Wednesday, 22 August 2007

The Happiest Contrada

Maybe I been neglecting Little Sicily too much in past months, what with turf-wars in Little Ealing and Trumpton, sometimes easy to forget as Capo that it foot-soldiers who make Liberali family what it is.

Each Capo in Liberali family is responsible for a territory, sometimes we top dog in that territory, sometimes we fight vicious turf-wars with Labouristi and Conservatori for control. But that not complete picture. Many family activities, like rummaging through bins for petty stash, slum management, and free pasta evenings for minority groups like Neapolitans, are left to local Capitani.

Our Capitani are often the made-men and women who really know local people on the ground. We organise them in larger territories and they sometimes share power in these Contrada with other families. When there is trouble, it is generally small-scale, infrequent and vicious. Too much rivalry is bad for business. Otherwise the Capitani come together every month or so at the Contrada to keep the peace.

Don Campbell, though does like to keep an eye on his Contrade. So he dispatch me this week to help out in The Borough, one of the London Contrada. It have around sixty Capitani. Nearly half are Liberali, half Labouristi, with a few Conservatori and a scary-lady who paint herself green and throw rocks at cars.

Currently the Contrada is controlled by a deal between our Capitani and the Conservatori. It uneasy pact, rocked by occasional defection, and reaffirmed by occassional beating over heads with sticks and lectures on Liberali-way by local Capo Signor Hughes. Anyone who really no behave get 'ride in the taxi to see the river'. They fun bunch.

So today I find myself out with some Borough Capitani discussing latest Don Brown threat to our operations. One lucrative scam we run is The Book. It old scam that use local Post Office counters to take bets on how long it take your mail to get delivered when posted first-class. You pick number between 1 and 10 days, pop your bet in special envelop to Bookkeeper at local PO and pray to Alan Leighton for luck.

Naturally our contacts with Postal Workers Unions ensures we can engineer strikes, lose the odd bag of mail down back of sorting office, and otherwise keep odds stacked in our favour. It good business that other families try to break into once in a while, but rarely successfully. Consequently old Don Major, Don Blair and Don Brown been trying to shut down our operation for years, while we been trying to put the employees in charge.

Happily local people usually on our side. Everyone need place where they can swap gossip about who sleeping with who on latest reality TV show, and queues long enough to talk about more than one channel. So we handing out petitions to Save our Local PO and doing nice sideline in 100-1 odds on 2-day or less deliveries.

The Borough Contrada Leader, Rick Plankton, have a few troubles of his own of late. Apparently paparazzi decide to brand the Borough as the 'baddest Contrada in Britain'. This seem harsh... Okay he tell me, maybe it a bit unfortunate that one Capitano under investigation by Untouchables for links to terrorists, another runs a website for lovely girls in skimpy undies, and his Moonshine Specialist recently got pulled over for driving under the influence of own product.

But it no reason to panic he say, Borough residents are tolerant bunch, well known for their lively and good-natured support for local calcio-team Millwall, and while they might be bit miffed that another old friend of his now in sing-sing for dealing unethical pictures to Belgians, he pretty confident that he still has respect.

"Everything is under control. Isn't that right?" he say to his deputy Capitani Picchione. She appear not to hear and seem to be concentrating very hard on smiling and showing me pictures of her in lots of other London Contrada looking even more full of joy. Apparently she getting promotion soon to our elite London corps for keeping an eye on the Magisterium, so swotting up on his favourite haunts.

Other Capitani also seem to be smiling a lot and nodding vigorously. They asking me lots of good questions about other Contrada and I real impressed by their urgent curiosity and happy spirits. Even local Labouristi thugs seem delighted to come up to our group and offer to buy them drinks. Although the way they keep asking for lifts to shops to get more bottles and buy saucy magazines get really annoying. So Plankton dispatch 'Babyface' Thomas to show them concrete foundations of his latest regeneration project. They suddenly all have urgent business elsewhere. I guess they not that thirsty.

I no see problems here, jut happy Capitani doing good things for local people and the Family. I report back to Don Campbell the good news about the happiest Contrada in the United Territories.

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