There’s another book in the family, I am proud to report. My better half and a poetess friend have just published Le jour aux ignorants, winner of the 2009 Prix Ex Libris: ‘Dans le creux de l’hiver/Nous verserons de la lumière/Dans les mains des mendiants/Nous poserons nos poings/Dans les mots nous mettrons/Des cailloux des journées des brindilles/Toutes choses dues.’
This morning, the Presidents of the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions jointly hosted a state visit from the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Franco Frattini. The three Presidents, Napolitano, Mario Sepi and the newly-elected Mercedes Bresso, spent almost an hour together, with their discussions primarily concentrating on the consequences of the Lisbon Treaty. Napolitano is a great European as well as a great Italian and he was very much on the ball when it came to the Treaty’s provisions on such themes as the social dimension, participatory democracy and subsidiarity. My counterpart at the CoR, Gerhard Stahl, and I had privileged ringside seats in these intimate exchanges. Too soon it was all over and the sense of excitement that had temporarily convulsed the institutions subsided. Napolitano deserves a good biography. In the meantime, the wiki entry is enough to demonstrate why Napolitano is such a historic figure.
Sad news from Bologna. Adriano Baroni, the founder of the Chet Baker Jazz Club, passed away on 26 February. Before he founded the club Adriano, whom I always knew as ‘Baroni’ ran a small osteria, Della Fatica, in via Torleone, dangerously close to the Johns Hopkins University SAIS Bologna Center. As a student there back in 1979-80, I spent an awful lot of time in Della Fatica, strumming the guitar, singing and mostly, I suspect, drinking.* Baroni was like an uncle to me and his two sons, Gilberto and Marco, like cousins. It has been ages since I last saw them. In April this year my class will be gathering in Bologna to celebrate their thirtieth (I can scarcely believe it) anniversary, and I was much looking forward to looking up the old haunts and my old friends, like Baroni. Now, sadly, he has gone, but I’ll be sure to look up Marco and Gilberto and share some warm memories with them of a kind man with an extraordinarily generous attitude towards impoverished students. * No, let’s be honest. I don’t suspect; I was!