Wednesday, 16 March 2011


Last week it was International Women’s day. We were supposed to be remembering the successes, achievements, merits of women around the globe. I don’t ever remember this day being celebrated in Britain when I lived there. Perhaps it is now.
I did a quick Google to find some random  images. Lots of collages with women from different lands smiling in solidarity...

In Italy it is traditionally a day when women are given little bunches of yellow mimosa flowers by the men in their lives. In the evening they go out to have a women’s dinner with their girlfriends. A bit like a hen night without the strippers. Or sometimes with. They call it ‘festa della donna. I did a google for this too to see what came out. Mostly naked, lots of fluffy mimosa covering the important bits. I do have to say that the festa della donna was much more like international man's day.

Last month over a million women took to the streets of Italy to protest about Berluska and they way he uses and manipulates women: the official slogan, ‘se non ora quando?’ Bit like an old Tracy Chapman favourite, If not now when?  Here’s the official poster.
PINK. The big official stage in Rome was pink. Anything that has anything to do with women is often followed by the adjective ‘rosa’- pink. Many primary schools still get little boys to wear blue overalls (a sort of apron thing to stop their clothes from getting dirty) whilst the girls have to wear PINK.  

When Eve was about 2 ½ it was difficult to have a conversation with her about anything that wasn’t pink. I don’t know how she did it but I’d say 80 if not 90% of her entire output was concerned with the colour pink. ‘I like pink Mummy, look, pink ball. Mummmy… pink . I like pink.’ She would wear nothing that wasn’t pink. Her favourite food was ham, because it was pink!!! Obsessed. She’s now 4 ½ and has grown out of the pink phase, she talks about international politics with ease…Italy is 150 tomorrow… Tanti Auguri!!

Monday, 14 March 2011

The Jam Tart Incident

Lots of things to say this week but all of them seem a bit superficial. The harem can wait.

I’ll tell you about something different instead.
For various reasons, none of them particularly important, the ‘jam tart incident’ came up in conversation.

A long time ago, back in the last Millennium, I shared a house with three Italian university students, Claudia, Monika and Giorgia. They came from out of town and very bravely lived away from their parents in this shared house, something that not many people under the tender age of thirty five do in Italy. They used to leave with their dirty washing on the first available train out of Genoa on Thursday only to return again Monday afternoon full of food that their mothers had prepared for them. And clean clothes.

One Monday afternoon I was at home when the three of them came fluttering in through the door obviously very excited about something. I thought it was probably to do with a certain Stefano who all three of them claimed to be having an affair with… but no! Jam tart!! Monika’s mother had sent her daughter back to Genoa for the ‘week’ with a crostata. And it was the crostata which was apparently causing all the excitement. When I asked what it was all about they fussed around like mother hens getting me a plate a fork and a napkin and finally placing a slice of the already famous crostata ceremoniously on my plate. And it did look nice, I confess.

They hovered nervously around my chair watching as I took my first bite. From their anxious faces I understood that a comment was necessary. “Buono,” I smiled up at them. “Grazie!” I was pretty sure that these basic Italian words were correct. I couldn’t have made a mistake yet they continued staring expectantly, tenser than ever. I had no idea what I was supposed to say.
Monika finally broke the silence asking mournfully, “Ma ti piace davvero? Sei sicura?” Are you sure you like it? Really?.
“Sì, è buonissima.” I tried to smile reassuringly as I crammed an even bigger bite into my mouth. Clearly my comments had been inadequate to describe the true yumminess of Mamma’s jam tart.

At that point, obviously impatient with my foreign lack of understanding, Claudia bit into a slice, rolled her eyes heavenward as though she were in a TV ad and started to make ecstatic noises inappropriate for jam tart. Giorgia joined in and my kitchen soon began to resemble a certain scene from the film ‘When Harry met Sally.’

Mr Kipling obviously had a long way to go before his exceedingly good cakes got that good. I had another taste to see if there was something I had missed but remained of the opinion that a jam tart can never really be more than a jam tart. 

There are lots of thing you can say about Italian food … but I’ve got to go, there’s something burning in the oven :-D

Friday, 4 March 2011

Equal Opportunities- Part II

The next month promises to be a busy one for our illustrious President as, in theory at least, he is set to attend 4 different hearings in court for varying bits and bobs. (He’s already avoided the first one) The race is now on for his government to push through at least one of a whole series of proposals specially designed to help him avoid being tried.

But think about it! What would you do if you were the PM and, due to some nasty communist judges, risked being tried for silly stuff like bribery, false accounting, embezzlement, mafia collusion, tax evasion, abuse of power, under age prostitution… that sort of thing? Silly question… you would change the law.

If you’re accused of a crime why not change the law so it’s not a crime anymore. The accounting laws for example. That was easy.
How about the ‘prescrizione’, which in the Italian court is a statute which determines the length of time a trial can drag on for without it being closed? Simply shorten the time limit and lots of those old cases hanging over your head will get closed automatically.  
Don’t like the communist judges? Invent a law which says that you can be tried where the judges are friendlier.
How about a few laws to avoid going to court in the first place: ‘Legittimo impedimento, which means, seeing as you’re pretty important and will always have some internationally vital engagement to fulfil, your absence in court can be justified. Just fill up your diary with internationally vital engagements for the next year or so and you’re away. 
How about restoring parliamentary immunity so that you will never have to go on trial whilst you’re PM?
Suspension of trials for the highest state authorities? Great. See above.

And this morning one of B’s men proposed a new one (luckily trashed immediately, but even so…) reducing the length of trial for anyone over the pensionable age of 65!  

In every courtroom in the land a plaque on the wall reads ‘La legge è uguale per tutti’
The law is the same for everyone.
Luckily some of these attempts at personal law making have not been signed by the President of the Republic as they violate this fundamental part of the Italian constitution.

A few days ago the German defence minister resigned as he was accused of having copied part of his doctorate thesis!!!  

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Equal Opportunities

Along with his reassuring comments on the’ bunga bunga’ situation the other day, Berluska also fired up the Christian convention by promising that, as long as he remained in charge, single people would never be able to adopt children - (wild applause), gay couples would never be considered on a par with ‘traditional’ families (still wilder and wilder) and that state schools were rife with communist teachers who filled children’s heads with left wing propaganda – (‘platea in delirio’ at this point!!)

Lucky for us, we have an Equal Opportunities Minister who will no doubt, sooner or later, jump up to defend homosexual rights, at least put in a good word for single people.

By the way this is a photo of Mara Carfagna, our Equal Opportunities Minister before she became a politician.

She hasn’t, up till now, been too quick off the mark at promoting anything much to do with equal opportunities. The Global Gender Gap Index for 2010 ranked Italy in 74th position, slotted in between the Dominican Republic and Gambia. Iceland was 1st and the UK 15th .

Mara Carfagna was voted 3rd on the hottest MP list some time ago which I suppose makes up for it though!