It’s been rather easy of late to take a pop at the Italian PM, and so far the organisation of the G8 (42 of the world’s heads of state crammed into one small, earthquake-prone town; the world’s press herded into tented compounds cut off from the country delegates; accommodation hours from the summit venue; unfinished building work that leaves loos without locks and bedrooms with plasterboard walls; serving staff angry and frustrated because summit visitors can’t speak Italian; food being available only at lunchtime with no access at any other time from anywhere) hasn’t been an overwhelming success either.
On a personal note I lost my phone yesterday. Where and how doesn’t matter, but let it be noted that there is no lost property at the G8 and there are so many people of uniformed authority present everyone can pass the buck.
However, early in the morning yesterday I came across a very feisty woman who was storming round the WiFi tents telling people what to do. At one point she told me I couldn’t sit in a certain seat and I think I looked at her with sudden fear. She immediately laughed, squeezed my hand and led me to another seat which had been reserved. She ripped the reserved sign off the desk and said that she had found me somewhere to work.
I realised last night that if anyone was going to help me find my phone, it was she. With my hand firmly grasped by hers, she marched me round the G8 press camp from “international security officers”, to Caribinieri, to the finance guards (who wear a uniform of light battleship grey with gold trimmings and make sure people pay their taxes). Each met the loss of my phone with solemn conversation on the chances of finding it, on the potential other person who might know more about it. And at each diversionary tactic, my lady brought them back on track, picking up their telephones and telling them to ring whoever they just mentioned, and when they insisted that was impossible, she took them by the hand or shoulder and told them to walk to the person and speak to them. Faced by these burly Italians dressed to kill and oozing macho bravado, her chutzpah was thrilling.
Suffice it to say no one found my phone, but as I left the press compound last night at 10pm the guards at the security gate shouted after me that they would continue the search tomorrow. “Tomorrow, madam. All will be good tomorrow.”
Let us see if tomorrow ever comes.