Wednesday, 2 January 2013

"She suggested they go into the forest where the wild boar were still hunted. 'If one charges you,' she said, 'you have to wait till the last second, then jump to one side like this. The boar run fast but they can't change direction.' 'I'll remember that,' said Bruno.' " ("A Possible Life" Sebastian Faulks)

We saw one once, a wild boar as big as a Dexter cow and twice as broad.  We were driving home from a nearby restaurant after midnight, turned a sharp bend on a steep road and the boar suddenly appeared in the headlights, calmly ambling across the road right in front of us.  The car was slowed because of the bend, which was fortunate because that boar wasn't going to veer or slow for us or anything else.  After that I knew as well as Bruno that if a boar were charging me I wouldn't wait till the last second.  At the restaurant we had eaten a pasta dish with cinghiale (boar) sauce, it was very tasty.

Boxing Day (Santo Stefano sees the hunters out in full regalia in full force.  Their cars line the country roads at all the strategic locations.  The sounds of gunshot and baying dogs are all around.  (We have been told of a hunter who hunts only out of season for fear of getting shot.)  Then all is peaceful once more until New Year's Eve (notte di San Silvestro) when, of course, we have the fireworks.  This year, prior to the night, the news is full of the new laws banning fireworks in town centres (finally!), except in Naples which, for reasons every italian seems to comprehend, is exempt.  Despite this, the next day the news is full of deaths and maiming caused by fireworks.  Here one has to resort to the French, "plus ça change..."

Work on our house continued right up to the 24th and will resume today.  In the interim we have been visiting our site with family and friends to view progress and debate THAT colour.  Thankfully throughout the holiday the weather has been gloriously sunny and the "sticky" mud, a feature of the building site, is drying out, mocking our insistence that all visitors bring along "suitable" footwear.

We spent New Year's Eve as guests of Italian friends.  After a veritable feast we toasted and embraced as the changeling hour struck.  Of course Paolo was there.  Everyone put him on the spot asking for a date in 2013 when our house would be completed.  Even in his cups he remained steadfastly, albeit charmingly, noncommittal.

After midnight we all sat at the table and played cards till 3.00am.  The game was called Sette e Mezzo (Seven and a Half), a gambling game played with Neapolitan cards.  Now you'll ask me how one plays and I will tell you.  There are no rules, or if there are, they are somewhat flexible.  Laugh a lot, shout a lot, swear a lot, cheat ad infinitum.  Leave the table at will and return at will without ever losing your turn (whenever that was).  Glare at your opponents cards and advise (preferably unwisely) whenever you can and especially when you can't. Argue about all of the above all of the time and then some.  Beg and borrow when you must, promise to repay and then forget...  are you getting the hang of it? Great fun to play (!), even though at the end we had lost all our initial stake - all five euros of it.  When gambling here, we now learn, it is advisable to keep the stakes low.

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