Friday, 9 May 2014

Strange habits

It's always a good idea to think about how others see us , to keep us on the straight and narrow . The same thing applies to people and countries . When I first came to Italy so many years ago I was constantly being told horrific stories about England. All that tea we kept drinking , with milk instead of lemon, eating stuff out of tins and bacon and egg for breakfast, wearing shapeless anoraks to town instead of chic tailleurs. Everyone had some story about our strange habits. Everyone knew someone who had had a traumatic experience in England , from being given tinned spaghetti for breakfast to seeing a woman wearing brown shoes with a black bag. There were so many questions to ask me .Why did we make ourselves different by driving on the left? Why had we all got such unelastic brains and couldn't tell that Retress  was actually Rat race .Everyone knew someone who had had an unpleasant experience in England. A bad stomach upset from eating off plates that hadn't been rinsed properly .. Yes well I do remember the advert for Fairy liquid where the foamy bubbles gently slid off the plates while the little girl asked her Mum how come her hands were so soft. Once my parents stayed with us and after hearing  about all the Italian stomach aches caused by English washing up water my Dad wrote out a notice saying - These dishes have all been rinsed by hand, when I saw it I quickly took it down ,it all seemed a serious business, no laughing matter at all. These complaints were made with passion and confusion and made me squirm uncomfortably and try and look apologetic for my country's terrible habits. I had to learn all over again , how to do things properly. Especially how to queue Italian style. Oh how they make fun of us and our queuing abilities. To be able to stand in a line and patiently wait your turn ? What a funny thing to do. I would go to the doctors, the bank, the post office or the local shops and watch people go in front of me without a qualm and have no idea what to do. "I'm next" I'd say , "It's my turn'. Many pairs of eyes would turn to me accusingly.'I don't think so, ' someone would say ,'but if you insist'. Well being British I didn't . I' d go home in tears .'You've got to be more assertive' my husband would say. 'Silly English queuing habits'. A little machine came to my rescue, it could have been invented just for me. You just take a ticket with a number on it and quietly wait for your turn and of course no- one can argue with that.
Take a number to know when it's your turn

A shop's ticket machine