It was our Glorious Leader Anna Soubry’s birthday on Friday, so to prove I am a courteous fellow I did the decent thing and left the country. Or at least tried to.
Accompanied by a very excited Lady Beestonia, we popped down to Luton to catch a flight to Rome, which I’d heard was comparable to the Glories of Beestonia. I figured that if it was good enough for that other Scots-born, Nottingham based flamboyant egotist writer, it was good enough for me.
Sadly, our 3pm flight was delayed until it became an 8pm flight, with £5 airport vouchers given in mitigation. £5 in an airport buys approximately one quarter of an awful sandwich, or less than a pint of booze: and these vouchers were not even redeemable against alcohol.
So expecting an evening of high-culture, fine wines and gourmet cuisine, I spent it sucking on a Burger King cheeseburger to make it last, while drinking overpriced, curiously warm Guinness in the surroundings of not just Luton, but a soulless, echoing shed of an airport. La Dolce Vita.
If that has kindled any flame of sympathy for me, extinguish it, as I don’t deserve it: instead transfer it to the patience and fortitude of Lady Beestonia. She stoically put up with my semi-delirious jokes (‘Name an evil ancient Roman?’ ‘Nero?’ ‘No, Polanski’) and sudden urge to pretend I was in Rome, taking tourist photos of the urinals and banging them on Twitter as ‘The Trevi Fountain’, and the stairs running up to the upper floor as ‘The Spanish Steps’.
We eventually arrived at our digs tired, cold, wet (Rome in December is it’s concentrated rainy season), and mildly hung over from our boredom-induced drunkenness at Luton. The receptionist was a typically Italian man: mid-fifties but so handsomely chiselled and effortlessly urbane,they make Clooney look like a drunk and confused Keith Chegwin, the bastards. He put before us a tourist map, from which he sketched out potential things to see in our now even-briefer visit; with explanations of how to get about in the city.
‘This is the tram route. Are you familiar with trams?’
I don’t think he was expecting the force and frequency of my nod: imagine a woodpecker on amphetamines.
You’re a sophisticated lot, and have probably been to Rome so many times you are on first name terms with the Pope, so I shall spare you a lengthy what-I-did-on-my-holidays boreathon. However, here are some observations:
- In Italy, the puffa-jacket was by no means a transitory fashion: it’s seemingly compulsory.
- EVERY political party poster that adorn the city billboards seem to show someone promoting a quasi-fascist party: lots of clenched fists; rippling flags and exclamation marks. Might just be a Latin aesthetic: for all I know the shaven headed guy with the menacing goatee smoking a cigar with the word ‘TEMPO!!’ that adorned one such poster could be a passive Lib-Dem type; or representing a new, pro-sandal party.
- Red wine IS the key to all that is happy.
- Understand the above observation and be content. To decide to try and push the concept of happiness by asking a waiter ‘What’s Grappa like?’ will give you thirty mins pure euphoric insight into the mechanisms of the world, followed by eight hours of feeling that yes, your mind has expanded, but has ditched the metaphysic revelry and just wants to get out of your skull, fast.
- Their is yet to be music written that is so mellifluous, so melodic, so listenable to than the Italian accent.
- Informing the long queue waiting outside the Coliseum , as you stroll out, that ‘Shouldn’t bother mate. Load of shit. Not even finished building it yet’ will not endear you to anyone.
Anyhow, I’m back now, despite another delay on the return leg: cheers Monarch Airlines. I do hope you appreciated my gift to you, Ms Soubry.
Oh, and by the way, it’s my birthday tomorrow (the 11th). Care to return the favour?
On the subject of my birthday (I’ll be 30, minus VAT) I shall be down The Crown tomorrow from 7pm where you are more than welcome to buy me a drink. No, really, I don’t mind. And if you can’t make it, feel free leave the correct change for a pint (£2.50) behind the bar. Alternately, just drop a teaspoon of grappa into my mouth next time I pass you in the street.