Monday, 12 August 2013

Idiosyncrasies of a nation

If I had a pound for every time over the past twenty-odd years I have been asked why I do not live/work/miss/plan to return to Italy, I would have a cushy nest egg set aside. As it is, I don't. Have a nest egg, that is.

The bottom line is that whilst I love returning to see family and friends, I could never envision residing again in a country where bureaucracy is such that merely renewing my Italian passport a couple of years ago entailed:

  • being ordered, literally, to register the three children as Italian citizens (none of whom required further additional passports, thank you very much) before they would even consider my own renewal; 
  • jumping through hoops (with exorbitant costs attached) to get official translations of UK birth certificates authenticated by a notary; 
  • having a consular clerk then tell me that the children's names "were not acceptable" and could not be registered as per their birth certificates (they have my surname as a christian name) even though I asked if we had opted for '[first name] [second name] PelĂ© Champion Big Wig Brass Monkey Loadsamoney Doodah Doodah' that would have been acceptable? She did not think this was remotely amusing;
  • being told - five months later - that the children were, according to the local community records (of my last Italian abode), 'bastards' as it appeared I had given birth out of wedlock (note: I came up trumps here when subsequently pointing out that OH and I a) got married in Italy, b) were legally wed years before the kids were born, and c) had the bans published in the very same local town hall that was laying claim to the children's illegitimacy);
  • receiving - a further four months later - confirmation of Italian citizenship for all three children under their original fully stated names as per their UK birth certificates. So much for 'unacceptable'. More a case of 'made it up on the day'.

And yes, I did eventually get my own (renewed) passport as well.

But no, I have not opted to get ones for them too.

I would probably be asked to prove that I had taken an allegiance oath to Berlusconi and party aficionados prior to giving birth, pledge a life time's devotion to 'Tette e Culo' craptastic TV (that's 'tits and bum' to everyone else), and abide by the ten commandments of tax avoidance.*

So, in order to keep matters far more light hearted, I give you some original footage that, in a comedy of errors, epitomises that "ma che ci vuoi fare?" (trans. "whatcha gonna do?") attitude that prevails in Italy, in an endearing sort of way.

* which are as follows:
  1. if politicians, moguls and financiers fleece the country, follow suit whenever possible (think perverse form of imitation being flattering)
  2. making money and shagging nightclub dancers are acceptable pastimes for prime ministers 
  3. convictions for tax evasion only matter if you are poor
  4. if in doubt, seek a pardon
  5. or a beatification (bribes accepted, cash only, no credit cards please, applicable only post mortem)
  6. if unable to use offshore centres to avoid taxes, state loudly how 'unfair' the law is
  7. use every method available to broadcast how 'unfair' it is
  8. such as your own media empire
  9. if not in possession of point 8 above... uhmm... close your shop in protest
  10. always, always, ALWAYS proclaim your innocence, blame others and put your own interests before the country's
(nb. I may have made some of this up)


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