(image by Kate Bailward)
Being a not very organised person who doesn’t think ahead all that far, I’m not registered for a postal vote in the UK. Luckily, other expats are more on the ball than me, and have already received their voting cards, which tell them that the UK General Election is to be held on 6 May. Bit of a coup, that, given that it hasn’t been officially announced yet, but no matter. This has thrown me into a state of panic, as I’m not sure the Italian postal system is up to organising this in time. I shall, however, give it a damn good try. I’ve therefore spent the last half hour filling in an application form to send off to my local council. The most complicated part of this, though, is going to be finding somewhere to print the beggar out. The school computer system is nothing if not esoteric. One computer can just about get online (after a *lot* of chuntering), but can’t print. The other – you’ve guessed it – can print but not get online. Given that the form is a web .pdf file, this could be entertaining …
In Italy, elections were held in a number of regions on Monday. To advertise each candidate (of which there seemed to be hundreds), flyers were handed out. Or, rather, thrown liberally out onto the streets like ticker tape. The Green movement doesn’t hold much sway here. The gutters are knee-deep in discarded leaflets and cards, and have been for weeks. This doesn’t seem like the most effective ad campaign to me. I wouldn’t bother picking up a soggy flyer that’s been trampled underfoot and driven over by multiple cars, and I doubt the fastidious Italians would either. Interestingly, for a nation which keeps the interior of their houses so sparkling clean, they don’t seem to give a stuff about the outside. I haven’t seen a street sweeper since I’ve been here, and the election flyers appear to be being left to melt in the rain. Unluckily for us all, it is at just this point that the rain is beginning to clear up. (Apologies to readers in the UK, who appear to be snowed in again. Hohoho.) Here, it’s been gloriously sunny for the last few days. Good news for sun-worshippers, but bad news for the appearance of our streets. Not only are they covered in paper, but we can now see them in their full, shameful, littered glory. Ick.
In my town, the ad campaign also meant that every single billboard was covered with posters of airbrushed politicos, smiling for all they were worth. Appropriately, in a country where appearance is all, you’ve never seen such gleaming white teeth or sparkling eyes, even in Hollywood. Similar to Italian television presenters, the men were mostly well-turned-out but pug-ugly. The women, however, all had to be attractive, as well as being made-up to within an inch of their lives. Well, if we *must* have a woman in charge, at least she should be nice to look at, no? Once again, I have the strange feeling that I’ve been transported back to the 1950s, in so many ways.
Billboards are a serious business here and, unlike the UK, they are kept bang up to date. No sooner had the elections happened than the candidates’ posters were removed from the boards. They haven’t yet been replaced by anything else, but there will no doubt be a circus soon. They turn up every couple of months, live animals and all. The last one proudly advertised a lion tamer posing with one of his beasts. The man’s body was straight out of Mr Universe, but his head was (a) pale and pasty as opposed to glistening bronze and (b) totally out of proportion, being far too small to compete with the rippling chest muscles below. He was also slightly balding. It made me wonder whether maybe there once was a good-looking lion tamer (possibly called Bjorn), with well-developed pecs and a full head of hair. One day, however, he met with a nasty accident. Lions are everso prone to munching on meat, bless ’em. The circus launches the hunt for a replacement.
Lion tamer required.
Must be good with animals and available immediately.
A new daredevil tamer arrives, but he’s a bit disappointing in the old looks department. Plus, he’s called Kevin. Oh dear. “He’ll never sell any tickets!” thinks the Ringmaster. “Hmm. What to do? I know! Let’s take Bjorn’s photo, remove his head, and put Kevin’s in its place! Brilliant! No-one will *ever* know! Now, does anyone round here know Photoshop …?”