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He of the Grizzled Green Eyes

January 2009
I am now the proud – am I proud? No, I am now the relieved owner of an Italian identity card and residency certificate. Why do I need these things in order to feel relief, for as a citizen of the EU there is free movement of people between the member states? In fact, I don’t; I can live here freely for as long as I like irrespective of what Italian regulations might say. But this is Italy, and without these documents I pay excessive charges on my bank account and I could not, if I bought a car, tax it. Or rather I could, easily, by going to the European courts, but in fact it’s easier to go to the town hall, especially now that it’s the town hall as opposed to the previous requirement to queue at the police station. But even so it’s taken quite some time.
So I have this identity card that includes my photo, my (approximate) height, my eye colour and my hair colour; the last of which I described as grey, but the lady dismissed this and put ‘brizzolati’, which means grizzled. It also could mean grey-haired or greying, but grizzled, that’s what I am, on my Italian identity card.
It’s also ironic, or characteristic rather, that in this country where nearly everyone routinely dyes their hair, they should require your hair colour for your identity card. I think in Britain we have become accustomed to asking, what’s the point? Here they don’t ask that question; if the regulations say hair colour – give the regulations an answer. Our answer is, ‘grizzled’.
I also happen to have green eyes and when the lady asked for eye colour, she looked very doubtful that I answered green, as you don’t much see an Italian with green eyes, so I took off my glasses and opened wide my eyelids and stared at her, and she wrote down ‘verdi’, with a shrug of the shoulders and a bemused smile. Actually as I get older the greenness of my eyes is tending to fade towards a grey, and I did suggest to her that these perhaps could also be described as grizzled, though the lady was a bit wary of too much grizzled on the card, possibly.


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