Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Drunk and Entitled and Weird

'Kathryn Emily Andrews, 26, the daughter of QC Bob Marshall-Andrews, was held by police early yesterday after a disturbance at the four-star Hotel Madison in Milan. ...   Police were put through to the Foreign Office in  London as the consulate was closed.  In the meantime, she phoned her father who called the Foreign Office. It confirmed that his daughter had been held but said there was nothing it could do and it was a matter for local police.  A police source said:

"She was in a pretty bad way and had certainly been drinking when we were called to the hotel because of a disturbance.  ...We took her to the police station as she was swearing and shouting and she was there for about three hours. While there she said that she was a British Cabinet minister's daughter and that we had no idea what we were doing.  She was processed and checked and then released without charge as she had a valid identity document. The matter is still under investigation and the prosecutor will decide if to press charges.'  (Evening Standard).

What comes over  people when they get to the Peninsula?   The best account, of course, is by Morgan Forster in Where Angels Fear to Tread, but story after story displays a sort of mental collapse by the English (indeed northern Europeans in general - the Germans tear off all their clothes and dig huge, defended pits and earthworks in every beach they set foot on)) in Italy.  It is as if there is a false image of Italians, generating an attitude contemptuous and patronising that runs, inevitably, into a reality of great wealth and imperturbable security of being.  And as the heirs of one of the greatest of Earthly empires, the collision is most marked with those heirs of other great empires who have more recently lost their standing and position. There is also the embodiment of the advice in my 1909 Baedeker which suggests  speaking loudly and slowly at Italians who do not understand  English in a northern accent.

Often have I been rousted from sleep by telephones with 'situations' on the other end.


"Signora, mi dispiace l'ora" (it's always the middle of the night) "I am the maresciallo of .....".

"Good Morning, Maresciallo" (never dis the Carabinieri)

"I have a black man here with wild hair who says he is a friend of your family and that his wife has been kidnapped."

"An Indian?"

"Quite possibly, Signora, he's not from Africa.  Will you speak to him?"  Pause,

"Hello..... where are you? Pisa.  Why aren't you in Florence, asleep in your hotel?  I see, ..... has probably been kidnapped  as you can't find her.  How did you lose her?  She was supposed to be at the station after going to see some place of miracles or something.  Which station?  There are two.  You didn't know that, mmmm. You are at Pisa Centrale now?  Look, take the next train to Florence and go to your hotel, she's probably there having missed you.  No, kidnap is very unlikely.  Why?  Well, forgive me but have you any money,  do you look as if you have any money?  In India you would look as if you have money.  I see.  Well, as beastly as it may seem, here you haven't and you don't.  And even if you did, you still would not be kidnapped in Pisa.

You called the hotel and they said she isn't there.  Perhaps she had gone out for her dinner?  What exactly did they say?  They said it in Italian but it meant she wasn't there.  Right.  No, I won't drive to Pisa, I have children to get to school in the -  actually this morning -  in clean pinafores, clean teeth, brushed hair, and with breakfast inside them and their correct textbooks and exercise books in their satchels, not to mention any gym kit, musical instruments, notes about missing bits of homework and begging letters to be allowed Saturday morning off. By 8.05, sharp.  You are at the station.  Get a train, any train, but for heavens' sake get out of the Maresciallo's office or he'll arrest you.  For reporting a kidnap in his city, that's why.  Can you imagine what level of paperwork that's able to produce?  At the very least you will share in his pain.  Nothing till 4 o'clock.  Well read a book, it's not cold, and stamp your ticket before you get on or you'll get fined.  Have you local currency?  Travellers' cheques, for a  taxi?  No, they won't.  Cash.  Don't get into a taxi without the money they tell you it will cost to Florence.  Just don't; they probably will want it before setting off but if not and it's not there when you arrive you'll be in the police station - again.  No, everyone is a professor here; yes, everyone is even  an LSE professor here.  Give me back the maresciallo and I'll persuade him to let you go and sit quietly at the station till the train comes.  Goodnight.

Never saw him again, not in person, thanks be.  What's with the sense of entitlement and all?


Odin's Raven said...

A cabinet minister's daughter?
Isn't he actually a New Labour MP?
Where's she been for the last year?

hatfield girl said...

Dunno, Raven, but it's not the thing to come to Italy shouting,

"Lei non sa chi sono io."

Not since the events of piazza Loreto.

Should have hung her upside down until she apologised, or sobered-up. Effing and blinding and lying and wasting police time.

Odin's Raven said...

Sounds about right for one of our media or political class.

Nomad said...

HG: You haven't gone and done something silly like volunteering to be the (probably unpaid) Hon Brit Consular rep for your region, have you?

In the back of beyond many years ago I, being the only Brit in the area at the time, had a similar call late one night from the local police sergeant whom I knew reasonably well, asking me to sort out some wandering Welsh hippy whose guitar had been stolen (allegedly with all his money in it). I politely declined Hippy's request to stay overnight with me and instead gave him the number of the embassy for him to ring the next morning. Never heard any more, so I suppose he got home somehow.

Anonymous said...


Just sayin'.

hatfield girl said...

And thank you for saying so Anon. Mr Marshall Andrews' daughter clearly had nothing to do with the disreputable behaviour going on in Milan that evening.

So who was it claiming to be the daughter of a cabinet minister? (Shades of being Mubarak's grand daughter there.)