being written - not yet completed
Today a new Italian Government was sworn in by the very President who had levered-out the elected Silvio Berlusconi from the Premiership in November 2011, who had then inveigled the Italian people into accepting an unelected executive government for a year, and subsequently, when the elected Silvio Berlusconi judged that the Italians had had enough of the unelected Prime Minister, Mario Monti, and withdrew his party’s support for the executive thereby triggering elections which Mario Monti, seriously overestimating the esteem in which he was held by the Italians, contested and lost, but the outcome of which was three mutualistically antagonistic parties with about 25% of the vote then, following a very brief interregnum when his mandate was expiring and his powers circumscribed by law, at the age of 87, managed to get himself re-elected President for another 7 year term by the morally and ethically bankrupt political class distinguished in its venality only by its incompetence, worked-up the eventual creation of a "grand coalition" Government between the party of Berlusconi and its enemy for twenty years, the principal party of the Italian left, being the very same politicians who were unable to agree on any other person for President (out of a population of 60 million) other than the current one, Giorgio Napolitano.
These are the very people who are to save Italy and whose government, the BBC reports has been greeted with "optimism".
It was reported today that six ministers, including the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister (who respectively belong to the Democratic Party of the Left and Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Liberty party) have their political roots in the Democratic Christian Party which imploded under the weight of its own corruption in the early 1980’s and that two ministers belong to the muscular Catholic Organisation "Communion and Liberation" in which Rick Santorum is a fellow. This last organisation has recently run into difficulties of its own in Italy as leading members, such as the ex-President of the Lombard region, have been charged with corruption, and Investigating Magistrates have executed search-warrants at the Organisation’s Rimini headquarters following fraud enquiries.
It’s not very good really. And it’s not logical. How can anyone realistically expect the very people who have been responsible for Italy’s decline, who are so tenacious in sucking on to power at any cost, who are so unprincipled and so incompetent, now to put things to rights?
to be continued ... this is going to be a long one!
By the end of the evening I couldn’t wait to get home. The uncertainty relating to Fritz’s whereabouts was wearing and the desire to get home and find him there great. Wanting to avoid the difficult feelings that would go with losing the dog, I hoped to find that everything was alright after all. As we came up the Faula driveway, and in front of the house, Hector, for a moment, in the gloom seemed to be Fritz. Everything was alright after all! But then we saw that it was Hector and Fritz was still away from home.
The night gave the possibility that in the morning Fritz would be back at La Faula and so comforted by that hope I went to bed. During the night I slept fitfully and woke-up when I heard Rett barking. Maybe Fritz was back? But in the morning, he wasn’t and it seemed that I would have to confront the fact that Fritz was gone from La Faula for good.
I imagined Fritz happily living with another family that he had followed on an Easter Monday walk and who, taking him for a lost dog, had brought him home and decided to keep him. Or I imagined his little lifeless body lying abandoned on some lonely grass verge beside a road where cars passed indifferent to the fact that he was our pet that we loved.
I had memories of our walks in the winter and the moment I let the dogs out of the cage in the morning and he does a scratchy roll on the gravel. I remembered how Fritz had cried when I went to see him after his hip operation two years ago. I thought of the little Belgian boy, Ossip, who had walked Fritz after the operation as part of his physiotherapy and who in a couple of days would be arriving with his family to see his canine friend.
I felt a great sense of loss but then it seemed ridiculous and out of proportion. Sure, Fritz was a great pet but he was only a dog. I thought of friends who had lost their child to Lou Gehrig’s disease and asked myself how I could permit such a welling of emotion for a small dog when people commonly face much worse. It seemed perhaps indulgent and a bit exaggerated. Then I thought of the expense of Fritz’s hip operation and how he had recovered so well with mobility and without pain. Now all that money would never be depreciated by years of Fritz running free with the other dogs in the fields and on the hill of La Faula. As I passed the paper-recycling bin I saw one of our new paper table mats with an image of the four dogs on it, done by a guest of last year who had been taken by the friendliness of the Faula border collies. Already just printed, the image was a lie as Fritz was no longer or was, at least, no longer of La Faula!
Anna, Fritz’s sister came up. "Come on Annie" I said
"Let’s go and have a look at the old shack"
I pulled on my gumboots (Wellingtons) and Anna and I walked across the field in front of the vineyard towards our neighbour’s shack. I had no hope of finding Fritz. It was a pro-forma action but had to be done just the same. I walked with Anna where I walk often with all the dogs who run and galavant with the pure pleasure of being alive, free, without fear and loved. By now I was getting pissed-off that it should have happened that Fritz was no longer with us. One doesn’t want bad things to happen and this was a bad thing even if he was just a dog. At the minimum, the money we had spent on his hip replacement had not been returned in full. And even if a dog is just an reflexively animated people pleaser, Fritz had given me pleasure and I did love that dog even if that love is, by definition, less than that we can express to a person.
Anna and I approached the shack. There was a tent in front, closed and I couldn’t tell if there were people in it or not. Quietly we moved past the tent and looked into another large, high-roofed white tent where, obviously, the party had been held. Only a couple of black bin bags, full, were present. I was impressed that at the end of the festivities the kids had cleaned everything away. Passing alongside the lean-to on the side of the shack I noticed some abandoned plastic plates with chicken bones. Fritz must have had a great party here! Anna was busy sniffing around, I guess wishing that she too had been at the party. I had hoped that Anna, being a dog, would in some way indicate to me the presence of Fritz, if he was nearby, perhaps hurt, but there were just to many good smells and interesting stories to occupy her!
I reached the door of the shack. I was unsure what was inside and whether there were perhaps kids sleeping there. I gently lifted the latch and pulled the door a little ajar. Inside it was gloomy with the light coming through one small, dirty window. In the dusky light I made out some rows of benches. There was a smell of fire and perhaps a fireplace in the middle of the far wall. But my eye caught a movement at my feet. I looked down. It was Fritz, his little nose pushing out through the opening!
I laughed to see Fritz pushing out through the door and looking up at me with a sheepish face. He was rotund as a sausage, black with soot and had the air of a dog that has had the party of his doggy dreams! "Come on Fritz" I said. "It’s time to go home!"
As I write this Fritz is curled-up outside the Yellow bungalow. Inside are our friends, who came originally as guests, and who lost their child to Lou Gehrig’s disease. These people who come to La Faula twice a year have been coming since October 2000. They have shared La Faula, the way we make it grow, and our trials during those years. They share a love of dogs and know and remember the Maremanni, Minnie, Spotty and Barty and the border collie Nellie, the mother of Fritz and Anna and Rett. During the time of our friendship we shared, incomprehensibly of the profound magnitude of the suffering, their loss.
So I suppose that all loss is a tragedy for those who feel it. And the size of the tragedy is commensurate with the magnitude of the loss. The premature loss of a pet is a small tragedy compared with other things that happen to people. But it hurts all the same.
So when I finish this diary entry, press send and confirm the "Diario modificato regolarmente." page and get up and pass Anna stretched-out on the mat, and Hector underneath the bench next to where I am sitting, and Rett stretched-out on the mat at the entrance to the dining room and then look across to the Yellow Bungalow where Fritz is waiting for his friends to open the door and - if he is very lucky - let him in, I will give thanks for a loss avoided and will savour this moment when all is as it should be and is right in our little world knowing full well that these moments, transient and ephemeral, are the diamonds in the rough of life!
Easter Monday was a busy day at La Faula. In the morning guests who had stayed for the Easter holiday period left and in the afternoon friends came and we sat around the wood-burning stove eating well, drinking and talking. There was lots of talking!
During our time in the room with the stove the dogs came in and out, begged food off us, got banished outside but then sidled in with the next person to enter the house. I was vaguely aware that Fritz was not among the dogs but assumed that he had found something better to do outside. Eventually our friendly and cosy afternoon in company drew to a close, our friends left and we had a short break before being due at the Trattoria Ai Cons where we had been invited for dinner. It was dusk and time to round-up the dogs and take them to their sleeping cage where they are the stars of the "Sleeping Dogs" webpage. Fritz was no-where to be seen. So we called and hollered but he didn’t turn up.
Now, it’s not so unusual for the dogs to make little visits to the fields around La Faula. If something interesting gets their attention such as a badger set or a field freshly sprayed with liquid manure they depart for a little adventure. But they are never out of earshot and a good bellow, such that the hill echoes with dog names, invariably brings them back. So it was perplexing, worrying and saddening when Fritz didn’t come back. We searched the ponds and recalled the people passing through La Faula on Easter Monday rambles. We hoped that in his friendly way he hadn’t attached himself to some other family and was about to start a new life with someone else. Worse, we recalled that our dogs are not familiar with roads or cars and we had visions of him slack and lifeless beside some road. We wondered if his hip replacement had given out and he was injured in some wood around La Faula. All in all it was pretty sad. But just before leaving for the Ai Cons trattoria we noticed that some local kids were having a traditional Easter camp in a shack in one of our neighbours fields. As Fritz likes to go and visit the neighbour when he is working the vineyards in front of the shack, it suddenly seemed probable that Fritz was there and enjoying plenty of pats and begging food off the kids.
It seemed so likely that Fritz was with the kids that we didn’t go to find him. The field with the shack abuts La Faula and there are no roads so we guessed that Fritz would make his way back home once the party was over and, the next day not being a holiday, the kids went home themselves. The kids were local and would have known that Fritz was from La Faula so we had no concerns for his safety. We didn’t really want to bust-in on th kid’s party so we departed for the Ai Cons where Elda and Alcide and the waitresses were relaxing after a busy Easter. But it was a case of salt having lost its taste. Normally I love an evening at the Ai Cons in the company of the usual’s who congregate there. But on that Easter Monday evening I felt concerned. When a dog is away, of course, one imagines that it will all turn out alright and the dog will come home. But one fears that the story may not in fact have a happy ending and in that uncertainty uneasy grows the soul!
to be continued.