Longoio in Watercolour and Photography

Recently this watercolour appeared on our local village Italian facebook page ‘Longoio nel cuore’. It had been in Lio’s house and was now in Melbourne. Sadly Lio passed away last year (see my post at https://longoio2.wordpress.com/2016/09/18/goodbye-lio/ ).

I decided the other week to see how Longoio looks now from as near the same spot as the picture was done.

I don’t know which year the water colour dates from or who painted it or even how it finished up in Melbourne. Perhaps someone could tell me.

It’s nice to know, however, that Longoio hasn’t changed much and that it’s still here!

Are we missing British food in Italy?

A recent article from an unmentionable UK paper gave a list of desperately craved food items by what the paper calls ‘ex-pats’, but who are best described as ‘immigrants from the United Kingdom’ and, probably, in around two years’ time, to be called as the Italians say ‘extra-comunitari’, i.e. those who still possess a passport showing that they are not members of the European Union, like Pakistanis, Nigerians, Bolivians, Russians etc.

This is the list the paper gave in descending order of yearning:

 

FOOD ITEMS MISSED MOST BY UK IMMIGRANTS TO ITALY DO I MISS THESE? WHAT DO I DO?
Crumpets Yes Wait for some kind soul from the UK to bring me a pack. I could, of course, learn to make them when I get a crumpet griddle.
Baked Beans

 

 

Not really Get a tin of Fagioli cannellini and make Tuscan Fagioli all’uccelleto. Much more delicious. (recipe at  http://ricette.giallozafferano.it/Fagioli-all-uccelletto.html )
Organic First Infant Milk Too old for this Nothing
Gravy Granules

 

Not really Look for a small cardboard tin of ‘brodo granulare’ (both ‘classico’ and veg)
Tomato Soup

 

Not really Make your own tomato soup. Recipe at  https://www.chowhound.com/recipes/creamy-tomato-soup-10836. If lazy pick up a packet of powdered tomato soup at any large supermarket.
Crème Egg Absolutely not. Horrible sickly things. More vegolate than chocolate. Go for real quality Italian Easter eggs which come in all sizes and all qualities of chocolate. They’ve even got a nice ‘sorpresa’ when you crack them open.
Sage and Onion Stuffing

 

No Nothing
Branston Pickle

 

 

Sometimes A friend makes some home-made pickle for me. There’s also a recipe at http://www.food.com/recipe/the-almost-original-branston-pickle-recipe-246675

 

Ginger Nuts

 

Definitely. Put ginger powder into your cuppa and then dunk a frollino biscuit in it. (Or wait until some kind soul brings you a packet across from the UK)
Earl Grey and Vanilla teabags

 

Not really There’s some decent Earl Grey tea in Italy. What I do miss is PG tips, however.
Unsmoked Back Bacon:

 

Not really There’s some decent Danish bacon one can pick up at Tuodi’, Pian di Coreglia.
Blackcurrant Fruit Pastilles

 

Not really Nothing
Richmond Thick Irish Sausages

 

Not really There are some great Italian sausages, some quite spicy too. However, they do tend to be a bit too salty for my taste.
Steak and Kidney Pie

 

Definitely missed Make your own.  Recipe at https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1313/a-good-steak-and-kidney-pie

You can use ready-make pasta brisè (short-crust pastry) from any supermarket if you want to cheat.

Cream Crackers

 

Not really ‘Fette biscottate and crispy focaccie do the trick excellently
Jaffa Cakes Not really Eat half a digestive biscuit easily available here (thanks McVities!) with a slice of orange.
Salt & Vinegar Crisps

 

Not at all. Ghastly chemical concoction. Nothing
Mushy Peas

 

I miss these if I’m having ‘Pesce e patate’ (fish ‘n chips at the Barga sagra). It’s on from the end of July to the middle of August. Barga should include not just mushy peas but fried onion rings too. Make and bring your own. Recipe at http://allrecipes.com/recipe/50281/mushy-peas-i/

 

Cheese & Onion Crisps Not really. If you are desperate for chemically-flavoured crisps they are now appearing at Lidl in Lucca.

 

What I most miss, however, is not on the above list: strong farmhouse cheddar cheese. Ok, you might say what with all the amazing varieties of cheese in Italy: asiago, mozzarella, pecorino, gorgonzola (a great substitute for blue stilton), provolone, taleggio, ricotta, mascarpone, scamorza etc. why should I still have a craving for cheddar? Moreover, why can one obtain in Italy cheeses from France, Switzerland, Holland and Germany and not a single variety from the UK?

Has the anti-brexit revenge already started on both sides of the Channel? Will the benighted inhabitants of the British Isles be deprived of camembert while we’ extra-comunitari’ (as several Italians are already mockingly calling us) will still be dreaming of a cheddar cheese toast with a lump of butter on top, especially welcome in the often dark days of a Tuscan winter.

Actually, I’ve long since come to the stage where I’m missing decent (and decently priced) Italian food and eateries much more in the UK than I’m missing UK food in Italy. It’s hardly surprising when the UK has just 65 products with EU protected status and Italy has 267. I wonder how all this will be affected in the promised forthcoming Brexit negotiations after June 8th.

I really do wonder?  To end on a smiley note would you say ‘formaggio’ or ‘cheese’?

 

Vico Pancellorum’s Secret Language

Once you’re reasonably fluent in Italian it’s just the start of your learning process! I’ve already mentioned in a recent post that there are at least twenty-six regional languages which could be said to be rather more than dialects because they have their own literature and literary societies. Most obviously, the great eighteenth Venetian playwright, Carlo Goldoni wrote both in Venetian and Italian. (There’s a good Venetian on-line machine translator at https://glosbe.com/it/vec/) .Even composers like Pergolesi did not disdain to accept opera libretti written in the Neapolitan language such as his ‘Lo frate ‘innamorato. (See https://glosbe.com/nap/it for Neapolitan if you need it, especially when listening to ‘Lo frate ‘nnamorato’).

We are lucky in Tuscany because the region’s language is the basis of current Italian. Dante saw to that when he wrote his ‘Divine Comedy’ in the ‘vulgar tongue’ (i.e. not in Latin). Having said that, there are many local variants in Tuscan Italian, not least phonetically, as anyone who’s lived in Florence knows where any ‘k’ sound is turned into ‘h’ aspirate (I.e., instead of ‘casa’ Florentines say ‘hasa’).

Lucchese is meant to be a very polished form of Tuscan Italian (indeed families of the Italian nobility used to send their daughters to schools in Lucca to pick up a ‘refined speech’.)  Yet even in the walled city it’s worth investing in a dictionary of Lucchese, such as Ippolito Nieri’s (Ponte a Moriano’s great philologist) work which can be found at https://books.google.it/books/about/Il_vocabolario_lucchese.html?id=z4w0AQAAIAAJ&redir_esc=y

Luckily, Tuscan variants are largely lexical rather than syntactical. I.e., the deep grammatical structure usually remains the same with subject-verb-object being the basic pattern with only the vocabulary changing.

Just to give you some very simple examples of Lucchese as it spoken around Lucca:

ENGLISH ITALIAN LUCCHESE
We/us Noi Noialtri (cf. Spanish ‘Nosotros’)
You come too Vieni anche tu Vieni anco te
Show him/her who you are Fargli vedere chi sei Fanni vedé chi sei

 

‘Ni’ is used in the Lucchese even more frequently than the ‘ne’ in standard Italian, replacing many different forms of ‘gli’, ‘lo’ etc.

I could go on for miles but if, as a forestiere living in this part of the world, you start to cut off the last syllable ‘re’ from infinitives and indulge in other elisions then it’s clear proof that you are turning into a Lucchese. (E.g. ‘me va fà na bella cena’ = ’I’m going to have a nice supper’.)

Going up into the mountains of the Lucchesia, especially if you’re venturing into the remoter reaches of the Garfagnana and even if you are Italian-perfect, more problems are likely to be encountered. For example, people from Bagni di Lucca have to have things said to them at least twice over in the bars of Vagli di Sotto and di Sopra at the upper end of the Serchio valley before they get the gist of what is being uttered. (And that’s before they start on the drink…).

Which reminds me, I have now come to the stage, living here for over twelve years, where, especially in the summer tourist season starting now in Bagni di Lucca, I hear people talking what seems to be an unknown foreign language, only to realise that it is English that is spoken, but in a weird part of the Islands!

Happily, Italians everywhere are glad to know you are making efforts to learn and speak their beautiful language so they will (unlike the French) slow down and try to speak a more standard Italian.

However, there are still certain areas of the world where people don’t really encourage you to speak their language (I’m thinking of the more inaccessible valleys of Wales where many people don’t like you to understand everything they are talking about). This is especially the case with particular specialist trades. Language for them is indeed like a closed shop. You’ve got to understand the language before you can practise the craft. Nowhere is this more apparent in those communities of the lucchese Mediavalle and Garfagnana where there are (or have been) metallurgical workers. In Fornovolasco, for example, the Lucchese lexical structure is mixed up with words coming from the Brescian dialect since in mediaeval times families of iron-founders from that part of Italy settled in these parts to mine and exploit the excellent ores they discovered lay in the Apuan alps.

This is also the case with ‘l’arivaro’, the ‘secret’ language of metal workers in Vico Pancellorum of which, unfortunately, there is only one fluent speaker left.

(A View of Vico Pancellorum)

On Saturday evening at Luca and Rebecca’s bookshop there was a fascinating conference given by three inhabitants from this beautiful and sequestered borgo of our comune. The speakers were Claudio Stefanini, president of ‘Il Risveglio’ local association which does a lot to give life to the village, especially with its summer exhibition, Manuel the grandson of the last speaker of the language and Lisa, a linguistics student, who is writing a thesis on the language.

(From left to right: Lisa, Manuel and Claudio.)

The main points I gathered were as follows:

  1. The language is strictly tied to the trade of tin-lining the interior of copper pots which would otherwise be poisonous to cook in.
  2. The language is syntactically the same but lexically is quite different from standard Italian.
  3. The full language is reduced to two speakers since everyone else speaking it has either died or emigrated or forgotten it.
  4. The language takes its vocabulary from an area of Calabria which, in turn took words from Albanian and Spanish. (e.g. ‘window’ is Italian ‘finestra’ but in vicoan ‘arivaro’ it is ‘ventana’.)
  5. Basic parts of the language are still in use today in Vico Pancellorum For example, a common greeting up there is ‘ere’ (pronounced as it is written). This is a variant of ‘muori’, ‘die’. If that greeting sounds morbid then there are so many Italian phrases which are used to mean the opposite. I.e. ‘ere’ actually means ‘top of the morning to you!’ Another more widespread Italian expression is ‘in Bocca al Lupo’ which means ‘may you land up in the wolf’s mouth’ which actually means ‘good luck.’ The point here is that if you wished good luck to an Italian they wouldn’t believe you! (Never, ever say ‘buona fortuna’ to anyone in this country!!!). It’s a bit like the English ‘break a leg’!
  6. The language is used by speakers for confidential matters which they want to keep secret and not let out to ‘forestieri’. i.e. anyone who wasn’t born in Vico Pancellorum.

The talk in ‘Shelley House’ was immensely well-attended with standing room only for many people, including the mayor. The best part was hearing Claudio and Manuel having an amusing conversation in ‘arivaro’.  We are promised a dictionary of the language and it will surely be fascinating to read Lisa’s completed thesis.

My own theory about forms of languages is as follows:

ENGLISH TERM ITALIAN TERM MEANING
Standard world language Lingua Nazionale The language as it is presented in standard grammars and spoken by the educated class
Allowed regional  languages Lingue regionali Often quite different and with opposed roots from the standard world language e.g. Welsh in the UK and Friulian in Italy. These languages will be distinguished easily by having locations with two separate names and separate road signs.
Dialect Dialetto Lexical and often syntactical variants of the standard language
Slang Gergo Typical ‘street’ or ‘country’ language. Examples includes cockney rhyming slang and rap.
Metalanguage Metalinguaggio Without getting into deep water because there are so many issues in discussing this term, this means any specialised language used in particular defined areas. These could go from scientific experiments to linguistic analysis to tin-lining copper pots in Vico Pancellorum. This type of language is essentially linked to a particular physical or mental activity.

 

It’s my theory that ‘l’arivaro’ is, in fact, a meta-language of a very particular kind with input from local ‘gergo’ (which it is usually referred to by the inhabitants)  and dialectical forms connected with other areas of Italy or even Europe. It’s just so sad that so many languages of whatever category are in danger of disappearing for ever in the world. For example, in Tierra del Fuego there’s only one native speaker of Yaghan the local language left. So if you meet up with Abuela on Navarrino Island in Chile and hear her talking to herself don’t imagine she’s going nutty; it’s just that she has no-one else to talk to in her language.

Now let me tell my cat Napoleon to get off my keyboard. How does one say that in Felinian?

PS Do check on the very interesting future events at ‘Shelley House’ on their facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/events/1725797921046868/

 

Cappiano’s Osteria Numero Uno

A delightful detour if one is taking the route from Altopascio to Empoli across the Arno valley on the way to Florence is to cut across to Ponte a Cappiano, a major engineering work carried out by Cosimo de Medici and replacing an older bridge on the pilgrims route known as the via francigena and once protected by the knights hospitaliers of Altopascio. I have described this area more fully in my post at https://longoio2.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/the-biggest-wetland-in-italy/

I’ll just add here that if one parks one’s vehicle in the main square of this truly laid back town and walks round to the right one comes across an excellent osteria appropiately called ‘numero uno’.

We ate well and cheaply there with excellent pasta first courses and brilliantly cooked manzo and involtini for seconds accompanied by some of the best mashed potatoes I have tasted.

The osteria’s facebook page is at https://m.facebook.com/osterianumero1fucecchio/?locale2=it_IT

Booking is essential. We didn’t book but were lucky as the osteria filled up quite quickly. Helpings were generous and some of what we couldn’t eat was packed away for us by the friendly proprietors and served for our supper too!

 

Ponte a Cappiano was a truly welcome break on our journey towards the capital of the Grand Duchy during yesterday’s brilliant spring day.

My Wife’s Illustrious Ancestor

As part of the continuing series of’ lezioni’ or lectures given by the Bagni di Lucca branch of Unitre, the University of the Third Age, I’m giving a talk at 4 pm today at the library of ex-Anglican church. The subject is ‘Giovanni Battista Cipriani – un pittore Toscano in Inghilterra’. The lecture will be delivered in Italian so you are warned. However, even if your knowledge of the world’s most beautiful language is limited you can still enjoy the afternoon as there will be plenty of pictures to illustrate the artist’s work.

(Giovanni Battista Cipriani 1727 – 85)

Giovanni Battista Cipriani was one of a distinguished group of Italians who made the United Kingdom their home, particularly in the eighteenth century, that age of enlightenment. They included such notable persons as Francesco Xaverio Geminiani, the Luccan composer (see my talk on him at https://longoio.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/lets-celebrate-francis-xaverio-geminiani/) and Giacomo Leoni, the Venetian architect who introduced Palladianism to England and whose masterpiece, Clandon House, owned by the National Trust, was so tragically gutted by a fire in 2015.

Among his considerable achievements Cipriani is especially noted for the following:

  • He raised the art of interior decoration and architectural embellishments to new heights
  • He improved graphic arts immensely especially with regard to posters, invitations and certificates
  • He was a co-founder, with Sir Joshua Reynolds, of Britain’s premier artistic institution, the Royal Academy
  • He collaborated with Robert Adam in producing some of the most exquisite furniture ever seen
  • He was a superb painter in his own right and contributed to the beautification of several English country houses

(Cipriani’s Decorations for Trafalgar House’s Music Room)

  • He painted the Gold state Coronation and the Lord Mayor’s coach

(H.M. The Queen’s Golden State Coach)

Last but not least Giovanni Battista Cipriani was an ancestor of my wife, Alexandra Antonia Cipriani, no mean artist herself and whose presence will grace my talk.

(Alexandra Antonia Cipriani – descendant of Giovanni Battista Cipriani)

So if you are in the area do drop in to Bagni di Lucca’s ex-Anglican Church, now library, at 4.00 pm and soak in the talent of an Italian – and a Florentine to boot – who did so much to raise standards of design and cultured living in eighteenth century England.

Of course, Italy today continues that great tradition of inspiring the improvement of so many cultural facets in the United Kingdom, whether it be in fashion, food, film or music. It is, therefore, a real tragedy that a group of mal-informed, and largely philistine, members of the British populace, through their apparently freely cast votes, have initiated a path that can only lead to greater isolation and ultimate perdition of all that the United kingdom was once famous for – the unconditional welcome of talented people from the continent – and other parts of the world – who have done so much through their effort and genius to contribute to the enhancement of the proudly eclectic nature of artistic and social life in those island.

Make it an Interesting Journey from BDL to Florence

The journey should be part of the joy of travelling from the Lucchesia to Florence. How many of us going by car just head for the Autostrada del Mare, Italy’s second oldest motorway dating back to the 1920’s, and speed along until we reach the city of the Lily?

Of course, if one is in a hurry that’s the best route to use. But there are luscious alternatives – and plenty of them. One of my favourite routes to get to Florence from Bagni di Lucca is to follow the Val di Lima to the Lima junction. From thence you either take the main route to Le Piastre which goes through San Marcello Pistoiese and over the Monte Oppio pass, or via Cecafumo and Prunetta. From Le Piastre it’s a pleasant descent into the Arno Valley and if you really want to take the Autostrada you can do so at the Pistoia toll-gate. Pistoia, with its gorgeous sights, merits at least a few hours to visit, especially as it’s this year’s city of culture. Otherwise, you could take strada regionale 66 (evocative number…) with a welcome break at Poggio a Caiano to visit the wonderful Medici villa there.

To return there’s nothing better than taking the FI-PI-LI, strada di grande comunicazione, from Florence but exiting at Lastra a Signa. Here you could stop and visit Caruso’s Villa (see my post at https://longoio2.wordpress.com/2017/03/30/the-greatest-of-all-singers-his-villa/)

and thence travel along one of the Arno’s most picturesque stretches. This is where the river cuts through a gorge known as ‘La Gonfolina’. The road shares this part of the river course with the main Pisa to Florence railway.

Why is this area known as the Gonfolina? It’s perhaps because the word ‘Gonfio’ means swollen and it was this part of the Tuscan landscape that divides the Arno into two stretches. In ancient times the river would swell up in the upper stretch until it formed a lake which would overflow and cascade down to form a second lake.

There is still a part of the huge boulder which once damned this part of the Arno in Cainozoic times.

It’s this stone which appears in an engraving by Giuseppe Zocchi in 1744.

It’s also this stone which has inspired many folk tales.

On the stone there’s a plaque with an inscription by the great and curious mind of Leonardo da Vinci:

This reads:

“La Gonfolina, Sasso per antico unito co’ Monte Albano in forma d’altissimo argine il quale tenea ingorgato tal fiume in modo che, prima che versassi nel mare era dopo a’ piedi di tal Sasso, componea due grandi laghi de’ quali el primo è là dove oggi si vede finire la città di Firenze insieme con Prato e Pistoia”

Translated this is “Gonfolina, A rock, in ancient times forming part of the Monte Albano  which once divided the river into two stretches before it reaches the sea, each stretch forming a lake of which the first one reaches out to the city of Florence together with Prato and Pistoia”.

After this delightful part of the Arno the road takes one to Montelupo Fiorentino, famous for its terracottas and ceramics. From thence one could stop and have lunch at Empoli and visit the sights of this somewhat neglected but characterful town, including the Piazza degli Uberti with its fine church, the Pretorian palace the Pinacoteca and composer Busoni’s house.

Then it’s across the Arno valley, heading for Fucecchio, Bird-watcher could make a slight detour to the Padule di Fucecchio, one of Italy’s largest wetland areas and which provides some of the best bird observations in Italy. Thence it’s to Altopascio, another fascinating town with its Templar hostel and mythical bread. From Altopascio one can either head for Lucca or go to Marlia, the Serchio valley and Bagni di Lucca.

So do make the journey part of your delight in visit Florence from the Lucchesia. And there are still umpteen more routes to discover!

 

 

PS I’ve just realised we did this route more years ago than I care to remember – on our way to Empoli and San Miniato Tedesco, by bicycle from Florence. Ah those were the days!

Mini-Series India in Longoio

Several people from Bagni di Lucca are surprised to know that we like to stay in Longoio during the winter rather than going to live in a town or city. Actually, the cold season is here much more acceptable than in Bagni di Lucca. At a height of almost two thousand feet we are located well up the valle di Lima and, therefore, get more sunshine. Also, damp is not so much a problem here as it certainly is in Bagni. We, on the other hand, wonder how people can survive by a river in the bottom of a valley at Bagni di Lucca. It’s quite often that the clouds are below us and we have to descend through mist and fog to reach the spa town’s poor inhabitants who are living in a temperature often five to ten degrees colder than where we are.

Winter is a good time to do bracing walks in the hills, enjoy cosy evenings by the fireside and, naturally, read a lot of books and watch videos. We spent February in Tamilnadu as winter, no matter how much better it is here than in Bagni di Lucca, is a good time to get away to some seductive tropical clime. (I hope you enjoyed our account and photos of the wonderful places we visited. Now that we’re back in Italy there will be plenty more pictures to sort out).

We miss India and winter is a good time to watch films about that fascinating sub-continent and to read books and, maybe, plan a future visit there. India’s film industry is now the biggest in the world as any aficionado of Bollywood will know. I suggest there are three main categories of feature film involving India. The first is Bollywood itself with its lively mix of action, love and dance. The second is the art film of which the greatest exponent is Satyajit Ray, especially his classic ‘Apu trilogy’ describing the growing up of a boy in Bengal.

the_apu_trilogy

The third are films aimed particularly at a western audience and involving both Indian and western directors. David Lean’s ‘A Passage to India’, based on the Forster novel and dating from 1984, is a prime example of this genre. More recently, John Madden’s hilarious ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ of 2011 and its 2015 sequel, ‘The Second best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ in which a group of pensioners from the UK travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly built luxury hotel, has entertained a world audience and also given sharp insights into a fast-changing country.

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On a more serious note, Danny Boyle’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ of 2008 related the trials and tribulations of 18-year-old Jamal Malik, an Indian Muslim from the Jehu slum, when he enters a TV quiz show. Here, again the situation gives an excellent chance to describe the incisive multifariousness of fast-changing Indian culture today.

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Looking at films first aired on TV there are more adventurous Indian web mini –series which stand apart from the usual conventions of Bollywood with their bolder outlook on life. Such are ‘Roommates’ and ‘I don’t watch TV’. Regarding miniseries in general I have my three favourite ones which tempt me back to the DVD’s I have of them.

Th first is ‘Queenie’ from 1987, relating the life of actress Merle Oberon and based on the book of that title by Michael Korda, the son of Merle’s main film director and husband, Alexander. The mini-series is particularly noteworthy in showing how chee-chees ,or Anglo-Indians ,were looked down on by both the British (who described them as ‘blacks’ and made fun of their sing-son accent and their pretensions in dressing up in European clothes and the Indians who saw them as boot-lickers of the Raj and not to be trusted in any independence struggle. In real life Merle Oberon pretended she was born in Tasmania and only at the end of her illustrious film star life (where among other films she played Catherine alongside Laurence Olivier’s Heathcliff in ‘Wuthering Heights’) did she confess to having been born in a Mumbai slum. Fortunately, the whole perception of Anglo-Indians has completely changed today. After all, who would think that such singers as Cliff Richard and Englebert Humperdinck and actors such as Diana Quick and athlete and politician Sebastian Coe would once have been looked down as being chee-chees?

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The second is probably the finest miniseries ever made for TV: ‘The Jewel in the Crown’, based on Paul Scott’s ‘Raj Quartet’. With a star-studded cast including Art Malik, Geraldine James, Saeed Jaffrey, Peggy Ashcroft, Charles Dance, Tim Pigott-Smith, Eric Porter and Susan Wooldridge, and the most immaculate attention to detail in scenarios and costumes, this offers the finest insight into a gone but not forgotten India at the end of the Raj. ‘The Jewel in the Crown’ is compulsory viewing for me at least once every two years and certainly warms up my Longoio winters.

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The third TV mini-series I love coming back  to is ‘The Peacock Spring’ based on Rumer Godden’s book of the same title and dating from 1996. This time we are in the post-independence India of 1959 when a widowed United Nations official stationed in Delhi, India brings his two daughters, Una and Hal(cyon),from England to live with him. In fact, the two are a ploy to justify his liaison with Alix, a chee-chee who becomes their governess. Tensions arise and Una, in turn, has a love affair with an Indian…. but let me not be a spoiler here. Again, the acting and scenarios are perfect and a very young Hattie Morahan and Naveen Andrews are bewitching.

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The three mini-series have the advantage for me in that I feel they are more effective on film than in book form.

Michael Korda’s book is, in my opinion, repetitive and without style. The film based on it certainly tightens the plot and makes it much more credible. Paul Scott may be a fine writer but clarity, both in plot and flair, are not his forte. Rumer Godden fairs much better and, certainly, her book deserves to be read, although it was primarily addressed to teenage girls (and their mums?)

I’m told by some the two seasons of ‘India Summers’ are worth a look too.

I am so glad that I have these miniseries on my shelf and re-watching them can while away the long Longoio winter evenings. In their separate ways they bring back the fascination of India – its wonders and its miseries, its highs and lows – they certainly make me think of a return visit to the sub-continent in the not too distant future!

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