SHADOWS AND LIGHTS
Formerly : I AM AN EAGLE
A family history and other compelling Italian stories
ERNESTO GRANESE *
A family history and other compelling Italian stories
ERNESTO GRANESE *
You can now read my book FOR FREE by joining the ITALIANS IN BRIGHTON group on Facebook! - NOVITA' ! Leggi il mio libro GRATIS (in inglese) iscrivendoti al gruppo "Italians in Brighton" su Facebook! Click HERE
Giunto ormai alle soglie dei 60 anni, dopo averne trascorsi più di 40 nel Regno Unito, è per me tempo di bilanci.
Di fronte alle angoscianti incognite del futuro, specie per noi italiani nel Regno Unito, c’è chi come me preferisce rifugiarsi nel passato e riflettere sulle scelte fatte, alla ricerca di nuovi stimoli e idee per capire meglio il presente e affrontare con più fiducia le sfide del futuro.
Per questo ho scritto un libro intitolato “SHADOWS AND LIGHTS - A Family history and other compelling Italian stories” che, con semplicità e senza alcuna ambizione letteraria, parla della storia della mia famiglia, di me, del mio approdo qui in UK nel 1977, e della mia vita attuale qui a Lewes, East Sussex.
In particolare, in questo mio lavoro mi sono soffermato sui problemi che dovetti affrontare quando approdai in Inghilterra appena 20enne, nel 1977, sulle mie esperienze positive, e sui miei fallimenti : su questi ultimi un po' meno! Per me si tratta di un pretesto per riflettere sulle scelte fatte in passato, di come queste, nel bene o nel male, abbiano cambiato la mia vita, specie alla luce dei fatti di oggi, e di Brexit in particolare.
Il mio libro è suddiviso in 4 parti:
* La prima ha una forte accentuazione storica e si concentra sulla storia della mia famiglia dal 1890 alla fine del ‘900, le migrazioni, l’infanzia di mia madre, il fascismo, gli anni del dopoguerra a Battipaglia, le lotte agrarie e la mia nuova vita a Milano.
* La seconda parte descrive la mia formazione, gli anni della scuola, del liceo, le mie prime esperienze musicali e di politica militante, e il mio coinvolgimento con i movimenti giovanili.
* La terza tratta dei miei viaggi e delle mie esperienze di vita all’estero.
* La 4a parte racconta della mia vita qui in UK, dal mio primo approdo nel 1977 ai giorni nostri; del mio coinvolgimento nella vita della comunità degli italiani in UK, delle mie esperienze giornalistiche, dei miei traguardi (pochi) e dei miei fallimenti (tanti, ahimé).
Il libro è scritto in inglese perché rivolto essenzialmente a mia figlia e alla mia compagna, entrambe nate qui.
Ovviamente, è rivolto anche a quegli italiani che come me anni fa hanno fatto questa coraggiosa scelta di venire a vivere qui in Inghilterra.
Mi auguro che leggendo questo libro anche voi vi sentiate invogliati a raccontare la vostra storia.
Tutti i nostri racconti contribuiranno così a scrivere il più grande libro della storia degli italiani in UK.
A quanto mi risulta, nessuno si è mai cimentato in questa impresa!
PS. Segnalate eventuali errori, grazie!
Ognuna delle nostre vite è degna di essere raccontata.
Ogni tassello della nostra vita ci aiuta a riflettere sulla nostra condizione di emigranti e di italiani all’estero, e su come migliorare la nostra qualità della vita nel paese che abbiamo eletto a nostra nuova patria.
Inoltre, il nostro racconto è utile a ricostruire la storia della comunità degli italiani nel Regno Unito e, più in generale, quella degli anni turbolenti in cui viviamo, caratterizzati da grandi migrazioni, forti sconvolgimenti sociali e eventi di straordinaria portata storica e politica destinati a cambiare per sempre le nostre vite e il nostro futuro.
Dunque, condividete, commentate, partecipate raccontando la vostra esperienza.
Inviate ogni vostro scritto, sia esso in lingua italiana o inglese, a:
Ernesto Granese, email: email@example.com
In alternativa, se lo preferite, pubblicatelo sule pagine del nostro gruppo Facebook:
La storia della mia famiglia inizia agli albori del secolo scorso ed è piena di eventi straordinari, molti dei quali raccontati dalla viva voce dei suoi protagonisti, dei miei nonni, di mia madre e dei mie zii in particolare.
Ma qui mi interessa soprattutto riflettere sui miei primi anni qui in Uk, se non altro per dar modo a chi ha meno anni di me ed è da poco approdato sui questi lidi di capire come si viveva allora, dei problemi che quelli della mia generazione dovettero affrontare, delle ansie, delle frustrazioni, delle aspirazioni dei giovani di allora, che, non dimentichiamolo, qui giunsero zaino in spalla, senza sapere una parola d’inglese, senza né internet né facebook, ma con tanto entusiasmo e tanti ideali.
I am no believer. Yet, it seems I owe my life to none less than the Virgin Mary! The story goes that, after having lost two children in the early weeks after their birth, my Italian great grand-mother, who had migrated to America a few years earlier in 1898, decided to take her new born child to Italy, in the hope that he would survive.
She therefore made a vow to the Virgin Mary that she would never return to America should her son Joseph—my grand father—live, which he did. Now, isn’t that an extraordinary start to this story?
Need something more convincing to read on? There are plenty of stories in my book that I think you will enjoy. Most of them really happened; some are completely made up; others were suggested by friends and family. However, the vast majority of these stories are unique, in that they have never been published in English. I believe they offer both the historian and the traveller a stimulating insight into the life of an Italian family, spanning from 1910 to modern days.
Now, you might want to know how it all started. All great stories have a beginning and an end. But mine — at least that is what I would like to believe—is a never ending story! The people who are in it enrich it everyday with new exciting stories, the kind you’d want to tell your children, and your children theirs.
You will not find great literature here. What I think you will find in great abundance is, I hope, a series of well documented written accounts of people who have lived before us, of whom little is known, and whose life stories turned out to be precious in reconstructing the history of my family and of the two great nations involved in my book, i.e. Italy and Great Britain.
Although Italian is my mother tongue this book is written in English because it is addressed primarily to friends and relatives who live in the UK, my home since 1977. Every attempt has been made to avoid any spelling mistakes. However, should these occur or should you come across any (no doubt you will!) I ask for your forgiveness.
Just days before its completion, after having consulted my close friends and relatives, I decided to change the title of this book from idiotic “I AM AN EAGLE” to “IN ERNEST ... A family history and other compelling Italian Stories”. You might argue the latter is just as bad a title, but it really is not easy to find an enticing title that pleases everyone!
The original title did not convey the strong connection that this story has with Italy and did not fully explain or even hint at what this book is about. You can now find the original introduction to 'IN ERNEST ..." at the very end, on page 485, that is if you manage to get to the end of this book without getting bored!
* * *
My name is Ernesto Granese, and I am a journalist, language teacher and translator.
Two years ago I lost my mother. She was an extraordinary woman from Italy who survived a war, misery, migration and even persecution during the fascist regime. A few months before she passed away I set about finding out a little more about her life and our family history. She was excited at the idea, and that’s how it all started.
I believe one of the greatest gifts we can give to our families, and bequeath to those who will follow us, is an intimate direct account of our lives, and no life is insignificant.
These notes were originally written in Italian for the ISA, Italians in Sussex Association, a charity for which I am responsible, and published by an Italian online community magazine (www.britalians.co.uk), of which I am one of the curators.
After having read them, my daughter and partner thought it would be a good idea to expand them and turn them into a book!
I am no famous writer, nor will I ever be. I hold no literary ambition. But what I am about to write is unique, as all our lives are. I am certain that my family and those who will come after me will cherish my effort and perhaps, who knows, they might one day even be proud of me !
Essentially, my autobiography aims to offer a personal contribution and experience in recounting historical facts and events of an era about which little has been written in the English language: the post 1968 years, Italian terrorism, and the history of the Italian community in the UK.
When I started writing this book Gordon Brown had just succeeded Tony Blair; Obama was about to become the new president of the USA. More importantly, a number of events were about to happen that would forever change the international outlook, the future of Europe and of the UK, the country in which I have now been living for over 40 years.
I here name a few: the economic crisis of the Euro and of the EU; the mass migration from the Middle East and from Africa to Europe; the resurgence of Islamic terrorism; the election of Donald Trump, and, of course, the most important of all, especially for us Italians living in the UK, Brexit.
As a result of these recent events, I have had to make many adjustments to this book while I was writing it. It would impossible to write about my family, its future and that of the Italian community in Britain without taking on board some of these fundamental facts which have occurred over the last few years and which, whether we like it or not, are bound to forever change our lives as Italians in the UK.
However, this book is primarily about the history of my family and my life. It is also about Italy, its past and present, seen from the perspective of an Italian who has lived abroad now for over 40 years.
My story is by no means an unusual story. Hundreds of young Italians flee Italy today in the same way that I did 40 years ago.
What makes it unique, I’d like to believe, is the fact that it embodies three different historical periods; three or more different countries; and several characters, or special people, as I would prefer to call them, that not only changed my life but greatly contributed to shaping the history of Italy.
My life has by no means been a success (quite the contrary!), but it is nevertheless full of events of some significance.
What you, the reader, should find in it is, hopefully, a variety of stimulating facts that are profoundly rooted in the history of Italy and of the UK.
As such, this book could provide some form of entertainment to both the Italian and the British reader, as well as an understanding of Italian and British history at the turn of the century.
Whatever your expectations, my story aims to offer plenty of curious facts and episodes taken from the life of an ordinary Italian migrant, seen from the eyes and the feelings of a now older man, attempting to recollect and analyse, with a certain amount of nostalgia - but also with a bit of humour ! - facts and events spanning over a period of approximately 100 years !
1. Every life is a story worth telling—From the hills of Cilento to the South Downs of Sussex…
2. Lights and shadows of 1957
3. Nonno Raffaele and the bloody assault upon the St. Bartholomew prisons
4. Italy fights back
5. Life in the caves
6. The tragic death of cousin Giuseppe—British troops enter Olevano
7. The aftermath of the war. Bycicle thieves
8. Battipaglia 1950-1962—How I was rescued by my father
9. 1962– The road to the North- My family moves to Northern Italy
10. 1963-68 - The boys from the South
11. Father Mirko and Father Giuseppe
12. 1960-70: The Italian Miracolo—The years of economic recovery
13. 1968—Chagrin d'amour... Love hurts!
14. Amarcord—growing up in the 70’s – The way we were
15. Christmas now and then
16. 1969—Bullying in Battipaglia
17. 1971-The student uprise and the beginning of terrorism
18. Our school—schools in the 70’s in Italy—Mario Gallazzi
19.. What the 1968 protest movement did for us
20. Ultimo della classe - A bad student
21. Professor Ferrini.
22. Obscured by Clouds - Scent of a woman
23. Renouncing Christianity
24. 1973—I join the PCI, the Italian Communist Party—I believed
25. Radio Varese—Those were the years !
WORK IN PROGRESS !
These are just some of the themes you will find in my book ...
What I believe in : My values and beliefs
My kind of socialism; The Communitarian Philosophy : towards a new community ethos; Solidarity; Rights; Justice; Freedom; Democracy; As to government; As to Church and Religion; As to Marriage and Love; On Capitalism, Profit and Free Market; Speculators; On Europe.