When I lived in Italy, I worked for a family as una maestra, which isn’t nearly as filthy as it sounds, so drag your mind out of the gutter for two seconds, pervo. Basically, it means a tutor. I turned up for a couple of hours, three days a week, and helped the two children with their homework and English language tuition. It was OK. They were generally well-behaved. Occasionally their utterly ancient dog – which was the size of a small horse – would come and shit on the floor of the playroom and the steward would come and yell at it in Italian (‘Schifo, schifo!’) and the boys would shriek. Good times.
Anyway. If you haven’t surmised already, this family were rich. Like, mega-uber-wealthy. Their house was in a gated compound, along with another palazzo which belonged to my employer’s sister, which looked like the farking Vatican itself, FFS. On my first day, I had the tour. These – just to make you vom a little bit in your mouths – are the details that I remember:
- solid oak floorboards, throughout the whole house, where there weren’t marble floors
- four reception rooms, one in the style of an ‘English cottage’ – it had a farking stone fireplace I could STAND in
- dining room to comfortably seat thirty guests, with rock crystal chandelier the size of me
- a fully equipped gym
- a basement classroom/playroom for the boys, with TV, latest computer and all the books/toys they ever wanted
- an indoor pool
- an outdoor pool
- extensive gardens
- staff, lots of staff, like, tons of people who worked for them
- garage for several cars
- helipad, diamond mine and private tropical island
OK maybe not the last three.
I didn’t go upstairs, but one of the boys reliably informed me that there were eight bedrooms and his was the biggest. He also told me he had one hundred euros a week pocket money, and that dead people should just be chucked in the sea so that sharks could eat them. Bright lad. Erm. Innit.
I just turned up, did my stuff, tried not to get bitten by the dog, and left. The family and household staff were always courteous and friendly and patient with my awful attempts at speaking Italian. The boys could be a handful but they responded well to discipline, and genuinely wanted to do well in school, and also loved educating me about football (Me: ‘What’s the name of that player you like? Spaghetti? Tortellini?’ Them: ‘No, Fraaaaaan, nooooooo!’ *wild laughter*). So it wasn’t a bad job, all in all.
However, I guess I only truly knew just how out of my league they were when, one day, the boys seemed a bit more excitable than usual, and I was finding it hard to engage them in any of their tasks. Finally, out of frustration, I ended the lesson early. ‘What was up with you two today?’ I asked, as they quickly packed away their books.
‘Uncle Silvio is here!’ cried the younger one.
‘We’re going to a party,’ the older boy informed me, and I told them to have fun.
I grabbed my bag and walked upstairs, ahead of the boys, and waved to the steward, who was standing down the other end of the corridor, about twenty feet away, talking to someone vaguely familiar. As I left the compound, I could see my bus coming up the hill so I dashed across the road and hopped on as it stopped for me.
It was only when I was halfway back to the apartment that I realised that the steward had been talking to Silvio Berlusconi, the then Prime Minister of Italy, and, erm, someone of a dubious reputation, to put it mildly.
Uncle Silvio. FFS.
Why didn’t I get invited to that party? Bastards.
In hindsight, I did wonder why there were lots of men in dark suits and sunglasses standing around. But I guess that’s just another day in the life of the stupidly wealthy.
Have you ever had a brush with someone notorious for all the wrong reasons?