An Even Longer Day (of Football)

One of the problems of being a football fan is that so much of your heppiness relies on 15 (relatively, even allowing for lower league weirdos xx) handsomely paid men who couldn’t give a flying toss about you or your life deciding whether they can be bothered to do their jobs properly, or whether their boss has any idea how to tell them how to do their jobs, or not getting soundly trounced by a team barely ever in second gear. Especially when you knew that all along that Scolari was a poor choice as manager, and boooooooooooooo it’s all crashing down around our ears.

Anyway, multiplying this feeling by three is a questionable idea, especially when you have days like yesterday: Up at half seven to go on an away trip with Lodigiani to Collona, a little town 45 minutes on the train south from Termini, not far from Ciampino for those of you who have flown into there from the UK, and finishing at half eleven after a rip-roaring Roma-Milan game that also gave me one of the best goals I have ever seen live, courtesy of Brazilian Wonderkid de jour Pato.

The Lodi experience was as ever, amusing and odd, and a bit shambolic. This wasn’t helped by a new and disgusting character who went by the name Borgo. Borgo, for those of you who have seen ID, is a lot like Gumbo, only less simpathetic. He mumbles everything he says, usually spits while doing so, walks in a permanent zig-zag motion while nodding like a smackhead and dresses like he lives in a bin. Which for all I know he does.

Large portions of the whole day were spent shouting at him for:

  • Walking into the path of oncoming cars
  • Falling asleep
  • Spitting on people as he spoke
  • Drinking all the beer
  • Not singing
  • Saying fascisty things
  • Being constantly, incessantly on his fucking phone

He’d make a great sitcom character, only no-one would believe that someone could be so obnoxious, unpleasant and thoroughly useless and still have friends. I assume they keep him around as a sort of group cat, independent enough to buy pizza and drugs and to tell people to fuck off, but not quite well-formed enough a human being to really pay attention to anything anyone says, or care either way. He also stank, and farted like his arse was an exhaust pipe: in short, he was the sort of guy you go out of your way to avoid on away trips, but when there’s seven of you on the train it’s pretty tricky.

Luckily he did his best to avoid doing what he was supposed to be – supporting his team – and slept through most of the game and had his phone glued ot his ear for some reason or another, which seeing as he didn’t say a word to anyone at the other end hard to figure out why. Maybe he was testing to see  if there was enough brain up there to damage with radiation.

For once, the game was actually entertaining too, and although Lodi lost 3-1 and finished the game with nine men, some comical refereeing livening proceedings immeasurably. One of the Lodi guys was sent off for swearing at a player who had just two-footed him from behind, while the assaulter got away with a yellow, Collona had a goal disallowed which looked suspiciously over the line to me and at 3-1 decided that the best punishment for a Lodi player being flattened in the box was an indirect free-kick. On top of this, there was a 20 man brawl which ended in one of our boys being pulled off the pitch by his own keeper in a headlock. Beautiful. There was also a lot of not paying for things, like train travel and match tickets (I can’t believe they charge for this level of football) while waving the Portuguese flag around, and an irate old man who was so incensed at the use of a metal bin as a perch to direct chants from that he tried to kick it out from under him, all of which was pretty funny. And it was a very pretty place as well.

dscf07371

Not so funny was the fascist guy who turned up on his own with a Palestinian flag (not to express solidarity with the opressed and murdered peoples might I add, but just to show off his fuck-witted anti-semitism), and then sprayed some celtic crosses around the place, doing all of us the world of good. On the train back there was a lot of anger at this, partly because it reflects badly on the group and casts them all as of that political persuasion, which Simone in particular seemed annoyed about, but mostly because they want to keep politics out of the group. Borgo of course thought otherwise, the bell end. 

Simone also told us that he never pays for public transport, taking trains down to Naples and back for a laugh and declaring that ‘Trenitalia is my house’, as well as showing us just how he bunks the metro (the classic move getting of getting in behind someone else who’s put their ticket in – I think it helps he’s almost as a short as the barriers mind you), and then went into one of his classic chats about English football. I zoned out at this point, I was tired and my brain had had enough of trying to decipher the Rome dialect.

So, a brief bit about Chelsea then. I’ve managed to watch a decent amount of our stuff through various channels and I think I have a vague idea of what we’re about, and it’s not looking good. It not  just that United turned us over good and proper without playing all that great, that can happen at Old Trafford, it’s more that we seem to be spluttering and hacking in every position, and that I can’t help but see cracks forming that may never be repaired. Now having known Ray Wilkins when I was a kid, I know that he is in fact a smashing guy, but I’m not convinced he’s a good enough coach, nor do I think that Scolari’s other coaches know how to keep a team fit over the course of a long season. We looked shot to bits after an hour of Sunday’s game and we are still conceding stupid goals from set-pieces, something we hardly ever did under you-know-who. Even worse is that we can’t blame injuries for that; we had Terry and Carvalho in the middle of the back four, and Cole and Boswinga on either side. Add Mikel in front and Cech behind and we should be pretty much inpenetrable, but we’re not, with individual errors and poor organisation making previously frightening defenders look like Gareth Hall. The most damning statistic is that we’ve only won seven out of our last 18 games, which form that won’t win us any trophies, and while that doesn’t bother me a huge amount – a healthy, stable club in the long-term is far more important to me – it’s a shame to see such a talented and commited group of players underperforming so badly. I just hope those who repeatedly slagged off Avram Grant while we took the title race to the last day of the season and the final of the Champions League are happy with what our new media-friendly,  exspansive style is bringing us.

Anyway, after saying pretty much the same thing to my newly-arrived in Rome mate who’d come round to watch the match, we set of for the Olimpico batting a poor zero for two, as I believe the yanks say. You haven’t been following football if you didn’t know that David Beckham was making his debut for Milan on Sunday evening, an event so momentus even the Guardian decided to do a (rubbish) match report with barely a word said about the giallorossi. So here goes nothing. Totti was out, so they decided to not persue with the three-man triangle up front, and instead reverted back to the five man midfield that caused them so many problems at the start of the season, with Vucinic up front on his own, and Baptista providing support of sorts from an attacking midfield position. Presumbaly this was to keep the pressure up on an ancient Milan midfield, but instead it kept their even older back four relatively free of trouble, and consequently the pinged back and forth between the sides, although Milan looked marginally more dangerous. Pato in particular looks like a real player, and in the second half he proved it by scoring two goals, the second of which was just insanely good and sent their huge travelling support absolutely mental (highlights below – just before the minute mark).

That put them 2-1 up within the space of 15 minutes in the second half after going in at the break behind to a Vucinic goal, and after that it looked like they might run away with it, Pato and Kaka were causing all sorts of problems down the left, and Roma were struggling to keep hold of the ball. Then Vucinic scored, completely out of the blue, and for the last 20 minutes it was pretty much all Roma; Mirko himself could have had a hat-trick if a flashed cross hadn’t hit his heel while he wasn’t looking. All in all it was a damn exciting game of football, and perked me up no end. It was also good to see a big crowd at the Olimpico; when it gets going it’s a pretty special place.

So, three games, two losses (both spankings) and one draw. As Scolari always says in his press conferences; this is football.

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More Lodigiani News

I forgot to mention in my last post that the Lodi ultras gave me a copy of number 73 of their fanzine Voce in Capitolo. I have been going through it (slowly but surely), and I’m pretty impressed with what I’ve read so far. The front cover has a picture of the Gabriele Sandri mural that is at the front of the Curva Nord for Lazio home games, and the headline ‘Remember, don’t forget!’ Above him is a quote from Napoleone; ‘Ten people that speak make more noise than 10000 who are silent’, which is pretty appropriate as a motto, seeing as there are only ten of them.

It’s only eight pages of A4 printed out on a home printer and helf together by a staple, but it has a clear idea of what it’s about and has some diverting articles from the ultras scene around. There’s an interesting story about racist Treviso ultras, who back in 1999 barracked a new signing, a Brazilian called Pelado, with racist chanting and even refused to show up for games. The local paper ran stories slagging off the ultras the club came out and publicly denounced them,  which culminated in all the Treviso players all coming out for the last game of the season with blacked up faces, as a show of solidarity. Seriously. There’s also the tale of Red Boys Ternana, who in 1992 split with the Curva Nord lot after they went all fascisty, then attacked the local MSI (cunty neo-fascist organisation) building for infiltrating their curva. As well as that there’s a hot or not column, in which they rather cheekily place themselves, while slagging off both Real Madrid’s support and Carla Bruni, for reasons I don’t quite understand, a diatribe against the police and how football fans are treated in this country by Simone that centres on Sandri’s death and a rather apposite piece on local public transport concerns. If anyone who isn’t in their group is reading this stuff I don’t know, but at least it’s pretty entertaining.

I am also mightily relieved to discover that they’re not a bunch of fascists. It’s a shame that the thought even crossed my mind, but with Italian ultras you never know, unfortunately. Right now I’m reading a piece that is lauding the Americans for voting for Barack Obama (going a little bit over the top in the process – American Dream my arse), and wondering when a similar change will happen in Italy. It’s also quite a good piece, so I’ve painstakingly translated as much as I can for you to read.

The Wind of Change and the Calm Italian

So Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States, and their first black president. The United States have always been great innovators, and in moments of recession and crisis make their democracy really work. Seeing the images of winner Obama appearing before his people made me feel profound emotions, and I felt like I belonged to that historic and unrepeatable moment. It was a victory against the history of America and against it’s historic prejudice.

But this is the American Dream. This is America, a land where nothing is impossible, and where everyone has a chance of their own. Where those who want to change, can do it. This change came from the grass roots, because before he could run for the Presidency he had to convince the people of his own party (after a very long campaign of democratic nominations against Hilary Clinton), and then not to just the voters of colour, but also the young and the poorest. There is excitement for what has happened in America. Maybe Obama will do well, maybe not, but America has sent out a message. And a strong one at that.

Today however, despite the joy of Obama’s election, I want to kick anyone who crosses my path and scream so loud that everyone can hear me. Today I feel, alongside my joy for the American fable, a profound sense of defeat, and rage. When will the true grass roots revolution happen here, like in America? When will we young finally be able to have a political figure close to us, who represents us, whose principle priority is to guarantee everyone a standard of life worthy of the name and not to protect their own arses from prosecution or to maintain the status quo of Rai and Mediaset? When will we be capable of kicking the arses of the political class that has destroyed us, removed all hope and made the country go gangrenous? The world has changed! America has Obama, Germany has a woman chancellor and Spain and Great Britain choose young Prime Ministers, while we are still here to watch the television regime that gives you only the information that it wants to, like the embalmed Andreotti they croak on live TV and with the delirious statements quoted from a tarred Prime Minister and his stooges that, sincerely, I don’t know how they have achieved this level of power… and meanwhile I ask myself where is my generation, who should have fought for these times and instead never has? Where is that student mass that looked like it wanted to do who knows what a few days ago?

How many times have we criticised the Americans because they are lobbyists and warmongers, people without values? But they come out of their skin when they need to and they don’t have even need grand demonstrations in squares for change. We make false claims of democracy, but in reality were are hand in hand with people that trample on our constitution and liberty, while the few young people that are still passionate about politics join the war between fascism and communism, categories from which the rest of the world have seperated themselves. We are always so far behind, and maybe we will never move. contemporary history teaches us that the great historical, economic and social movements come from America, before arriving in Europe. And then, after a long time, maybe, they arrive in Italy.

We know that to only vent about it doesn’t truly serve anything in itself, but I hope that Obama’s political tsunami invests in Italy, sooner or later. I hope that when it comes to voting we abandon the old logic of clientelism. I hope that we will not vote for more of the squallid functionaries of parties and their errand boys, but people that can represent our us. Maybe sooner or later a Dream Italy will exist. But right now I can’t imagine it.

Now, as I said before, it goes over the top in it’s arse licking of the American process, but it’s a refreshing change to see football fans engaging with politics in a way that isn’t coloured by class or racial bigotry, let me tell you. It also gives me a chance to post this for you to whistle along to….

A Minstrel Says…

‘Mr Obama, why can’t we have a nice black president like you?’

Words fail sometimes. They really do.

Roma 2 Atalanta 0

Since I last spoke to you dear readers, Roman football has been turned on its head; Lazio are top of the league, smashing goals in left, right and centre thanks to new signing the Zarate Kid, while Roma are wallowing around in mid-table after taking another bashing away from home, this time at Genoa. It wasn’t supposed to be like this at all you know. I want goals and glory, not limp-wristed surrender. Don’t these fucks realise I am a demanding Chelsea fan and want instant success, or so help me God I’ll call up 6-0-6 and complain that the ‘gaffer’s lost the dressing room, guv’? Clearly not.

So it was to my and Spangles’ delight that they bounced back with a comfortable win against Atalanta. However the biggest news of the day wasn’t the performance of newly fit Phillipe Mexes, or Mirko Vucinic’s vurtuoso display, oh no; I managed to wangle my way into the central section of the Sud, meaning that by fluttering my manly eyelashes and saying that my poor little English girlfriend was in there and needed be to look after I wasn’t stuck on the fringes of the crowd-based fun. Not that the guy on the gate believed a single word I was saying, but he let in two others just as I was asking him, so he had no choice but to wave me through.

It was a bit of a shame then, that the Sud was pretty flat for most of the game, a situation not helped by the small crowd (apart from our end everywhere was half empty), and the lack of away fans, who were of course banned from travelling. Hardly suprising really, considering that Atalanta are like the Millwall of Italy; from an industrial haertland with strong working class support, who aren’t big in number but contain a high ratio of baseball bat weilding nutters:fan.

Despite the slightly disappointing atmosphere, I managed to get a better view of what was going on and at least a little bit of a sing song. Pleasingly I am also started to get the hang of a few of the chants, and one of my favourites usually gets sung right at the beginning of the game after The Fedayn Ultras (who very much appear to be the dominant group in the Sud in terms of starting songs – coincidentally also the only non-right wing one) do their own song. First there is a big woooooooaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh that the whole end do, before lauching into:

Ovunque tu sarai (Everywhere you will be)

Non ti lascerò mai (I will never leave you)

AS Roma dai (AS Roma go)

Vinci per noi (Win for us)

(repeat first four lines)

Battiamo le mani (We raise our hands)

Noi da veri Romani (We are true Romans)

Battiamo le mani

AS Roma OLE LA LA LA LA!!

Which is toss lyrically, but it has a catchy tune and cool hand clappy bits, as well as a good ‘lalala’, which is always a plus in a football song. As you can see here:

Two first half goals were enough to seperate the two sides, with Chelsea reject Christian Pannuci opening the scoring with a deflected strike, and is bizarrely Roma’s top goalscorer so far this season with three. Montenegrian marksman Mirko Vucinic added the second and decisive goal with five minutes left in the first period, ensuring that the giallorosso faithful went into half time happier than their invisible Bergamese counterparts. Pannuci’s goal gave us a chance to sing a song of which I am a big fan, particularly as player chants are usually either rubbish or conspicuous by their absence in Italian football.

Noi vogliamo undici Panucci,

Undici, undici, undici Panucci!

It’s a really satisfying little chant in so many ways, with heavy ‘ooon’ and ‘chi’ sounds bouncing off your tongue and down the stands towards the pitch. I have, I must confess, been known to jump around the flat bellowing it out at the top of my voice.

The second half came and went without much in the way of incident, apart from a young local boy being brought on for Vucinic with about 20 minutes to. As well as being Roman, strong, fast, good at holding the ball up and (I apologise for the Hansen-esque list of adjectives) possessing good feet for a big lad, he’s also something most Romans aren’t: Black. Born to Nigerian parents in Castiglion del Lago in the province of Perugia, Stefano Okaka Chuka was like anyone born to immigrant parents in Italy, unable to claim the Italian nationality as his own until his 18th birthday. Considering that this a country that chucks out citizenships like confetti to just about anyone with Italian ancestry (like Spangles, who nearest Italian relative is her Grandma) this seems pretty, well, racist. The idea that being born in a country isn’t enough to giveyou it’s nationality is absurd, and stopped a talented young player from representing Italy at all until under-19 level. The same thing happened to Inter’s Mario Balotelli, another one who was born to Nigerian parents, who left him in Italy and promptly fucked off somewhere else. Balotelli himself has been pretty vocal about how ridiculous this is, using his profile as one of the best up and coming young players in the country to raise awareness of an issue that few care about. The idea that a nationality is intertwined with ethnicity is a something that no doubt the fascists waving their tricolori down the front of the Sud are very keen on, and play into all sorts of existing internal and external prejudices. A black man (or any other ‘impure’ peoples born in Italy for that matter, including some Southerners) has to choose to be an Italian – it’s not an innate quality. And it’s a pretty fucking shit definition, if you don’t mind me saying.

Anyway he got a good reception from the crowd and played well, and but for the linesman putting up his flag everytime he went through on goal (sparking a great song to the tune of The Red Flag about sticking the bandierina – or little flag – up his arse) would have shown us whether he can add the finishing touch to Roma’s flowing moves. Maybe his stereotypically large member kept poking out past the backline or something, or maybe the lino was, as the old song goes, ‘a cunt’. Who knows?

All in all Sunday was pretty positive, the team played some very good football, new siging Menez looks very tidy indeed and players are coming back from injury. Slowly but surely things are taking shape, and hopefully they’ll beat Bordeux tomorrow so Chelsea don’t have a chance to knock them out. Do you hear me football Gods?

My Tea Soliloquy

Like any good Englishman, I love a good cup of tea. In fact the patriot in me dictates that should I love a bad one too; for it is the concept of tea, not just it’s execution, that bring me such happiness. I love the way the boiling hot water slowly soups into that gorgeous hue of pitch brown while it quickly fills the cup, with the clouds of delicious brew that rise from their papery prison celebrating new-found freedom by bounding joyfully to every edge of the cup.

Like almost every uniquely British triumph (curry, the ingredients for Christmas pudding, democracy, Gianfranco Zola) you came from somewhere else, only for the nation to clasp you to its busom and declare you a national treasure. When the pasty white european milk enters and mixes in perfectly with the dark exotic leaves you are a symbol of racial tolerance – or the pillaging of Africa and India by the British Empire, whatever – in a  world full of hate and when you address my taste buds in that way you do, the combination of oral masturbation and dunky biscuit mastication brings me unadulterated joy, whether it’s a morning kick-start with toast and Marmite or an evening wind down cuppa. You’re as essential as a bacon sandwiches, fish and chips and chunky roast potatoes but you won’t make me obese like them, and it’s obvious that you piss all over fucking coffee, whether it’s that instant-mix mud or fiddly faffy poncy toss that the mediterranean caffein addicts gulp down four times a day. Like all great things you are an essentially simple beast, with layers of complexity hidden within.

You could call this a eulogy, but you’d be wrong, because tea is not dead. Nor will it ever die, not while there is an Englishman like me out here to drink you.

And just so you know, we’re talking about proper tea here. You know, tea that tastes like tea, and that has milk added to it. Not Earl Gray, which should be renamed Earl Barrett such is its shitness, or those horrible herbal piss waters that besmirch the name and very notion of tea. Understood? Great. Now you can join me in prayer, Lord of the Dance style;

Tea, tea, wherever I drink thee,

You remind me of my home country,

You’ve a milky brown face,

And you’re nothing less than brill

In fact you’re completely fucking skill

*slurp*

Things Fall Apart

It’s often said that Britain is a broken country, with transport problems that are worse than anything in Europe, a NHS that’s at breaking point, rampant immigration bursting the nation at the seems and a political class disconnected from the public. Britain, we’re told, should take it’s queues from super efficient Europe, where public money is spent properly and people engage with their political processes in an educated, enlightened fashion. This is bullshit. I can tell you right now that in Italy, nothing fucking works.

For instance, everytime I nip out to the cashpoint to get some money I end getting fucked around by at least one of them; they’re either broken, refuse my card or tell me my pin is invalid (it isn’t). Usually this involves me screaming at the machine ‘YOU FUCKING PIECE OF USELESS FUCKING SHIT! GIVE ME MY CUNTING MONEY’ to the shock of everyone in the queue behind. My girlfriend is right this second trying to work out how to pay her taxes online, a process so complicated it’s encouraging Italians to choose the traditional option; just don’t bother. Then there’s the metro A-line, which will be shutting at 10pm because of the new C-line they’re building – every day until 2010. In Naples the streets are piled high with rubbish because the Comorra has control over of all the waste disposal contracts, meaning that toxic waste is being dumped any old place. Even democracy itself is on the verge of eating itself; with cruise ship crooner look-a-like Silvio Berlusconi trying to push through a law that renders himself completely immune from prosecution as long as he remains Prime Minister. Within the same legislation he has proposed a banning of wiretap evidence unless used against recognised members of organised crime syndicates (thereby collapsing a couple of pesky lawsuits against himself) and the prosecution of any journalist and media outlet who publishes the transcripts. NIce eh? And as if this wasn’t bad enough, how about the racist, facsist and deeply unconstitutional act of fingerprinting Gypsy children as part of a national census?

However, at least over here there is an ingrained interest in politics and activism at grass roots level; the casual erosion of civil liberties that is happening under the current Labour government has raised barely more than a few sniffy letters to the broadsheets, but over here Burlusconi’s actions warranted a demo in Piazza Navona, a huge public square, complete with speakers, politicians, journalists and intellectuals. The crowd shushed itself so it could listen to poetry. Seriously. Hell, even I showed up to lend my support (and to write a piece about it for the Guardian, which showed up some four days late).

The event was organised mainly by the Antonio Di Pietri and his IDV (Italy of Values) Party, and if he did set it up as a way of focussing anger with Berlusconi into votes for him, he made a pretty good show of hiding it. Never have I seen a politician so reticent to make himself the main act at a political rally. We got there a little bit late and as punishment we ended up round the side of the stage, with a lovely view of the scaffolding and people’s heads as they shoved past us, but neither that nor my relative lack of language skills didn’t stop me from recognising that there were some very impressive public speakers on display, including Di Pietri himself. It was absolutely heaving and boiling hot, not that nice when you’re tightly packed in with your (somewhat sweaty and smelly) fellow man. We were right up against the lame tape barrier, with a  huge space behind us that was completly empty apart from coppers and Caribinieri hanging around looking bored. As the day went on this dam started to leak and in the end the police gave up trying to stop people flooding in.

a good journalist gets there early

Note: a good journalist gets there early

‘This is real democracy here, not what is happening in government’ said Di PIetro. ‘What is happening here is a crime of political extortion… all of Berlusconi’s first actions were about protecting himself. He is killing the political process for his own ends.’ The crowd, festooned with IDV and Communist Party flags, roared their approval and continued to do so from one speaker to the next; Moni Ovadia, a Jewish musician who was born in Bulgaria but settled in Milan with his family in his early childhood brought the house down by comparing democracy to a plant that needed taking care of while a popular crime novellist called Andrea Camilleri compared his cupboard to the Crypt; ‘it has more skeletons.’

But the day wasn’t really about the speakers (which is just as well given my hazy grip on Italian), it was about the people. It was good for me to see a range of political opinions that weren’t just thinly veiled excuses for racism, or homophobia, or expressed by the daubing a swastika on the wall of a trainer shop. There are people here who are bothered that their Prime MInister is a man who owns a substaintial chunk of the nation’s mass media and the blatant way he’s taking the piss out of democracy, who don’t like to assualt Romanians in the street and who don’t twitch at the eyebrow at the meerest mention of the homos. They expressed this the only way they know how; by getting a permanent marker out and scribbling it amateurishly onto a big piece of card, or maybe one of mamma’s bedsheets. Preferably like so;

Nope, not even my Italian speaking Girlfriend knows what this means

Nope, not even my Italian speaking girlfriend knows what this means

Or thusly;

'Anto, it's hot but we're still here.' Bless.

'Anto, it's hot but we're still here.' Bless.

The standout moment of the day was Sabina Guzzanti’s hilarious rant at pretty much everybody, including the current Minister of Equal Opportunities, (the seriously hot but rather dim Mara Carfagna, who doesn’t like the gays at all) who she accused of only getting her position in Berlusconi’s cabinet ‘by sucking his cock’. However the highlight must surely have been her statement that; ‘In twenty years time I want to see the Pope in Hell being tormented by gay devils,’ which I can’t help but think must have come from a stoned session watching South Park: The Movie. It’s also a peculiarly Catholic way of showing off her anti-ecclesiastical politics; why, if you don’t believe in the dogma of the church, would you want to see the Pope in Hell? Surely that would confirm that God is Great, Beelezebub exists and that we should all get down on our knees and renounce our sins, lest we swim in a lake of fire for all eternity. Surely she meant in that twenty years time she’d like to see the Pope rotting in a coffin, slowly disintergrating into nothing like everyone else on this planet? Now that would be a victory for petrified aetheists everywhere, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Most of the day’s speeches focussed on the actual issues, thankfully. One of the biggest ones, pointed out during a fantastic speech by journalist Marco Travaglio, is that due to electoral reforms brought in by Berlusconi in 2005, over 1.5million Italians who voted for left wing parties have no political representation, and on top of that the sheer brazenness of the government’s disregard for human rights and the judiciary is a threat to the constitution of Italy. Di Pietro garnered himself some rapturous applause when he said; ‘when there is a democratic emergency, we all have to take a stand’, but it remains to be seen if a country where in conspiracy theories are rife, distrust of authority is total and corruption in high places is expected, even tolerated, can be roused to force change. I’m certainly not holding my breath.