Some sheep spotted in via dei Serpenti
I have now spent 3 weeks out of my planned 4 in Rome. Today is the first I spent entirely at home, in Leslie Caldwell’s flat near Piramide, which I have rented. I worked rather hard all day (relieved by trips to the adjacent cafe), trying to finish a write-up of a talk for Bob Colenutt, promised a year ago but just too hard to do. I made a lot of progress and the result so far is at http://societycould.wordpress.com. Do please look and comment if you have time. The other thing I did was the washing. Tricky because it keeps raining: shocking for everyone here because Rome should be dry and hot in May. But I’m on my third umbrella. The informal flexible economy works well in the umbrella department: when it rains umbrella men appear everywhere. (What are these men doing the rest of the time?) The asking price is always 5 but the acceptable price is always 3. So I spent 9 euros so far on rain.
This evening my friend Giorgio Piccinato asked me for a drink. So I went into town—to his flat in the vicolo di Buon Consiglio (alley for good advice, roughly). We progressed to a meal – spaghetti with garlic, chile and oil with some added powdered ¿roe or something. Good anyway. We talked about boring planning articles, ambitious colleagues, mutual friends, family stuff, a possible trip to a rural lake next week. Nice.
Coming home I waited for the 175 bus under my umbrella in the via dei Fori Romani, feling very ambivalent about ancient Rome. Such massive structures and achievements, but just by the bus stop is a tourist info panel about the casa de pacis whose highlight was (in the year +71) a gigantic marble mural cadastral map of the city. So ‘peace’ was clarity about private property rights. Robert Frost would have liked the ancient world. Ambivalence seems fully in order.
I was pleased to have my earphones and be able to have some music. A couple of days ago the Guardian fucked up its iPhone Application in some way (generating angry messages from Nepal, Brasil and the Khyber Pass). This meant me ‘restoring’ all the software on my phone which is a very cumbersome business… and anyway my music is a complete jumble. I found myself coming home with Bach piano music, some reggae, a curious calypso about the Coronation (1953), and then suddenly Camden Community Radio with Angela and Marian iterviewing Una Sapiets, Phil Jeffries, Bob McMahon and other old friends about the local history of King’s Cross. Good. Strange jumble though. Now it is Peter Bishop talking so I realise I can switch off.
In the early evening I had a quick check of BBC and Guardian. I was enraged to see that they both reported ‘markets falling’ as traders fretted about the possible deflationary effects of state expenditure cuts in Europe. Can you believe it? All of us on the left have been warning for a year or more about the dire consequences which will ensue from these cuts. Suddenly the financial institutions think about it. Who are they, these morons who rule the world? …and who demanded the cuts?
LATER 17 May. On saturday 15th, after it stopped pouring with rain, I set off into the city centre at night because Rome is taking part in the all-night-free-museums project and I wanted to see de Chirico. When I got to via Nazionale there was a queue of maybe 800 people and it was raining again. So I trudged home rather dejected – to find in the metro station here a concert by the staff band of the metro workers. About 40 men doing a big-band show, smart in their official suts with logos. A few hundred travellers stopping to be amazed, surprised, smiling, a few dancing.. Nice.
Then on sunday evening 16th a good dinner at Silvia’s with friends speaking combinations of It / Fr / Eng and we did it OK on the whole. Coming home I found the number 3 tram (actually an acting bus, but universally called a tram) does not run after 2200 on Sunday so again there I was trudging home when one of Silvia’s friends who had been at dinner passed me on her scooter, recognised me from behind in the dark (amazing) stopped and put me on her pillion. Thus it was that I had a long, and no too scarey, scoter ride from Colisseo to Piramide. To celebrate I took a grappa in the cafe on the traffic island. They have mice under the tables.
Everyone here talks about the weather all the time. Boring. Lecture went well today – a good version of King’s Cross. But I felt a bit shattered after it: a cold coming?