On realising over the last few weeks that my complaints about Rome and the Vatican City have been falling upon deaf ears, I now address my various shortcomings to yourself. I trust I shall receive a more speedy and satisfactory response than the one I received from His Holiness, which has yet to arrive. I write in reference to car parks, or rather, the distinct lack of such places, here in the Eternal City.
Since deciding to re-locate to Rome, myself, Sir Ronald Charles Birmingham, and Hermione, my good lady wife, have found it a constant source of annoyance that the ability to provide car parks throughout the Italian capital seems to have been beyond the technical capabilities of the ancient (or indeed modern-day) Roman. Many is the hour myself and Hermione, my good lady wife, have spent in the back of our car, being driven round and round the narrow cobbled streets of the metropolis looking for a never-existent parking space. Guidatore, which is, I believe, the name of our new chauffeur, is a man of simple tastes, but even he has remarked upon this sad and sorry state of affairs.
My previous chauffeur (also named Guidatore, by happy chance) was a man of humble background, and was unexpectedly taken ill one afternoon. After what seemed to be six hours of circling the hotel, by the reckoning of Hermione, my good lady wife, searching for a vacant parking bay (I swear it was nearer five hours than six, but this is by-the-by) we witnessed not less than three motor-vans pulling out of their respective places by the kerb, allowing the necessary parking of our own vehicle.
The resultant shock inflicted upon poor Guidatore on seeing such a plethora of parking spaces, such a wealth of vacuity, concluded in a mild heart attack. However, as Hermione, my good lady wife, was administering mouth-to-mouth, I managed to release Guidatores now shaky grip on the steering wheel, let the handbrake loose, and push the Bentley into position before anyone else got so much as a tire-tread on the kerb.
This is a sorry state of affairs and one that to whit I am unwilling to lie down and walk away from. On making further inquiries the following morning, I discovered there to be a car park under my very nose in the Vatican City, not 300 yards from my hotels croquet lawn. I sallied forth with the Bentley, drove up to one of the Vaticans many gates, and handed the keys to one of the young men who stand idly by in their stripy uniforms. I was then informed that the car park is only open to office employees and various members of the Catholic Church, and that I should park elsewhere. Not relishing the task of asking poor Guidatore to take a few more hours re-parking the car, I put forth my case more firmly, saying that I was a British citizen and that the Pope and Her Majesty were on very good terms. This seemed to go some way to placating the young gentleman, but he stood firm and said that the car park was only open to priests and nuns.
Sir, myself and Hermione, my good lady wife, are not people to become enraged without due cause, but every man has his breaking point. I, as I am sure you are too, am fully aware that members of the clergy are forced to wear sandals and that this constitutes their only means of transport. I mentioned this fact to the young man, and stated that apart from a couple of soft-top pope-mobiles, there could not be that many evangelical vehicles within the gates and that surely it would be possible for him to allow us to pass. This turned out not to be the case.
Sir, how long must I, Hermione, my good lady wife, and my driver, Guidatore, put up with such impudence? It is exactly because of falling standards like this that I have written to you in semi-complaint. Only semi-complaint for I have a request. I am a man who, though of bullish nature, possesses a keen brain. Wishing to arrive at a solution in the speediest manner, I write to you with a brief request.
My car requires a parking space, the Vatican car park requires a clergyman. If you could advertise in your magazine that I am offering the position of driver to any available priest or nun with a full and clean driving licence and no previous convictions, you would not only have my warmest, most heartfelt thanks, but an open invitation to dinner at our new hotel here in Rome. The position pays e10 per day, and a uniform, complete with peaked cap, will be provided by our current driver Guidatore, who is now seeking employment elsewhere. I enclose contact details and dietary requirements (myself and Hermione, my good lady wife, refuse to employ anyone who chooses to eat the fruit of the lemon tree after an unusual gardening incident some weeks ago).
I remain, in constant anticipation of your forthcoming communication in reply,
Sir Ronald Charles Birmingham