The Identity Crisis edition

Bassano del Grappa is a medium-sized town in North


It nestles in the lee of the ‘prealpi’ or the small Dolomites

…..not too far from its larger and more famous siblings…..

…..Venice, Padua, Vicenza, Verona etc etc etc…..

…..and therein lies the crux of the matter…..

…..Too small to be regarded as a great city…..

…..But too much of everything else to be simply…..

… of…..

‘ 101 Beautiful Small Towns in Italy’, Rizzoli, 2004

…..The womenfolk feel restricted and limited…..

…..almost hemmed in…..

…..They are literally the ‘Real Housewives of Bassano’

…..Welcome !

…..Benvenuti !

…..To Bassangeles ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

They dream of Los Angeles by night…..

…..and get Bassano by day !

…..They are the Bassangelese…..!

…..Well, the fully formed ones are…..

…..Let’s call their younger aspirants…..

…..Bassangelinas ! ! !

Now said ladies pitch up at school to collect their offspring

…..dressed for Paris fashion week

…..for Rodeo Drive

…..for Bond Street






It is a roll call of the great and the good in the fashion

world…..particularly the Italian fashion world…..

…..and it is only the school run ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Oh, did I forget the turbo charged 4X4’s that accessorise

these clothes horses

Bassangeles even has its own fashion son…..

…..Renzo Rosso started DIESEL in 1978…..

…..He is BASSANGELE’S very own B.S.D. ! ! ! ! ! (see p.s.)

…..and just to underline it he became a father again this year

at the age of 60

He is now worth $4 billion

…..Err, rags to riches ! ! ! ! !

Now the population of Los Angeles is 4 million…..

…..Bassangeles is 40,000 !

Los Angeles has Grauman’s Chinese Theatre…..

…..Bassangeles has the screen in the park (mosquito

repellent a necessity)

Los Angeles has Venice Beach…..

…..Bassangeles has Venice (but it’s 40 miles away)

It’s a simple case of (not very) close but absolutely no cigar

The Bassangelese are long on means (money) and (very) high

on hope

Still it makes for a bella passeggiata and a very interesting school


Personally, the G-man wouldn’t change a hair on its head ! ! ! ! !


ps B.S.D. is the acronym for Big Swinging Dick


The Black Hole of Hernia Bay edition

The G-man pulled back the curtains this morning

…..and spying blue skies

…..immediately slipped into his shorts and set out for his

constitutional pant down to the sea

He had barely gone 400 metres when he was hailed by

a foreign female voice…..

‘Sir, sir, excuse me’

Quick check…..



Possible damsel in distress…..check

He hove over…..

Sitting in a car and looking like she wanted to destroy the

item in her hand, she said…..

‘I am looking for Leeds Castle but this (object in hand) GPS

has made me go round Herne Bay five times. It won’t let me

get out of Herne Bay ! ! ! ! !’


I leant in the car window and couldn’t resist saying…..

‘Has it occurred to you the universe is trying to tell you something?’

I think she had left her sense of humour in Canada because she

didn’t laugh !

The G-man did his bit for international relations and set her on her

escape route out of Hernia Bay

So back to the title of this post…..

The title refers to the Stephen Hawking type of black holes rather

than the Calcutta variety

Actually the word HOLE would do nicely

Enough said !

Incredibly, in 1883, Herne Bay was considered by the government

to be the ‘healthiest watering place in England’

Its only economy then was tourism or the ‘healthmaking’ industry

as it was known at the time

Even more incredibly, the first reference to an individual going to

the coast for health reasons (sea air and sea bathing) dates back

to 1540…..

…..Yes, you guessed it…..

…..Said person, Judge Finiox by name, went to Herne Bay

So in the immortal words…..

‘Where did it all go wrong?’

Nowadays, Hernia Bay boasts more tattoo parlours per capita

than any other town in the country ! ! !

It boasts more mobility scooters per capita than any other

country on the entire planet ! ! ! ! !

Oh… does have one G-man

But not for long because this time next week he will be doing a

Peter, Paul & Mary

Confused ?

‘Leaving on a jet plane’ was a 1969 hit for the group who

couldn’t come up with a proper name for themselves so

they just went by their christian names, Peter, Paul & Mary

Watch out Bassangelese ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !



The Person to Person edition

In 1974 (some of you weren’t born yet) the Scottish soul

group, The Average White Band, wrote this song for their

‘White’ album

It’s about separation and missing the one you love…..

… far so good…..

….. ! ! !

…..Look, even big boys cry and in sober moments some

hairy rugby players miss their partners

The A.W.B. were basically saying (singing) that telephone

calls are OK (though sometimes troublesome) but nothing

beats the real thing

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell sang about it in 1968…..

‘Ain’t nothing like the real thing, (baby)’

Both songs are guaranteed to make the hair on the back of

your neck stand on end…..

…..assuming you are alive and still take an active interest in

…..etc etc etc

So much for the 60s (Marv) and the 70s (the band that proved

that whilst white men can’t jump they do have soul)…..

…..and fast forward to the 80s…..

…..and portable home hand sets…..

…..Well, if being able to take a pee while you talk to the one that

‘floats your boat’ turns you on…..

…..then this was your decade ! ! ! ! !

… fast forward to the 90s…..

… telephones arrived…..

…..the possibilities were now endless ! ? ! ?

… could be doing ANYTHING



…..whilst still talking to the one you love

…..Now that is a bit creepy, probably best not to go there

(She, ‘Why are you out of breath’ He,’ I’m in the gym on

the cross trainer’)

…..and now


…..move over Star Trek

…..and fast forward to the 21st century teenies


Now you can look at the object of your heart’s desires

whilst you sweet talk your way to hell in a hand cart

Well, it eliminates all the ‘cross training opportunities’ ! ! !

But it’s a bit like being in a lap dancing bar (So I hear ! ! ! ! !)

…..You can look but you can’t touch

…..As frustrating as being a pyrotechnist in a petrified forest

The G-man doesn’t have a solution to this conundrum…..


…..and I’m not going to cavil…..

…..don’t you miss those days when you stood in a phone box

with the rain beating down outside…..

…..your money running out

…..your sweet nothings being interrupted by crackles

…..and the bloke outside banging on the glass door asking

how long you’re going to be

Well, I do



The Blues edition

Last night the G-man got the blues…..

…..well, actually he got soul

… The Brixton Blues Kitchen

The No 3 G-ette chauffeured the G-man

The No 1 G-ette had put our names on the door

It was a simple case of straight in, straight up to the bar…..

…..and straight onto the No 1’s champagne

Woo hooooooooo

The No 1 G-ette dj-ed away playing obscure but brilliant 60s soul

‘I’m Yours’…..Betty Wilson and the 4 Bars

‘Walk on into my Heart’…..Bobbie Smith & Dream Girls

‘Fire’…..Grace Love and the True Loves

And, and, and bloody and ! ! ! ! !

Then one of Britain’s best kept secrets took to the stage…..

The James Hunter Six…..

…..BRILLIANT ! ! ! ! !

……the keyboard player was genius…..

… a white Stevie Wonder on speed !

Then more of the No 1 G-ette

Then The Atlantic Soul Orchestra went on stage

This was exactly like a hit parade of the Stax and Atlantic record


Hard hitting, authentic sounds from the golden age of soul

Otis Redding

Sam & dave

Wilson Pickett

Etc and so on

Apart from the singer they were all white boys dressed exactly

like the Blues Brothers…..

… suits, white shirts and skinny black ties

They had the place jumping…..

…..and I mean JUMPING

Now although white boys can’t jump, we can…..


…..especially when you’ve got two G-ettes shimmy-ing

around you…..

After this the No 1 G-ette had to get back to work and we

headed for the exit and home

Now if you ever needed evidence that London is being

gentrified, then this night would have sufficed…..

…..Brixton used to be a jewish ghetto…..

…..then it became a black caribbean stronghold

…..last night the only black people were the doormen and the

singer with the Atlantic Soul Orchestra…..

…..Brixton is now officially a white, middle class enclave

You can eat at the Brixton Blues Kitchen (hence the name !)…..

…..but we were too busy dancing and drinking

…..and having Fun

… when we got home at 2am we did the traditional thing and

made cheese toasties with Branston pickle


Soul music, champagne, cheese and pickle toasties, the G-ettes

There was only one thing that could have made the evening even


…..but I’m not telling ! ! ! ! ! ! !



The Madonna Addiction edition

La Dolce Vita has a problem…..

…..The country is addicted to the Madonna

And Mama is the Madonna substitute

So two little problems need to be resolved…..


… does Mama have children without the

grunting, groaning, moaning efforts of Papa ?

Frankly, she can’t !


Who is actually the boss here ?

The answer is not straightforward…..

In the north of Italy the answer is simple

Mama ! ! ! ! !

But the pretence is maintained that Papa is in charge

As long as everyone (starting with Mama) acts as if Papa

is in charge then…..

…..Papa is as happy as a ‘maiale nella merda’ (pig in shit)

So it’s simply all a great big game…..

For example…..

…..Mama to car salesman ‘Let me ask my husband which one

he would like’

…..Mama to Papa ‘Tell that prick we are having the canary

yellow coupe’

So a kind of flexible approach to ‘Madonnernity’ exists

Down south, the problem is more problematic…..

Mama and Papa can both be in charge…..

…..but not in the same household

Some southern Italian families are still living a medieval kind of life

This is summed up perfectly in the 1977 film entitled…..

…..’Padre Padrone’

…..which means…..’Father and Master’

… which to this day some girls go straight from her father’s

house to her husband’s…..

…..with NOTHING in between

And if said girl is not a virgin when she unveils her truth on the

wedding night (evidence not necessarily required to be displayed)

…..but preferably !

Then it is still grounds for an annulment in the eyes of the Catholic


Hard to believe but true

As is the statistic that nine out of ten twenty five, yes 25, year

old Italian girls / women…..

…..will swear blind they are still VIRGINS

Incredibly, many women think it doesn’t count if you do it in a car !

… opposed to a bed !


You are no longer a virgin

Equally incredibly, some women think if you don’t enjoy the sex

then it doesn’t really count !


And start getting used to it because that may be as good as

it gets !

Yesterday, the G-man went on a little Madonna hunt of his own…..

…..easy tiger…..

…..remember the big G is big on fidelity

No, the G-ster was ‘Sulle tracce di Jacopo Bassano’ or in

our dialect

‘On the Bassano trail’

Jacopo Bassano was a sixteenth century Renaissance painter


…..Yes, you guessed it, Bassangeles

…..and his favourite altar piece subject was the Madonna

Up into the mountains with his true love (Giulietta) to the

tiny village of Santa Caterina di Lusiana…..


‘Madonna in Trono col Bambino e I Santi Caterina e Zeno’


‘Madonna on the throne with a baby and Saints Catherine

and Zeno’

It brought a lump to my throat…..

Giulietta glided round the hair pins like she was on rails,

the autumn light was limpid, the roads empty, the leaves

just starting to turn

This IS actually better than THAT

(because you can’t do that when you are 90 but you can

still do this ! ! ! ! !)



The Bella Figura Fail edition

Bella Figura or……..

Faccio la bella figura means……

…..’cutting a dash’ in yesterday speak

…..’looking cool’ in today speak

This is as Italian as pasta…..

… cream

…..and infidelity

Anyway, this morning the G-man was heading up…..

…..up into the mountains

… take the ‘Madonna del Corno’ walk from Pove

del Grappa (Bassangeles’s little sister)

So the weather forecast being ‘cloudy with showers’ and desiring

to be 100% bella figura…………….

…..the G-ster donned his brand new ‘autumn’ baker boy

…..his sleeveless down jacket by Kappa…..

…..and strode out of the G-casa

…..slipped into Giulietta

…..and slid out of Bassangeles

So far, so good

Pove is a mere five minutes drive away

Parked up in the main square and headed for the sentiero

at the edge of town that went up and up and…..

UP !

Pove is literally on the edge of a mountain

Quick aside…..

I noticed that the town has ‘dog litter bins’…..

…..very forward thinking you may think

…..and just in case the dog owner is illiterate they have

no writing on them…..

…..really forward thinking by the Italians

…..just a drawing of a dog looking like a fire cracker has gone

off in its arse ! ! !

Oh, and it costs 50 euro cents to use it

In other words, it costs more for a dog to have a poo in

the middle of nowhere than it does for a tourist at Victoria

station ! ! ! ! !

UP he went

Then more UP

By the time I had arrived at the beginning of the rocky path

…..the baker boy and the Kappa were off…..

…..and the sweat was running off me in rivulets

Holy Mother of God !

This was steep

The path was literally cut into the mountainside…..

…..there was a vertical wall on one side

…..and a vertical drop on the other

Mama, where’s the hand rail gone ?

Somebody or person had painted yellow arrows on some

of the larger stones in the path that pointed onwards and

…..upwards !

…’s not as if you could get lost on a path that clings to

the edge of the mountain ! ! !

There were ‘pilgrim devotional’ points where you could

stop and pray…..

…..I took advantage of this to pray I would bloody make it !

Eventually I came face to face with the Madonna herself…..

…..and since nobody was around discreetly relieved myself

(I had my back to her, I’m not rozzi !)

…..and took in the view which is Magical…..

… of the best views of Palladio’s wooden bridge that exists

Then it was down by way of a different route that can best be

described as a goat track (mountain variety)

There were times when you dare not look anywhere except

where you were putting your foot…..

…..get your footing wrong and it would have been…..

…..’Goodnight Vienna’

…..’Hello Hades’

There were times when the G-ster was practically slithering


But good things happen to all those who misbehave…..

…..I stumbled into a cobbled street and found…..

…..’Antica Trattoria all’Alpino’…..”da Enrico”

…..and if Enrico was the fat fella who greeted me when I

went in, then it was guaranteed to be good

You know the saying…..

‘Never trust a thin chef’

WOW ! ! !

A plate of peppery sopressa as a gift

A dish of tagliatelle with porcini from the alto adige

Two German beers



…..all for 20 euros after the discount they insisted on giving me

They say God moves in mysterious ways…..

…..He does ! ! !



La Fiera Magica edition

The English translation of this title would be…..

…..The Magical Fair edition

Once a year the fair comes to Bassangeles…..

…..and last for four glorious days

It all starts on Thursday with the…..

…..Fiera di Bestiame…..

…..the livestock fair

So if you were looking to update your bull, ram or barrow

…..the male versions of a cow, sheep or pig…..

…..this is your chance

All three said ‘males’ of their species have one stand out


…..kept prominently on display

…..a virtual visual mating call


These animals may have brains the size of walnuts…..

…..but the male of the human species has to make do

with testes the size of walnuts ! ! ! ! !

Have to admit to being vaguely curious as to how much

volume these behemoths of the bollocks world actually

produce ? ! ? ……

…..I guess it would be measured in buckets

The locals at this event which is held on the main road into

Bassangeles (closed for the fiera) have dispelled the myth

that ALL Italians are ALL about fashion and LA BELLA FIGURA

These particular specimens (the Italians) are what are termed


…..which means ‘rough’, ‘uncultured’, ‘course’, ‘crude’ etc

…..or even…..


…..which is one up from rozzi…..

…..or one down depending on how you think about it !

……basically it means ‘low’, ‘gross’, ‘common’ or…..

…..RANDY ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

And now we are probably approaching the crux of the matter

because what the G-man could see was a literal kind of

…..LUST !

These characters were straight out of…..

…..DELIVERANCE, the 1972 film by John Boorman

‘Maestro ! Pass me my banjo’

The remaining three days were really a jazzed-up version of

the usual Thursday and Saturday market…..

…..with extras

…..The whole town was awash with the smell of the stalls

selling nuts ‘pralinate’……

……basically caramelised nuts (either sugar or sugar and chocolate)

But for the G-ster the star turn were the stallholders that sold…..

…..MAGIC !

…..MAGIC this and that !

…..MAGIC everything !

…..mops for floors !

…..entry carpets ! (a real magic carpet ?)

…..squeegees for windows !

… and vegetable chopalizers !

…..water hoses !

…..You get the idea

…..These items / devices are not cheap

…..and the Italians can’t get enough of them

…’s like the proverbial feeding frenzy

It’s as though the music, the crowds, the hubbub all

combine to make said roisterers reach for their euros and

start shelling out

However, there is one thing though that has to go…..

…..the Andean pipe players need to go back to South America


…..all three troupes that I counted…..

…..this is music to lay down and be sick to

GO !


ROOM 101 !

Where are the Italian accordion players ?…..

…..actually there was one…..

…..who was obviously heavily outnumbered by the

Aztec minstrels ! ! ! ! !

…..and that’s it for another year