Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Surviving " The Three Days of the Blackbird"

Coming from a weather-fixated country such as England, it never ceases to amaze me how obsessed Romans are with the weather and how badly they take any downturns. On Italian TV current affairs debates are typically hosted by surgically-enhanced blondes, more suited to traditional English weather forecasts. Winter weather forecasts however, are presented like an “our nation’s at war” announcement by a decorated military airforce major in full uniform. Before digital saw off my TV, I used to watch handsome Major Guido Guidi deliver the bad news; ironically, Guido Guidi means “I drive, you drive”, poetic in a town where few actually can drive. Anyway I guess it makes sense, weather comes from the sky, logical use of the nations otherwise low profile airforce.

Rainman and Roman are of the same mindset when it comes to driving rain. They are both classic no-shows, refusing to leave home. The ill-informed Roman who ventures out on foot without checking with Major Guido first, generally never makes it to their final destination. In a desperate attempt to disassociate themselves from drowning tourists, they eventually scramble into their cars, hands placed firmly on the horns, ready to protest if someone looks like they might actually be getting somewhere.
Last Thursday, to save me from certain death by cold spell, I was warned that “The Three Days of the Blackbird” were approaching (I giorni della Merla). Surely it couldn’t be worse than the scene in “Three Days of the Condor” when Redford steps out for coffee and his whole office are gunned down by a fake postman.. In reality, much worse I am assured. These days mark the three coldest days of the year, which miraculously are the same three days every year, although Romans can’t agree on exactly which: 29th,30th,31st Jan, or a day later depending on who warns you. The tradition has its origins in a Lombardian tale about King Herod, Baby Jesus, blackbirds and opportunistic polenta theft.

As a" New Roman", I realise I’m now obliged to overreact to inclement weather so I got on it immediately.. I made provisions to borrow ski gloves. I went to Gallo and stocked up on woolly tights. I notified my English next of kin. In the end, it felt no different to a mild London winter weekend with an unexpected gift of an uplifting blue sky. I just didn't feel the cold, experience the terror but if I want to make it as a Roman, the secret is not to let on. On Monday morning as my colleagues swapped horror stories about ice on their Smart cars and the rising cost of cashmere, I resisted the temptation to really make them jump with bone-chilling details of English winters; grey, leaden skies for months on end, that feeling of having been immersed in a 1970's Tuppaware box, grey lid firmly in place, imprisoned until Easter regardless of good behaviour. Instead I chimed in that I had finally put my heating on, enough to send them into mass hysteria. Blew it again.

at the top of this website on the right. No post, no email. 
Ice cream's on me in Rome!

No comments:

Post a Comment