The Invisible Market and a New Baby

It’s fair to say that the Italian people don’t like rain, if you need proof, pop along to any social gathering and watch as they flee when it starts to rain.

In the autumn I was at the festival of the bells in Lanciano when it began raining, the crowds that were gathered around the abundant stalls selling ceramic bells dissolved in an instant into shop doorways, under awnings and crowding into the open doorways of bars and restaurants.

This dislike of rain was again proven on Friday when I went along to the local open market, streets that are normally teeming with shoppers and cluttered with stalls were deserted. hardly any stalls had bothered to turn up and the only shoppers where the diehard, we need fresh fruit and veg brigade – who left as soon as they’d purchased their provisions.


I took a walk along the main street, there was only around seven stalls, set up in their usual spot, which made them look odd with no neighbouring stall beside them. During my (pointless) visit I spotted a sign on a house that was telling all and sundry that a baby had been born.


I quite like the Italian way of sharing the news of a birth with passers by, the hanging of a pink or blue rosette on the house must cut down on the amount of time a visitor would pop by just to enquire on the new arrivals gender. The house in question displayed that the baby was a boy, and the stork attached to the balcony implied it arrived without any bedroom antics having taken place.

So with the market literally a washout, I switch on the iPod and walk back to my car as  Project B starts to play Summer Dreaming. Kelly Rowland sings, ‘Come on over, let’s have some fun, dancing in the morning sun.’ Okay, lyrically it’s no masterpiece but least on a miserable wet day, there’s some sunshine in my ears.

Chieti Baby Boom

Today it seems everywhere I have been there has been a pregnant woman. Yes, pregnant ladies everywhere today. I nipped to the builders merchant this morning and there was the man with a dirty pick-up collecting some bags of plaster. I’ve seen him almost every time I’ve been and his truck is dirtier each time. However today, standing in the yard and leaning against his mud splashed vehicle is a woman, heavily pregnant and smoking a cigarette. Inside the cab is an equally dirty child, its face smeared with what I’m hoping is just the remnants of a chocolate croissant. The man comes back, barks something at the woman. She then flicks the red ember from the end of her cigarette: an act we called ‘nipping’ when I was a teenage smoker. She pops the half smoked fag-end behind her ear and climbs into the pick-up.

On the way back I decided to drop into the supermarket for some mackerel for lunch. As I drive the iPod shuffles and Toyah, sings I Explode, my thoughts bounce back to the heavily pregnant smoker, and I picture her gorged belly exploding and hundreds of tiny smoking babies pouring out onto the ground. Maybe there’s the germ of a story in that thought.

I’m in the supermarket and browsing when I turn a corner into another aisle and there’s a young couple, possibly mid-twenties. He’s holding her hand and with his other hand is stroking her belly, she too is heavily pregnant. This outward show of affection is nice but it’s odd as it’s the girl who is carrying the basket containing their shopping. A woman spots them and she walks over asking when the baby is due. Suddenly she’s stroking the girls belly too. Why is it that when people see a pregnant woman, they feel the need to stroke the bump. I’m not sure how I’d feel if every person I passed in the store wanted to pat my paunch. As I leave the supermarket another woman walks over to the pregnant girl and more bump brushing takes place.

Later in the day I’m waiting for the ATM in Altino to become vacant, there’s a woman standing using it and after withdrawing money from it, lo and behold; sorry for the cliché, she turns around and is also pregnant. As my seedlings took a pelting in the previous days of stormy weather I decide to check out what’s available at the local shop. I’m wondering if I ought to buy some tomato plants now, or wait to see if mine perk up when another pregnant woman approaches me. This one has a baby in the crook of her arm, balanced on her hip, it looks to be around two-years old, she’s pushing a pram containing another younger baby and in her belly she is carrying the unborn addition to the family. The poor woman looks tired; ever likely. Her husband leaves the local store and calls to her, he’s short and round with enough wiry hair bulging out of the top of his shirt to stuff a mattress. He’s balding prematurely, a sure sign of powerful fertility and as I decline the chance to purchase some more tomato plants and wander away thinking about the tired looking woman, I wonder if her husband could be responsible for the recent Chieti baby boom.


As I don’t have a photo of a pregnant woman, and because it would have been creepy to have taken any of those I saw today, I’ll leave you with a snap of our town. Casoli, CH.

Before posting, a friend just read this and in an Arnie Swarz etc. etc. voice said, “I’ll be back, the sperminator.”