In Cannobio, the newsagents are full of 2008 calendars. By far the most numerous are the baby animals calendars – saccharin Anne Geddes-style shots of puppies in teapots, kittens wearing tartan, foals and their knobbly knees starting to walk while the afterbirth’s still wet behind their ears. These are closely followed by the fully-grown animals: thoroughbred racehorses, pedigree dogs, yawn yawn.
Diametrically opposed, but only a couple of centimetres away in the newsagent’s display are the pin-up calendars, in which category calendars of naked females with pumped-up breasts and screaming-wall-of-terror smiles jostle side-by-side with calendars of naked males with pumped-up pecs and disdainful smirks.
There seems to be no law here in Italy about where the pin-up category can be displayed, and so we find them propped up on the floor where my 16-month-old daughter can admire them. Perhaps they'd sell more calendars if they placed the baby animals at toddler height and the pecs at overworked mama height. Just a thought.
Then there are the religious calendars. Padre Pio, he of the extraordinary stigmata, is right out there in front along with Pope John Paul II. Pope Benedict XVI, however, is a curious absence. Perhaps as Pope one’s work contract with God disallows calendar contracts until you’re on the fast-track to sainthood (in the case of PJP) or have just got there (in the case of PP).
Taking second place after these megastars of small town life are the teenie stars of the pop world - boy bands and girlie groups, singers and instrumentalists. And of course the football teams. Juventus, AC Milan, and the never-to-be-forgotten victorious World Cup Italia team, all designer stubble and stocky legs. These are all grouped into anthologies – no single band or individual star is important enough to carry a calendar monograph like PP and PJP, it seems.
But in a category all of his own, I spy one further personality seemingly important enough to carry a monograph. I double take at the Benito Mussolini Calendar 2008 and after the smelling salts have done their work I begin to wonder what the sales figures might be for a sleepy north-Italian town 63 years after this particular pin-up’s (don’t even think about the pun) demise.
Copyright © Louise Bostock 2007, 2008. All rights reserved. Please ask first.