Roma mia Cara! I’m back in the Eternal City for a climate conference which starts tomorrow and I have to say Rome isn’t the worst place for it. Private planes land in the same airport as commercial planes so if you have staffers arriving they can meet your plane without too much fuss. This is much needed because Rome implemented an odd/even system that bans half of the cars from driving into the city center on particularly polluted days.
The conference itself is a mess. In fairness it’s only their second annual ‘Renewable Meet’ but so far I’m not impressed. Whatever their goal -- they don’t have any of the heavy hitters of the climate world, and certainly none of my clients. If I didn’t know better I’d think they were just trying to make money using a green agenda as cover—also so many big mistakes. From the start, they hounded us about arbitrary deadlines and frankly my climate comrades don’t take well to being bossed around.
Our industry also hit a slump because Miss Puberty Blocker herself (Greta Thunberg) had a meltdown. And not like the original one where she hissed ‘How dare you!’. This one involved her making an about-face on nuclear energy. First she was against, now she is for it —which makes us look like we are just making things up. But I guess that’s bound to happen with a 9th-grade education and parents who all but built the orange crate upon which she began her soft-shoe in the first place. Despite dubbing her ‘that Swedish Troll’ Daddy is quick to point out I must have empathy for a twenty-year-old whose autism disorder left her with no option but to hyper-focus on one thing since childhood. I guess I should be grateful she fixated on climate.
I’m also grateful that the Italian scientist Nicola Scafetta isn’t here to needle us. He’s a climate denier who insists natural cycles in the solar system are responsible for most change, and that we are actually headed toward a cooling period. No matter what he says, substantially more scientists and studies have been funded to dispute his theories. But even without him, this conference was a flop. Sixty-six speakers, three days, no alcohol, and no parties. What were they thinking? If they were trying to compete with Davos it wasn’t happening. And you just wonder how dreadful these academics' own lives must be if this was a break from that.
Wisely, I’d connected with Vespa for whom I’m promoting the new ‘Vespa Elettrica’. The sleekest electric and lithium-ion battery combo in the land. And $100 from every purchase goes to Africa for reasons I don’t understand, but the claim is we can somehow protect them from the next pandemic. More important, I am going to be filmed tearing through the streets of Rome at night with the wind in my hair and the words I AM VESPA POWERED BY BEAUTY flashing across my image. Anything for the cause.
We were between takes when I got a text from Daddy. I wanted to send him a snap of me on the Vespa but he wanted me to know that the Swedish Troll had been given an honorary doctorate from the University of Helsinki. ‘Is this a joke?’ I whispered.
‘Well, that remains to be seen’, Daddy said, ‘but she is indeed receiving a doctorate’.
‘In WHAT?? I shrieked. ‘Is that the next milepost in Sweden after ninth grade?’
‘Calm down, Kitten, before someone hears you—I just thought you should know. And the doctorate is in theology.’
‘Theology!’ I yelled, stepping away from the crew, then lowering my voice, ‘Theology?? What is that… the study of God? Is she bleeding Joan of Arc now? No of course she isn’t… Joan of Arc died as a teenager. This troll is already twenty!’
‘Jennifer!’ My father barked. ‘Get a hold of yourself. As little respect as I already have for your industry, this hardly qualifies as high drama’.
Well of course he was right but I just wanted something to go as it should. And it just didn’t seem like we should reward someone who walked back her made-up predictions and got famous for looking like a waif. ‘Thank you, Daddy’. I said. ‘I’m sorry’.
‘That’s better’, he said. ‘Listen, Why don’t you get yourself a nice glass of wine and a plate of pasta….’
‘No wine!’ I interrupted. ‘I’m driving! And also I wanted to surprise you with a replica of the picture of you and mummy here in Rome’.
‘Well I promise to act surprised’. Daddy said. Which made me laugh.
While I waited for the director to check the gate, I furiously scrolled on my phone… it was a joke. Eight honorary doctorates were being given, all of them professors or bishops except after Greta’s name it just said ‘activist’ where it should have said ‘gnome’. That was deeply unkind, and not very Cheltenham of me. I was ashamed and it occurred to me she was already too old to even finish high school or get any kind of a normal degree. So in a way this made up for having spent her time travelling by boat.
The director called a wrap and so I said my goodbyes and got someone to hop on the Vespa with me for a selfie. As the crew packed up their gear I looked around at the majesty that is Rome. Wow. It just never gets old. Regardless of the conference, I was so glad to be here. Glad to bask in the untold stories of those that came before me.
I looked up to a balcony and wondered if spectators had gathered there to watch the riderless horses when Via del Corso served as a racetrack. And then I thought about poor little Greta. Should I ever see her again I would teach her to ride horses. I could do that for her. And I would.
Vespa powered by beauty!!! Next level
“Just say no” to electric Vespa’s - or stick to Ducati.