Writers are always on the look-out for characters but some, when they arrive, are so over the top that they’d need to be diluted before any magazine would accept them as ‘fully rounded’. Take this one, for example.
The LSO and I were in an Italian restaurant when this magnificent character with man in tow, burst in through the door, looked around the empty tables – it was early evening – and plonked herself down next to us. Her conversation was loud and entertaining and had me reaching for my notebook. It was obvious that this couple weren’t used to Italian cuisine and, according to the waitress, had only turned up because they’d cut an Eat for Half Price coupon from the local paper every night that week and were working their way through the menu.
This large lady, draped in a gentleman’s grey overcoat which she didn’t remove, checked the menu and declared loudly, ‘I don’t want any of that mozzie-rella,’ and leaning towards her own LSO, informed him, in a booming whisper, ‘It’s Italian for hard boiled egg white.’ Then Mrs Mozzie-rella, as I christened her, joined in with the backgroundmusic and serenaded us, between mouthfuls of pasta, with -
‘All over Italy they know his concertina,
Poppa Piccolino, Poppa Piccolino,
He plays so prettily to every signorina,
Poppa Piccolino from sunny Italy.’
I quietly joined in with the last line. After all this was a childhood favourite that my Dad used to sing to me. The LSO gave me one of those looks and, being telepathic, I knew he was warning, ‘Don’t you dare ask for an encore.’
What a gift though. A great meal and a fully formed character for a short story.
(Mrs Mozzie-rella is mine. No borrowing please unless I haven’t used her before this time next year.)