railway/medical sector/teaching profession at the age of 40, that's who.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Wonderful. I've seen some architectural models in my time, but these take the prize.

Jon Dudley said...

This ranks, on the Combo scale of creativity, right up there with the female Italian polticians - superb! We do like a nice meaningless meeting provided there's even a small reward at the end of it...and there was. Unusual models made from the detritus of society always appeal and the more totally out-of-scale detail there is, the better they become. For some reason the modeler is usually totally oblivious to this. However, the world needs people to make scale models of Tower Bridge from toothpicks so jolly good luck to them.

Vinogirl said...

I'm jealous...I think!!!

Peter Ashley said...

I once sat in a smoky (those were the days) pub in Solihull and suddenly noticed that in the ashtray someone had left a beautiful model of a Centurion tank fashioned from a Player's No.6 packet. It is to my lasting regret that I didn't retrieve it for the Unmitigated Museum of Curiosities.