Photo: Crostuovo with truffle shavings is mandatory in the autumn at Antica Osteria Da Gustin

If you search for ‘SPN’ in Google you get all sorts of results including Service Principal Name, a spinning class, an IATA airport code (Saipan International) and Scientific Pitch Notation (I have no idea either). What you won’t find is Shit Present Night.

Over the years we have exchanged shit presents with close friends for Christmas. They must be cheap, naff and make us laugh. It’s an antidote to the increasing trend of crazily expensive gifts to impress. Shit Presents need some thinking about and even some handiwork from time to time.

As we were due to return to London, then this year’s Christmas exchange with Mirco and Gessica was in November at Da Gustin. A few years ago we did something similar. It was so hot in November we regretted wearing long trousers. This year we were tucked up inside from the cold and rain.

It was a great night as usual, with so many laughs in English and Italian. So much fun, Friday night gave way to Saturday morning without even noticing. It was also our treat, to thank M&G for all the help they gave us during 2019. A wonderful couple.

During the year Mirco and Gessica had invested in a robot lawn mower. The problem was that it was was a bit moody. Refusing to operate when it was a bit hot, and again when it was a bit wet. It became a standing joke that it was as co-operative as a recalcitrant teenager. It ended up back at the manufacturer in Germany for testing and re-education.

This made our Shit Present Night selection easy. We assembled a kit for the mower, including a branded quilt (probably best not to show that photo) that Jan made. The kit came supplied with it’s own User Manual, so you can imagine what it looked like:

Our shit present from M&G was in two parts. The starter took the piss out of Colin. For many years I’ve had to adapt to Italian living. Let’s just say things aren’t quite as planned and organised as I am. Every time I refer to the frustration of coping with a different way of doing things our friends say the FISHEROMETRO has gone off the scale. They have talked about it for so long they thought I should actualy have one. So now I do.

The main course was something else. As Jan and I worked to install a 50 metre Cor-ten border in readiness for next year’s garden project, they thought something in Cor-ten would be suitable. We already have metal pigs, chickens and kiwis in the garden. Something tasteful? No, it’s Shit Present Night. Make of this what you will but we now have to find somewhere in the garden to put this:

Italian robots

Photo: Colin, Jan, Gessica and Mirco

One of our favourite places to eat. Da Gustin, Bargni. We wined and dined very well as always, but it was the company that made it. It was an innocent question about their robot lawn mower (we are seriously thinking of getting one).

It turns out that their German robot lawn mower is very Italian. Refusing to work in the heat. They even tried an umbrella to keep it cool, but no, the robot was having none of it. Mirco showed me the GPS tracker showing that it was being re-educated back in Germany.

The conversation got more absurd, and funnier, as we speculated that the great robotic revolution will stall in Italy as the robots adopt a more “Dolce vita” approach to working.

Flitting between Italian and English, we had such fun with M&G. A wonderful couple and great freinds. I even came away with some great material for my ambition to do a stand up comedy gig in Italian one day.