Sunday, 19 March 2017


I realise that, clinically speaking, I am pig ignorant about all the things that rattle around my insides.

And don't even ask me about X-rays.

So off I go to the surgeon who had hammered my foot back together last month. Look, he says, look there. Umm yes, ok. See that fracture? Umm not really. I can see three nasty looking ten inch nails going every which way through my split ankle, and forming a perfect Capital "A".

How thoughtful of him to remember, since the minute you go through the doors of a hospital or any kind of official institution in Italy you immediately revert to your maiden name. Ohhh! Now I get it! He couldn't manage a "J" for Jackson, so he did an "A" for Aragona?

How kind.

Sod kind – I am ordered to complete another two weeks in the boot but with only one crutch for support. Woohoo! - sent one back to the hire shop straight away and bought the other one for the large amount of seven euros. Well I'm quite attached to it, after all this time. When I can remember where I've left it, that is.

Followed by another week without the crutch but still with the boot. Okaaaay.....

Followed by twelve sessions of physio (Ummm...could I cram them all into one day? If I promise not to attempt to get onto a horse until, say, Day Three?)

Apparently not.

Not even considered amusing. Yawn.

I was thinking about Chris Huhne this morning as I cruised up the motorway to Florence doing a gentle 140kph with a broken foot encased in a surgical boot in a car with automatic transmission. Yes, I am aware that my driving licence ran out at the end of January, but I made this printout from the DVLA especially for you and any of your colleagues who might be interested, Officer. See that bit highlighted in green where it says that I am entitled to drive until my new licence arrives? Yes I KNOW it’s in English, but I am prepared to translate it for you while we speak. Well nooo, actually, I would really prefer to remain seated in my car whilst we have this little conversation if it’s all the same to you….Officer. Ahhh! That thing on my foot? Well, with an automatic car, I don’t really need to use that foot, don’t you see? Sort of superfluous, like. Don’t you think?

I had been listening to a phone-in on the Italian radio as I drove. They were discussing cheating on points. Interestingly Italians seem to get special indulgences for minor sins like these, possibly because they are that much closer to Papal protection. Anyway, listeners were being encouraged to call in with their personal reminiscences. It was fascinating. It appears there is a whole market out there in Points Bartering. The going rate on eBay is fifty euros per point. One chap (Antonio from Pavia) rang in to say he had got done driving at 180kph on the Pisa – Livorno and had begged to be let off because he was a courier and it was his livelihood. They were threatening to take his licence away, he complained to the officer on duty in his local police station. How was he supposed to feed his wife and family if they took his licence away? The policeman just shrugged and asked wearily whether he didn’t have some friend or relative who could help him out. They’ve seen and heard it all, those cops, and anyway there was, as usual, a footie match on the tele he was trying to follow. So Antonio from Pavia went back home and borrowed his Dad’s driving licence for a minute, which would have been fine except that when he returned to the police station the match was over and there was a different officer on duty. A woman. And she was highly sceptical about the tale of a ninety year old man doing 180 up the Pisa - Livorno on a Harley Davidson. The programme went on in this vein for a further twenty minutes. One young bachelor gave his aunty five of his points in exchange for her preparing him a home cooked supper every Friday night for the next six months. Another, caught making a phone call whilst simultaneously being over the alcohol limit, solved the problem by investing in one of those kiddy cars that you are allowed to drive without a licence in Italy provided you have reached the age of fourteen. Apparently you can get a good 60kph out of a souped-up version going downhill with a following wind.

I love Italy. I love the flexibility. Halfway across a zebra crossing with a Ferrari coming straight at you with no intention of slowing down let alone stopping? Don’t worry. So long as you don’t dither, he will take avoiding action and you will both reach your respective destinations unscathed. Stuck at a red traffic light with nothing to be seen in either direction? Go for it. You are performing a public service by helping to keep the traffic flowing.

According to an Italian proverb, though, cats here are said to have seven lives, not nine like the British mog.

Unsurprising, really.

More partly fictitious stuff, (Officer….) in "Sorting the Priorities" :