I remember it as if it were yesterday. Sitting in front of the TV late at night, watching the World Cup final of 1994, which took place in the USA. It was a match between the two greatest football nations, Brazil and Italy. Both had glided their way out of the group stages and into the final. Both had their star players. In Italy’s case, it was one Roberto Baggio, who had almost single-handedly carried the time to the final with a series of fantastic goals in almost every match.
When my family was moving to Florence (which I talked about in my first post), we first flew from London Heathrow to Milan airport (I don’t know if it was Malpensa or Linate). We waited for our connecting flight in the departure lounge, which, as far as I remember, wasn’t all that busy. We were looking at the flight schedules, slightly puzzled, since we couldn’t see “Florence” coming up at all. Now, the next part is a bit hazy for me, but I think an American gentleman sitting nearby overheard us and explained that in fact we should be looking out for “Firenze”, which is the Italian name for Florence. Or perhaps it was my mother or father who explained it to the American.
I will start with a story that I have told many times over the years–so often that I sometimes wonder if I’ve accidentally embellished it and turned it into more of a personal myth than a true account of a random day at primary school. I sometimes think we all have a tendency to invent stories for ourselves to explain significant events in our lives: why we met the partners we did, why we chose certain subjects at university, why we decided to move to a certain city, or how we landed our jobs. Often we base these stories on real memories but with the details left out, keys parts emphasised, and sometimes outright exaggerations (lies?) introduced. I dare say this is only human.
Still, I digress. Back to an afternoon at Primary 4 in a small Scottish town near Falkirk (in between Glasgow and Edinburgh). Our class was going to be doing a project on different European countries and the teacher had decided to divide us into four groups–one each for France, Spain, Italy and Germany. She gathered us all around one of the big tables in the classroom and explained to us what we would be doing, before proceeding to put us into groups.
“So, who would like to do France?”