Thursday, July 06, 2006

A controversial question, being Italian and memento mori

Sunday was hot and humid and as I dragged my weary feet through the greenery of Hyde Park, wishing that I could strip off my shorts and shirt and plunge into the cool pool of water running through a shaded cove in the park, I came upon a Middle Eastern family on a similar stroll, the boys and men all dressed in cool white tobes, the women swathed in black abayas. At the risk of provoking controversy, I couldn't help but think "Who on earth decided that women should wear black, a colour that from my early physics lessons I recall, absorbs heat in soaring temperatures?" And that men should wear cool heat-repelling white? Convention, culture, religion? It did seem rather unfair to my ignorant simplistic mind......

It's official, I'm Italian now. After the dazzling performance of Italy in their semi-final match against Germany, I can't help but join the Italian fan team. I've already blogged before about how Wole Soyinka calls the Italians the Nigerians of Europe -from the flamboyance to the garrulity to the relaxed attitude to rules exemplified on my first visit to Italy by the two carabinieri I spotted smoking right under the no smoking sign in the airport, it's obvious we share a lot in common....so come Sunday I'll be screaming Italia with the rest of them.....

John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister has got himself in yet another muddle. Following quickly on the revelations of an affair with his diary secretary and an unfortunate photograph of him playing croquet on the lawns of the grand mansion that was part of his perks of office, comes the revelation that he had spent a weekend at the ranch of Philip Anschutz, a US billionaire who is hoping to get planning permission to open the UK's first super casino; and that Prescott (or Two Jags as he used to be fondly known because of his two official Jaguar vehicles) had held meetings with him no less than SEVEN times in the last two years. Allegedly they had discussed their shared fondness for William Wilberforce, the abolitionist who was born in Hull, Prezza's constituency. The reaction of the Labour Government to this new scandal shows just why they do not get it. How can they not see the incongruity of someone who made much of his starting life as a ship steward becoming so seemingly dazzled by the lifestyles of the rich and famous? It is the pure arrogance of power that has dogged their every step in the recent past. Perhaps it's inevitable, having been in power as long as they have. I think the Romans had it right, when they had someone walk beside conquering generals in their victory parades, muttering in their ear "memento mori- Remember thou art mortal" Perhaps that's what Tony Blair and Obasanjo need, a constant reminder of their mortality and infallibility.

Oh, by the way I read Cloth Girl over the last two days and it's a good read- it starts off in a slightly pedestrian way but it picks up and is particularly interesting in the way it explores Ghanaian and English cultures and attitudes in the 40s and 50s.The language and style may be a trifle simple, but it's a gripping story of two women, one English and one Ghanaian in colonial Accra and how their lives become intertwined......

I finally read the Nigeria story in Tokyo Calling and it's called The Flyover and is set near Balogun market, under the bridge- I think the author captures the sense of Lagos well andI was only sad that it was so short......

Next up on my reading list- two novels by young British Asians- Gautam Malkani's Londonstani and Nirpal Singh Dhaliwal's Tourism

3 comments:

Goddess of Sorts said...

was checkin out profiles and discovered yours. i LOVED waiting for an angel!! a squatters tale was good too, real funny. (God bless the AWS) Abssynian Chronicles however i didn't really appreciate. the style, not the story (i'm Ugandan). nway, interestin blog u hav here!

Mona said...

Yep you're right abt that italian-naija thing...definitely, I see so many similarities..with the men.

What's this Nigeria story in Tokyo thing? Could you enlighten me please?

P.S. Check out the forum I currently have going on my blog for a week. xxx

ngozi said...

i'd never seen the clothing rules in that way before. but now that you mention it, it just supports my strong suspicion and disdain for religion and religion's attitudes to women. by this, i mean all religions.