I’m in London this week, which is why you haven’t heard much from me. Aside from some of the obvious differences in architecture, the proliferation of pubs, and of course, the look of the people (they’ve got nuthin’ on the Italians), some things truly stand out: like all those protruding bellies. In a country which invented the princess style (or, Little House on the Prairie smocks), I’ve never seen so many umbilical cords since visiting the newborn room at a local hospital. It seems the whole country is pregnant.
It must be something in the water. And coming from a country with the lowest birth rate in the world, it makes for quite a surprising sight to behold.
Of course, unless you’re in the south, Italian women don’t even leave their house once pregnant. Here, you’ll see them running the London marathon. I’ll never forget a friend who wouldn’t even go out for a pizza—just because she was pregnant. Italians tell me that pregnancy is treated not so much as something to show off and celebrate as much as an illness to get over. Maybe Italians do make children, but, because of the Bella Figura Rule, those bellies are just not seen in public.
Once the kids are born, these British mums run around on/off buses, the tube, in stores, museums, kid play areas with kids in strollers, on leashes, in backpacks, wherever mum or the nanny feels like taking them (I must say, I haven’t seen many dads). I saw my pregnant neighbor walking her dog until she was 6 months pregnant; I haven’t seen her since (that was 2 1/2 years ago).
And considering there was a study revealing that the UK was the absolute worst place in the world to raise a child, I am very very impressed by the amount of optimism shown here by the general populace. But, whatever it is they’re putting in the water, perhaps the Italians can start lacing their water with it, too.
Shame that everyone drinks the bottled stuff in Italy.