Archivio mensile:marzo 2010

Signorina in Sheffield #8 – Cultural Learnings of London for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Italy

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Last week I went to London on a school vacation.

Let’s say a University Field Trip, which sounds more professional, although the whole experience did of course revolve around terrible hangovers and being lousy on the train as though we were all 15 years old.

We visited a lot of media stuff and the House of Parliament, which was definitely the most interesting day.

Coming from Italy, I thought that in the other democratic countries politics and Parliaments would be a serious thing.

It is with great pleasure and a hint of discouragement that I can now say that the world is a small village when it comes to MPs’ behaviour in modern sacred buildings.

When the guide was taking us through the House of Lords everyone was silent and excited, holding our breathe while passing through the chairs on which Britain’s history was shaped.

Because the guide said that we were not allowed to sit down, as it is a privilege for those who had done the pledge of allegiance as members, I was really afraid of tripping down and end up insulting the House of Lords with my Italian butt.

That’s me: I trip and fall a lot, especially in smart occasions.

The university had 3 tickets to attend the scrutiny in the House of Commons, in which the Prime Minister and other members of the Government answer questions to the MPs on their work.

Three names were drawn and the people extracted were very happy and excited about it.

The rest of us went to the press room to assist at the event from giant screens.

We were all dressed in nice office suits, heels and ties in their places.

The MPs were laid down on the green chairs, bellies coming out of the pants, ties loosen on red faces.

I frankly don’t know who’s who in British politics, so I am very impartial in talking about the people: for most of them I can’t say if they were Tories, Labour, Lib Dems or else.

What I saw was a nice, well dressed woman answering questions about education, and a bunch of MPs laughing and screaming so hard from the benches we could barely hear her.

The poor speaker was yelling “Shut up! Shut up!” every ten seconds, like a hysterical teacher in an elementary school.

An elementary school in a very poor neighbourhood.

He threatened to expel a few of them if they kept on with that behaviour, receiving a big burp as an answer (I swear: a burp!) followed by endless laughs.

It was like watching monkeys in a cage; or better, monkeys returning to the cage after a night out in a very chavvy pub.

At first I didn’t say anything because I did not want to be disrespectful towards MPs who weren’t mine, but when I saw the English students laughing so hard they were crying I just joined the group.

The annoying thing is that as soon as Gordon Brown and David Cameron entered the room, aka as soon as the cameras started recording something that might end up on TV news, the ties were straightened, the belly put back inside the pants, the yelling stopped immediately and they all started to look very elegant and efficient.

At least in Italy they keep being embarrassing with or without cameras onto them.

But if you ever come to the Parliament, sneak into one of the press rooms while no VIP is present in one of the two Houses: it’s like the Big Brother, but trashier.

By Marta Musso

Click on the picture to read the article on http://www.forgetoday.com

Twinning #4: The Fallen Trees

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Che i critici in generale, e i critici musicali in particolare, siano degli idioti incompetenti è cosa nota. Ma siccome con questa rubrica mi sono in qualche modo infilata nella categoria, non ho ancora capito bene come, è giusto che argomenti questa affermazione con un esempio.
L’altra sera mi trovavo al Cremorne, un pub in London Road che mi rende nostalgica perchè sembra Giancarlo: il bar strabocca di gente, i concerti si tengono in un angolo della stanza, c’è un dehor esterno in cui tutti si rifugiano per fumare di tutto. Manca solo il fiume, cosa che ha costretto i proprietari a munirsi di bagni. A questo proposito, è giusto che io apra una parentesi per raccontare una storia di ordinario orrore inglese, a beneficio antropologico dei miei lettori. Il mio ragazzo greco entra nel bagno maschile e ne esce livido. Ora, i greci sono un popolo di pulitini: per dire, prima delle battaglie contro i persiani, Leonida&Co. erano soliti lavarsi e pettinarsi barba e capelli al fiume, per spaventare il nemico col sapone. Gli inglesi di contro hanno fatto della sporcizia uno stile e io, che in questo sono inglese nel cuore, di solito non do troppa importanza alle smorfie di orrore della mia dolce metà. In questo caso però, devo ammettere che anche un uomo di Neanderthal sarebbe rimasto scioccato. Premessa per le femmine: nei bagni dei maschi a volte non ci sono i singoli orinatoi, ma un fosso su un lato del bagno stile ruscelletto, con acqua e disinfettante che scorrono perenni a pulire la pipì collettiva. I ragazzi si mettono in fila sul bordo e la fanno dentro tutti insieme. A quanto pare, mentre per noi è d’obbligo andare in bagno a coppie di due o di quattro, per un uomo è importante pisciare in mezzo agli estranei. Piccole affascinanti differenze di genere. Comunque sia, il mio ragazzo ha assistito alla seguente scena: un gentleman inglese entra nel bagno con il suo bicchiere di birra in mano, si infila tra due signori, posa la birra sul ciglio del ruscello in mezzo agli schizzi, si unisce al gruppo. Terminata l’operazone si china, raccoglie il bicchiere come se niente fosse, e se ne va via sorseggiando.
Ecco, se vi facevano schifo quelli che pisciavano nel Po, adesso dovrete ricredervi.

The Cremorne

L’evento è un ottimo preludio alla serata. Sono qui per assistere al concertino di amici degli amici, un gruppo glam-rock vestito alla marinara la cui cantante è carina e dai capelli rossi, ma canta come un gatto in un canile. Abbandono a metà il bicchiere di vino (il vino qui fa schifo naturalmente, ma per ovvi motivi non potevo più ordinare una birra), conscia del fatto che avrò bisogno di un perfetto controllo di tutti i muscoli facciali per complimentarmi con gli amici degli amici a fine serata.
Per mantenere un filo di conduzione preciso, al cacofonissimo gruppo glam rock fa da spalla uno stonatissimo duetto hard-rock a metà tra heavy metal e punk. Sia il cantante-chitarrista che il batterista fanno a gara a chi urla di più, impegnandosi visibilmente, con il risultato di un adolescente che salta ubriaco sul divano canticchiando i Nickelback. Più che l’anima, questi due smuovono i nervi del pubblico, e parecchio. A fine concerto, raccolti tre imbarazzanti battiti di mano, la fidanzata groupie si mette a distribuire un EP rigorosamente autoprodotto. Non so per quale strano caso del destino, me ne arriva uno in mano. Non lo abbandono su un tavolino solo perchè la fidanzata groupie mi sta guardando e non voglio essere scortese. Poi guardo il cd: sulla copertina c’è una bellissima foto, quasi astratta, di rami d’albero contro il Sole, e il nome del gruppo: Fallen Trees. È un piccolo EP veramente ben fatto, e com’è come non è quando arrivo a casa lo metto su. Nulla, ma proprio nulla, del rumore che ho ascoltato al pub esce dalle mie casse. Al contrario, una voce roca e dolce mi culla nella foresta insieme ad un pianoforte e a una chitarra, melancolica ma non depressa. Non sono i Radiohead, per carità, ma non cercano nemmeno di imitarli. E se non originalissimi nel sound, hanno decisamente un’impronta personale molto accattivante. Insomma, non sono il tipo di gruppo che piscia accanto alla bottiglia di birra. Come sia possibile che al Cremorne sembrassero così imbarazzanti non riesco bene a spiegarmelo; sicuramente l’acustica era pessima e gli arrangiamenti troppo urlati, ma fondamentalmente, sono io che sono una capra (che suona meglio di idiota incompetente). Lo confesso hic et nunc.

Ed eccoli qui:
http://www.myspace.com/fallentreesband

PS: Per amore della verità, dopo i Fallen Trees ho anche riascoltato gli amici degli amici, aka Glistening Pelts. Anche loro, su Myspace, non suonano malaccio, ma stranamente la voce femminile è scomparsa…
http://www.myspace.com/glisteningpelt

Signorina in Sheffield #7 – Of laws you should know about

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When you first arrive to a new country, it’s important to adapt to new laws.

Usually when it’s inside the European Union it’s no big deal, although when I first came to Britain at the age of 16 our teachers kept imploring us for weeks not to play any drinking games whilst on the island, because they had a legal drinking age over there.

Funny laws exist all over the world. In Italy for example, if you are the Prime Minister you cannot be prosecuted for any crime, even if it has been proved that you bribed lawyers, judges, politicians, inspectors, policemen, carabinieri, journalists, secret services agents and priests.

In France, it is forbidden to call a pig Napoleon (nothing is said about calling him Sarkozy though). In Indonesia masturbation is punished with decapitation.

As an international student, I feel the duty of helping other international students, but also young English people, to find out about a few laws that are quite hidden from everyday life and shared moral values, but not less important:

1) It is illegal to die in the House of Parliament. This is for the journalism students, as their forthcoming trip to London is approaching… touch wood everyone. Also, for whoever is considering a career as MP, watch out for your heart condition. A stroke while debating a law might put you in jail for attempted death.

2) It is illegal to gamble in a library, according to the Library Offences Act of 1898. Yes guys, that applies in the IC as well.

3) Trespassing is illegal, except by huers and baulkers, according to an act dated 1603. “Huers and baulkers” were guys who would stand on the cliffs and shout to fishing boats, directing them. What exactly gave them the right of trespassing is unknown, but if you decide to stalk your ex girlfriend make sure you do it near a fishmonger’s.

4) It is illegal to hang washing across the street. Beating or shaking carpets or mats is also illegal. Doorman can be shaken, but not after 8am.

5) It is illegal to sing profane or obscene songs. This is a very very useful one: next time your housemate plays Girls Aloud, you are allowed to call the police under the Town Police Clauses Act of 1847

6) It is illegal to drive a cow while drunk. And that’s a pity because it could have been a cheap alternative to taxis.

7) It is legal to shoot a Scotsman inside the walls of York with a crossbow upon seeing one, except for on Sundays. However, any Scotsman caught drunk or with a weapon can still be shot on a Sunday, except with a bow and arrow. This is also a very useful one, for that guy from Glasgow you just can’t stand. Similarly, in Chester it is legal to shoot a Welsh person with a crossbow, as long as it is within the city walls and is done after midnight. And in Chester, Welsh people aren’t allowed to enter the city grounds before sunrise and from staying after sunset.

8) It is legal for a pregnant woman to pee wherever she wants. Also, the law specifies, in a policeman’s helmet, if she ask. Now, if you are a pregnant, no-global, who hates the police and is planning to go to the next protest in London, this is just ace.

9) Eating mince pies on Christmas day is illegal. This needs no comment.

10) Suicide is a capital crime. But nothing is said about attempted suicide. I would assume it is NOT a capital crime: it would be too easy

11) It is illegal to shave, mow your lawn or work on a Sunday. Ooops. I should go.

For in-depth examinations of the subject matter, http://www.yousaytoo.com/nesher/strange-and-funny-laws-in-uk/28672

By Marta Musso

Click on the picture to read the article on http://www.forgetoday.com