The Sadness of Sicilians in England

There’s often something forlorn about Italians in England, isn’t there? An air of pathos hangs around them, especially in summer when they are gradually realising that it really, truly isn’t going to stop raining, not today, not before the end of their holiday, not ever.

They look tragi-comically out of place, what with their glowing tanned skin, summer clothes, and inability to understand why our massive pound notes stick out of the top of their Italian leather wallets.

 

rain coat uk seller

 

They stand hunched on street corners, their brightly-coloured kagools getting whipped by icy wind from three different directions, developing earache whilst waiting for friends they have arranged to meet, outdoors, exposed to the elements.

Meanwhile English people, who have sensibly arranged to meet their friends inside a cosy pub, occasionally glance out of Ye Olde leaded window at them, with a pint of beer in their hands.

If they come here on long-term study courses, they sooner or later sort their wardrobe out. They discover that, in England, you can actually buy footwear that is waterproof! Then they venture into alternative foodstuffs to pasta, learning to appreciate classic English delicacies such as jacket potatoes, Jaffa Cakes and gravy. They sometimes even acquire a liking for tea with milk (mainly since nobody in the UK will sell them that abomination known as “lemon tea”).

Eventually, their glowing olive complexions gradually fade off to the same brilliant white as English people. They start blending in so well that this includes the outbreaks of pimples and greasy hair that accompany the classic magnolia complexion of our sceptred isle.

 

Tourists-seek-shelter-from-the-rain-in-Trafalgar-Square

 

My dear Hubby is proceeding through this evolution, now that we are in England. He is currently at the stage of wardrobe modification.

In Italy, you have this thing called Cambio di Stagione, or “Change of Season.” It has nothing to do with autumn leaves or spring cuckoos. It is something laborious that you do to your wardrobe.

You do it like this:

  1. Go to the supermarket and buy lots of mothballs, made only of organic lavender because Italians will never buy anything stinky. (They even have toilet cleaner that smells like Cool Water aftershave by Davidoff.)
  2. Buy some new coat hangers, and a few large bendy cardboard, plastic-coated boxes which are overpriced and will have disintegrated by next year (to replace the ones you wasted money on last year)
  3. Extract all winter clothes from your wardrobe
  4. Clean them, replace missing buttons and do any other minor repairs
  5. If anything is looking a bit too “last season” and could harm your reputation as an Italian, throw it away. Alternatively, cut it up and use it as dusters.
  6. Fold away everything else and put it into the new wobbly boxes.
  7. Pull out last year’s wobbly boxes, full of your summer clothes, from the top of the wardrobe.
  8. The wardrobe is now empty. Use last year’s old poncho and now-embarrassing hipster jeans to dust every nook and cranny till it shines.
  9. Wash and iron all summer clothes. If anything has started to look dated since last autumn, show it how you feel about it by cutting it up and using it to clean the barbeque. In my case, also throw most of your summer clothes away as you are now too fat to get into them.
  10. Hang everything else on hangers.
  11. Shove the new wobbly boxes of winter clothes up to the top of the wardrobe.

I think my dear Hubby has come to the realisation that the “Change of Season” in England will be slightly different. The way I usually do it is as follows:

  1. Push your thick, 80 denier tights to the back of the drawer.
  2. Pull out your thinner, 40 denier tights and put them at the front.
  3. Have a cup of tea.

 

English tourists in St. Mark's Square, Venice; they haven't actually noticed the adverse weather conditions.
English tourists in St. Mark’s Square, Venice; they haven’t actually noticed the adverse weather conditions.

 

I don’t really know how you do a change of season for men in England. Perhaps this would work:

  1. Give up trying to find the union jack umbrella that you are sure you left in the back of the car, the blue one you think you might have lent to your friend at your English college, and the Tweetie Pie one you swear you left in your kid’s primary school umbrella stand by the secretary’s office. And about three others, which were broken and poked you in the eye anyway.
  2. Buy a new one in a summery colour.

Actually, that’s it!

I shall buy Hubby a new umbrella. Then he will be properly ready for the coming summer season, English style.

 

easter-umbrella

 

Advertisements

30 thoughts on “The Sadness of Sicilians in England

  1. Cool post and I love the tourists in Venice

    Mrs Sensible organises our twice yearly seasonal clothing change, although I refuse to take part in it. When she start making noises such as, I might send our winter coats to the dry cleaners, I start hiding my favourite woolly jumpers for my next summer trip to the UK

    And at the end of the summer I hide my flip flops and a pair of my shorts, just in case we get a sunny enough day for a Barbeque .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha! Good for you. Once those out-of-season clothes vanish, there is literally no finding them again till the next year.
      But where you you hide them? I need advice on this myself…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha haaaaaa! Very good point. Without your waterproof boots you might not be able to come over and enjoy the English summer at all!

        Like

  2. You have forgotten to talk about the bowler hat 🙂 — But true, season changes for Italians. Where I live in Frankfurt, there is a little Italian cafe and ice maker shop, and the owners close their shop over the winter months and go back to Italy (and work as ski instructors or whatever). You realize that spring started when they re-open their shop!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gosh I love Toledo. And yes, I can imagine how freaked out the locals were. They just seem to fail utterly when it rains, the way we do in England when it snows… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Some time ago I visited Bergen, Norway, where it rains more than Sligo in the West of Ireland.

    They tell the story of the Sicilian tourist who asked a local lad how long had it been raining?

    “I don’t know,” he replied. “I’m only fifteen.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ha haaaaa!!! absolutely brilliant!!!
      Reminds me of my favourite joke from Edinburgh, where I was told “It only rains twice a year on Scotland: once from January to June, and the second time from July to December”

      Like

  4. Ciao from New Jersey, down the shore on Long Beach Island today. This was such a great post, but I have to tell you that the ‘Cambio di Stagione’ was something completely, I mean COMPLETELY unknown (and even confusing) to my Sicilian husband. Even today, his closet is stuffed to the gills with all of his clothes – I don’t know how he stands it. Changing clothes for a new season is almost a full day tradition for me…I love finding things that were packed away, even finding things never worn but purchased at a deep discount at the end of last year’s season.

    I have never been to England but would love to visit….Susan Branch wrote a diary-like book about her visit to the National Trust gardens and sites in England. It was a very sweet read, full of her beautiful watercolor paintings. I love reading your posts, and admire your ability to handle change so well. xxoo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think Cambio di Stagione is something mysterious that women do, which men just cannot fathom no matter how good they are at other domestic work. It is like childbirth and bikini line waxing, something that will only ever be understood by women!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The change of seasons is much easier in the US (this does not apply to tiny NYC apartments, btw). Enter closet, see winter clothes on one side, shift body and voila, see summer clothes on right. Do not do much to closet unless the rod collapses or you are moving out of the house. Oh and save everything because surely you will get back into it — and of course it is all eventually coming back into style. When you run out of closet room, convert your guest room into an extra closet, buy armoires for your basement, and use the front hall coat closet because you can pile your guest’s costs somewhere when they visit.

    Like

    1. Ha haaaa! I have been doing that for so long that you can open the TV cabinet and find tightly folded, tiny size 12 jumpers in there that I will only get back into if I develop a strange wasting disease. I really have to draw the line somewhere!!

      Like

  6. I feel sorry for your husband! I spend a year or so in England when I was doing my Masters and it was hard getting used to it after the tropical Summers of Pakistan! On the plus side, I barely noticed the measly Pakistani winter when I moved back 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I am expecting that next time we go to visit Sicily he will be complaining all the time that it is too hot!!! He actually seems to be liking the ENglish weather. He has certainly got over his original obsession that our son would die of hypothermia if we let him out of doors without an anorak and a fur hat on. (Poor kid kept breaking out into gushing sweats!)

      Like

  7. My daughter will be going to college in the north of England later this year. She thinks she will enjoy the change of seasons, the cold, the rain and the smaller number of daylight hours. Of course she will enjoy these things for the first year and then she will begin to pine for the unchanging blue skies of California. It’s quite simple really. We just want what we don’t have.

    Like

    1. Yes, that is true. So you reckon I am only going to enjoy the English weather for this first year? Gosh darn it! I thought I had found a way to cure myself permanently of that pining for sunnier climes…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent stuff. I recall having an Italian policeman to stay with us who came from just over the water from Sicily. My wife was supposed to teach him English. Sadly as a conscript he was not keen and was desperately homesick, had very salty pasta every day, and his grandmother rang him every afternoon, I suspect to see if he’d changed his underwear. He was permanently cold ( not helped by his wardrobe of t-shirt and jeans ) and possibly the most unhappy guest we ever had. He spoke no more English when he left than when he arrived. The look of relief when he left was one of the rare moments when he smiled.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh dear, poor kid doesn’t sound like much of a traveller!!!
      Meanwhile my husband is already urging me to sell the house in Sicily and has decided we’re never going back. He doesn’t even seem all that interested in returning for holidays!!!
      “Well, I’ve seen Sicily already” he commented last night.

      Like

  9. I am so looking forward to the time when I am spending more than one season in Sicily. I don’t think that I’m brave enough to do a winter in our big old unheated stone house but am looking forward to spring and fall there.

    Like

  10. I love the seasons, and even when I used to spend 3 months a year im Thailand i yearned for a good COLD downpour. I just hate having wet feet but discovered that the answer was to invest in a pair of Wellingtons. Meantime, I didn’t take them to Rome with me 3 weeks ago and it rained solidly for six days. Wet shoes, wet socks and wet me – I was only saved from a bad bout of pneumonia but liberal draughts of red wine and a limoncello to end the meal with.

    Love having you in the UK, but I do miss your letters from Sicily.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think limoncello can kill pretty much all germs…. Jn My husband’s family the limoncello his grandmother made was legendary because they poured it into plastic cups and it dissolved them into goo on the table!
      I do agree with you about wanting all the seasons. In Sicily you do get winter eventually but it is short and so late coming. If it hasn’t come by November everyone starts to really frustrated.

      Like

  11. I have to plead the point that only men from Surrey possess umbrellas. If you come from my part of the world you greet winter with a new set of t-shirts and a red car coat. Then you leave the coat in the wardrobe.
    I think personally that those from sunny climes like Italy suffer from sheer disbelief when they are warned of our climate, and hence arrive hideously under-prepared.
    Incidentally, Jaffa Cakes and gravy is something I haven’t tried. I shall certainly do so now.

    Like

  12. There’s a second part to the English ritual which involves spending the next few weeks frequently visiting whichever drawer now contains your winter woollies, so you can put them on again. Ne’er cast a clout and all that.

    Liked by 1 person

So, what do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s