A small apology for today's subject, but to pretend that this weekend was about anything but sport would be giving my birthday and Billy Piper's leaving do from Dr. Who an over blown sense of importance. No, this weekend saw the Wimbledon climax and the World Cup, or rather Gastro Cup final: bouilibaisse or bolognese, Chablis or Chianti?
With England out, many fans last night pinned allegiance to one team over another partly based on culinary preferences, partly on historical allegiances (Allied vs Axis powers), and partly on holiday preferences (Nice vs Naples). Those with blood ties to either Italy or France, no doubt supported with blind allegiance the team that could lay claim to representing a bit of who they are.
Staunch team allegiance is quite similar to the ritual of getting older. You find that with every year that passes you become less concerned about what others think, and more defined by a sense of personal conviction. Just as blindly supporting a team can make you question your resolve at points of pressure, only to leave you ultimately loyal despite the result, so does growing a year older. That must be why people calm with age. They realise life is fickle, but they are not.
I propose that the RTY years (thiRTY and fouRTY) be reclassified as shorthand for the R eali TY years. The carefree, impulsive, insecurity of the twenties is cast off and you start to take life on in the reality of its consequences. They must also be the best years to be a woman.
Afterall, we finally become honest. In your twenties, you will sit around watching a match about a sport you could care less about and a team you have never heard of, to pretend to share interests. In your RTYs you certainly have better things to do, or you find some. In your RTY's, you aren't scared to say if your partner has upset you, because you no longer fear them getting mad and leaving you. And once you reach RTY something, men no longer have to confess if messing around, somehow you already know. We also become psychic with age.
I exhibited staunch allegiance last night by joining other paesani at an Italian bar in Little Venice. I sat there a year older, supporting Italy, chanting "Ole, Ole, Ole" with chain smoking, passion enthused Italians in evening sunglass wear. But I was there for me, and we were collectively there for a sense of vicarious Italian nationalism.
Well, that and the promise by the bar man of free grappa if we won. But it never came. Just an example of how Italian men get you with charm. They learn from an early age to love women, starting with mamma. When an Italian man meets you for the first time he hones in on one attribute and applauds it as though he were the first to do so. Italian men try and make women love themselves as much as they love them. And that appeals at any age.
Celebrate like the Italians:
Rosé is being celebrated as the wine of the summer after years of being out of vogue. The most common are from the Provence region of France. But in the spirit of Forza Italia try Fiordaliso Pinot Grigio, a blush. It's from Venice, is not too dry, but very soft and fruity. You will thank me and at £5.99/bottle you can take home 3 for 2 at Thresher's for £12. We love a sale. Que bellissima!
Or for the culture vultures, the Modigliani and his models exhibit opened on Saturday at the Royal Academy. His classic nudes should stir some Italian passion. Remember, Friday nights are extended gallery hours until 10PM.