Senatus Populusque Romanus

I slip in the time to post here just in the gap I have between passing my Driving Theory Test and frantically starting to pack and prepare for leaving for university on the 2nd October. Perhaps before I launch into my ramble about my very Hepburn-esque Roman Holiday I will post some little fillers to videos, articles and other time fillers of the week.

What I’ve been listening to:

Tom Lehrer’s “The Vatican Rag” got me in the mood for visiting the real thing last week. 2-4-6-8 time to transubstantiate!


Whitney Houston, how cheesy predictable and mainstream I hear you say. In fairness to me, I don’t tend to watch much of the XFactor, Pop Idol sort of TV shows that this song is probably sung so often in, so Whitney Houston is novel to me at least, if not to you.


What I’ve been watching…

For all that it’s from nearly two decades ago, these Spitting Images satires of the Murdoch Press and Tony Blair (if you subscribe to the Tory story about Labour’s spending) are impressively relevant even in ‘2Kay11’.

Also, just as a small update to my past posts about chauvinism on the Tory Frontbench, I think the abortion amendment is a double edged sword of evidence against Cameron. For starters, an anti-abortion and – if you’ll let generalise to the extreme – anti-women’s rights, amendment should never have been encouraged and allowed to get so far. But even when Cameron rebuked Nadine Dorries, he managed to do it in a way that was Chauvinistic.

Regardless of school boy humour, her question should have been answered.


Oh, I’ve also been watching this, but from a Matt Baker fan perspective rather than a political perspective.

Where I’ve been!

IMG_20110910_173301The sharp pain behind my eyes as the plane climbed the sky should have been a warning of the delights awaiting me on descent. I paid little heed to it though and watched out the window as Aer Lingus, the most cliché Irish airline imaginable, flew us over the French Alps. This glimpse out the window would in fact turn out to be the closest I would come to our family’s traditional alpine climbing holiday. That’s not to say this holiday required any less physical exertion, on the contrary cities normally take more out of me, or maybe I’m just becoming less fit. Eventually the blissful alps slipped over the horizon and dusty Rome came into sight. Mild aerosinusitis hit, the pain of air pressure differences between the sinuses and the cabin. I feel sorry for anyone else who has it on flights, sorry for the pain but more for the alarming sensation that your brain is about to explode. Despite my best attempts to clear my nose or balance the pressure it took a few hours for the headache to clear.

Medical digression, but Aerosinusitis is likely to occur when people have colds or other allergies, posing a serious risk of complications to only the most regular flyers. Interestingly, often the strikes among Cabin Crew that we so often here about often focus on reductions in their paid sick leave. BA managers or their equivalents will attempt to turn public opinion against the crew, with figures presented such as how much more sick leave they are entitled to compared to the public. Of course, this is because if an air hostess has a cold, they can’t just slog through work like the rest of us, as they would be risking far more serious health consequences. Just something to bear in mind during the next BA strike.

It’s rare to fly to or from Belfast without meeting a familiar face on board. My delightful chance encounter this year was with a fellow ‘Greek Scholar’ Vicky, apparently her earlier flight had been cancelled due to air traffic controllers strike in Rome (they don’t even have Aerosinusitis as an excuse.) It was a far better meeting than the time I sat next to a guy whose school bag, revision notes and exam card I had accidentally lifted from the library on the morning of his Maths A level back when I was in 3rd year, I still feel so bad about that.

After being hurtled around Rome by our taxi man, who enjoyed described the scenary as, “Vatican wall” … “Still Vatican wall”, we finally got to our apartment. It was already late in the evening, but I was still sweaty and uncomfortable in jeans and a shirt. Thankfully, help was on the horizon.


The Vatican Wall and I, it’s a love hate thing.

Enter Gelati Numero Uno. <applause> Primo scoop Kinder (Nocciola) Hazlenut Praline, Secondo Scoop Baileys Cream.

The ice-cream in Rome was beyond compare, a vast selection of flavours. Quality flavours too, not the artificial tasting syrup produced flavours we normally get at home. In Rome the sprinkled Kinder was not even necessary to convince me the flavour was authentic.

I noticed a few things on our first late night stroll through Rome. (Other than the ever present heat)

One was the adorable use of “SPQR” (Senatus Populusque Romanus ) on the phone booths, post boxes and manhole covers. Admittedly the SPQR has somewhat slipped down the leagues of power, but to have such a historical title is enviable for a local council and certainly lends them more gravitas than the purple lorries of my own Newtownabbey Council.
Next I noticed the many obelisks, most of them originally from North Africa, or North Africa via Greece. These always had an iron cross clamped on the top of them and usually a claim by some Pope to have made some admirable contribution. Any one of these obelisks could have been a clue as to how the Vatican had stamped its mark across most of the ancient treasures of Rome.


The cross topped obelisk – the Vatican’s way of saying, “Pius was ‘ere”

Finally I noticed how many people, Romanus as well as Barbericus, were happy to mill around the city, eating or just socialising, right up until the small hours of the morning. If only British cities could have such a night culture.

Sadly the night culture did also keep me awake, I was forced into many midnight ‘cost benefit analyses’ of stifling heat vs. Italian sirens and car horns coming through the open window.

If I manage to deliver any more installments of the antics of this puer romanus this week then you might actually get to hear a bit more about the city.

Until then,

divertiamoci Open-mouthed smile