Archivio mensile:dicembre 2009

Signorina in Sheffield #5 – Of the exquisite pleasure of alcohol


So last week I was in New York and something amazing happened that made me feel really nostalgic of Italy.

I was in an Irish pub in Manhattan (you can’t escape Irish pubs – trying is useless) around midnight and I was drinking my beer.

Suddenly I felt like having chips, I mean, French fries and I asked the barman if I could order them.

And he cooked them for me!!

Whenever I go to a pub crawl in Sheffield starting at 7, I still take for granted that we will eat there, because this is what I’ve done for 25 years of my life.

As a result, I have skipped at least one third of the dinners since I arrived in town.

Something else felt really out of order in my Manhattan pub.

I could easily talk to the other people on the table, without having to scream or gesticulate like we were all Italians at the table; the music was only a background, something to accompany the flow of words and not to prevent it from coming out.

It wasn’t all about drinking and getting drunk: it was also about enjoying the company and the food.

In sum, nothing like a West Street night out.

I almost felt home.

Don’t get me wrong, in Italy we like to get drunk as fuck too.

We also have a big issue with driving while we are not even able to remember the alphabet; which, with all due respect, is much more severe than urinating on the war memorial for people die instead of just being rightfully humiliated for life.

By the way, I could bet my life on the fact Philip Laing will never see a drop of alcohol again; in terms of preventing pancreatic cancer that’s the best thing that could happen to him.

But getting wasted is not the main point of going out.

We like alcohol, of course, we have the best wines in the world, but we also like to taste what we are ingesting – even if it’s cheap.

We don’t just gulp it down wanting to forget ourselves. We go to pubs to talk to our friends and in order not to drink too much most of the time we also order something to eat to go along with the cocktails.

But yes, cocktails and wine are just too good (while beer sucks, unfortunately) and we always end up hugging in the street and singing some very sad love song at 3 am in the morning: but it’s not the main aim of the whole let’s-go-out-on-a-Saturday-night thing.

Drinking is one of the purest pleasures of mankind and I recommend practising it as much as possible; but what’s the point of a pub crawl if everywhere the beers and the cocktails are all tasteless and the same?

What’s the point of alienating ourselves in a gigantic pint and loud music instead of interacting with other human beings?

I don’t want to sound prude, but think about it: life is too short to drink bad alcohol.

By Marta Musso

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Signorina in Sheffield #4 – Of bureaucracy and other tragedies


I don’t know if in the UK is common, but one of the most popular Italian travelling games is “the market game”.

One person says that he went to the market and bought something. The second person buys the same thing and something more.

The third person lists the first two items and adds one and so on…

Then you grow up and you apply it to real life.

I woke up this morning after a four-hour sleep and I am running a temperature of 39.

I am running a temperature of 39 and I am leaving in two days for New York City.

I am running a temperature of 39, I am leaving in two days for New York City and my passport needs an extra stamp in order to leave.

I am running a temperature of 39, I am leaving in two days for New York City, my passport needs an extra stamp in order to leave and therefore I have to go all the way to Manchester to get it.

I thought I had it all: I had booked my flight; made sure the luggage was ok; filled the Esta Visa Waiver form on line; got rid of super dangerous material such as contact lens liquid and toothpaste; officially signed that I was never a Communist in my life (they still ask – I guess they want to hold on to all those sci-fi movies from the ‘50s) and gave them every single address I will be staying at during my trip.

I was ready to go. Then I remembered that in Italy we have an extra tax for the passport, something we have to pay every year in order to make it valid.

We have a super-valid passport this way, in your face, Britons! And of course, I had not paid it over the last year.

If I were in Italy, I would have simply gone to a tabaccheria to buy the stamp to glue to the passport.

But I am in England and I leave in two days, where can I find it?

So it’s Monday morning and instead of going to lesson I am going to the Italian consulate in Manchester while shaking in fever.

I arrive at Piccadilly station and run at 111 Piccadilly Square, the address of the consulate according to google.

It is a consulate, but a big sign and a big red and white flag recite: Polish Consulate.

I try to check out the other buildings in the square but nothing; there are at least 4 pizzerias though, which giving the situation I found quite annoying.

Eventually I ask for information at a conference hall reception.

They tell me the consulate is two blocks away, on the corner with Portland Street. I run there. It’s the Portuguese consulate.

I ask to the Portuguese receptionist and he sends me in the direction I came from, in front of the Polish Consulate.

I go back to the first address. In front of the building there is the most stereotypical English pub I have ever seen. Hardly the Italian consulate.

Determined not to cry over bureaucracy, I step into the Polish building.

Maybe I’m still on time to get a Polish passport, I think.

In a world where Sarah Palin ran for vice President, anything is possible.

I enter the door under the big “Polish Consulate” sign and I look at the list of the floors.

Actually, on the 10th floor, near a Tesco Express accountant office, here it is: il Consolato Italiano! Finalmente!

I go to the reception and ask to go upstairs.

The doorman hands me over a card on which I have to write my name.

No documents, no signature. Just my name. I could be Bin Laden complaining for a corked Barbera and no one would ever notice.

Anyway, I make my way to the 10th floor and ask for the stamp.

The employ hardly speaks any Italian: he is from Rome.

Half an hour and a long explanation later, I am free to run for the station cash machine – because they don’t accept credit card… but I can pay my tax and get my stamp!

They even homage me with a free copy of the Italian Constitution.

And so with my stamp, my Visa, my electronic passport, my credit card checking and my declaration forms I am ready for the land of freedom.

Unless someone at the customs think I have swine flu, of course…

By Marta Musso

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Music Blog #5: The Mariners’ children


Yesterday I fell in love. They were 4 guys and 5 girls that went by the name of The Mariners’ Children.

They were opening for Peggy Sue at Bungalows and Bears during “an evening of music, art and poetry presented by Unquiet Desperation”, or at least that’s what the flyer said. In practise, it was an unique occasion to listen to at least three very good bands in a row, drink a lot of Bushmill and be surrounded by painters brushing all over giant white canvases.

When I arrived, Tim & Sam’s Tim & The Sam Band were playing. Aside from the brilliant mixture of indie guitar and electronic, kraftwerkian sounds, the name is probably one of the best I’ve ever heard of for a band. Of course they will have to change it if they want to become famous, because no journalist will ever want to write about something he can’t remember and fans will never want to go and see a concert with people whose name they cannot pronounce, but the fact remains that it’s absolutely brilliant….

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