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A. Colin Wright

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Member Since: Apr, 2009

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· What I Believe (But You Don't Have To)

· A Cupboardful of Shoes, and Other Stories

· Sardinian Silver (Chapters One and Two)

Short Stories
· The Comedy of Doctor Foster (Part One))

· Story Collection query letter

· Bethlehem (a Christmas story, revised version)

· Bethlehem (a Christmas story, original version)

· The Comedy of Doctor Foster (Part two)

· The Comedy of Doctor Foster (Part One)

· Geisterbahnhöfe (Translation of Ghost Stations)

· Ghost Stations

· A Pregnant Woman with Parcels at Brock and Bagot

· Queen's Grill Bar

· Bulgakov and the question of greatness: Russian text

· Revised What I Believe (Part 7 of 7)

· Revised What I Believe (Part 6 of 7)

· Revised What I Believe (Part 5 of 7)

· Revised What I Believe (Part 4 of 7)

· Revised What I Believe (Part 3 of 7)

· Revised What I Believe (Part 2 of 7)

· Revised What I Believe (Part 1 of 7)

· M. A. Bulgakov and the question of Greatness

· Rewriting St. John

· New book, A Cupboardful of Shoes, to be published.

· New book, A Cupboardful of Shoes, to be published.

· New book A Cupboardful of Shoes, to be published.

· New book A Cupboardful of Shoes, to be published.

· New book A Cupboardful of Shoes, to be published.

· New book A Cupboardful of Shoes, to be published.

· New book A Cupboardful of Shoes, to be published.

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Blogs by A. Colin Wright

Sardinia Then and Now
8/17/2011 7:06:05 AM    [ Flag as Spam or Inappropriate ]

The differences between the Sardinia as I knew it in 1962 and the modern Sardinia.
Sardinia Then and Now


A. Colin Wright

When I went to Sardinia in 1962 it wasn’t yet a tourist destination, and now I consider myself fortunate to have lived there before the tourists started arriving. I had gone from my native England to the northern city of Sassari to teach English, and Sardinia was special, exotic even. For all my problems and complaints at the time, I still feel I know it better than travelers there today.
It was the restrictive “southern mentality” that most depressed me. I naturally hoped to find a Sard girl friend, but that turned out to be impossible in a society where women always had to be chaperoned and young couples were unable to go out together unless they were engaged—and even then they risked having a father or brother standing at their wedding with a shotgun to make sure of it! In the evenings, when I sometimes I went to the movies, the city seemed deserted, for the only women on the street were wives with their husbands. Men, of course, normally went with prostitutes, who had been moved a few years previously into an abandoned monastery—with cells now serving a different purpose.

Most of southern Italy was similar, but the Sards were proud of being different from “il continente” and the island had an atmosphere of its own. “Sard” is a language only distantly related to Italian, although it has so many dialects that people from different villages are often forced to speak Italian so as to be understood. This was the case in Sassari, where I found a pensione with students studying at the university.

Two of them, a brother and sister, came from the infamous “bandit village” of Orgosolo, and they invited me to their home, assuring me that visitors would be quite safe. (In fact an English couple were shot there shortly afterwards: a case of mistaken identity.) Their mother, I discovered, had been murdered as a result of the family vendettas that were endemic in Orgosolo. Once guilty of murder there was no choice for the perpetrator except to become a bandit and take refuge in the “sopramonte,” the mountains of the interior. The area was considered so dangerous that the day I visited with some friends the bus was accompanied by a motor-cycle escort of carabinieri, the national police. We went up into the mountains too—escorted by carabinieri from the local garrison.

All that has changed. While once I complained of the strict sexual mores, I was nevertheless shocked when I returned in 2004 to see young people kissing in public, which would have been unheard of in the sixties. Now that the new ways have become generally accepted, Sardinia has become ordinary: beautiful but no longer unique. Or is this no more on my part than nostalgia for a life that was, frankly, somewhat squalid?

Of the many things that I regret, two stand out. The major entertainment of the day, as elsewhere in Italy, was once the passegiata, when men and women—chaperoned, of course, or with friends—would parade up and down before dinner on Sassari’s central square, the Piazza d’Italia. I was looking forward to this, for who knows, perhaps I might even meet someone who still knew me? Alas, the passeggiata no longer takes place, although friends (who now have cell-phones) arrange to meet in the cafés instead. I also tried to buy a bottle of Sardinian Silver: the wine made from the local vernaccia grape that I used symbolically for the title of my recent novel. But it too has disappeared, as has its counterpart, Sardinian Gold.

When I returned after an absence of forty-two years, I naturally expected changes, but I was astonished by their magnitude. Where once were isolated beaches and empty fields one now finds crowded resorts, marinas with expensive yachts, and a proliferation of cafés and shops. This was particularly striking in Olbia, where a new, larger, town, has arisen alongside the old. There, as elsewhere, a huge new port has been built. In Porto Torres too, where there used to be a single pier accommodating one small ship arriving once a day, there are large docks and a constant coming and going of car ferries. New freeways make travel easier, but there is a great deal more traffic. Sassari and Cagliari are large, modern cities (albeit still with their old towns), while Orgosolo is a rather ordinary village, known more for its painted murals than its previous atmosphere of fear and suspicion.
My novel Sardinian Silver is a work of fiction, but very much based on my experience of the island in 1962. It is, however, not an autobiography, and the characters I knew then are fictionalized. It gives a picture of a place that no longer exists, but with a quality of its own worth remembering.
One other thing I regret: farmers would often approach people then wanting to sell land, at incredibly cheap prices. Alas, I refused—and lost my one opportunity to make a great deal of money.

For extracts from my novel see:

Since I am a newcomer to Huffington Post, my next blog will be entitled “Who am I? Who are you?”

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More Blogs by A. Colin Wright
• Who am I? Who are You? - Wednesday, August 17, 2011
•  Sardinia Then and Now - Wednesday, August 17, 2011  
• Love Travel? Do it at Someone Else's Expense - Wednesday, August 17, 2011
• What I believe - Thursday, March 03, 2011
• Return from New Zealand - Monday, January 31, 2011
• Allbooks Review Editor's Choice for Sardinian Silver - Sunday, January 02, 2011
• New article on Mikhail Bulgakov - Monday, October 25, 2010
• Rewriting St. John - Wednesday, October 20, 2010
• Mikhail Bulgakov and the Question of Greatness: a Reassessment - Tuesday, September 07, 2010
• literature & Fiction Interviews Volume II - Tuesday, September 07, 2010
• Article soon on the Oberammergau Passion Play - Sunday, June 06, 2010
• Faith, belief and knowledge - Wednesday, March 03, 2010
• Few places to list plays/screenplays - Friday, February 19, 2010
• Generally a difficult time - Friday, January 01, 2010
• Bethlehem (a Christmas story, in two versions) and other stories - Friday, December 18, 2009
• 85 ; 15 - Monday, December 07, 2009
• Time versus Eternity - Wednesday, December 02, 2009
• Hoping to put on more articles - Wednesday, November 11, 2009
• Return from East Africa - Friday, October 09, 2009
• Blogs or articles? And I'm going on holiday. - Monday, September 14, 2009
• More readers' comments invited! - Friday, August 28, 2009
• Chance or Fate? - Tuesday, July 21, 2009
• On Michael Jackson, Celebrities, and becoming Famous - Tuesday, July 14, 2009
• More on what I believe - Wednesday, June 24, 2009
• Writing and what I believe in life - Friday, May 29, 2009
• Likes and Dislikes in Reading - Tuesday, May 19, 2009
• What you can do to help - Tuesday, May 12, 2009
• What happens next? - Sunday, May 03, 2009
• How Sardinian SIlver and other things came to be written. - Tuesday, April 28, 2009
• More on what I want to write about - Tuesday, April 14, 2009
•  - Monday, January 01, 1900

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