There’s a flurry of Sicilian from the top of the steps and Marco laughs. “You’re in trouble!”
In the car on the way over he’d told me with a certain amount of glee that not only was it unlikely that most of the people at the house party we were going to would speak English, but a fair few of them might not even speak Italian. “It’s a small town, you know.” As he wanted me to, I threw up my hands in horror when he told me, but I was grinning inside at the thought of getting away from being expected to be an English teacher for the night.
As it turns out, his predictions are wrong. Not only do a fair few of the guests speak both Italian and English, but the host of the party is a London boy from Whitechapel. He’s half-Sicilian and he moved out here a year ago. He’s also missing English company. We leap up and down to old rave tracks and new R&B ones, laughing about Only Fools and Horses, while the Sicilians stand around the edges of the room shifting from foot to foot in time to the music and eating the mountains of food that have been produced by the host’s girlfriend. Everyone has fun; it’s just in different ways.
The next night I knock back Irish coffees and dance the tarantella to a soundtrack of Irish folk music in a room that has the feel of a hippy squat. I’m at a St Patrick’s Day party being thrown by Officina Rebelde, who I’m told are a left-leaning political community group “… or something like that”. I talk to the girl who runs it, trying to find out more, and she tells me that I should come along to the journalism course that they’re running on Monday and Thursday evenings. I file it in my whisky-addled brain as a possible and let the caffeine coursing through my system do its work as I continue jigging to the music.
Diego appears out of nowhere. He’s been in Brazil and I haven’t seen him for months. Every time I turn round I bump into people that I know and hadn’t expected to see. I’m reminded of the steampunk parties that I used to go to in London. Grand old houses with peeling walls and chipped marble floors taken over for the evening by revellers with painted faces, drinking out of plastic beakers and having an evening away from real life. Lucy spots someone over my shoulder. “I know you! You’re – er – Agatino, right?” He comes over, laughing. “You deleted me from Facebook, didn’t you?” Lucy giggles, twisting her sleeves over her hands and turning pink. “No! No, I don’t think so. You just haven’t come up in my Newsfeed recently …” He teases her, chuckling and prodding at her discomfort. She gives up trying to defend herself and surrenders to the ribbing. “Are you still in importising? Importatising?” She purses her lips and opens her blue eyes wide, trying to hold back hysteria. “Am I even speaking English?!” Agatino grabs my arm and the three of us fall about laughing. “Imports, Lucy, imports!” He turns to join the whirling crowd of Irish-linedancing Sicilians. “Add me on Facebook!” He disappears.