In the words of the song, sometimes the best things are there;
‘Sta ‘nfronta te!’
They are right there in front of us and we become so familiar we no longer recognise the goodness, kindness, love and suddenly, it’s gone!Sometimes we need to go back to the beginning, maybe toa time when we had less but wanted more. Did we all crave to be better and move on to bigger, better, shiny new ‘things’?
What happens when we look back and realise things were perfect, just the way they were?
Wouldn’t it be good to return to a corner of your mind and appreciate exactly what you had, in all its simplicity and innocence?
In Songs of Innocence and Experience I love how William Blake viewed childhood as perfect examples of creativity and imagination. He portrayed them as symbols of gentleness and purity, lacking in sophistication but wealthy in humility. Children embody goodness and lack malice. They accept things as they are, trust others to look after them and bloom in ignorant bliss. However, experiences, good and bad, change our perspective and we become weary and cynical. The higher our expectations are the more we suffer disappointment.
Last night me and The Mary took a trip into the past; to a place which used to be very dear to me. O Sole Mio was one of the first places I went on a date. I was 18 and good restaurants in Glasgow were few and far between. My date, who will remain nameless for fear of getting a visit from the police, was from the Calton. He was a boxer but had a side hustle and needed a decent, respectable girl to get through the doors of certain establishments in town. I was a dancer and knew lots of the security. Our evening would always start at O Sole Mio! We would then go to Lucifer’s, Maestro’s and wherever else he needed to deliver.
Like a child I was oblivious as to what was going on, enjoying the finer points of the evening. I would then be dropped off home at a decent hour having had a delightful time as well as serving my virginal purpose to my suitor. Days of innocence right enough. It took me a while to realise what was going on, within two weeks he was chucked but I continued my love affair with Il Mio Ristorante Preferito. It was the first place to have a wood-burning, brick oven in Glasgow and later when I was married to an Italian it was the only place he and his friends would go for Pizza.
Now I balk when I see new, hip pizzeria’s offering authentic, rustic baked dough, scorched in metal and ceramic ovens which arrive at the table with a soggy bottom and doughy rim. Nothing is better than focaccia or pizza, baked on a porous, clay surface which draws water out from the dough leaving a tasty puffed up crust. O Sole Mio has survived despite recessions in 1961 – bank interest rates, 1973 – an industry crisis, 1975’s – oil price fluctuation, government spending limitations in the 1980’s, the High interest rates of the 1990’s and many more. How many Pizza Punks will still be about in 2063?
For 45 years they have given us a taste of Naples and, hopefully, will continue to do so for many years to come. Our trip down memory lane was wholesomeand delicious. We left feeling nostalgic and loving our vibrant city even more than we had at the start of the evening. O Sole Mio reminds me of Mimi’s, one of my very favourite places in New York. The last thing on my mind as I went to sleep last night was I need to keep spreading the news about my city so more people can be a part of it. Hospitality and Glasgow is in my heart and my vagabond shoes will always stray right to the heart of it.
Maybe it’s not ‘the city that doesn’t sleep’ but every day I find something, both old and new, to brag about. It’s my kind of town, my kind of people too, as you walk down the street they growl, but they also smile at you. Whenever I leave, it calls me home and I will forever be grateful for the memories it holds. Good, bad, and sad, it’s made me who I am and I’m proud to call myself a Pure Glasgow Girl!