(image by ilmungo on Flickr)
Friday night was almost like being back in the UK: getting drunk, staying up until 7am and eating kebabs. In a twist to the story, however, the kebabs were the first thing on the menu for the evening. Before you call the local lunatic asylum to come and collect me, they’re not all that similar to the UK version. Yes, they are cooked in the same way, but they are actually edible when sober. Much though I love UK kebabs, I don’t think I have ever, nor would ever want to, eat one when I was anything less than three sheets to the wind. Here, however, the meat still looks like and has the texture of meat, and is served on a plate, rather than in a pitta. In Italian fashion, the custom is then to have a side order of vegetables, again served on a plate. There is fresh bread on the side, and (for us, anyway), a half-litre jug of chilled, slightly fizzy, red wine. Yum.
The restaurant that we go to is one that Alex knows well. On entering, we are immediately fixed with a beady stare by ‘la nonna’. She is always to be found sitting at the biggest table in the restaurant, watching the Italian version of ‘Deal or No Deal’ while keeping tabs on everyone who comes in. On Friday, buona sera-ing over with and politeness satisfied, we were free to take our pick of tables, as we were the first people in. This gave us plenty of opportunity to gaze at the decor, which is a thing of wonder. The lights look a little like 1980s-styled snowshoes, folded up flat against the wall or arranged in a circular fan shape on the ceiling. The choice of table is always a big decision, as neither of us wants to be sat beneath one of them, in case they fall down from the wall and hit us on the head. Not that I think it’s actually likely, but who wants to take that chance? There are posters and pictures from all around the world on the walls, advertising Guinness, German sausages and beach huts in Scandinavia. The owner seems to be a well-travelled man, and certainly always has plenty of banter to offer. I start the evening keeping up, but don’t do so well by the time we leave, when I am full of gyros and red wine, topped off with amaro. This may or may not be a good thing – I definitely hear my name mentioned a couple of times, but it all seems to be good-humoured, so I settle for a wide-eyed ‘who, me?’ look, which seems to satisfy. Alex tells me later on that it was a conversation along the lines of him telling the owner that the only reason he brings me along is that I can carry him home. Cheeky sod.
To be fair, he might have had a point. A combination of Friday night joy and the wine that we have drunk makes us giddy, and we spend the walk home laughing uncontrollably at various things. At one point we pass a zebra crossing, which starts from a wide pavement, and leads straight into a 10-foot high concrete wall. We double over with laughter, gasping hysterically at the incongruousness of it all.
When we get back to the flat, we decide to sample the limoncello, which has been chilling in the freezer. It’s good. So good that we have another shot. And another. By 3 or 4 am the limoncello is down to its dregs. We have reached that state of drunkenness where we feel almost sober again, and yet are still discussing deeply philosophical matters. We’re both knackered, yet there’s a feeling that neither of us really wants to go to bed just yet. It’s a nice state to be in. Contentedly, we put the world to rights. Light begins to creep through the shutters. We watch it happen, not really connecting the dots. Suddenly we realise that it’s 7am and the room is bright enough for us not to need the lamps on any more. Alex is lying on the sofa looking knackered, but still just about awake. ‘Non fa male, per un uomo vecchio’, I tease him. Torn between being impressed that I’ve managed to string together a correct sentence in Italian and wanting to retaliate for the old man comment, he settles for a rude gesture. Laughing, we take ourselves off to our respective beds, trying not to think about the hangover we’re bound to have when we wake up later in the day. Ouch.
(image by ilmungo on Flickr)