The Gap Life Diaries | Betty
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Betty

My main mode of transportation since I’ve been here has been The Greek’s rather unglamorous Fiat Punto which, given its age and elderly appearance, has been lovingly nicknamed Betty.

Betty has; on the left, one half of a (wonky) wing-mirror; on the right, no wing-mirror at all; a rear-view mirror that resides upside down on the dashboard; a big dent in the side; another big dent on the other side from an unfortunate parking incident in the summer; no power steering whatsoever; and is not only quite unattractive but also fairly unreliable.

Just so you know, the irony of The Greek being a car designer and driving a pile of scrap metal has not been missed.

So as not to be ungrateful, I must admit that at least Betty’s existence does mean that I don’t have to use the buses and trams very often – an experience which nine times out of ten results in me becoming very lost and arriving very late – but she has also been letting us down quite a lot as of late, the most recent couple of times being more amusing than the others.

About a week ago, some friends hosted a Greek Aperitivo at one of the bars in Piazza Vittorio, and a horde of other Greeks turned up to make the most of some incredibly delicious food.

Naturally (read: Mediterraneanly), we parked on the pavement, smack-bang in the middle of the piazza, roughly ten feet from the door of the locale. This, whilst very convenient given the rain and our lack of umbrella, also turned out to be rather embarrassing when we decided to go home, got into the beaten up Punto, turned the key, and heard… nothing. That’s right, the car had decided to pack it in (again) and we were going to have to jump-start it (again).

Given the piazza’s position, sloping slightly downwards towards the River Po, we (ok, he) managed to push the car out of the space it was parked in, and gave it another little push to make it begin to roll down towards the road by the river in the hope that by the time it got there, it’d be able to start again.

We were successful in getting Betty to function by the time we got to the main road, but not before we’d had to roll ever so conspicuously past the bar we’d just been in – where nearly all of The Greek’s friends and acquaintances were sitting outside – at roughly one mile per hour.

It really was something that should only happen in a sketch show, but no, we were there, laughing at our misfortune and waving at the group of presumably amused onlookers.

A few days later, after a fairly surreal night out beginning at a gay night at a rowing club which was decorated like somebody’s living room and featured a large faux dinosaur skeleton suspended from the ceiling, and where more than one conga line was formed over the course of the evening, we (mainly fellow Brit Abroad, Rhiannon) were feeling a little tired and worse for wear, so decided to go to McDonald’s to pick up a burger or eight.

Rhiannon was feeling rough enough to not even be able to summon the energy to change out of her pyjamas, so we picked her up from right outside her door, promising she’d only have to be out in public for long enough to go into Maccies, get the food, and go back to the car, at which point we’d go back to ours, snuggle under duvets and watch Disney films.

The plan was not to go so smoothly though, as when we got back into Betty to head home, we heard the familiar and unwelcome sound of a dead engine.

With my expert knowledge of jump-starting the car, I was put in the driver’s seat and The Greek and a very hungover and pyjama-clad Rhiannon were left pushing the car down the main road outside the station until it finally spluttered back into life. A highly embarrassing and somewhat surreal event for all involved.

I’m reliably informed that the Greeks say “paint it blue and throw it in the sea”, of things that are, for want of a better word, total crap, but in this case I can only suggest that we paint the old banger brown and chuck it in the Po.

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