The Italians, my Grandad assured me, are somewhat short of martial spirit. He based that on their performance against the 8th Army in North Africa, so I can’t say for certain whether that trait endures seventy years later. What I can say is, the ‘Macaronis’, as Grandad liked to call them, still enjoy a few choice reputational hallmarks today. Aside from its history and its art, Italy’s primarily known for corruption, male peacocking, meatballs and the goosing of ladies bottoms. A noble suite of national attributes, to be sure. But, I tell you what, I’ll give them something, they can dress.
And that sartorial acumen sets them in stark contrast to we Brits, especially during the summer months, when things really seem to unravel.
The English high street in Summer is like an animated butcher’s window, a writhing tableau vivant of shouting, sniffing, sweating, gristle. Scalded red or painted orange, there’s always too much flesh on display these days, because Brits have lost any sense of modesty – though most have plenty to be modest about. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no body Fascist, but if I had to choose between Leni Reifenstahl and the suety British endomorph, I might well recoil to the right… Sure, be comfortable, let a little air circulate around the dewy and tendrilled clefts, but don’t confront me with your corned beef legs, your blubbery belly-pork guts and your meat hygiene stamp tattoos. And ladies, be advised, I don’t need to see the jowls of your arse breaching the hem of your high cut shorts. Quite apart from it not being particularly attractive in most cases, we hardly know one another… I mean, for God’s sake, leave something to the imagination. It’s just no fun. If the erosion of modesty continues, I expect to see women walking round sporting uterine retractors in ten to fifteen years… (too much?)
The Brits are made for rain and rime, not Indian summers. We invented balaclavas, cardigans, wellies and duffle coats. That’s what we should wear. All year round. If you wear a duffle coat, not only you can you not get sunburnt, but my eidetic memory doesn’t have to have the image of your tripey Costa-carcass seared into it like griddle marks in a burger.