Won’t Get Fooled Again

Often in an Roman block of flats, you’ll here the sound of the buzzer. Mostly this is mates calling up to be let into the building, or a postman, or maybe even a sparky or whoever alse is being employed by the condominio to do bits of maintenance work. Normally it’s not a problem letting people in, even if they’re just pressing any old number outside to gain access, and I’ve had stilted chats with many a gruff Roman plumber in my time. After all, this is the new and improved Liqiuidator, social and forthcoming in two languages.

Today I was scribbling away for a freelance contract I recently landed, when the buzzer went. I picked up the phone by the front door, and was asked whether I was one Signor Iommi, who happens to be our landlord. No, sez I, he doesn’t live here anymore, what’s this all about? Well, he explains, I’m the administrator of the condominio, and there are people in the building who owe us money for cleaning in the building, can I come in? I pressed the buzzer to let him in the main gate, and this shambling, bristly looking chap trundles up the stairs, walking in a ghoulish fashion, like his shoulders are carrying the rest of his body and his legs are their for show. Upon arrival the guy shows me a cleaning bill for €140 and asks me whether I can pay it now, as it’s been outstanding for a while. I explain in the best Italian I can manage that there’s no way I can pay that much money right now, and in any case it’s not my responsibilty to do so. Speak to Claudio, the landlord. No no no, he explains, I’ll come with you to the cash point. Obviously I’m not getting through to this very rude and presumptious man, so I called Spangles to give him what for more fluently, and to him our landlord’s phone number. In the meantime she’s called the landlord to have a go at him: if he’s coming round, why not fucking well tell us?

So the administrator sits at the kitchen table with the right grump, scowling at the hallway like a put out loan shark. I just want my money, he’s clearly thinking, what is it with these stupid foreigners? Eventually he gets through to the landlord, who explains to him that it’s his responsibilty to pay, so come and meet him at the restaurant later on tonight, and he’ll give him the cash on the spot. I’ll go with him to the cashpoint though, continues the man, and you can deduct it from his rent? I don’t mind waiting here while he goes down there. No, we’re not doing that come to the restaurant tonight. The guy hangs up the phone and tells me it’s all sorted, thanks for being patient, before dragging himself out of the flat. Now the pair of us were really pissed about this; it put me in an awkward situation, as well as amking me deal with his business. But he rung up about ten minutes later and apologised profously for it, so I figured it was just an honest mistake on his part.

Earlier this evening Claudio is in his usual spot, the Napolitano restaurant where his firm delivers cuts of meat to, having a coffee and a bite to eat while he waits for the administrator. Only he never shows. Now being half an hour or so late in Italy is practically being on time, usually, but this guy was desperate for the money right now, so where is he? He calls the administrator to ask where he is, after all he’s not usually so insistant for the cash. ‘What do you mean, “Where am I?”‘ he asks. ‘Well, you wanted money for the cleaning work a few hours ago, what’s going on?’

Halfway through Claudio’s phonecall to Spangles not half an hour ago the our collective penny dropped. The guy was con artist, he explained. The actual administrator had never done any cleaning work, and in any case Claudio always paid promptly and by direct debit. This fella (apart from doing a mean administrator impression) was going around flats with foreign names attached to the buzzer button outside in the hope that they’d not have any idea what was going on. Not only that, he was doing in the same building, over and over again, and others on this street. I for one really, really hope he comes back in here again.

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Spettacolo Roma

I had the pleasure yesterday of watching one of the most enjoyable games of football I’ve seen in a long time, full of spirit and attacking verve, with two good sides going at each other hammer and tongs, tackle after tackle, and in other sexual innuendo-y ways.

Genoa came to the Olimpico in fourth place, having the sort of season that you would barely believe possible of a team promoted from Serie B only two years ago. This is mainly due to their Argentinian striker Diego Milito, who is engaging in a rather sickly love affair with the Genovese, and repaying that love in cold hard goals, 14 goals in 23 games, to be precise. Roma of course are on absolute fire and are looking better by the week, having won nine and drawn two in the 12 games since the derby win over Lazio. Baptista in particular really starting to look dangerous, and they’ve also managed to race up the table without one outstanding goal scorer. Instead they have three forwards who weigh in with both goals and assists; Vucinic is top scorer with eight goals, while Totti and The Beast only have six each, but there is a clutch of players throughout the team who’ve grabbed two or three, which shows you that the forwards are just as good at creating opportunities as scoring. We had two of the grandest old clubs in Italy, on great form, having a scrap for Champions League qualification, and let me tell you the match lived up to every expectation.

The match kicked off with the Inna yet to be completed, which meant the crowd finished it off without the PA blaring it out. It was pretty stirring stuff and got the game off to a cracking start, but Genoa had most of the ball for the first ten minutes or so. They were also a bunch of niggly little fucks, and kicked Totti as much as they thought they could get away with, but it didn’t matter, as Roma scored three glorious goals and plonked themselves one point behind Fiorentina, who took fourth place with a last minute win over Lazio. Check the goals out here:

The scoreline was really harsh on Genoa though, because they played just as much of the football and looked very threatening, especially after Taddei was sent off for tapping someone on the back, but in the end their fans made more of an impression than they did. Away fans had been banned for yesterday’s game, but that didn’t stop a small group of Genovese making their way six hours south and buying tickets in the Distinti Nord.

genoa-fans-in-the-nord

Which livened things up no end up over there. When Cicinho scored the first, the whole Nord started bouncing and chanting ‘if you don’t bounce you’re a Genovese’, which looked brilliant. It’s a shame the Sud didn’t join in, as that would have been extra ace. But still it was nice to see them starting songs for a change, and fair play those Genoa lads, they came and had a go etc etc, before being escorted into the previously vacant away end. It was less good to see the Sud dividing itself over Christian Panucci, who made the smart move of cussing Spalletti in public and offering himself up for transfer, only to find that the only clubs interested were Torino and Hull City. Now why anyone would want to play for Hull beyond me, especially after that walloping they took at Stamford Bridge on Sat….

Torino are a big club with good support, and a 35 year-old shouldn’t be complaining when Real Madrid don’t come knocking. Anyway, the Ultras Romani put up a banner which read ‘Panucci you are nothing but a disappointment’, while the Boys, Irish Clan, Ultras Roma and Giovinezza added on a cosigned banner ‘let’s move on’ or words to that effect, which is a pretty undramatic gesture for those who like to throw grenades in the concourse under the Sud.

None of that inter-fan chit chat took away from the quality of the game though, and I even allowed myself a little cheer when the last minute Fiorentina goal went in, despite the fact it put them in the crucial fourth Champion’s League spot. As half the crowd cheered and the other half groaned, I looked at the guy near the exit and said ‘Fuck it, it’s still Lazio.’

Oh the Humanity!

ROMA, 2 February 2009 (Translated from the Gazzetta and Il Giornale) :Floppy-haired Gallic pansy Phillipe Mexes was attacked eraly this morning by a group of Lazio fans outside the Gilda nightclub in the centre of town, a nototrious haunt for footballers and other Beautiful people (otherwise known as monied show off twats) with appalling hair and worse trainers. Like these two bell ends:

 

Or this pair of lookers:

You know these people have never even seen a pair of Gazelles before. Anyway, he was with his countryman and teammate Menez – presumably discussing existentialism and bemoaning how not being able to smoke and be in black and white anymore is really showing up their prentiousness for what it is – when the group were started hurling beastly words at them. They then had a little girly round of slapping and bum touching before the Carabinieri arrived to break them both up.

Luckily the situation was calmed quickly as the plod threatened to crack everyone’s skulls with sticks before claiming they were left wing agitators, and no-one ended up in hospital, although Mexes was treated at pronto soccorso (which I’m pretty sure is first aid) for a blow to face (probably by a belt buckle, the Gazzetta helpfully speculates). Neither player is making an official complaint, and Mexes will hopefully have a huge welt under his eye, making him look like a centre-back at long last.

A Message for Chelsea Football Club

Sack Phil Scolari at the first available opportunity. I don’t care whether it’s now or the end of the season, have him trampled under a carnival float in Rio for all I care, just make sure he disappears, right? I’m sure RA’s boys could sort out something if he gets pissy about compensation. Then, use the same meatheads to prise Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke away from West Ham, and bring them home.

End of message.

In Praise of Real Journalism and Shame on the BBC

Over the last few weeks, in the spirit of rediscovering what it is a journalist does when he wants to inhabit a world in which he doesn’t belong, I have been reading Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon. He’s more famous for the subsequent TV programmes that came from the book, like Homicide: Life on the Streets and The Wire, but the book itself deserves high praise on it’s own terms.

For those of you who don’t know about it, Simon spent a year in the Homicide department of his native Baltimore, following around the detectives in Luietenant Gary D’Addario’s unit. For reasons unknown they allowed him to take notes on absolutely everything, from the dark banter of the detectives and uniforms and cameraderie and tensions of the squad room to the details of investigations into truly horrific crimes. One, the discovery of a young girl, raped, murdered and left in an alley, becomes the spine of the book, the moral compass around which all other cases hover and rotate. East and West side corner boys drop each other with a regularity that to the detectives almost becomes monotonous, domestic arguments turn into dead bodies and hidden evidence, while the cops make racist, sexist and any other kind of offensive joke you can think of (the use of ‘toad’ for black criminals is particularly odious) while standing over dead bodies. And yet for that, there is a hint of something noble about both them and what they do, and it’s captured perfectly in Simon’s prose. It really is an oustanding piece of journalism, and I read it in the same manner he wrote it; disgusted with so much of the job, and the way that balance and impartiality have become the ultimate goal, at the expense of searching for the heart and truth of the matter. In case it was the way his paper, the Baltimore Sun, had cracked down on unions and become the property of ‘carpetbaggers’ from Philadelphia, me with the way the current Israel offensive in Gaza has been reported, culminating in the BBC’s appalling decision to block a DEC humanitarian aid appeal for those who haven’t been left dead by Israel’s bombing campaign. Simon himself says in the epilogue to the latest edition:

There are many journalists who believe that their craft must burden itself with a nodding, analytic tone, that they must report and write with feigned, practiced objectivity and the presumption of omniscient expertise. Many are consumed by the pursuit of scandal and human flaw, and believe it insufficient to look at human beings with a skeptical yet affectionate eye. There work is, of course, accurate and justifiable – and no closer to the actual truth of things than any other form of storytelling.

Without engaging and analysing the facts, and – yes – coming to judgements based on them, how is it possible to come to any sort of valid decision? Just because everyone has the right to an opinion, that doesn’t mean all opinions are not equally valid, and nor does it mean that because a decision or opinion might favour one side, that it’s biased, or prejudicial.

In any case, to say in this instance that the BBC was keeping itself impartial and apolitical is a fallacy; to ban an ad (and if you’ve seen it it’s obvious there is no anti-Israel message in there at all) is in itself a political act, and it says that the BBC is more concerned with who they might upset than with helping some aid getting to people Gaza, the vast majority of who are just normal people trying to live, not rocket-launcher wielding bandana-wearing Hamas soldiers. It’s an act that says these people don’t matter like the people of Darfur, or Tsunami victims, and it goes hand-in-hand withthe idea that  framing all Israeli aggression as ‘retaliation for terrorist acts’ and to implicitly support the one true democracy in the area no matter what its transgressions – be they deliberately targeting schools to take out militants or the denying Palestinians access to the local water supply – is neutral, and impartial. It stinks.

Anyway, the book. Buy it, borrow it, nick it off your local drug dealer before shooting him in the back, whatever. Just make sure you read it.

Just a Quick One

So I eluded to the fact that the Lodi guys had gently mocked me in the previous post, in the latest edition of their fanzine Voce in Capitolo. In their fortnightly odds round-up they asked the question:

Alla Domanda, ‘Terry è vero che gli ultrà Lodigiani ti purgano’ risponderà? (To the question ‘Terry, is it true that the Lodigiani ultras have purged you*?’ he will respond?)

a) Si – 20

b) Si si – 1.28

c) Non so (I don’t know) – 10

d) No – 100

* This is a confusing use of the term purged that even a fluent Italian speaker like Spangles didn’t get at first reading. After consulting some Romani friends we gathered that it probably means that they have replaced Chelsea, or have unsettled my support for them in some way. Apologies for the new style odds by the way, it’s how they do things here.

Then later on, in the latest hot or not column, they say about me: ‘anche se è un moncappato di quelli mostruosi, nonchè fagiano, alle fine te fomenta. Come era contento col suo fumogeno e la sudista in mano, e ce credo n’è che allo Standford (sic) Bridge se la scorda queste cose! The first sentence I’m not sure about, partly becuase I can’t find a definition of moncappato, but the second goes along the lines of ‘how content he was with his flare and (confederate) flag in his hand, and I reckon that he won’t forget this back at Stamford Bridge.’ Which is true enough. 

Simone also wrote a rather entertaining article about how to dodge the metro system, and decided that Colli Albani – my local – was the easiest one to get through without paying, or ‘do a Portuguese’ as they say over here. It seems that they are  the Yorkshiremen of southern Europe. Meanwhile the front cover is a collection of photos from all over Italy from before the post-Raciti regulations came in, wistfully exclaiming ‘Only Two Years Ago….’ Not that this seems to bother them at the match, considering there are flares and mini firecrackers all the time. Which if anything only highlights how out of the loop they are. If the regulations don’t apply to them, how much a part of the scene are they? And how can they complain about the rules? These are all questions I wish I could ask them in person. Oh well.

PISSING CUNTFLAPS

So we bottled another big game them, and seem to have lost our ability to win at home, which is worrying. Most irritating is that we seem to want to hand the title to fucking Liverpool, as there’s no way those fin cut shit eating arsewipes and their pink-booted mulleteers are getting anywhere near the league title, a strong breeze at (insert random provincial shitheap here) will send them into an aloof artiste meltdown. We’ve now played all our principal title rivals at home and gained one point from nine, which is pretty pants, truth be told. From what I’ve seen this year we seem very one dimensional, and at the moment are flat track bullies, which is just so…. Arsenal. Ugh.

There have been some good things football wise today, but that’s shit. BOOOOOOOOOOOOO