All countries and people have their idiosyncrasies and Italy is no exception. They say that the English are the most eccentric of people, but I disagree, I think all people have a little bit of eccentricity about them, while others’ are just plain bonkers. Take today for instance, I woke up to find the car covered in sand, during the night a sirocco must have whipped up and deposited part of the Sahara on the Zafira. So, not finding the sand particularly bothersome, I just sploshed some screen wash across the windscreen and drove away. I was on my way to the supermarket and passing the self-service car-wash nearby when I spotted the queues of cars waiting outside. I spotted someone I knew and pulled up and chatted, we passed the time of day as he waited for the person in front to complete the washing of his car. My friend asked if I was here to wash the sand off my car, “Boh,” I said. (See how soon I’ve began to fit in. Boh means absolutely nothing but everyone uses the expression.) “Sabbia, non.” He looked at me horrified that I didn’t see sand as a problem, I then looked at his car with its dented wing and scratches down the side. “What’s a bit of sand compared to scratches and dents,” I told him, and again he looked horrified. He then moved closer, put his hand upon my shoulder and whispered to me that dents and scratches are evidence of a useful car, a car that works well for its owner, however a dirty car tells all and sundry that the owner is a lazy man. It’s more important to be clean than it is to be dented.
No doubt the owner of the car I spotted on Sunday up at Gessopalena will worry more about the dusty bonnet than the broken side light due to poor negotiation of the limited space available in this particular street.
Now, I have been back in Abruzzo now for twenty-two days and it’s fair to say that every single one of those days has seen me comment upon how dirty my fingernails have been. I mentioned this to my builder, who gave me an odd look, making me realise that finger nail conversations aren’t butch enough for builders. “That’s because you are living on a building site.” he said, more than likely to humour me, as I’m the one who pays him at the end of each day. “I guess so,” I say and begin to walk away, when he says, “Maybe if you had been a builder and not a writer then dirty fingernails wouldn’t be a problem for you.” It was my turn now to toss across an odd look, “Me, a builder. No way, far too hard a job for my liking,” I said. “I’ll stick to sitting at a desk and writing.”
“But look at all these beautiful stones,” he said, “Writing cannot bring these out like a builder can.”
“Oh yes it can,” I told him. “It’s the writing that pays you to do it.”