Tuesday 24 August 2021

Adventures in Babysitting/B.A.'s Birthday

Rome: frequent conversation topic.

My right arm aches, and so I have been keeping typing to a minimum. I am working though--I got an email from a concerned reader whose wife had noticed I haven't written any articles for work lately. It's because I've been pulled up into the editorial team. My decision-making powers are limited to my colleagues' sentence structures and diction, though. 

Recent excitements include babysitting a four-year-old who has put his parents on the stage and thus needed to be entertained while his mother workshopped in London and his father played two performances here. Torquil, as he is not really named, informed me that his mother is not on the stage, but on the floor, and only his father is on the stage. I presume this is a reflection on their most habitual concert venues. Torquil also resisted being called a Stage Child, saying that he is too young to go on the stage. 

Torquil and I got to know each other on the bleachers (stone steps, really) at an open air venue, and our most exciting moment came when he picked up a tiny spider and was thoroughly grossed out. He asked me if I had ever picked up a spider, and I had to admit that I had never picked one up with my bare fingers and that he was very brave.  Our next exciting moment was when one of Torquil's markers went rolling down the rain-slippery steps and I chased after it. I looked back up at Torquil to see that, for the first time, he was laughing. 

Another excitement was Benedict Ambrose's birthday, and so I took the heavy chains off the coffers and sprinkled money liberally on cocktails and supper at an Italian restaurant B.A. says is "fun." In the morning he got to open his card from me (which included the promise of new trousers, which naturally I could not buy on my own) and a box from my parents, which included brand-new bedroom slippers from Barbour. We were both very impressed, and there is even a chance the slippers (being Barbour) were Made in Britain. 

My parents, frugal all their days, have begun to splash out on presents in their old age, and not only is B.A. now tromping round in Barbour slippers, we spend a good chunk of our mornings wrapped in white terrycloth robes with "ARMANI" written down the arms. This is such a contradiction to the shouts of "You'd only be paying for the label!" I heard throughout my childhood that I find it worthy of mention here. Meanwhile, the children of this neighbourhood are sometimes given designer labels as Christian names, so we are not shy about going outside in our Armani bathrobes to pick an apple from the tree or a slug off the rhubarb. 
The restaurant B.A. finds fun is called Bar Napoli, and I suspect its most diverting quality is its decent house red, which costs less than £17 a bottle. That said, the servers are actually Italian and speak enough tourist-aimed Italian for B.A. to understand, and we speak Italian back at them. The food is not the kind of Italian food we eat in Italy but the kind the more daring non-Italian Scots have eaten since 1965 or so. At the table next to us, a family ordered their dishes by the numbers.

We had asked our parish priest to join us, and he demurred as he thought it would be too noisy, and actually he was right. He would not have enjoyed the Aerosmith in the background, or gotten misty (as I did) at John Waite's "Missing You." 

B.A. ate everything on his plate and 2/3s of what was in the bottle, whereas I saved half of my dish and demanded a box (una scatola per domani!), just so I would have room for a cannoli. (That would be a cannolo, spellcheck.) Despite saying he couldn't and being in actual pain from overeating, B.A. helped me eat the cannoli, which came with ice-cream and whipped cream and a wafer and a small Italian paper flag. 

So yes, that was very fun. We talked about Rome, and when we are likely to go back, and about the fact that his Italian teacher there and my Italian teacher here are coincidentally from the same small town. We pondered the idea of visiting this small town, and we reminisced about our Christmas in Umbria. In Umbria, unlike in Edinburgh, we feasted on chestnuts, truffles and wild boar. 

The bill for this meal, including la mancia, came to £70. 

This morning I am contemplating renting a holiday flat in North Berwick in October, since it seems highly unlikely we would be able to go to Italy or Poland for our autumn break without a great deal of expense and unpleasantness. Another subject of B.A.'s birthday supper conversation was how grateful we are we spent the entire month of October 2021 in Rome. 


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