21st of April 2003
Yesterday was my first night off since I started working here. It was also Adolf Hitler’s birthday. Usually that’s not a detail that I would make a point of mentioning. Under normal circumstances I would remain unaware of the fact, myself. But the reason for its relevance will soon become clear. During the afternoon Matt and I took the metro down to the Vatican to buy some bottles of Red Square from the international delicatessen. Quite a few bottles. I also picked up some Marmite. And some butterscotch Angel Delight.
By the time the sun starts its descent, Lee, Matt and I are already half cut in the hostel’s kitchen, having drunk all the bottles, so we head up the road to Julius Caesar to take advantage of our free allotment in there, and then when the barman refuses us any more we pinch a bottle each out of the fridge when his back’s turned and take them for the walk down to Finnegan’s, where we stay until closing time. When we leave, I’m up three pairs of socks, which I’ve bought off an African in the pub. I don’t need new socks.
There’s this club we know that we plan on finishing the night in. Lee and I discovered it during our Roman holiday last year, and the three of us also went there once while we were living in Ponte Galeria. It’s a bit of a poncey place, the crowd and the décor, but the music’s good and the girls are beautiful, and you know you’re not going to get any trouble.
We enter and find a different atmosphere than on our previous visits. A menacing group of visitors have picked the location for their get-together. A gang of about 20 shaven-headed Neo-Nazi thugs, all dressed in black and covered in swastika badges and the like, celebrating the birthdate of their Führer. They’ve even got a picture of the man with the ridiculous moustache on display in the middle of the table they’ve commandeered. Most of them are Italian, but there are some international guests among them, too. They’ve brought with them a dark cloud of negative energy, as everybody else in the place is on edge. The Nazis are just strutting around, snarling at men and trying to impose themselves on the women. People are afraid. I hate Nazis at the best of times, but tonight the feeling of loathing is all the stronger because this is my one night off and I was hoping to be able to enjoy it in a relaxed manner. Fucking wankers.
We’ve been in the place about 25 minutes and no one’s having a good time. Matt and I are standing at the packed bar, trying to get served, when Lee approaches, cupping his nose in his hands.