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Young Montalbano – An Apricot

An Apricot

Everything is ready for Salvo’s move to Genova – except, it would seem, Salvo himself. As he contemplates a new life away from his beloved Sicily and prepares to hand his role over to his deputy, soon to beinspector, Mimi’ Augello, Montalbano can’t help but be drawn deep into one last investigation.

A young woman has been found dead in what appears to have been a tragic accident, her car discovered at the bottom of a cliff with her body in it. But the evidence doesn’t add up and, despite Augello’s readiness to accept the easy conclusion, Montalbano remains convinced that the inconsistencies of the case need unpicking further. With only a few days to go till his planned move, will our most Sicilian of inspectors manage to extricate himself from Vigata?

Salvo, Salvo! How could you turn your back on your lifetime love to stay and tidy up the crimes of Vigata? Food, the wind-swept sea. playboy Mimi and Catarella’s mispronunciations had more pull than Livia’s slinky hips, sun bleached hair and sad eyes. And Salvo had made that decision at the fork in the road only to find out when he arrived back at the station that there had been a catastrophic attack in Palermo. It was obvious even to Livia that Salvo’s place was always going to be in Sicily, fighting crime and the Mafia.

Young Montalbano The Honest Thief

The episode began with a lack of Prosecco to wash down the sardines Adelina had prepared for Salvo’s dinner. Salvo went to a local restauranteur to buy some wine which was a great deal more problematic than one might have expected. When Livia and Salvo spoke over the phone it was apparent that Salvo was going to talk to his chief to try and find a solution to his long distance love affair. A transfer away from Sicily would, he argued, force him to grow up.

Meanwhile a man came in to report that a thief had taken some but not all of the lira in his wallet and left a silver watch behind as well. This was the first of a spate of robberies where a percentage of counted money went missing. All victims told their stories of puzzlement at how it had happened and why not everything was taken.

Moreover in a separate case Pamela, the barmaid who had sold Salvo the wine the night before, had disappeared. Pamela had a new man every week so looking at former lovers might be quite the job.

Mimi was conflicted about Salvo’s proposed move away from Sicily. On the one hand he felt stifled by being under Montalbano but on the other liked the rapport they had developed over the years. He warned Salvo a boring and repetitive life awaited him in Genoa.

When investigating Pamela’s disappearance it transpired that her real name was Ernesta and that she had been recording the name of her lovers in diaries with details of gifts, phone numbers etc. – gold chains, bracelets. Pamela seemed quite the girl. Had her sleeping around led to her disappearance? Had she got on the wrong side of a jealous wife? Had she fallen foul of a mafioso? Mr Puma provided further details about her disappearance on the Sunday as did Pitrino and Barletta her workmates. Pamela had received a phone call earlier that evening which seemed to have frightened her but despite that Pitrino’s offer to walk her all the way home had been turned down.

Stella the bank manager provided Salvo with more information about Pamela closing her account on the Monday morning and used the occasion to make Salvo realise how he had let her down with his words being meaningless when she thought he was different to other men.

Pamela had been inaccurately accused of blackmailing a former boyfriend and as she was frightened by his threats she had decided to leave Sicily. Her body however turned up near the railway line at Montelussa.

Salvo made a deal with the thief to use his skills to find proof of a link between a corrupt lawyer and a recent kidnapping of an important man’s son. The honest thief got his just desserts. The real blackmailer was also revealed and justice was served to them and the murderer.

When a meal out disappoints

What should we do?

Leave the food on the plate and hope they take note?

Ask to speak to the manager despite the other customers?

Pay up but not leave a tip?

Complain on social media?


Once upon a time it was all so simple, we’d complain face to face and maybe get something taken off our bill in recompense or if they didn’t we’d cross that place off our list for future meals out.

Now we have a range of options such as taking to Twitter or Trip Advisor to vent our spleen. A quick conversation has been replaced by a permanent written comment which may affect the future business much more than the writer may have intended.

Today we spent over £30 on two Roast Beef Sunday lunches followed by coffee and tea. The beef was terribly tough and I left mine on the plate. Now it wasn’t the waitress’s fault and she was perfectly pleasant. The manager did not ask why the beef was left on the plate and the bill was for the full amount but we didn’t leave a tip.

Here’s the thing, this is a local franchise and their nearby establishment has succulent cuts of meat but this  other venue used a cheaper silverside cut with no marbling. It was so lean and well done that there wasn’t a hope of it being tender.

I’m deeply disappointed.


Young Montalbano series 2 – “La Transazione” “The Transaction”

Barely a month has passed since Livia and Salvo decided to spend some time apart. Salvo is gloomy and confused. While investigating the robbery of some 60 security boxes at a small local bank, he seeks the advice of rival bank manager Stella Parenti, whom he’d met during a previous case. Alluring Stella makes no secret of being taken with Salvo and asks him out. Has Montalbano found a way to eclipse his melancholy thoughts of Livia?

Meanwhile, another case presents itself to the Vigata inspector – a retired doctor is found murdered in his own home. The resulting investigation will echo Montalbano’s personal dilemmas about the complexities of love.


“Don’t you think it’s time to snap out of it?”

“It’s only been a month.”


And so began the episode, quickly followed by talk of circuses and a rubbery – that Catarella eh, what is he like!

Barracuda the banker had opened his bank only three months previously and had already many clients. He claimed to help farmers, unlikely in Vigata, and was trying to attract fishermen but it seemed likely that the 60 safety deposit boxes were something to do with the Mafia. Later it was said to be more to do with sharp practices, small print on contracts hiding exorbitant interest rates and loan sharking.

Montalbano got some useful information from Stella Parenti, the pretty bank manager he had met in a previous episode, and she was obviously smitten with him so invited him to the circus and the fortune teller followed by dinner next door. Mimi of course turned ip which made Montalbano want to change plans. The real interest of the evening was the fortune teller who made an accusation of murder. Montalbano ended up leaving the bank manager at her door and took an older woman home so she would not get thrown into a ditch or murdered.

Salvo at this stage of his life was still in contact with his father who told him what Barracuda’s bank’s reputation was.

The murdered doctor’s fiancee seemed to cast doubt on the theory that the murder was about inheritance as there were no children or nephews.

Eva Riccardi, the fortune teller, had disappeared. Her suitcase contained bullets – had she extracted revenge from the doctor for his earlier crimes as a Black Shirt?

Montalbano meanwhile continued to miss Livia so much that he couldn’t bring himself to sleep with Stella. “I’m not ready,” seemed a bit girlie but Stella seemed to understand.

Eva claimed the murderer was the doctor’s fiancee and not herself. She wouldn’t be drawn into discussions about whether Livia was the girl for him or not but advised him to not let a bad experience change him for the worse.

Of course cherchez la femme  remained a good way to operate and it wasn’t quite as simplistic as one might have expected.

And, naturally, Montalbano reached his “crossroads” in the airport and chose what we all knew he would.

Real love.


Young Montalbano 2: “Morte In Mare Aperto” “Death on the High Seas”

Fires and heroism have featured in the past two Montalbano storylines. Last week Montalbano was the reckless fool entering the burning hotel and this week it was Mimi rescuing someone from the exploding fireworks factory. Mafia family feuds feature more frequently in Young Montalbano than they every did in the original stories.

Mimi continued to be a rogue and a scoundrel, suggesting that he fix up Salvo with a German tourist or an Italian twin while Livia was away. Salvo remained monastic concentrating on the fishing boat death and the difficulties Fazio was having in his personal life.

Catarella meanwhile tripped over door frames, did crosswords, pinned up photos of fugitives and nearly passed out when he saw his own blood. Italian humour is of the slap-stick kind.

Cipolla the fisherman who shot his shipmate was either an angry husband, a pre-meditated murderer or someone who needed to defend himself off the coast of North Africa depending on which version of the shooting was true.

Wedding suit fittings, shoe catalogue photos and festival confetti all were used to show us Salvo’s nervousness about the wedding plans. Livia’s love of fun and spontaneity was demonstrated by her having booked a table at a Shrove Tuesdsay carnival party. Salvo’s commitment to his job was demonstrated by the shoot out in the car park while she watched aghast on the steps.

Livia’s criticisms of Salvo and his commitment to her were spot on. She was unable to live the lot of a policeman’s wife and put any future children through the uncertainties of wondering if daddy would come home. Salvo on the other hand was not willing to give up his attitude to police investigations that made him who he was.

Young Montalbano – Series 2: “La Stanza Numero Due” “Room Number Two”

A fire broke out in a beach-side hotel in Vigata. Salvo, being the dashing eponymous hero, dashed into the flames to try and rescue the hotel guest who had gone back into the flames to salvage something important. Luckily for Salvo, the hotel owner – Ciulla – had more luck persuading his to leave than he had had with the guest. Salvo lived to investigate the death of the guest.

Meanwhile Montalbano and Livia plan their wedding. Mimi continued to annoy and help Montalbano by turns. Mimi was Salvo’s best friend even although he was a ladies’ man so was the obvious choice for the witness – or best man according to Livia. Full of advice about wedding music and rings, Mimi tried to be helpful. All Salvo wants to think about is the case. Salvo asked his former boss Carmine to be his witness. Mimi was furious.

Zapulla had been wanting the hotel for the land and offered Ciulla 300 million. Ciulla said this proved he could not have committed arson on his own hotel because the insurance was only worth 50 million.

It turned out of course that some guests had Mafia connections and others were equally likely to have been the targets of the fire.

Livia pointed out that Salvo is a creature of habit and suggested they went to a different restaurant but the food was so disgusting that they went to the usual restaurant afterwards.

The investigation carried on apace. Mr Custonaci was the arbiter between rival Mafiosa but apparently not the intended target despite the room he normally used being the seat of the fire.

The case was eventually resolved through a mixture of investigation, local knowledge and gossip but what we fans were really interested in was, what is going to happen to stop the wedding between Livia and Salvo? There are no hiccups we can see at the moment other than her having given up her career to be closer to him and her going back home to her hen night with her friends.

Will she be unfaithful when they are apart? Will he? Will she regret giving up a career for a quiet life in Vigata constantly waiting for Salvo to return?

Time will tell.


Rai webpage


New Year

Scotland leapt into the New Year

Everyone with their own bottle, black bun, a tidy home and an open door.

Sausage rolls, sandwiches and that big pot of soup to keep the revellers up all night.

Our needs were small.

Younger, fitter folk first-footing

Greeting their friends, laughing from house to house

While the elderly got maudlin in the corner till,

Kisses at Midnight and the hope of that lucky dark first footer.

Dancing and drinking would go on till the wee sma’ hours.

Now, New Year is organised not organic.

By invite or paid entry only.

Forced gaiety with glad rags on,

Going out for the countdown to one.

A Guid New Year, when it comes.

Hearts and minds

And the Marshall Plan has been replaced by

Bomb them, quickly and often.

No matter that a year ago we were

On the other side

All that matters, when all is said and done,

Is that we did our bit and bit the bullet.

We shelled the shell shocked

We pummeled the beaten

We showed them that life matters

When we took their lives away.

Because we are modern, enlightened

And they are barbaric monsters.

Tenement life

They say that some memories are false so this may be a construct but when I was little we lived in a room and kitchen in a Glasgow tenement in the early 60s before moving to the Ayrshire coast. I remember various snapshots of the experience such as green tiled walls in the “close”, a cludgy which was shared with other families, sleeping in the kitchen and keeping the “room” for visitors. No doubt this was considered an acceptable way for my parents to begin family life but in retrospect it is no wonder that the Glasgow overspill to Irvine was such a popular choice.

The stairwell needed to be scrubbed with the banister buffed and the white line paintwork on stone needed to be kept pristine. The kitchen overlooked a more open area where, I think, children played, bins were stored and washing was pegged out. Further across the back trams went up and down the road.

We didn’t live there long but I remember 4 events that occurred before we moved. The first was a woman with a sturdy Silver Cross type pram who was bumping her baby/pram up the stairs when the unsecured baby fell out and hit his head on the stone steps. The second was an over-sized teddy of mine which had seen better days. For some reason my mother threw it out and, as I watched out the window boys rescued it and ran off with their new playmate. The third was the time my father got up early for work and was so tired that when he was getting washed at the sink he pulled it off the wall when he leant on it. Chaos! Finally there was some child knocked down by one of those trams and the adults talked in hushed tones.

So poverty and hardship, certainly, and yet we had a telephone, a coal bunker and a television. Not bad for an impoverished life.


Gemma, it will only get worse

Storming away from the champagne flutes
And silver-bell-covered butter curls
He strode from the restaurant while
She, meekly, followed after him.


The waiter brought the full plates
To the empty table and, appearing flummoxed,
Took them back through the kitchen door.
While fellow diners whispered behind hands.


The general hush when they returned
To reheated fare and an ongoing squabble
Only served to make it obvious this was a control scenario
Designed to suck all joy out of an alleged treat.


He will only get worse.
He’s isolating you barb by barb from the world.
Once behind closed doors, his anger will grow.
Leave him now, before you reach that point.

No return!

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