Thursday, November 13, 2008

Filles de joie

In the Spring of 1958, I was witness to an historic event. On the day when it happened, I spent a long time consoling my new-found Italian friend and mentor, Guiglielmo Recupero, for this was the day when the "casini" were declared illegal. No, nothing to do with gambling, the casini were the legal brothels which had flourished in Italy for decades.
On one memorable Sunday afternoon, shortly after I had arrived in Brescia, I was taken to two casini, and though - you have to trust me on this - I did not avail myself of the services on offer, I was mightily impressed by the civility, indeed the normality of it all. And then; suddenly, they were no more.
I was just watching Fellini's Amarcord for the nth time, and switched off after the moment in the film when the new consignment of "filles de joie" arrived in the town. I am neither for nor against legalised prostitution, I simply don't have a view, but remembering my friend Guiglielmo's angst, I couldn't watch any more.
Thank god for the joy I get from watching birds, and I am not talking about ladies of the night.

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