Down from nosebleed country to Latiano last night almost on the coastal plain for dinner. It was an all British affair, our first since Christmas. There was a Scotsman, an Englishman and a Welshman, no not the start of a joke but who was represented there. Rather than tell endless jokes about Irishmen as there were none present or certainly none that owned up we instead turned initially to the vexed question of Enel electricity bills. Least you are now thinking oh my god how do we avoid any British Puglia dinner parties don’t worry the wine flowed and the subjects became far more fun. However Enel bills are a source of discussion as like many things in Italian life they are completely unfathomable. The Italians who are far more pragmatic wonder why we Brits try to understand and make sense of things that even if we could we could never change anyway. Enel bills ? just pay them Mike, there is food to be eaten and wine to be drunk. Move on and of course they are right so I won’t go on about the pages and pages of detail that arrives every two months that can keep an expat gainfully employed on long winter nights going through it all almost until the next bill arrives but still never understanding how they ever got to €264 .
Enel are a virtual monopoly in Italy the little competition here is stifled by the fact that if your bill doesn’t come from Enel then they aren’t going to turn up to fix the downed line or the blown junction box in your field. The competition meanwhile aren’t allowed to do any repairs so you are snookered. Transparency therefore is not a word that enters into their customer service code of conduct even if they had one which they don’t. They are big on wind power now and especially down here in Puglia where wind turbines are springing up everywhere. The UK produced some figures the other day and they probably represent similar figures to Italy as it is really being driven by the EU. By 2020 10% of the UK’s power will be from wind. CO2 emissions will be cut by 5% using wind instead of coal power stations and subsidies to producers building wind turbines will have reached £8 billion a year. About £350 of every bill will be to pay for subsidies.
In fact the natural gas now found of Southern Italy and the shale deposits in Lancashire are more green than wind. They will cut emissions by 33% if developed and add €15Billion to the economy rather than cost the tax payer but that’s not EU policy unfortunately
Poor Vincenzo Cerami died last Wednesday after a long illness. He wrote the screen play for the super Italian film Vita e Bella or Life is beautiful. His script was nominated for an Oscar.
The music did win an Oscar
as did the film.
Let me finish back at the dinner party. Mention was made that Alan Wicker had died. He was the first of travel presenters on British TV long before Judith Chalmers or Michael Palin or Rick Steves in the USA. What was nice was that not a soul around the table had anything but praise for him and the way he presented. He , of corse, was travelling long before package holidays and jumbo jets. He travelled in a blazer, tie, white shirt and cavalry twills and never even in extreme tropical heat do I remember him taking off his jacket. He brought the world of travel into our sitting rooms and many around the table ended up in Italy because he instilled wanderlust into us in the 1950’s and early 60’s.
He was of course lampooned and impersonated by everyone and indeed entered such a competition himself in secret and was miffed when he only came third ! Monty Python had a go as you would expect.