Saturday, October 16, 2004

TURIN - Hotel Fun!

Had a experience today that was an embarrassment and could have turned traumatic, but happily got sorted out.

After a morning in downtown Turin, I was going to meet up with Tino for lunch, and dropped into my hotel to make use of the bathroom, drop off some stuff and freshen up a little.
But then I found myself faced with a problem.

Firstly I'll explain that I've only bothered to learn a few words in Italian. I'm generally confident that I can get by in most countries as long as I know just a few important words...
Knowing the words for WATER and some of the local food is important too. This is about my limit of Italian vocab.

So back to my hotel room, where I suddenly find that I need to say a whole lot to the staff at the hotel, and have no idea how to start saying it.
What I needed to know how to say in Italian was this.
'Hello? Yes, hello. Do you work here? Because if you do I need help as I've locked myself in. Yes, I've tried turning the brass knob many times but I've seriously locked myself in really really well and the brass knob is not doing me any good. When I came into the room I closed the outer wooden doors and put the metal bar across locking them from the inside as I normally do, and then I closed the inner glass doors without remembering to remove the keys (uh oh) from the outside of the doors, thereby locking those doors from the outside. I am therefore locked in and you are locked out. To get to the bar on the outer doors I would first have to unlock the inner doors which I can't do, and to get to the keys on the inner doors you would have to be able to remove the bar from the outer doors which you can't do, so I'm locked in in a very secure way and I don't know how we're going to get out of this pickle but maybe you can think of something and I really hope you can.'
I also would have liked to say a few more things about the situation.
'This is very embarrassing. I'm so sorry I've done this. Has this happened before? Do people do this all the time? Is there some quick and easy fix solution you know through experience? Tell me there is. Because I really wouldn't want you to have to take an axe to the door, as that would make me kind of nervous and I'd prefer not to have to face a hotel-owner who has just been forced to hack up part of their hotel due to the stupidity of one of their guests and is standing in front of me holding an axe while they're thinking about whose fault this whole thing is. Though I think the builders should have put more thought into these doors as they could have been made more idiot-proof, don't you think? And if you're thinking it's time to bring out the axe maybe I could suggest that I just leave through the window for the time being, though I guess that's only a short-term solution as all my stuff is in here and you probably can't rent out a room with no door. Hmmm.'
If I read out all of the above and only said the words that I know how to translate into Italian, all I would have been able to say to the people outside my room would have been this.
"Hello? Yes, hello. Yes. Hmmm."
I am guessing that 'Hmmm' is the same in English and Italian.
This didn't leave me much to go with.

So I stood looking at my door for quite a few minutes. Not much happened. I touched the doorknob a few times. Another attempted turn here, a sad and ineffective stroke there.
Rather than being brave and trying to talk to the people outside my door, I confronted the issue by calling for outside help instead. Out came the mobile phone. Tino, waiting for me at the restaurant, had himself a good chuckle and then volunteered to come over to the hotel.
I won't bore you with too many more details. Tino managed to get a rather grumpy guy from the hotel to get some tools together and bang away at the outer door. No, no guest in the hotel had ever got themselves in this situation before. After a number of attempts the bar got moved out of the way, and I quickly said my thanks and ran from the hotel. I hope the people who were there today aren't still there when I return tonight. Let me see - if I slept on a park bench I wouldn't have to go back till Sunday to quietly remove my bags while nobody is watching...

Friday, October 15, 2004

Rant time - Marriage Rights

I don't know if anyone will bother to read this, but I have to get it out and belatedly blast John Howard about his attititude to the idea of gay marriage.
Two months ago, when he made his proposal to ban it, the Labor party got all indecisive and put a little committee together to think it over.
During a speech at a Christian fund-raising dinner, John Howard had a go at the Labor party for this. He ridiculed them for taking time to think about it. According to him, banning gay marriage was simply 'common-sense', and no thought or debate was required.
I couldn't believe it. Here he was publicly admitting that he believes he already knows what rights gays ought to be entitled to. He didn't need to think about it or consult his conscience. He didn't need to discuss it with anyone or educate himself about the subject or look at all sides to the debate. And most definitely he didn't need to actually talk to any gay people about it. No, he can happily make decisions about our rights without consulting us or considering our point of view at all.
I know this is how he's behaved in the past with aborigines and refugees, so it's nothing new, but it was incredibly hurtful to have this attitude directed to a group I belong to. How dare he.
And it's frightening that the Australian public have just voted again for a man who thinks like this.

Rant time - Crappy Election Result

According to a story on the abc new website today, Australians (the ones who own proprety) have never been wealthier.
The average person has assets of $250,000. Which means that for every dollar under $250,000 that you have, that's an extra dollar someone else must own instead. I wonder who has my $240,000?
And to think that we just had an election where the politicians were trying to throw money at everyone. Apart from those at the bottom, Australians have NEVER been wealthier. Middle Australia can't pretend it has anything to worry about money-wise. I can't help thinking that other issues didn't count in the election simply because people don't give a stuff.
The environment, Iraq, honesty in government, the treatment of refugees, aboriginal issues, gay rights, the locking out of young people from the housing market, our blind sucking up to G Bush, the seperation of church and state, who cares. I can't think of many things worse that a Prime Minister can do than send a country to war for the wrong reasons. Even a PM who did this with all the best intentions at heart deserves to be thrown out simply for incompetence. I can't decide whether half of Australia sucks (that's a definite possibility), or just the politicians and media who told them that the election was about interest rates (despite the combined opinions of every economist in the country that any change in interest rates would be because of other factors and not as a result of one party or other being in government).

TURIN - Cinema Museum

Twice this week I've been to the coolest museum in Turin, the National Museum of Cinema. A truly excellent place for a movie fan.
They've got one of Charlie Chaplin's hats, an alien from Alien, Joan Crawford's dress from Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, some of Federico Fellini's doodles, an original Psycho script, and heaps of other stuff.
They had so many beautiful old movie posters I was nearing collapse. The posters for La Dolce Vita (my favourite film poster I think) , Blue Velvet (an astounding image involving a pair of legs tied together and a bleeding pool ball!), Marriage Italian Style (Sophia Loren), Gilda (Rita Hayworth) and one of Rudolph Valentino were perfection.
The coolness of the place is magnified by it's design. There are little themed rooms that show related movie clips.
In the love room, you lie back on a huge red round bed and watch love & romance-themed movie clips projected on the ceiling.
My favourite was the surreal room, where you walk through a large refrigerator and sit on some toilets to watch clips from Barbarella, Raising Arizona and Monty Python. Now that's different.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Wiping The Smile Off His Face

Wipe The Smile Off His Face
Originally uploaded by MLHS.

Taking our 'Vote for decency' to the smallest room in the house.