Take the following vital ingredients and mix them with a dash of bright sunshine and a holiday atmosphere and you are indeed in for a tre
But first the ingredients:
A Holiday apartment complex in Barbados
A fifty something, Italian Canadian from Montreal
A thick New York Italian accent
A heavyset mobster look
A straight face
And finally, a family secret to die for.
But I am getting ahead of myself as ever. So let’s get back to the beginning, or at least at a convenient starting point.
“Hey, there are some of Delia’s guests round there!” came the friendly warning from Cesar, the young boy who looked after the gardens of the Legend Garden Condos, where we are staying.
With that early warning we turned into the pool area only to see a couple sheltering from the sun in one of the gazebos at the side of the pool. The woman was obviously affected by the heat, but the man with her sat there like a fire hydrant. In fact he was built along those same lines, stocky, solid and unmoving.
He raised one eyebrow as some kind of greeting, but remained sitting, as if to try to gauge just which persona he was going to put out on display when the time came to say something.
Da Boss and I introduced ourselves, at which point his whole face seemed to come to life.
“Eh, so you’re Brits then?”
The accent was as thick as any Brooklyn mobster. In fact he could have given lessons to Marlon Brando in the first of the Godfather movies. What he had said sounded far more like:
“Uh, so yer Brits huh?”
We nodded that indeed we were.
“Where ya from?”
“Oh, Nottingham, in the middle of England, Robin Hood country!” We launched into all the usual simple explanations.
“Hey, dat’s near Darby. Isn’ it?”
We took a step back involuntarily. This was the very first time in decades of telling people where we were from that anyone had ever mentioned Derby. Let alone known that it was the closest city to Nottingham.
“You’se know Darby do ya?” came the next question.
“Yes of course.”
The face broke into a huge grin. “Hey I works fer Rolls Royce in Montreal!”
By now we were completely wrong footed. Here was a clear mafia type guy who was probably an enforcer for the mob, and yet he claimed to be an engineer working in Canada for a British aero engine company. Clearly things were not quite as they at first appeared to be.
Over the next short while we learned about just how damned fine those engines were and how pathetic French Canadians were as engineers. Equally, we were put right about why businesses were going to hell in a hand basket because of “All da suits who nevah made a freakin’ engine in their lives, but who get da top jobs ‘cos they read balance sheets.”
Clearly Tony was no shrinking violet, but could be relied on to have an opinion on anything you cared to raise. Often this was an opinion that would have alienated every politically correct person within seconds. Yet somehow his views were clearly all his own and as such did not offend us. He was his own man, and was proud to let others share his opinion of life!
Eventually we got onto family – and children in particular.
“Ahhh, my dorter, well she has FINALLY found herself a guy who is orright.” By now the accent had thickened even more. The mere mention of family clearly dragged Tony back to FAMILY style communication.
We had to strain to do quick mental translations of Tony’s ever more impenetrable accent.
“He’s OK, and he has promised me he will make sure he provides!” Tony growled.
It was pretty clear that his prospective son in law had been thoroughly checked out, not least on his intentions but also on his ability to make sure that the Tony’s little girl would have whatever she wanted. I felt pity for the prospective son in law and wondered just how many others had been put off by their encounters with this dark and powerful Mafia enforcer.
“And your son. What does he do?” I asked brightly.
“He’s an entertainer” came the reply.
“Oh, what? A singer perhaps?”
A pair of eyes stared at me as though I was the enemy. I had suddenly become a nosey New York cop who needed to mind his own business. But after a moment Tony decided that perhaps he had been too hasty, besides which the glorious sunshine and the fact that we had talked about aircraft engines meant that I could not be all bad.
“Now, listen!” he leaned forward conspiratorially. “His mudder would kill me if I told you’se – but what the hell. We all make our choices eh?”
He looked at me man to man.
“I said he’s an entertainer right?”
I nodded back.
“Well, he entertains… mmmm” – he looked around to make sure that his wife was not in earshot. “He entertains wimmin, right!”
He leaned back as though distancing himself slightly.
“I tole him that he was grown up and though it ain’t my way to live. He had to make his own choices. Yanno whut I mean doncha?”
“I don’ exactly know how he does it – but he’s doin’ orright and hey some of them are good lookin’ broads!”
At that point his wife reappeared and the subject suddenly switched to engines and how wonderful the Trent engines from Rolls Royce sounded.
Soon after that Tony and his wife took their leave and we shook hands firmly. As we did so he looked me squarely in the eye and reminded me with a steely nod that anything about his son’s work was clearly our secret.
I extracted my hand from his bearlike grip and nodded – letting him know that his wife would not prise the details of our chat from me.
Even now as I write this I have had occasion to look over my shoulder – just to check that there isn’t anyone reading this from close by!
But that encounter will remain etched on my mind – and whenever I hear anyone describes as “an entertainer” I will always wonder just what it is that they do!