Saturday, 13 September 2008

England v Italy

Image from Richard Ellisonon Flickr.

No blogging for the last week because I've been in Italy for an English wedding on Lake Garda. The couple, from Reading, told me that a do in a Reading restaurant would have cost three times as much as what we got which was, starting from 2.30 straight after the ceremony and a walk down the cobbled alleys to the waterside:-

refreshments on the public quayside -- a small bar set up with smartly dressed friendly waiters carving ham and helping us to stuffed olives and other delicacies as well as wine etc; a 30-minute trip across the lake and back in a motor boat reserved for us; a stroll along to a lakeside restaurant where we had a reserved area with tables and were served drinks, then a delicious six-course meal followed by the cake the chef had made that morning and which he cheerily dished onto the plates himself, for distribution by his smart and smiling ragazzi -- all going on to midnight with no pressure for anyone to leave and warm good will and geniality from the staff and even from the diners in the adjacent sections. Plus lovely treatment for the two children, both under two years old. In Malcesine, such was the civilising effect of the Italians’ civility, even the English were nice.

But the question left with me as always -- I've never heard a satisfying answer -- is why is England so much more expensive for hotels and restaurants and transport than the other European countries know a bit, France, Italy and Spain? Is it something to do with the privatisation of everything? Land shortage? Low taxation? Private equity companies? Executive pay? The dominance of the City? The irresponsibility of banks? New Labour? General crapness?

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