Red stripes and shoe laces

I was spending a pleasant afternoon helping some friends taste and bottle  some red wine, when I received an urgent phone call from Mrs Sensible.

The gang of wine bottlers


Mrs S was putting together a powerpoint presentation when horrors upon horrors the program wouldn’t do what she wanted it to do. I didn’t realise there were others like me, who wouldn’t do as she commanded.

I put  my glass of wine down and bade farewell to my friends, and set off rather quickly on my mission of mercy.

Hurtling down the road in my little Mini I spotted a member of our esteemed  carabinieri standing in the middle of the road waving a red ping pong bat.

englishmaninitaly.org

Anyone for tennis.


Using the hand brake,  going down the gears and jumping on the brakes, I managed to stop the car before I ran him over, did I mention I was rushing?

I believe you should always be extra polite to policemen, especially if you have just nearly run them over. I bade him good morning (it was about four in the afternoon) and he asked me if I was a tourist !!!!

Sorry! Why do you think I am a tourist?


Why no kind sir, I live here.

He proceeded to check my documents and when he checked my vehicle log, his demeanor changed,… This is very bad he told me, your car should have had its vehicle check 3 months ago.. 

It took me a couple of seconds to translate his Italian to English and then register the grave problem I was in. I took the document from his hand and read with horror, my car should have had its check at the end of April, we are now in June

The story of my life


I used one of the few Italian words in my vocabulary, mi dispiace, I’m sorry.

He looked at his machine gun wielding partner and gave me my documents back, Today we haven’t seen you, but tomorrow we will….

Did you see him? No, me neither

Thankfully he mimed some of the words to make sure i understood his meaning.

So here I am spending €67 and waiting to see if my little car is still road worthy. 

A nightmare

When the engineer shouted it had passed the emissions test, I did a Mexican wave, he tut tutted a couple of time because one of the exhaust brackets is currently on holiday and one of the tyres is wearing unevenly (I have no idea which) and something about something needing cleaning or changing!! I just nodded and thought I can worry about whatever he is on about another day.

It has passed the emission test


I can’t express how happy I am that my little car has passed it’s test. I do have a small niggling problem, I know two carabiniere are watching out for my car to see if I have had the check done…. 

So I can’t drive wearing my flip flops for a week or two and I promise not to tell anyone that Carabiniere wear boots because they don’t know how to tie laces or that they have red stripes on their trousers so they don’t put them on inside out.

I will leave you with one of my favourite pictures, a carabinieri providing an excellent example of how to dismount from his horse with the aid of a tent.

Utilising a tent to dismount

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The Boys in Blue Arrive.

The Boys in Blue Arrive.

On Monday morning my internet connection with Tooway died, the modem just decided to stop working, none of the little blue lights were blinking. I think it has decided to go on holiday just like the rest of Italy, after all it is August and as we all know Italy closes for August.

I locked the house and left Killer in charge, with strict instructions not to let the big dog next door into the garden and to keep strangers away. I told Killer I would only be gone for an hour while I went to office no 2 in Fubine and send a message asking Tooway to send me a replacement modem . You may remember, I spent nearly 12 month drinking copious quantities of coffee while I used the cafes internet connection.

Killer was left in charge of security

Killer was left in charge of security

When I returned Mishmash my stupid cat was sat in the lounge making herself comfy on the settee, for a moment I was a little puzzled. I didn’t remember leaving a set of keys with Mishmash and besides I knew Killer wouldn’t have let Mishmash in the house.

Mishmash

Mishmash with one of her kittens

And then the smell struck me!! I knew I recognised the smell, but I couldn’t quite place it, a very acrid smell. My first reaction was to make sure I hadn’t left the gas on, but who needs gas when you are surviving on Corn Flakes and wine? The smell was drifting down the staircase and then I realised what the smell was, it was the smell when someone cuts metal with a grinder.

I ran up the stairs, very slowly and cautiously. In my haste to confront the burglars I had forgotten to pick up my baseball bat that is in the dinning-room or even Mrs Sensible’s wooden spoon that was still hanging in the kitchen. Bravely I shouted “release the hounds” and shouted BARK BARK BARK WOOF WOOF in a feeble attempt to scare off any intruders that were still in the house.

My Office

My Office They left footprints in the dust

The nasty horrible robbers, (I haven’t used any swear words because Mrs Sensible wouldn’t approve) had left a mess in my office, they had used a grinder to break into my wall safe. Which was a bit stupid really because the key was on the shelf and the only thing in the wall safe were some out of date credit cards and my passport.

The jewellery, that had been in my family for  the past 14 years, the items I had intended to hand down to my son, were carefully hidden in my bedside cabinet. I rushed through and saw that my bedroom had been ransacked, Yes they had stolen my gold plated cuff-links, our wedding rings, my broken watch and a gold chain. (Sorry son).

On our little lane are three houses, one is used as a weekend retreat and the other is owned by Miss Marples (Dottoressa Paula) so I walked down to her house and asked her if she could call the police for me.

The boys in Blue arrive

The boys in Blue arrived

In my wonderful Italian, I explain in great detail that I hadn’t touched anything, To preserve any evidence I hadn’t entered the crime scene. I was therefore a little astonished when the two Carabinieri, walked straight over to the safe and completely destroyed the footprints that had been left in the grinder dust by the villains. Hercule Poirot would be furious.

Look Hastings, the carabinierie don't wear gloves

Look Hastings, the carabinierie are destroying the evidence

While we were in the bedroom, Mrs Marples made an amazing discovery. She said the villains had entered through my bedroom window, she showed me the broken mosquito netting and the scrapes on the outside wall where they had climbed up the wall.  I looked at her in amazement, even the Carabinieri were suitably impressed, as the policeman reached to open the window, I implored him not to destroy the fingerprints on the window, he shrugged and said “they are Furbo they will have worn gloves” and with that he grasped the window handle and destroyed the fingerprints. I decided I needed to either fetch Mrs Sensible’s wooden spoon or fetch a glass of grappa.

Mrs Marples (AKA Doterressa Paula)

Mrs Marples (AKA Dottoressa Paula) Showing me her grandfathers sword, villains beware.

On the way to the police station we phoned Mrs Sensible and broke the news to her. Mrs S gave me a list of her jewelry which we added to the list. When Mrs Marples and I arrived at  the police station we made a complete statement. I told the policeman they were big men, I explained about the big footprints in the grey dust. Are they still there he asked excitedly. Unfortunately not, but there are lots of Carabinieri footprints.

There is some good news, I found Mrs Sensible’s gold chain that she was given on her 18th birthday and her broach. It was in a box that had  never been unpacked when we moved house.

Last but not least, Free to a good home, One cat trained to guard houses.

Part 2: How to swap a UK driving licence to an Italian one in 340 difficult steps

Yesterday was my third visit to the motorizzazione, in my ongoing saga to convert my UK driving licence to an Italian Driving licence. At 5.30 I arrived at the office with Mrs Sensible in tow, she wouldn’t let me bring my sharpened fork.

Signore Cretino once again asked if he could take a photo copy of my driving licence, Italian identity card and my codice fiscale. Just for fun I also handed him my British Passport. This is the third set of copies he has taken. He must be building up an impressive file.

An Englishman in Italy

Pecora Nera Driving Licence

 The first problem we hit was the name on my UK driving licence didn’t match the name on my British Passport or my Italian Identity card.  Mrs Sensible explained, that in England it is possible to combine the surnames of the husband and wife when they marry. He wasn’t very impressed; I have to take my hat off to Mrs Sensible because she calmly explained that she was right and he would just have to accept the situation.

The next step was my medical. I had to visit the doctor who had an office next door,  but way up on the fourth floor. By the time we had climbed the steps, I nearly needed a doctor to resuscitate me. We passed an old lady on the way up who was slowly climbing the stairs for her medical. She looked about 80 years old. When she finally entered the waiting room she looked 85 years old.

It is impossible for 20 Italians to sit in a waiting room and either sit quietly or to whisper to their partners. It took them about 3 nanoseconds to realise I was English.

Old Lady: “Your husband is English, Does he understand Italian?”

Mrs Sensible: “Yes he is English and no he doesn’t understand much”

Pecora Nera “I speaks Italian small small”

Old Lady “Ah! His Italian is very Good”

Mrs Sensible looked to heaven and I gave a huge grin.

Mrs Sensible then showed everyone in the doctors waiting room, my new driving licence photo. She used the following words as she handed my photo around e’ Brutto, e’ schifo.

The old lady laughed and showed her photo. A second lady who was sat across from us produced her driving licence. I would estimate her age somewhere between 65 and 70. Her photo showed a woman of 26 with a 1960s hairstyle.

Her photo was something like this

Her photo was something like this

Pecora Nera “ That doesn’t look like her, how can the police identify her? I mean she looks like her daughter or even her daughter’s daughter; but with a 1960s hairstyle”

Mrs Sensible “In Italy we don’t need to update our photo”

Pecora Nera “Madness, so you can be 85 and use a photo taken when you were 18?”

Doctor “Next”

Pecora Nera “ I English I speaks Italian small small”

Doctor  “Ok we speaks English, I speaks English little”

Pecora Nera “ Oh your English is so good, thank heavens you understand English”

I passed the medical and we went back to see Signore Cretino at the motorizzazione.

As we entered the office, the following conversation was taking place between a young man and Mr Cretino. Mrs Sensible quietly translated it for me, while I laughed into my hanky.

Young man: My driving licence was suspended by the Carabinieri. When the suspension was over I went back to the office to collect my licence. The Carabinieri in the office had lost it!! So I asked them what they intended to do about it.

The outstanding Carabinieri

The outstanding Carabinieri

Signore Certino: And?

Young man: The Carabinieri said “We won’t do anything, it is your problem. You need to sort it.”

So I asked how do I sort it, what do I need to do? The Carabinieri told me to come here and apply for a brand new driving licence. He said “take your documents and two photos.” I asked him if the photos will need authenticating, he said no, so here I am with the documents and the two photos.

Signore Cretino: You need to authenticate one of those photos; you need to go either to the Carabinieri or to the council.

Young man: But I have just come from the Carabinieri and they said it wasn’t necessary.

Mr Cretino: Well, they could have authenticated them, but they didn’t,  so now you will have to go back to them and come back here tomorrow.

As regards to my driving licence, I am now in possession of a piece of paper with a sticker on it. This wonderful bit of paper is valid for 30 days and only valid in Italy.

3 steps forward and 5 steps backwards.

 

P.s Multifarious Meanderings is trying to get a French licence in France, go and read.

Part 1

Part 3

Part 4