Monday, 21 May 2007

The Italian Job

In my opinion, when it comes to indulgence, Italy seems to have hit the jackpot – great food, great wine, and great weather.

When I was nineteen, I spent a summer there, selling books door-to-door. I paid for my own flight, and spent three months travelling around Italy selling books that I couldn’t read, and ‘speaking Italian’ by adding ‘i’ onto all the French words I knew. Bizarrely, it seemed to work, and although the job was something of a slog (the pay was commission-only) it was great fun, especially as I was with a group of other young people of different European nationalities – including French, Spanish and Dutch.

To my young parochial eyes, Italian boys looked well-groomed and sophisticated as they whizzed about on Vespas, or drank strong coffee in pavement cafés. They were so much more glamorous than the boys I knew at home, who hung around outside the chip shop, with a meat pie and a can of Tizer.

In Italy, I learnt how wonderful it feels when someone says you are beautiful - even if the gorgeous preening youth is actually looking over your shoulder at his own reflection.

When I think back to that summer, I am astounded at my own youthful optimism. I had never been away from home on my own before, and I remember my mother really didn’t want me to go. She was convinced I would be sold into the white slave trade, and threatened to hide my passport. I did a lot of foot-stamping, snorting with derision, and rolling my eyes, like a mad horse. I even had the temerity to suggest that she had read too many Jackie Collins bonkbusters (doubly unfair, since ‘sneaking a peek’ inside the one she had read was the only sex education I had ever received). More like a cheeky mare than a mad horse, then.

All this reminiscing is because H and I are off to another Wine Dinner tonight, and all the wines are from Italy – what a treat! Of course, the food is Italian too, but I think I would be happy just drinking the wines, and opening a tin of Heinz spaghetti.

I am mortified to say that over twenty years after battling with my mum about my trip to Italy, my daughter and I regularly re-enact the eye-rolling scene, as she tries to break free of her own parental shackles. It is one of the many cruel twists of fate involved in becoming a parent that the role of my mother is played, with startling accuracy, by me.

18 comments:

Omega Mum said...

How very brave. And how good did your Italian get? I wish I'd had the guts to do something like that. I think I may have a mid-life gap year instead. One day

@themill said...

A very wise friend told me to 'hold onto your children with open arms' It's so difficult, but perhaps you need to relax those arms a little. Enjoy the wine.

debio said...

Oh I know - I know I even sound like my mother - and I am caught in the dual mindset of being conscious of what my mother was thinking and what my daughter is thinking.
Parenting - no thanks, much guilt.
I am so jealous re your Italian evening - have a good one.

The Secretary said...

I have one thing to say to you - pinot grigio, and don't you forget!

mutterings and meanderings said...

Well, they say every woman turns into her mother.

Apparently, I have the same mannerisms as mine, but I think I wave my hands around more...

The Grocer said...

Plus ca change, Plus c'est la meme choses.

Cybil Libyc said...

The old saying is so true . . . the older I get, the smarter my mother gets.

But hats off to our moms, it is their doings that led us to ours . . . and I have three doings that I adore!

rilly super said...

My neighbour's daughter also wanted a similar job to yours drunk mummy, going door to door getting a taste of italian culture, so she delivers pizza in Middlesbrough during the holidays.

a piu tarde, moma ubriaco

lady macleod said...

I spent many spring months finding trips for the summers for Q, the hard part of course was convincing her they were her idea to begin with and I wasn't at all sure she should go...

Pig in the Kitchen said...

are you a member of the wine equivalent of the Freemasons? Do you have elaborate drinking rituals? How do you get to go to so many wine-themed dinners? I'm suspecting a double life...

Akelamalu said...

I followed a link from somewhere and found you. Having read your profile and seen that your interests include 'drinking wines for under a tenner' I think we have much in common. Besides that I love your posts! I'll call back if that's OK?

Drunk Mummy said...

omega mum - How good did my Italian get? Well, he got really good, or should I say bad.
I think at the end of the summer, I was still talking French with 'i' on the end of everything.
I like the idea of a mid-life gap year. How about a gap decade?

@themill - you are so right, its the wine that helps me relax (well, that's my excuse).

debio - I know, I even use the same mad phrases, like: 'I'll have your guts for garters' - what is that all about?

secretary - the pinot grigio last night was superb. I just had to keep drinking it to check, though.

M&M - I used to wave my hands around too, until I realised how many glasses of wine I was spilling.

grocer - sacre flippin bleu! Didn't know you could parleyvoo Francais!

cybil - I will inform my kids of your wise words!

Rilly dear - I had no idea you and Grocer were such linguists! How cunning!

lady mcleod - why would she ever want to leave Morocco?

Pig - I am a member of the Worshipful Company of Old Soaks.
I do have some very elaborate drinking rituals, which all commence with the pulling of a cork, and frequently finish with oblivion.
The wine dinners are staged by a friend who owns a wine company (are you surprised that I have friends like that?).
Sad to say, I am more likely to have double vision than a double life.

Nunhead Mum of One said...

Isn't Italian just the sexiest language in the world?

Drunk Mummy said...

Hello akelamalu!
You are welcome any time - let me know one of your favourite bottles for under a tenner, and I will try and get to sample it!

Nunhead mum of one - Italian is a very sexy language, but not the way I speak it!

Akelamalu said...

I did a post about cheap (good) wine recently Chat en Ouef - that's a really good red from Morrisons at under £6. In fact if I pay £10 for a bottle I don't share it! :)

Drunk Mummy said...

Thanks for that akelamalu. I will try and get hold of a bottle. Recommendations are always welcome!

Jo Christie-Smith said...

I used to work in the Perfume Department at Gatwick Duty Free shop as a student and used too speak spanish by adding -os on the end of all the italian that I knew!

Drunk Mummy said...

Hello Jo!
Does that mean that technically, I should be able to speak Spanish by adding 'i' and then 'os' to the French word?
Adios! (is there a French word 'ad'?)