My, my, O Pantalone (magnifici, e zenerosi Signori), What a come-back! Mario Monti’s government is in its last days in the latest version of the la Bella Flora panto, and out from the shadows nostro parruchiere appears – again and again as it seems to us at the far back of the theatre in the cheap-cheap seats - like an Inamorato resurrected out of the commedia dell’arte (ref: The Italian Comedy, Piere Louise Ducharte, tr Randolph T Warner. Dover 1966).
Of course to see him on the come-back trail like this gives us all quite a shock, but we must learn to take the long view, and in the annals of the ‘best preserved’ of the great undead nostro parruchiere has some way to go. The eight mummies in the Bleikeller* of Bremen Cathedral are among my leading contenders (well ahead of Lenin and other of the ’best preserved’s of the last century). Now over 300 years old nobody quite knows how the famous Bleikeller eight have survived to live on so well with hair, leathery skin, nails and teeth all apparantly intact. One is a student who has lain in his coffin since 1705, another the city chancellor (up to the year 1730)… And the list goes on, the Swedish officer who went for a lie down after being blown up in an explosion – all survive in an effortless present tense and, although it makes our flesh crawl, we cannot help but join the gawping crowd -
…And then there is also the mysterious Englishwoman “Lady Stanhope” (shades of La Bella Pascale!), who shares the same horizontal position as the sprightly forever-eighty-year-old ’labourer’. Bunga Bunga, Nostro Parruchiere! For you there is – and will always be - only the everlasting now, and for us the uncomfortable feeling that somehow it is we – the crowds who come to gawp - who provide the strange alchemy which feeds you and allows you to continue to love on.
*Bleikeller – tr = ’Lead cellar’