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Archive for the ‘Cultural differences’ Category

Adventures in Mummying

16/08/2016

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I am now two years and seven months into this mothering lark.

There are moments when I really cannot recall what my life was like without my daughter, and moments I am so exhausted and Mummyyyyyyyyyyyyyyed! out that I feel like she has been here forever (which I am aware is not quite the same thing…).

Then there are those other moments I whip round in surprise at the sound of a squeaky little voice summoning her Mumma, and wonder how it is she seems so confident of who I am and all I am apparently able to deliver when most of the time I still feel as clueless as if the stork dropped her off the day before – although, given that young children are in a state of constant change, I cannot be alone in feeling that I never quite manage to get my mothering shit together or that bringing up a child is substantially more blindfolded white-rapid ride than it is guided amble round a park.

20160430_105953Of course the internet offers a myriad of foolproof parenting methods, playgrounds always contain at least one mother fortunate enough to know everything and bookshops bulge with tomes by parenting experts; all of which give the impression that it really could be a guided amble round a park, if we would just follow their 5-point plan to: Getting the child sleeping through from conception! Getting the child feeding on a schedule from the moment he crowns! Don’t put the child down for the first six months! Wash the birth gunk off, and don’t pick the child up ever again in case she gets used to it! Pretend you can’t hear him crying, he only wants attention! Anticipate your child’s needs the day before so she never has to cry!

It’s a confusing minefield with no possible winners (other than that know-it-all-mother’s ego and the royalties enjoyed by the aforementioned parenting “experts”): no two children are exactly the same, no parents are exactly the same, no families are exactly the same and no lifestyles are exactly the same. Parenting is an ongoing exercise in intuition, compromise, guesswork, consistency, patience and bluff.

One lesson I have learnt is that people who do not have children should not form an opinion on child-rearing, much less voice it. That intense emotional bond with the child you are raising colours every situation you are likely to face from the first moment you hold him in your arms. And your intuitive understanding of that child dictates how you decide to deal with those situations. There are very few OSFA solutions to parenting quandaries, and those on the outside looking in only ever have part of the story.

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Before Maya was even born, I wrote a condescending piece referencing Attachment Parenting (or at least what I assumed it to be). I feel particularly silly about it now because without even really being aware of it, I seem to have ended up practising many of the AP principles. I read somewhere that a child who has all emotional (as well as physical) needs met, is more likely to grow into a well-rounded and confident adult. And not only does that make perfect sense to me; it also fits very nicely thank you with the way I have always instinctively wanted to respond to my daughter.

But in my pre-motherhood ignorance, I confused nurturing with controlling – something I have witnessed quite a bit here in Italy, where meaningful communication with children often seems to be eschewed in favour of endless commands to: Get up of that floor, you’ll get dirty! Get down off there, you’ll fall! Don’t go up there, you’ll hurt yourself! Get your finger out of your mouth, it’s dirty! Do your coat up, there’s a draft! Don’t run, you’ll fall over! Do that again and I’ll smack you!

20160713_175919 (2)In the playgrounds and piazze of my Italian existence, the gentlest of tumbles frequently results in a flurry of panic, surfaces are treated as terrifying germ-coated threats to fallen snacks (and toys and fingers), potential death-traps are seen everywhere, children are bundled up against dangerous breezes about nine months of the year and empty threats of corporal punishment appear to be considered an acceptable parenting tool more often than I care to notice.

It has an uncomfortable edge of negativity to it. I suspect children who are not offered rational explanations for things might have a harder time making good judgement calls, and children not permitted to play freely may struggle to safely discover their own physical limitations. Admittedly the inculcation of a fear of dirt, weather and theoretical parental slaps is not much worse than pointless, but what of the loud proof that these parents have absolutely no faith in their offspring’s fledgling abilities to get themselves safely from A to B? I can’t envisage that being an ingredient for either confidence or independence.

The bizarre bedfellow of the above is the Italian child-worship phenomenon (perhaps partially a result of ever-decreasing family size?) that grandparents, waiters and random passers-by indulge in. This mainly involves a Willy Wonkaesque deluge of sugar in all its most tooth-rotting forms, and a willingness to humour every cappriccio thrown up by the object of their worship.

IMG-20160704-WA0001So is there an absolute right way? I doubt it – there are simply too many variables, but who really knows. All I know is that I have no desire to shout all day, I don’t care about dirt or weather, I think Maya is more likely to learn respect if she is shown it, I encourage her to climb and jump and run as much as she wants and if she falls I comfort her then release her back into play, and although I did slap my child’s bottom once – she slapped me right back AND I WAS PLEASED!

The result so far is a joyous little girl, with a wonderful sense of humour but also a very strong sense of self: woe betide anyone, family or not, who tries to pet her or assist her without being expressly invited. She has strong opinions about what she wants, but gives in reasonably gracefully when told why she can’t have it. She is independent and adventurous, as long as she knows one of us is close by if required. She doesn’t try to dominate other children, but is slowly getting the hang of standing up for herself. She’s endlessly communicative and she’s kind.

On the other hand: she doesn’t sleep well, she has been known to deface the occasional wall with her wax crayons, she’s a bit Mummy and Mummy Milk-obsessed, she cries every single time she wakes up from a nap for no apparent reason, she’s stubborn, she pees in the bidet, farts like her father, is frequently reluctant to do whatever she has been kindly requested to do, and she is far too fond of the television (Blaze and the Monster Machines in particular).

20160522_105702But as a blindly obedient paragon of “virtue” is the last thing I want to unleash on the world, I am extremely content with progress so far as well as being increasingly more besotted with every passing day.

That said, I am also exhausted, wrung-out and in dire need of some time alone with my thoughts: time to write, time to read, time to walk, time to complete work calmly without the stress of trying to squeeze translations in her all-too-brief nap times. So from the 14th of September a new chapter begins for both of us – nursery school! And I don’t know who is more excited…

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It has EVERYTHING to do with religion

15/07/2016

Brussels, Iraq, Bangladesh, Turkey, Orlando, Syria, Libya, Nice… and these are just a handful of the places to have suffered grave and unimaginable losses due to terrorism so far in 2016.

And we can shout “Terrorism has no religion!” until our throats are dry, but it is a lie.

Because all those lives have been lost not just to terrorism, but to ISLAMIC terrorism. I reiterate again, that although most Muslims are not extremist terrorists, most extremist terrorists are Muslim. And they ARE Muslim. It is dangerously naive to declare otherwise. Islam, like all Abrahamic religions, can be interpreted pretty much any way suits an adherent’s lifestyle. An extremist Muslim is just as much a Muslim as a moderate Muslim, they just take different messages from their holy book. And as long as Allah continues to resist making a personal appearance in order to mediate and clarify, that will remain the case.

It is not ‘racist’, it is not ‘discriminatory’, it is not ‘Islamophobia’. It is simply fact.

Most of those Muslims carrying out attacks in the West were born and brought up in the countries they appear to hate so very much, by parents who (I imagine) moved here for a better life. In order to try and stem the advance of this carnage, and the divisive social and political disintegration it causes, we need to stop coming out with both excuses and blanket condemnations, and start concentrating our efforts on finding out why these people hate with such vehemence.

We need to find out how they could become so radicalised against the relatively mild background of democratic Western Europe.

Is it disaffected youth, whose apparent inability to find a sense of purpose in their everyday lives made them the ideal target for some particularly amoral puppet masters?

Is it the ease with which religion can be interpreted to justify even the most heinous actions?

Is it the ease with which religion feeds into the innate and divisive human trait of seeking a righteous “us” versus an immoral “them”?

We need to find out whether their families, friends and communities simply fail to notice this radicalisation process taking place, whether their sense of kinship is stronger than their compassion for the innocent men women and children of their host countries, or whether the numbers of the complicit are higher than we dare imagine.

Most importantly , we must ensure that within our message of democratic freedom, a very clear emphasis is put on a secular Freedom of Religion. Not the freedom to do whatever you please in the name of religion, but the freedom for everyone to believe whatever they please and to live as they please, providing it is not detrimental to others and whilst understanding that religion is a personal choice, not a political or a moral framework.

And for all those who feel that the only trigger for these attacks is clumsy Western intervention in the Middle East, what about those Muslims who kill other Muslims for being the wrong sort of Muslim? What about those Muslims who kill ex-Muslims simply because they no longer believe in Allah? What about those Muslims who kill other Muslims simply because they have dared questioned some of the tenets of Islam?

I have no solutions to the sickness currently affecting Islam, but pretending it is not there is the height of stupidity.

Nice wasn’t the first, and it won’t be the last – that much is certain. And whilst we should not play into the Jihadists’ hands with unjustifiable hatred towards all Muslims (another ‘Holy War’ – Islam against the world, is exactly what they are hoping for), we owe it to ourselves and to the innocent lives lost to be brutally honest about the causes, because only then have we any hope at all of tackling them.

So think about Brussels, Iraq, Bangladesh, Turkey, Orlando, Syria, Libya and Nice, cry for them and mourn with them, just don’t pray for them, for more religion is the last thing they need.

Status Viatoris

Je suis Charlie 

Twelve people dead, just to assuage the hurt feelings of some truly pathetic human beings. It is heartbreaking, terrifying and infinitely absurd.

And predictably, the apologist protestations have already begun: the terrorists are not “true” Muslims. These acts of terrorism are not religiously motivated. None of this has anything to do with Islam. None of this has anything to do with religion.

Poor, poor, poor misunderstood religion; the hardships it has to endure.

But unfortunately for religion, the deities who, several thousand years ago, so kindly dictated their respective rules, threats and petulant demands for blind obedience to willing scribes, neglected one rather important detail: clarity.

Hence why there are 300-odd Christian denominations, for example, and why some Muslims think Islam is the religion of peace whilst other Muslims think murdering their detractors in cold blood is a perfectly acceptable way to behave. Some religiously-motivated behaviour happens to comply with the laws of whichever land the adherent lives…

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Small Crises of Identity

02/10/2013

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

I have a very boring surname; a single-syllabled yawn-inducer of a surname.

In fact over the years, one of the most exciting aspects of potential matrimony has been the thought that I would be presented with a perfectly legitimate reason to change it.

And yet here I am; spliced, ringed-up and officially wed, but without a single appellatory-alteration to show for it.

But, why? You might ask – as I myself do on a semi-regular basis…

Perhaps I should start with the why nots.

Well, it’s certainly not in any way because I’m a feminist (although I am, in the men-and-women-are-equals way), in fact it makes perfect sense when creating a family to give them the same surname, whoever’s it may be.

Having carried a child for nine months, squeezed it painfully out through a hole that is patently too small for such a purpose, fed it, worried about it, and taken marginally good care of it; I certainly don’t want to misplace it in the fresh produce aisle only to realise that the sole links the authorities may find to connect me to my offspring are our shared knock-knee affliction or the results of a long-winded DNA test.

I also can’t blame the lack of name change on a desire to keep the family surname alive – I am about as clannish as I am patriotic.

Could it be because the mere thought of the bureaucracy involved in changing my surname in a country where it is not the cultural practice chills me to my very vitals?

That plays a part, certainly; but in fact the primary reason I can’t seem to bring myself to alter my nominal identity is far more basic than any of the prior options:

It is simply the blinding realisation that having been plain old “me” for an entire thirty-six years, I find myself in no way inclined to get used to being someone different, even if it is solely in name.

So the very boring surname stays.

And the offspring – already facing confusion by being born to a British mother and a Romanian father, in Italy – will add to its international credentials by following the Hispanic habit of carrying its father’s surname, followed by its mother’s very boring one.

Poor creature.

This is Status Viatoris, finding out new things about herself every single day (none of them especially interesting, I might add) in Italy.

Ding Dong the Bells are going to Chime

01/03/2013

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Sometime towards the end of 2012, discussions turned to the state of my ovaries.

Given the apparently serious nature of our love affair, and the possibly decrepit state of my reproductive organs, I thought it prudent to point out to Tigger that should he envisage a family with me, sooner rather than later might be the key to thwarting the wear and tear that was invariably being wrought by Old Father Time.

To be honest it was merely an observation – I had long ago made peace with the possibility of a childless future (Life seems to me to be filled with plenty of other goals to strive for and hidden corners to explore).

Anyway, it transpired that a family is exactly what Tigger had envisaged with me, which is how I now find myself engaged to be married.

The Rock

Less of a rock and more of a chiefly calcium carbonate deposit formed around a grain of sand or other foreign matter in the shells of certain molluscs… But still very pretty.

And I simply cannot wait to be the wife of such a kind, loving, funny, supportive, intelligent, and wonderful man – although preferably via a registry office wedding involving no more than two guests and which I can attend in my trainers… oh yes, I am the last of the great romantics.

On paper we  are undoubtedly a very odd match.

I am a thirty-five year old English girl (not sure what it takes to be a woman, but I don’t feel I’m quite there yet…), he is a twenty-six year old Romanian of Hungarian origin.

I am an atheist, an only child and a bookworm; he is Catholic, the fourth child of six and has never picked up a book in his life.

I am an antisocial over-thinker; he is gregarious and happy-go-lucky.

I write stuff, translate stuff, teach stuff and sell stuff; he does stuff with iron, and has been known also to do stuff with wood and bricks and cement too.

I am messy, he is neat. I am fanciful, he is practical.

I have moved to Spain then France then Italy in a self-indulgent quest for a more exciting life, he has moved to Spain then Cyprus then Italy out of necessity – a necessity for reliably paid employment.

I have been through a fairly impressive roll call of partners in my attempt to track down “The One”, he never saw the point of having a girlfriend until he met me.

In fact about the only thing we have in common is that we love each other, and very much. A warm yet exciting, comforting yet heart-pounding kind of love that makes me go “oh! so that’s what everyone meant…!” for up till now I had assumed that people in relationships just made do.

No More.

No Less.

And into this already pretty cushy bargain, I also get the benefit of a lovely family. One that already boasts an Ecuadorian brother-in-law, thus relieving me of the burden of being the only foreigner; as well an extraordinarily special little Ecuadorian/Romanian nephew who had already melted my heart long before I had even made his uncle’s acquaintance.

Thus a whole new chapter of my life opens up, and in a direction that I really had not counted on.  Will it still be possible to be a Modern-Day Nomad with her head in the clouds and her fingers on the keyboard as well as a wife, and possibly also one day a mother?

I sincerely hope so. And I think that this partnership – for it most decidedly is a partnership, as opposed to two independent humans sharing merely bed and board as in previous relationships – has the necessary ingredients to make it possible.

I was already fairly sure of that six months ago but when my lovely strong cheerful man broke down and cried like a baby at the prospect of losing my beloved dog; then I knew it for certain.

This is Status Viatoris, who has enjoyed a few days off from An English Fandango, but who will be cracking on with “Marbella” from Monday.

The Next Generation

28/06/2012

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

With love from the heavenly heathen 😉

FAITH definition – “firm belief in something for which there is no proof”.

ATHEISM definition – “a disbelief in a deity (god)”.

A Roman Catholic and an Atheist walk into a bar…

…and that’s it really. They order a couple of beers, share a kiss, then chat away about life and universe whilst leisurely sipping their drinks.

And as long as that’s all they do – well, that and going to the cinema, enjoying barbecues in the countryside, meals in, meals out, occasional DIY, evenings with friends or family and evenings spent curled companionably on the sofa watching television – then all is well and good.

But what would happen if they enjoyed each other’s company to such an extent that they decided to make things rather more official?

(Not my case yet, I can assure you – I’m still far too young to seriously consider taking such a step).

But let us suppose it were my case…

For whilst I can apparently marry in a Roman Catholic church (providing my hypothetical Catholic groom’s bishop gives the nod) because I was christened, I am certainly not a Christian.

And whilst I would be prepared to go through a Catholic marriage service out of love for my hypothetical Catholic groom, I would certainly not be prepared to lie about my beliefs should openly declaring them be a stipulation.

But let us suppose that my hypothetical Catholic groom and I somehow make it through the nuptial minefield to arrive safely on the other side; it does not then require a huge additional leap of imagination to envisage we may wish to add to our newly minted hypothetical family.

What then?

For whilst I agreed to marry the person I love under the conditions dictated by his chosen religion, I am a consenting adult who knew and understood what she was agreeing to.

There is no such thing as a consenting baby; a baby (even a hypothetical one) cannot possibly understand the criteria involved in stating a religious belief.  Which is why it is inconceivable to me that I would baptise my hypothetical child into a faith whose diktats he cannot possibly comprehend and whose veracity remains utterly devoid of any evidence.

A parent’s role should surely be to help a child learn and understand the facts of the world around him and to educate him in the rules of moral conduct that enable (and have always enabled) human beings to co-exist in relatively co-operative harmony.

A parent’s role should surely be, above all, to encourage a child to use that which sets him apart from so many other species – his mind. That wonderfully absorbent organ which will lead him to search, question, assess and eventually, opine.

The default position of each and every child is that of Atheism; teaching impressionable children religious ideas as facts can only be described as  indoctrination. Human beings can only truly consent to choose (or to disregard) the unproven hypothesis of religion when they reach adulthood and attain the necessary maturity to process the evidence independently.

With this in mind, your ideas, opinions and personal experiences would be invaluable in enabling me to deal with either of these hypothetical conundrums should they ever arise.

Comments on a postcard (or even just in the Comments box below)… 🙂

This is Status Viatoris, currently ravaged by a very un-hypothetical hunger, so off to make some lunch, in Italy.

True Amore?

22/06/2012

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Being someone who is fascinated by human nature in general, and cultural differences in particular, there are many aspects of the Italian psyche that have piqued my curiosity over the years.

Most especially, given the unrivalled reputation for romance the country holds, the attitude to love and relationships.

And Italy certainly seems to be a country that thrives on relationships – the necessity of being in one often seeming to override the need to actually be happy.

One only has to go out on a Saturday night to witness the profusion of girlfriends clinging like parasitic twins to miserable looking paramours or trailing pitifully around behind them as they do blokey stuff with their mates whilst attempting to pretend they’re single.

The concept of girl power appears to have been largely ignored: many youngsters will be a couple of years into a long-term relationship before they even finish their schooling and these young (and not so young) girlfriends show not even a glimmer of self-respect as they stalk their boyfriends from pillar to post in an attempt to ensure his fidelity.

Of course the boys are not much better; coercion not being an obvious factor in luring them into such claustrophobic love matches. Rather than grasping opportunities for the independence to explore and grow during their relative youth, they seem to inexplicably prefer often unsatisfying partnerships with girls they seem to care relatively little about; only to then expend huge amounts of energy on repeated attempts at infidelity.

It is all rather baffling.

Certainly the grand gestures are all to be found here if those are what one is interested in: metre-high declarations of love painted in public places, endless file pictures of kissing and hugging couples accompanied by cutesy messages all over social networking sites, a willingness to trip down the aisle… being single in Italy does seem to be something of a rarity, but are people truly happy?

Or does this almost pathological need to be part of a couple mean that many Italians settle for what they can get, as opposed to holding out for somebody who could actually make that vital difference in their lives.

For surely there is no shame in choosing solitude over the wrong partner? Being single is a wonderful opportunity to explore much of what life has to offer as well as getting to know oneself; the perfect recipe for being able to recognise and appreciate love when it does come to call.

This is Status Viatoris, who hates to generalise but honestly, italiani, what are you all so scared of?? in Italy.

Emotional Incapability Need Not Be Terminal

01/05/2012

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

I have recently been taught that good communication may well be the key to making relationships work.

It is also, apparently, the key to saving them – those which still have the whisper of a pulse, anyway.

For when the dust settled on a sudden and inexplicable rift with Tigger/Toyboy, and I was at last capable of having a meaningful conversation without ending up snuffling pathetically into a hanky, we sat down together and had a good long chat.

We talked, really talked, and realised that despite the relative brevity of the relationship, really talking had been allowed to slip fatally low on our list of priorities.

And although I had certainly been aware of its descent, it was Tigger who actually troubled to point it out.

It was assuming that had stepped in to take the vacancy left by really talking, and assuming makes a very poor substitute indeed – as well as of course making an ass of you and… well, I’m sure you know the rest.

The trouble with assuming – besides being very different from the actual knowing that tends to come from really talking – is that it relies quite heavily on the experiences and past observations of the assumer.

Not ideal when the assumer and the assumee have an age-difference of almost a decade, come from extremely dissimilar cultural backgrounds and communicate in a language that neither of them speaks to mother-tongue standard.

So having established that what we both wanted from each other was considerably different from what we had assumed we wanted from each other, and that what we both want is to be together but with a little more dedication and a regular helping of really talking, Tigger and I managed to retrieve what we both thought we’d lost for good.

Us.

This is Status Viatoris, working at making a relationship work, in Norfamtonshire.

Indubitably Intoxicatingly Inebriated

05/03/2012

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

One of the many “issues” that recent British governments have attempted to resolve, is the culture of binge-drinking so prevalent in the UK.

I certainly do not speak from any dizzy moral heights on this topic; my “all or nothing” personality type lends itself almost perfectly to the excesses of binge-anything: drinking, eating, watching three dvd box sets of LOST back to back – overkill rules in the world of SV.

But living abroad for so long has, amongst other things, given me the opportunity to observe other nations’ attitudes to alcohol consumption; in turn leading me to wonder where on earth us Brits have gone so very wrong.

Arriving in Spain at 18, freshly plucked from the almost obligatory booziness of my British peer group, it took me some time to realise that when out with Spanish friends, I was the only one knocking back rum and cokes to the point of incoherence.

It took me even longer to notice that this behaviour was regarded with something other than amused indulgence.

But it was not until I got to France, eight years later, that I really grew-up as far as alcohol was concerned. Nights out with my new Gallic friends tended to consist of a civilised meal, with one bottle of wine shared between three or four of us, and then a drink or two at a local bar should the mood strike.

No stumbling, no slurring, no soulless sex, no sick, no shame and no regrets: it was a revelation, and I was chuffed to bits to finally be able to have an adult relationship with liquid refreshment.

But then I went to work in a Scottish pub for seven months, and was abruptly deposited back into the Danger Zone…

A zone where people from practically all age groups are only too happy to get absolutely lathered, pie-eyed, bolloxed, trollied and pished as veritable farts.

A zone where that is, in fact, the primary aim of many of their evening excursions.

A zone where there is little shame in drinking so much that you fall arse over tit, vomit copiously, pick fights, talk shite or jump the bones of complete strangers before falling into the dribbling snoring slumber of the soon to be deservedly hungover.

A zone where the following day’s amusement is the recounting of the previous night’s drunken humiliations.

Yes, it’s the Brit Zone, and yes; I have been there. Again. And again. And again.

So why are many of us seemingly wired up so very differently from our Continental cousins?

It’s not as if booze does not form a part of European life: in fact in all of the countries in which I have lived, alcohol figures very prominently in most social activities. But in Spain, France or Italy it is rare to see the extreme levels of inebriation that we are faced with in the UK.

Is alcohol treated with more “respect” in other countries?

Well yes it is, but I would not say that was a reason in and of itself. It appears to me to be more due to the fact that most Spaniards, French, Italians and others don’t “need” alcohol in the same way that we appear to.

They are confident enough to be able to converse, to laugh, to dance, to have a generally good time, without requiring to be a hat trick of sheets to the Mediterranean breeze in order to do so.

So what are we Brits so scared of?

This is Status Viatoris, would murder the box set of Homeland right now, in Italy.

Aperitivo, Anyone?

03/02/2012

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

The Italian aperitivo is a veritable institution, and one that I have come to wholeheartedly approve of; although my waistline may not thank me for my adherence to such traditions.

Carbs ahoy!

If you care to drop by your local bar at any time from about 11h in the morning, you should be able to witness the breakfast paraphernalia of cappuccino, caffè latte, latte macchiato, brioche, focaccia and so on, being cleared away to make space for an alluring spread of calorific nibbles.

Patatine, arachide, funghi, olive, prosciutto, formaggio, crostini, crackers, salame (or in other words; crisps, peanuts, pickled mushrooms, olives, ham, cheese, croutons, cheesy biscuits, salami) amongst many other morsels, are spread out along the bar and brought to the tables in order to delight the tastebuds of those who file in for a tipple before plodding off home for lunch.

A small drink to wash down a mountain of snacks.

The drinks themselves can be quite a different matter, however, as many Italians are fans of a concept that I have never been able to come to terms with.

One that makes my stomach gyrate like a landed fish and my tastebuds retreat up my nasal passages every time I see an example of it being poured or consumed:

it is commonly known as The Drink With The Foul Bitter Taste.

Exhibit number one: ick.

The non-alcoholic versions of this particular abomination; this crime against the senses, are the Crodino – an innocent-looking orange fizz, which lured me in one day and managed to rape my tongue with a single sip before I caught on and cast the pernicious bubbles down to their plughole-ulate doom.

And then there is the Sanbittèr, made marginally less evil only by dint of the warning contained within its name.

Revoltingness in a bottle.

Joining these are their alcoholic cousins (look away now if you consider yourself to be delicate of stomach, or at least make sure there is a sturdy bucket in the vicinity…) of which below are a few examples served in my local watering-hole:

Americano – campari, martini rosso, soda water.

Maison – bitter campari, white and red vermouth, gin.

Negroni – Campari, martini rosso, gin.

Bruttaçao – sparkling white wine with a splash of campari.

And many other similarly gut-churning – and almost certainly gut-rotting – combinations of some of the most gruesome booze ever to have been bottled.

Extremely Italian, but still yucky..

Another popular aperitivo, is the Aperol Spritz: made when the lightly alcoholic Italian mixer, Aperol, is criminally and inexplicably chucked in to ruin a perfectly good glass of sparkling white wine.

But luckily for me, and others like me, it is possible to get stuck into the free vittles without compromising one’s delicate palate, and yet whilst also continuing to support the Italian liquid-beverages industry.

We have Prosecco to pave the way for the parmegiano, Peroni to precede the prosciutto and a superb selection of Italian wines to accompany the rest of the moreish foodstuffs to their final resting place.

And for those who do not wish to pass the remaining hours of the afternoon in an alcohol-induced fug, why not try some Spuma? A sparkling soft drink that comes in nero or bianco and tastes almost nothing like anything else that has ever passed my lips.

– Although the white is perhaps vaguely elderflowery and the black has a slight dandelion and burdock tinge.

But don’t quote me on that.

An… ummm… interesting alternative.

If by any chance that lunchtime aperitivo has left you hungering and thirsting for more, my advice would be to enjoy a long siesta before making sure you are back at the bar around 18h in time to begin the process all over again.

There will almost certainly be a certain somebody in situ who is very pleased to see you…

Got any spare crisps, mister?

This is Status Viatoris, who you needn’t think is overlooking tonic water or bitter lemon either for they are both the work of the devil, in Italy.

And the flip side…

19/01/2012

SV coming back to her illegally parked car after about 40 minutes to find the traffic police have ticketed her.

Fiddlesticks! (and worse).

One officer sees her stomping up to the car and walks over.

SV starts to quake in her dog-walking trainers (yes, she does like to be uber-smart when going into town).

PC Ploddio: Which one of these is your car?

SV (debating whether to deny all knowledge of any automobile and just keep walking): This one.

At which point PC Ploddio reaches out, grabs the ticket from under the wipers, and silently rips it up before sauntering off.

Now I have never been one for uniforms; but for a brief moment, ravishing him over the bonnet of my illegally parked car seemed like a perfectly desirable thing to do.


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