Italian or British? Who is which?

“Have you two had a fight?”

I explained that no, as yet, we’ve never really had a fight (apart from last summer, at the start of our holidays). I explain that he’s just stressed.

We had been there a little while, waiting for him. He had had to wait for his washing machine to finish. It leaks from a hose somewhere and so he has to stay to mop up from time to time. So, it was almost 9.30 before he arrived. And, when he arrived, he was on the phone and seemed angry and didn’t say anything to me and so they thought that we had fought.

But I know him well enough now and know he is not pissed with me. When he comes back to the table he tells me who was on the phone. They were talking about the funeral in the UK that will be held next Friday. He tells me he is not going to go. I have mixed feelings about this and none of them selfish. On the one hand, he should go as I think he may regret it later. This was, at least for 11 years, his father-in-law. On the other hand, he is so busy right now, that even a two-day trip to the UK will throw everything into disarray for him.

He tells me it is because S would feel like he would have to look after F and S will be busy himself, given that it’s his father’s funeral and so he will be unable to look after F as he would like. But it is more complicated than that.

Next week he has several places to go and one is Venice, so a night away. The following week is a full week in Germany. So a trip in the middle of this to the UK would just add to his feeling of stress.

In the lift, on the way back to my flat, he informs me that he is working both on Saturday and Sunday.

I say how sorry I am. Again, there is nothing selfish in this. I am sorry for him. He really needs the rest.

During the meal, last night, for some reason I now forget, it came up about the end of him and S. Apparently it was not a good ending. And it went on for some time. It’s part of the reason that he doesn’t want to ‘go there’ again. And I do ‘get it’ even if I don’t agree with it. And I don’t. But it explains some more things. It explains the way he is.

At one point he tells the colleague we are with that he keeps home and work seperate. He doesn’t talk to me about his work – good or bad. He doesn’t take his personal life into work, he says. Although, of course, he does, he just doesn’t realise it.

But I thought about him and how stressed and uptight he gets about things.

I thought, “but this isn’t what I expected from an Italian.

An Italian should be more relaxed and easy-going. An Italian shouldn’t get this uptight”.

And I wondered if, in fact, this uptightedness was more of a universal thing and not just confined to the British. Or if, with me being more laid back than he is, we hadn’t, somehow, got trapped in the wrong country when we were born. Is he Italian or British? I mean to say, is he more British than Italian? Am I more Italian than British?

As one could say he was a little more anally retentive than your average Italian (unless they are all like this and I just didn’t realise). But, perhaps, the British shouldn’t be portrayed as they are?

He says that “the problem with English people is that they don’t tell you the truth”. I am included in this. It’s not that we lie, it’s just that we don’t say it like it is and nor do we give our true feelings.

I think we call them white lies. These aren’t true lies, of course. These are things said so that you don’t hurt people’s feelings. Like – “you look lovely in that dress”, etc.

Perhaps they don’t have them in Italy? White lies, that is.

Do they?