The hotel we are staying in is next to San Siro stadium. San Siro seats 80k people and is the home of both AC Milan and Milan Internationale. The two rival teams share it, which must be a strange arrangement in practice. The fact it’s there means that it’s mostly car parks in the local area. We were rehearsing this morning in one of them, in the blazing sunshine. I couldn’t go too far afield for food even though in the end I still don’t really know what I’m supposed to be doing tomorrow and they never got round to my bit. I ended up getting a hot dog from the generic American diner, which was the only place I could find. At least it was cheap, but my dream of beautiful bowls of spaghetti vongole, vast pizzas, entire dead horses – that has yet to be realised.
We are doing a job for Rimula. This Rimula job is logistically complicated but promises to be satisfying. Some people might feel that a Rimula job is beneath them, but I’m very happy to get stuck in. Rimula.
Rimula is a lubricant. It’s the new heavy duty engine oil from Shell. When products like this are launched there are large scale conferences and there’s frequently plenty of odd work to be had for performative people. Mostly in the past I’ve done this sort of thing for alcohol. I was a monkey gangster in London with free whisky, a leathery bar owner in Ijmuiden having to drink Sol in the scene halfway through a teetotal year, a newspaper vendor in Amsterdam with free Heineken, a weird sex party type guy in King’s Cross with free Courvoisier. Now I’m a trucker in Milan for engine oil. I’m less likely to be drinking the freebies. But the work is familiar. If I felt like it I could draw up an impressive looking CV for this sort of thing. The more I think about it the more I remember I’ve done. Perhaps I should pitch for it more. I love to travel for work and enjoy doing random things. When The Globe went to every country in the world for Hamlet – God I wanted an audition for that gig. I’ll have to try and instigate something like that again. Can’t think of anything I’d sooner be doing than Shakespeare and world travel combined.
Still, this is pretty good. I’m in a huge marbled hotel in the centre of town. There’s a beautiful jazz quartet noodling away in the room next door. In this room, three musicians are passing the time by jamming beautifully and playfully together. People keep bringing us free food and water. In fact a waiter just dropped a load of Montepulziano d’abruzzo on the table in front of me.
It doesn’t look bad but we have a small duty this evening. In about half an hour, we are going to come and stand by some doors and be courteous and charming to a whole load of people who really really care about engine oil. Then we’ll go off into Milan and find a bowl of spaghetti vongole, a pizza as big as the Ritz, and a dead horse.