Monday, 11 June 2007

Caffeine Shock

I was standing at the coffee bar today waiting for the waiter to turn his gaze in my direction. My Italian colleague seemed more nervous than usual but I put it down to lack of sleep (she'd taken a 5am flight that morning). She said hello to some snowy haired compatriot of hers, and his - numerous - assistants and then seemed to push me to one side. He noticed and said - no problem, les femmes et les enfants d'abord....a real gent.

Not knowing what was going on, and being exhausted, I moved to give him some space, despite his protestations, but didn't think much more of it. Then I ordered, got my coffee, looked around, and espied the milk jug on the other side of the Italians. So of course I asked if he could pass the milk. He seemed like a nice old guy after all. I noticed the look on my colleague's face when he gave it to me. T-O-T-A-L shock. I was puzzled. After all, this is a fairly standard mode of interaction.

I later discovered he is former Italian Prime Minister and President of the European Convention on the Constitution, Lamberto Dini - here for an interparliamentary meeting in advance of next month's summit. Also, it would seem, a very good bloke...

1 comment:

Amy said...

Great story!