Thursday, 8 July 2010

My Stories

Of the fourteen stories in Shorts You Will Never Wear my favourite is the last. It is an account of an annual festival in an Italian hilltop town called Cavallisghembi Citta (Town of Crazy Horses).

It parodies archaic social behaviours that are still going strong in many places; like the running of the bulls in Spain and the Palio in Italy. It makes fun of human behaviour with a respectful if eye-rolling perspective.

The delivery is bordering on mickey-taking because it is in a pigeon-style dialect. I find it hilarious. I love it to bits. As an example, here the narrator explains:

Everyone over a certain IQ and under a certain IQ has a role to take part in. There are no shortcomers lurking in Cavallisghembi Città. Like a great operatic play of passion the people assemble at relevant start points and await their cue. The flag is dropped by the mayor of Cavallisghembi Città, a man who in the English translation is rendered: ‘he who would change the trajectory of the Moon in order to light his own barbecue even if others have to roast flesh in the dark.’ Then with pomp and merry circumstance the competitors of the Scrambling of the Horse flee the pursuit of each other with brutal delight and lack of healthcare.

To ensure just fairness the fleetest of Sghembi are handicapped and wear thick and heavy iron shoes nailed to their hoofboots to level the playing field. Though the gaits of these gladiators are benumbed by iron shoes they have the balance of the scale restored by their ability to gallop rough-shod over the minds and bodies of the unfortunates. All of these racer-gladiator-gadabouters clatter about the course around the town, treading sometimes on themselves when they have fallen. No participant is any longer Mr. nice guy. The darkest most basic of all human behaviour surfaces and swims around on the sea of tradition. Family prides and reputations are at the stake; some will burn until flesh melts and bones char, yet others will emerge from the ring victorious.

It is truly a mad place, but at least no animals are taunted or harmed in the process, only the human participants. Having said that, there is some abuse of the year’s fresh crop of virgins.

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