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Prodi’s government is not really achieving anything, as many Italians are starting to realise. Not a great surprise when you know that a) his government has a slim majority and b) his government spends most of its time squabbling. Again, no surprise, in view of the fact that the current government follows the traditional Italian model of a rag-tag bunch of parties which have got together in an unholy alliance to form an unstable coalition, made up of political interests ranging from more or less extreme left to slightly left of centre. This all means that, as usual, nobody can agree on anything, so nothing important gets done. SNAFU.

Evidence? Well, here in Milan the public transport unions seem to be calling almost weekly strikes, and the teachers seem to be on strike every month or so. Then there is the infamous Alitalia, which despite being pumped full of public money is still making huge losses, and, just to put the icing on the cake, Alitalia staff seem to be on strike just about every other week. It’s a surprise that anyone actually flies with the company. Although I’m not a regular flier, when I do fly, I avoid Alitalia like the plague and I’m pretty sure that most businesses do the same. Then there was an item on the RAI Report programme which highlighted certain deficiencies in the Italian education system, which backs up a recent article in the Economist which highlighted many failings in the Italian education system too. In fact, you just have to look at the poor aesthetic state of many Italian schools to see how high a position education holds on the politicians’ agenda.  I almost forgot to mention that I was at a children’s’ birthday party on Saturday afternoon and several of the parents there were moaning about the diabolical organisation of the nursery school which our son and their children attend – something which had not escaped my attention.

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I remember when I was back in the UK and, as part of my job, I had to inspect numerous schools in one of the home counties. The condition of those schools made Italian schools look largely neglected, although I should add I carried out these inspections a long time ago. However, the generally poor state of Italian schools was something I noticed almost as soon as I arrived in Italy, probably as a result of my previous work.

Will things change? The answer is possibly ‘yes’, but it will take time – around 20 years I imagine. Change happens slowly here. There is talk of amalgamating several of the bigger political parties into one larger one, but, I am reliably informed, this has been talked about before, to no avail. As I said, change happens slowly in the living museum.

Beppe Grillo, the renegade comedian, who spends much time, and earns quite a bit of money, still seems to have plenty of material to fuel his ‘What’s wrong with Italy’ obsession. I suppose that if Beppe Grillo went quiet, that would mean that things had got better, but Mr Grillo’s silence is unlikely to be forthcoming for quite a few years to come, I fear.

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