Monday, November 23, 2009

The Last Straw 24/05/09

Everything is chaos. Everything is Pachamama. 4am is Pachamama – just about closing time on Saturday night. 11am is Pachamama when the cleaning lady is there and my suocera is putting away the groceries they got (my suoceri do the shopping for us, saving us from getting up early in the morning, an enormous help). 3pm siesta time is Pachamama when we’d like to be relaxing on the beach maybe but some tecnico or other is coming to fix something that doesn’t work properly (the dishwasher, the ice machine, the cooker, the freezer – every other day something breaks down …). 9.00am is Pachamama because we are woken by the scooters roaring past below and the church bells ring out their demented melody. After only five hours sleep our brains automatically switch on to Pachamama and to the chores we have to do today to make it work tonight. Am I going mad? It seems like it.

Nice people came in to sample our food this weekend. An Italian Swedish girl with her Icelandic boyfriend on holidays at her parents’ place. They ate quickly and then we offered them a limoncello at the bar. They thought all was lovely. In fact the terrace is lovely, nice lighting, though you can hardly read the menu. It looks like somewhere from the Aeolian Isalands or Greece, with its white-washed walls and stone sculptures courtesy of mi marito’s artistic husband.
A nice crowd of Messina University students came in. I heard them speaking Spanish and it turned out they were all doing PhDs in Spanish history and had a Spanish friend over visiting. She is from Cordoba and said her boyfriend was trying to convince her to move over here, but she didn’t think it would be a good move. ‘Something is missing here,’ she said, when we spoke about the night life. There is a saying she said, that goes in Italy you eat well, but in Spain you party better. I have always thought that. The Italians haven’t quite got the spontaneity and unselfconsciousness that the Spanish have; they are too worried about looking good and the important bella figura to let themselves go. The nightlife here, as I observe from my key position behind the till at weekends, consists of driving around to see where there is anything on, finding a good parking space and then finding a good position from where to watch the other people doing the same as you. This may or may not involve going into a bar to get a drink. A lot of people are quite happy to take up position on the pavement outside and watch the other people posing by in the spindly heels and uniform black and white.

It was great to see these more cultured people coming in, but the music was so loud it was hard to hear them. So we had another little scene at the bar, with mi marito insisting on the house music and egged on by il barman. But I turned it down slightly anyway. We are not some hick disco with loud music just for the sake of it.
Meanwhile, il barman and il cameriere are busy drinking shots at the bar, despite our warning that there was to be no drinking. I watch and sense now is not a good time to say anything. ‘Uno due tre’ and down goes the shot. I just don’t like the whole alcohol element even though that is where a lot of the money comes from. We are still having to build up the ‘magazzino’ and owe the food suppliers a lot of money. I would slow down a bit and stop the specials my husband insists on having on the menu, people are so bowled over by the menu they can’t take in specials, and outside they were squinting at it anyway in the dark and could hardly read it.

The customers come in for drinks from about 11.30 onwards and the restaurant side of things calms down. We have table service for drinks too, which is not a good idea in my opinion because it is harder to make sure they don’t leave without paying, and also they really try it on (and there is no service charge – apparently it would offend the customers and they would just go elsewhere. But are we sure there is no table service charge elsewhere?). For example, one table of six outside on the terrace took ages to decide what they wanted, adding on different things to their cocktails and generally trying to make them as alcoholic as possible (the cocktails are already three times as strong here as they are at home and half the price). They had no sooner got their drinks delivered to them than one of them called me over and said his was too weak and that he wanted another shot in it, and he asked for another straw. Well, il barman assured me it was very strong already, but added more gin to it and blended it again and I had no sooner brought it back up than a girl at the table asked me for another straw. I looked at her and laughed as if to say, you can forget it and don’t try it on with me, and mi marito jumped on in. ‘Don’t treat the customers like that!’ he hissed! I smiled sweetly. ‘My husband will just get you your straw.’

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