I used to be a government press officer writing press notices and media plans to order and schmoozing around Ministers and VIPs promoting government policy. I’ve also served time on the edges of diplomatic life in Washington DC, so you could say I’ve schmoozed internationally. In my job at the Italian Embassy in Washington, I ‘made my bones’ as the Italians say, by translating, writing speeches and learning to decline invitations with effortless élan on the Italian Ambassador’s behalf. These days as a freelance writer, life is much less problematic and mostly I’m writing just for the joy of it.
I lived and worked in and around the tourist industry in Florence for the best part of three years before returning to the UK to study Italian. But my real study of Italian is ongoing with long-standing friendships and a lively interest in all things Italian from language, art and literature to social trends and popular culture.
I won’t pretend that growing up black in a white foster home in the rural North of England didn’t have its challenges, but escaping into books as a kid turned out to be a life -management strategy that is still working for me today. Later when I added ‘Italian-speaking’ to my black-British profile it certainly didn’t help people (especially Americans and Italians) to ‘place’ me any better. But these days I let them worry about that while I get on with being myself.