Archives for November 2012

My wife and Thomas Edison

  My wife Lois is a patient person, normally equable, but she sees red if someone puts salt on a dish she has prepared for them without tasting it first. It seems that in this she is at one with Thomas Alva Edison. The great inventor, innovator and entrepreneur would always take those he was thinking about hiring out to dinner and ensure that the first course was soup.

Anyone who added salt to the soup without first tasting it was not taken on. The great man said he didn’t want anyone working with him taking decisions based on unfounded assumptions. “Quite right”, says Lois.

For goodnesss sake, taste it first!

Better a death in the family than a Pisan at the door!

Lois took Lara to the Conservatorio Pietro Mascagni*  in Livorno yesterday for her regular trumpet workshop with Professor Giorgio Lopardo there and it reminded me that there’s going to be a big shake-up of Italy’s regional administration system in 2014, which has already ruffled many feathers and is now leading to lots of horse trading, if you don’t mind me mixing my agricultural metaphors.

In Italy we have regions, like Tuscany, Piedmont and so on, and beneath them a tier of 86 provinces, responsible for things like planning, police, fire, roads and transport. The watermill is in the Tuscan province of Massa-Carrara. The plan now is to reduce the provinces to 31 and to amalgamate Massa-Carrara into a new province of Livorno-Lucca-Massa-Carrara-Pisa. (I guess it’s going to have a snappier name come the amalgamation.)

There have been lots of protests of course, as such amalgamations inflame old local rivalries – and nowhere is that more true than in Tuscany. The Livornese and the Pisanese, for example, have for centuries had a relationship of ‘cordial loathing.’ The Livornese have a saying:  “Better a death in the house than a Pisan at the door.” And the Lucchese seem to feel the same way, with mothers in Lucca threatening their recalcitrant children with “The Pisans are coming.” This saying originated after the invasion of Lucca by Pisa in 1314, which is the day before yesterday by Italian standards.

Nonetheless, Pisa, Livorno, Lucca, Massa and Carrara are going to have to get it together and get together, whether they like it or not. The new decree also stipulates that the capital of the mega-province should be its largest city, in our case Livorno, but it also allows local politicians to stitch up deals, prompting fears of horse-trading. Lucca, for example, might bid for capital status with the backing of Massa and Carrara. Machiavelli, thou shoulds’t be living in this hour!



Pisa, Livorno, Lussa, Massa, Carrara: time to get together chaps!

We’ll let you know how it all turns out.

*Composer of the sublime Intermezzo from Cavalliera Rusticana – and here’s a link to a wonderful performance by a Chinese orchestra. Please just click here.