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.