Saturday, 4 May 2013

"E a uno a uno li ho lasciati dietro di me. Geometria. Un lavoro perfetto." ( "Novecento" by Alessandro Baricco )

Wednesday evening, 1st of May, a public holiday here.  Here, very sensibly, they take their holidays very seriously.

We were sitting outside the local bar listening to a live band playing covers of Johnny Cash and Jefferson Airplane and other incongruities, while the sun set on a sweltering Labour Day Holiday.  There was quite a crowd, young and old(er), many having just returned from a day on the beach.  They were smoking, drinking, eating pizza and porchetta; these latter being sold from a van set up by a nearby hotel and the quality was excellent.  But mostly people were strolling and chatting and the band went largely ignored, pity, because they were rather good.

We have been here nearly eighteen months and know many of the locals, some only by sight, but that doesn't deter any one of them from approaching us to ask whether our house is finished yet, and they all do, and our answer is well practised, "No, not yet, but soon, in two weeks we hope."  This news is greeted with hearty congratulations.  "Yes", we go on to say, "there are only a few outstanding jobs, we are awaiting the electricity company, the plumber, the electrician and the carpenter to complete them."  This information is followed by tight-lipped, knowing smiles, and the congratulations quickly turn to variations on "Good Luck!" What they don't know, and we don't dare say outright, even  to ourselves, is that water or not, electricity or not, whatever or not, all our worldly goods are arriving from England in 2 weeks and we are moving in, whatever.  Thus the optimistic quote above, which roughly translates as:  "And one by one I left them behind me.  Geometry!  A job done to perfection."

Here is a photo' of the almost completed house.  The railings have been put up and the walls have just been painted.  The paint is in fact a form of coloured plaster "intonaco" and the owner of the shop that sold it to us advised, in his patriarchal way, that we wait at least a month before even looking at it.  But how can we not notice now that the colour of  the fresh paint in the bright sunlight is quite startling? Either it will weather or we'll simply have to get used to living with it, as with so much else in our 'new' house.

The view of the house from across the valley puts me in mind again of Baricco's  "Novecento" - "Aveva un dente d'oro proprio qui, così in centro che sembrava l'avesse messo in vetrina per venderlo." This, I think, loses a lot in translation: "He had a gold tooth, right here, placed so centrally that it looked as though it had been put up for sale in a shop window."

Whether it is symmetry or incongruity that pleases you, there is something for all in the knowledge that Jorma Kaukonen, the lead guitarist of Jefferson Airplane, had/has a gold tooth in his shop window.

Come July, when the land has dried out well enough, the earth around the house will be bull-dozed into some sort of symmetry.  At that point we shall start thinking about the planting ...

Il Gelso as it was ...
Il Gelso as it is today.

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