Monday, 11 March 2013

The Sanest Days Are Mad

The circus came to town when Italy went to the polls. Once again the body politic can't decide if it's in Debenhams or Lewis's. Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right. An election dominated by a comedian.... and the Postie hates us!

Chart says: "You are a hard piece of shit"
Yes folks Silvio Berlusconi – the Bernard Manning of Italian Politics – has bounced back. The crude tactic of sending millions of households a mock up claim form to get a refund of the IMU tax (council tax) introduced by technocrat Monti, worked a treat. (I should add that Berlusconi abolished the tax that Monti reinstated to get re-elected last time. It was called ICI then. Appropriately pronounced 'itchy' in English.) Italians voted with their pockets to keep their heads in the sand. Crisis? What crisis? La la la la la , I can't hear you! Do wake up and smell the Lavazza. Outside Italy they think this dirty, duplicitous, back-stabbing phony creep personifies the national character. Bunga bunga parties, cronyism, corruption, vile racism and coarse sexism are all we hear about. Ratzinger left the big top just in time. Good riddance!

Not everybody fell for it. A vaguely centre-left coalition forms the largest bloc just short of a majority. The relatively new Movimento Cinque Stelle (5 Stars Movement) holds the balance. It sounds like a hotel classification system. It's 'leader' (comically he denies it!) comedian – the genuine article – Beppe Grillo, is king-maker. In an ironic twist Grillo's conviction for manslaughter bars him from elected office. (It was 30 years ago, down to a car accident, so not like it was in the conservatory with the lead piping!). It would be like handing the keys to the kingdom to Mark Thomas. I almost wrote Ben Elton, but he's too establishment, and then I thought Billy Connolly, but he's gone all psychobabbly. Their physical similarity is remarkable though.

Beppe Grillo: Rude Italian Gesture
Criticism of 5 Star candidates centres on their political inexperience. This can make it seem Janus-like: Grillo, “We will exit the Euro”, a candidate commenting on TV, “Oh no we won't!” Pantomime. But as Grillo humorously said, “At least they don't know how to fiddle the books.” Cynics might add “yet”. This motley troop (housewives, students, the unemployed) might be exactly what's needed to shake up a decadent, jaded and corrupt political class. Grillo promises to “rip Italian politics open like a can of tuna”.... so that's where the smell is coming from! There's something rotten in the state of Italy.

The young who haven't voted with their feet and gone to Northern Europe or Brazil are flocking to the Mad Hatters Tea Party. Italian justice is a game. A back-log of five and a half million cases and a statute of limitations that times out faster than a dial-up connection allows Berlusconi to be dragged through the shit and come up smelling of roses. Not once but time and time again. Equal opportunity? You must be joking. Grillo wants to end the 'who you know' system that dominates access to jobs and office. Italian politics is a gravy train. The buffers are just ahead.

Madness of a Different Order
The phone rings. It's the Bartolini courier company. Bartolini is the equivalent of DHL or UPS in these parts, except the vans are generally more decrepit.

I have a parcel for you”
Can I leave it somewhere in Subbiano for you to collect?”
Don't you know someone I can leave it with?”

This might sound like a reasonable request but Subbiano is a good ten miles away.

What's the address on it?”
Località Savorgnano 5”
That's my address. Why can't you deliver it here?”
It's too far to come.”
Where are you?”
Falciano.” (A village five miles away en route to Subbiano)
I may have misunderstood. You have a parcel addressed to me here, but you want me to collect it? Hasn't the sender paid the correct amount for delivery?”
If you want me to bring it to you then you'll have to wait until next Thursday.”
Why? What's happening Thursday?”
Or if you come to Falciano within the next ten minutes I will give it to you.”
If that's your best offer I'll see you in ten.”

Then off we go to Falciano to collect the parcel from the curmudgeon who doesn't ask for I.D.

I was telling this tale to a neighbour who kindly took charge of our mailbox while we were away. Apparently the Postie doesn't like delivering mail from England because the Royal Mail insist it's delivered on the nearest delivery day to it's arrival at the local office. Smacks too much of efficiency perhaps? She has another gripe too. The English send Christmas cards of irregular sizes. Hang me now.

Send in the clowns, there ought to be clowns. Don't bother they're here. Apologies to Stephen Sondheim.

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