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.
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.
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:
- 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.)
- 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)
- Extract all winter clothes from your wardrobe
- Clean them, replace missing buttons and do any other minor repairs
- 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.
- Fold away everything else and put it into the new wobbly boxes.
- Pull out last year’s wobbly boxes, full of your summer clothes, from the top of the wardrobe.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hang everything else on hangers.
- 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:
- Push your thick, 80 denier tights to the back of the drawer.
- Pull out your thinner, 40 denier tights and put them at the front.
- Have a cup of tea.
I don’t really know how you do a change of season for men in England. Perhaps this would work:
- 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.
- 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.