Diaries Magazine

Little Red Riding Hood: an Inappropriate Tale for Children

Posted on the 24 October 2011 by Lucymiller321 @lucymiller321
On Sunday we go to the Colloseum. It is the second time I’ve been, and although this time we are going with a group and thus mercifully avoiding the ridiculous queue, the visit itself isn’t that different. Controversially, it confirms to me what I thought before – that the Colloseum is one of, if not the most, overrated thing about Rome. Obviously, I understand that it has great historical significance. And it probably is worth a visit – a quick one, once. The Nerone exhibition, about Emperor Nero, is the most illuminating part. But the actual Colloseum, once you’ve seen it and ‘oohed’ for a few minutes, is not that incredible. Unless of course you are overly impressed by size and/ or have a burning desire to re-imagine the anguish of Maximus Decimus Meridius right in front of you.The guide is speaking Italian and I don’t pick up much. Alberto does translate a couple of interesting points, though. Did you know, for instance, that the original white marble floor (bianco is about the only thing I can translate from the whole tour) was stolen, allegedly by a pope in order to decorate a church? Also, the Colloseum is owned by a private company rather than by a heritage trust or a national one, which is fairly unethical, if you think about it.Bene and Bea seem to enjoy it anyway, and finish the tour by colouring in a gladiatore and completing a quiz about what they have learnt, before they had their luminescent jackets back in.We drive to an organic market, where we are getting lunch. On the way we go past a hill that is made entirely of broken vases – I can’t ascertain from Lidia and Alberto why exactly this is, but they do tell me that the vases were collected from the old port, which used to be in this location.After a wander through the market (it is fairly small, but filled with good organic food smells) we reach the restaurant. Lunch is the standard huge feast that I have come to expect from Roman weekends. I can understand a lot of the menu, which is encouraging, and I order a vegetarian antipasto and pumpkin and ricotta pasta. The antipasto is huge, and as is usual with starters is enough on its own. Alberto orders beef, which turns out to be a bad choice: ‘It is full of nerves,’ he says, spitting it out into a napkin. ‘Urgh. This cow has died of sadness. I cannot eat.’The beef does look decidedly stringy. I am reminded why I usually choose the vegetarian option. My pumpkin pasta is lovely, and has a distinct lack of nerve endings. Afterwards the kids meet some friends from school (Bene learns to say ‘this is my friend Clara’) and occupy themselves playing with building blocks (‘building blosss’) in the outside seating area. Alberto tells me that we are in the communist part of Rome, and points out a red flag on the roof of one of the neighbouring buildings. Then Lidia takes him home so he can watch the football, and when she returns I am momentarily relieved of children. I go into the bookshop, which has a shelf focused on what appears to be women in Middle Eastern society – in Italian, obviously. Decide that I need to make more of an effort with my language learning.We visit Villa Celimontana on the way back. It is a really pretty and tranquil park, and even has a pond with tortoises casually swimming around. B&B are suitably enamoured by the tortoises for a while, and gather a group of children around them. They are admiring one that is sat at the edge of the pond when Bea decides, for whatever reason, that it would be happier being back in the water, and firmly pushes it off the ledge. The tortoise creates a small splash, before swimming away in a confused manner. I really think that it was quite happy at the edge of the water. The other children survey Bea quizzically. On the other side of the park is a church that is filled with chandeliers. B&B fall momentarily silent at the sight of them lighting the walls, then have fun striking matches for the candle donation. It is a popular church for weddings, Lidia tells me, and is right across the road from the television studios where Berlusconi films. Back in the park B&B find a climbing frame, and practice a charming new song: ‘Loosyy Loosyy go away, come again another day’. I pretend to be mortally offended by this and leave (I don’t go far, only to the benches) but am instantly called back (‘Loosyyy, can you ‘elp me pleeease?’) when Bea finds herself unable to get down from the monkey bars.They have a pony ride afterwards, and I walk behind with Lidia and talk about riding. She says she used to have horses, but it is hard for the girls to learn whilst living in Rome. There is a school near their house in the mountains, though, so they will probably have lessons there.I am once again put on the spot as we drive home. Benedetta wants me to tell her the story of Little Red Riding Hood. It is a task I find almost impossible, even though it doesn’t sound like it is a particularly big ask. However, you spend one quarter of an entire academic year researching and writing 10,000 words on the twisting and feminising of traditional fairytales and then try to remember the uncorrupted version of Little Red Riding Hood off the top of your head.It isn’t easy. The only images of Little Red Riding Hood that I have in my head are provided by Angela Carter, and consist of LRRH getting her rocks off and discovering her adolescent sexuality by seducing the wolf. More than slightly inappropriate; probably likely to get me fired. The version I recount in the car, then, isn’t going to go down as a classic of the oral tradition. I manage to remember the basics, though, after a lot of very careful thought as to what to say. Afterwards Lidia tells me that the wolf shouldn’t be killed, but sewn back together afterwards by the woodcutter. My hastily scrabbled together LRRH, obviously, is not factually accurate. ***When I bundle the kids out of the car and into the hotel Beige Suit is stood spectrally behind the glass doors at the bottom of the reception stairs. Just behind the glass, watching the road. It is the third day, at least, that he has been wearing his beige suit, which adds to the ghostlike aura. ***Dinner that night is fish fingers and salad, courtesy of Lidia. Alberto finds this hilarious – ‘This is all she can cook!’ he says. ‘Anna’s day off; this is what we eat!’Lidia says that she ‘’ates to cook’, which is a sentiment that I fully understand, and adds that they have fish fingers at the weekend so frequently that it has led to B&B begging for any other type of food at all. Later I have to read about Martha’s New School again (third time this week). I have no idea why B&B are so obsessed with Martha and her New School and her incessant whining. It is not a classic of children’s literature. ***That evening consists of Skypes with Louise, Melissa and then Katy. Beige Spectre is sat in reception for most of my Skype time. I don’t know whether he speaks English, but I attempt to convey his freakishness without it being too obvious. Whilst I am talking to Wench an American couple who have been on the Mac turn round to me and say that he has been following them too. Clearly he is just stalking everyone. He is so ghost-like that I keep expecting to see him staring back at me from the bathroom mirror, or lurking in the shadows of Alphabet House when I let myself in at night. After midnight, when he has gone on one of his terrifying random walks around the corridors, I take my chance to get back at AH via the street.‘Don’t worry,’ the receptionist says as I scuttle past. ‘After tomorrow, no more.’ Roll on Monday.

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