Friday 3 August 2007

An excercise in cross cultural relations

So.. a few weeks ago we ask out wonderful neighbour, Bill, if he knows anyone who can help us re-assemble the oven... and he introduces us to Nick.

Bill is greek and Nick is Greek and we discover that in the next street down for CFdM, there are 37 families ALL from the same village in Samos...

"No from Greece.. too many peoples in Greece... No from Samos.. to many peoples.. all from same village only. One village all same 37 families" Nick tells us.

Now Nick is a concreter.. He's pushing 80.. and has worked for 50 years with Italians...

He speaks very little English... about as much English as I speak Greek... but we both have rudimentary Italian.

So.. this Sunday morning, we're merrily eating breakfast, planning a long lazy day of sex and food... when there's a knock on the front door...

Behold... there's Nick standing there, and he says "Yasou Ray!!today good for concrete" and beams madly..

Furry stands there scratching his nuts and grunting...

Nick waves a golf club around madly ( Shocked ) and repeats... "you and me.. today for concrete for the forno"

And I realise that he's telling/asking Furry that today he wants to put in the footings for the oven...

Furry kinda grunts and I whisper "It's a wonderful offer.. you'll offend him if you don't take it"

So we lead Nick out to the back yard where he starts to measure up with a random piece of steel and his golf stick ( Shocked )

He says to us "you need the sand and the pietra frantumata" and bundles a confused Furry and myself into the car and off we head for parts unknown..

Nick takes us to a garden supply centre and organises the delivery of the pietra frantumata whatever the hell that might be... and all I do is hand over the credit card and sign.

So, back at CF... Furry and Nick start on what we now realise is the formwork for the footings for the oven..

Next thing we know a load of sand and blue metal and concrete arrives in our driveway...

Nick says to Furry..

"quicly quickly we must do the mescolatura for the concrete" and hands Furry the hose and a shovel.

Furry stands in the driveway like this: Shocked

So Nick makes motion with his hands... and Furry gets the idea...

And Nick runs around like a man a quarter of his age yelling "mire faster, more faster.. must be stirring it.. over and over for getting it mescolato"

There is much gesticulating of hands and

until we finally end up with a farking huge pile of wet cement right in the middle of our drive way....


Taken is golf stick and buggered off!!!

Furry and I do this... Shocked

A LOT....

But before we know it, Nick is back... carrying 2 2x2 pieces of steel reo over his head...

This man is 80. remember...

So the bilingual orders start coming thick and fast...

Faster faster, no so much.. pronto, Rapidamente!,

And Furry loads up the wheel barrow, muttering under his breath about lazy morningd in bed and the possibility of another heart attack...

And meanwhile. I am told to "cleana da bricks, for man to come and putting putting maybe"


And Nick hands me a hammer and takes me to a pile of bricks and shows me how to cleean the mortar off them.

I figure it's easier to just copy him than ask questions...

Except when I am doing it just as he showed me, I keep getting told "no too much, no necesicita for the mortaio so much".

I smile and nod.

And Nick puts the finishing touches to our slab...

We grab a biero and start to relax.. But Nick wants to tell us his plans for the week.


And Nick says:

"Tommorow, maybe come and putting putting the bricks, the concreto for the bottom like this (**makes building motion with hands**) for up and up and up to maybe here ((motions to his waist) and then maybe for you next week, make for the forno but not too much...

Furry and I do this: Shocked

I motion to the pile of bricks.. all in order and all numbered and say.. "nick.. these brick, all good for oven.. making the forno, yes??"

And he makes a poo-poo sound and says "no too much for this.. make oven too big.. for too many goats yes??"



So we take him inside and show his pics of what we want... a domed oven.. about 1.7m in diameter..

and Nick says "no worries, no worries" a lot...

So back outside we go and he starts grabbing random bricks from the various piles (all the piles being numbered and in order like a jigsaw) and making building motions and saying

"For you I do like for 2 sheeps.. like for chimeny with roof tiles"

and lots of "no worries, no worries, I make belisimo for you"

An I am making round motions with my hands and saying "must be il duomo, you know.. cupola"

and he is nodding and saying "like for farmers.. Like for Mykonos, for chimney going up and up and up.. no worry about tree.. for up and up all good. I put tiles there"

And then he tells us:

"first time for fire for cottura must be plenty plenty hot.. big and must be for the beer bottle.. all ther water coming down, down and beer bottle go **insert Nick making motion with his hands like a Hawaiian dancer, kind of wavey and caressing** but no wories, I do for you!!

And Furry is standing there doing this


And then Nick says "next weekend, tomorrow I come.. for bricklayer.. no for money.. for pocket money maybe and come here about 8 o'clock.. no worries"... and walks off whistling....

And Furry and I look at each other and do this


So.. right now.. right this very minute, Furry and I are in Melbourne, and Nick is in our back yard at CF building our oven.

With a farmer/mykonos/goat twist. of course....


Pray for us, Please....