Monday, 10 November 2014

Guest Post: Rob Wingfield

I mentioned in a previous post that I was minded to throw open the doors of the Null Room and to issue an invitation to a select band of indie writers to submit posts of their own.

I'm kicking off with Robert Wingfield - an author to whom I'm indebted for a number of things. Firstly, for introducing me to Authonomy, which has helped me to hone my first book into something resembling - well, a book - and secondly for providing much mirth and merriment via a series of comic novels, beginning with 'The Legend of Dan'. Finally, he was also the instigator of the INCA project, which seeks to support, promote and encourage independent writers. A laudable aim, I trust you'll agree.

One of Rob's latest works is Sicily: One Man in a Bus, and it's an excerpt from this that features below.

From Sicily: One Man in a Bus

We arrive at a hotel in Agrigento itself, and I discover that the local fag shop sells stamps. A word of warning though; if you go into a tabac unprepared, the following ritual, presumably dating back to Roman times, occurs:
  • In English, you ask for a stamp to send a letter or postcard home, brandishing said item and miming licking and sticking.
  • There are puzzled expressions where the staff pretend not to have a clue what you are looking for.
  • You falter your request in Italian, reading from your handy phrasebook; “Per favore puoi vendermi un timbro di inviare questa lettera ritorno in Gran Bretagna?
  • The shop people nod sagely, and then have an animated discussion in Sicilian, where they decide how much they are going to rip you off by.
  • They then sell you stamps you could stick on lead ingots and still not be surcharged by Royal Mail.
Fortunately, I meet a previous victim of this ordeal, bemoaning the loss of her life savings, and I make a point of learning some numbers in Sicilian so that I can ask for the right value of frankobollo. They are most impressed in the shop, and send me on my way with the correct number and value of stamps and a kiss on my weary forehead, calling me ‘migliore amico’ (scummy Brit).

I feel confident I'm finally getting to grip with this language thing until I am called in late for dinner yet again. This I blame on unclear instructions and non-operation of the Sky box in the room. I have to steal one of my fellow traveller’s pre-ordered meals. She is very nice about it, pretending to be feeling a bit queasy, and only swears continuously at me during the eating and afterwards, and a bit more the following day. My €5 wine receives better approval from the official wine taster so I don’t feel so bad about topping up my glass under the table.

Later I work on the Sky box in the bedroom again; it is now stuck on the Fashion Channel. What sour faces the sticks have; I bet they are the life and soul of parties. And who would buy this stuff? Don't they know there is a recession on? Perhaps that’s why they look so miserable, because they can’t afford the clothes even on their inflated wages. They really don’t need to worry; if they were seen out in the wild in these togs, they would be ridiculed beyond belief - well they would be if they joined my companions; I make a note to not wear today’s shirt, ever again. I eventually placed it in one of the many charity collection bags which cascade through my letterbox, but even the gypsies wouldn’t take it and returned it to my doorstep with an abusive note. I eventually had to cut it up into small pieces and put it in the compost bin, where the resulting soil proved ideal for scattering on the garden to prevent weeds coming up.

Thanks Rob.

Look out for more guest posts shortly.

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