Monday, 31 January 2011

My First Mass

Nope I haven't been converted to Catholicism yet, but it was Nonno G's Mass on Sunday and family duties required our presence. Still I was pretty curious, and actually a bit nervous in case I did something stupid, like sit down when I was supposed to stand up or something else catastrophically daft, but it was all rather familiar.

So was it exactly as I expected?
Church was obscenely over decorated. Tick
Nice atmospheric music. Tick.
Male priest. Tick.
Nuns! Tick. (I hear Dougal's voice in my head whenever I see them!)
Pews. Tick.
Incense.  Nope :(
Altar boys. Nah.
Prayer books and bibles. Almost tick. A few people had prayer books.
Hymns. Nope. Really?

Actually without the hymns I could feel myself falling asleep, so I sat there in a bit of a reverie with my eyes closed thinking about those who have recently and not so recently departed. At other times I tried to follow the service.

I couldn't. Something about Beatitudes. I nudged A, "What was the sermon about?"
"Something about beatitudes."
"Yeah I got that. And?"
"I don't know. I couldn't really follow the sermon."

I'm not mentioning any names, I'm sure she's a good catholic girl. But she burst out writhing with "OH MY GOD that was SOOOOOO boring" or words to that effect, and started a snow ball fight with A.

Another person sat through the service patently and respectfully, but at the end when it came to Communion they were left on the pew. Divorced, but perhaps somewhat more devout than others. It was quite heart wrenching the injustice of it all.

Let's face it, there's only one man in Italy who still gets communion even though he's twice divorced. "How did they justify that?" I hear you ponder. Well just in case I heard correctly, I have it on good authority that if you get divorced, remarry and then divorce again, it's like one cancels the other one out...

Still as the prayers-du-jour were dished out, I picked up a mention of the man himself, even if he wasn't directly named. The revolution is brewing! How much longer can two rights make a wrong?

Is it a case of the speck in my neighbour's eye? OK I just stepped into the pope's shoes. I've spent a few years confessing Berlusconi... How could you not end up with a highly conservative view on sex and marriage after that?!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Sistemare - to Sort out

Paperwork, red tape, bureaucracy, whatever you want to call it: it's time I learnt to deal with it. I think it's pretty clear now that I'll be living in Italy for at least another year or two. Whilst it's a bit scary giving up that sense of roaming as I have done the last few years, (I've hardly stayed more than 6 months in one place since 2007) a few trappings of adulthood would come in handy.

Like a bank account; payment in cash is worrying and inconvenient, whereas a bank account is merely worrying (here you have to pay fees every month).
Or maybe I should learn to drive on the right. It's not fair that I expect A to drive wherever we go because I'm terrified of roundabouts and the autostrada.
How about a tessera sanitaria? I can't get prescriptions for my bloody awful cough until I get one.
And then my EHIC runs out in Spring. I could do with getting the Italian version of that too given my ability to attract accidents/ unusual health problems (check out the latest: inhaling chilli).

First things first I need residenza. I can't do anything until I have my certificate of residency. I tried to do this last year, but my contract was crap and it required all kinds of paperwork I didn't have, and I didn't understand the helpful official very well. I have a better contract this year so I went back to the same office, ready with multiple photocopies of every conceivable document but this time I need an appointment. Sigh. I made an appointment last time but then they made me queue up for a ticket like everyone else...

So the 22nd is D-Day. I and a trusted friend who has kindly agreed to be my second pair of ears (because goddamit I'm not being turned away a third time and not understanding why) and a mini dictionary are off to the commune again.... I'll let you know how it goes, hopefully it won't make for great reading.

Unlike last night's taxi fiasco. Is it possible to strike about all the strikes? I think the transport posse are taking it too far. I arrived five minutes too late to the metro to find it shut and myself on the wrong side of Milan. Took a taxi home. It cost 37euros. Yesterday I made 38euros, so I suppose at least I am 1euro better off, but I could have done without the previously-normal-seeming taxi driver asking me in coded Italian if it's normal to be bi, asking me out to dinner, and trying to unzip my boots.

A big thank you to A who is spending his free moments at work helping me research bureaucratic procedures.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Cough Cough

I was doing a mock speaking exam. Sarah wasn't really paying attention to the instructions...

"WHAT?" said Sarah as soon as I had finished.

"Could you ask me again politely?" said I.

"Politely?" said she, obediently.

I was explaining the concept of a gap-fill to a student...

"Read the sentence and write the missing word." Student pointed to gap. "Yes that's right. You need to write something there."

"Something" wrote the student.

On both occasions it was a genuine mistake, and on both occasions the whole class dissolved into giggles. I laughed too.  I laughed until tears were coming out my eyes. How could I not laugh? Some schools of thought believe you should never laugh at your students mistakes because you might hurt their feelings but... I'm only human.

Plus I've made my own fair share of dumb mistakes, in fact I'm still doing it. (A. had to step in the other day as I repeatedly insisted to the pharmacist that I didn't want to buy something I actually did want to buy). In this spirit here is a list of words that are causing me endless hassle as I accidentally remember the correct word and then remember that it's not the one that I think it is:

- Cappelli (hats) and Capelli (hair) - even writing this I got it wrong.
- Polmoni (lungs) and Piumini (duvets)
- Sono (I am) and Sonno (Sleepiness)
- Zingari (gypsies), Zenzaro (ginger) and Zanzari (mosquitos)
and perhaps most annoyingly of all:
- Tazze (cups), Tasse (taxes), Tassi (badgers) and Tosse (cough).

Especially with this cough. I never know what I'm going to apologise for next.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Buon Anno a Tutti

It's here as promised. A brand new year (a brand new decade too, according to some bloke I met at the New Year's Eve party). So I wish everybody lots of luck and happiness in 2011. Who knows what surprises the new year will bring? I'm sitting in a new flat, so that's one change already. Is it now time to switch to saying twenty-eleven too?

This New Year was spent in Turin in full Italian style. We had a sit down meal followed by lentils and cotechino and of course the inescapable panettone. Then we had fireworks, sparklers and bangers in the garden, though I passed on the bangers part after Marco told me how he once nearly lost a finger from them. New Year's Eve in Italy is dangerous! The following morning everybody watches the news to see how many people died in Naples from stray bullets. We had to get up the next day for lunch with A's family, which was more prosecco, cotechino, lentils, fish, castrated cockerel, potatoes, risotto, stewed fruit and yet more panettone. I tried hard to eat some more lentils because superstition says that every lentil you eat on New Year's Day brings you money in the coming year. Thank goodness there wasn't any zampone.

Cotechino and Lentils

I also have some sad news. During the Christmas period Nonno G passed away so it was a sad christmas for the family. Please send them some more love if you have any to spare, especially to Nonna who misses him a lot. Rest in peace Nonno, and know how much you are loved.