Cucumbers Every Day

The Dutch call this period cucumber time – in the English language world it’s silly season. Never mind the credit crisis or Obama’s World Tour or the national emergency declared by the proto-fascists in government here with respect to immigration from outside the EU. Maybe cucumber time has nothing to do with a lack of news and more to do with a lack of willingness to go find it when everyone else is away on holiday.

Time for some gratuitous observations then, since cucumber time has struck me as well. Silly season or not, quality newspaper or not, the Italian press seems obsessed with celebrities. La Repubblica, not your average fish wrapper but the country’s leading leftist newspaper, runs a series of pictures of Bruce Springsteen, barely recognizeable on a yacht on Lake Como. And look, there’s Lindsey Lohan, too.

Alright, maybe La Repubblica isn’t such a quality paper at all. Maybe Corriere della Sera is better – that, too, is said to be a quality paper. Well… it gives us pictures of Rosita Celentano, actress and daughter of famous singer Adriano Celentano (of Azzurro fame), in bikini at a naturist beach. Also not to miss: twenty-four pictures of Hulk Hogan and his family. Apparently there’s a divorce coming up.

These photo series run all year long, suggesting a fight to stay alive in a onslaught of cheapness in other media, or perhaps a genuine preoccupation with the rich and famous, where scandal, (semi)nudity or a link to this country (hey, The Boss is in Italy!) are the most important selection criteria. Pity the man or woman who looks for serious news, especially from abroad: Italian papers and television newscasts show a strong preoccupation with Italy and the result is that we’re living on an island. And so, when Gordon Brown falls – and indications are that he will, sooner rather than later – it will be a complete surprise for Italians. The RAI’s UK correspondent hasn’t said a word about it yet. His last report talked about an Italian who lived in London, got lost in Amsterdam and surfaced in Kathmandu.

We grow cucumbers all year long, it seems.

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One Comment

  1. There’s one other country which has cucumbertime: Danmark, with its agurketid. I don’t think, by the way, that it’s a specific Italian to not make much of abroad. My thesis is: the bigger the country, the less attention it pays to what’s happening abroad. To Dutchman this is always very conspicuous; many Dutch tourists traveling to France experience that especially local newspapers not only ignore the existence of foreign countries, like the Netherlands but even of anything outside their own small towns. To inhabitants of Paris, I experienced more than once, Holland is a remote country where the Queen goes to her office on her bike and everyone eats Edam cheese in wooden clogs.

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