I should be on holiday in Bologna now, soaking up culture and eating fabulous food. The best I can do is wear an Italian scarf and cook some pasta myself. What better Italian fashion house to choose other than Salvatore Ferragamo and show some of the other fantasy tigers who live with me? (The tiger table travelled in my suitcase from Bali.)
Of course, scarves came later in Ferragamo’s design life as he started as a shoemaker apprenticed in Naples then, following brothers to America, he worked in a shoe factory in Boston, and hence to California to open a shoe repair shop. In these heady days of the Thirties, Hollywood was booming and he made cowboy boots and sandals for the stars. In order to get perfection, he even went to the University of Los Angeles to study anatomy, chemical engineering and maths! Who would think there was so much science behind Judy Garland’s rainbow wedge sandals made for her after appearing as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz? Or indeed, that the rainbow would be a symbol of appreciation for our keys workers today?
Salvatore died in the Sixties, having returned to Florence to build the huge design empire which is now an international brand name and today his family still carry on his colourful vision. They are known for fantasy designs and my scarf today is no exception. If you look closely at my tigers, you will see that their fur is actually a design of flower heads, maybe golden carnations or peonies.
I have always been fascinated by these noble beasts, but never seen one in the wild. Maybe my interest springs from early childhood in my search for the elusive Scottish wild cat, or the first sight of tigers in a visiting circus and later in life in San Francisco visiting the zoo to see Prince Charles...... no not the heir to the throne, but a rare white striped Bengal tiger. At that time, there were only 52 in the world and it was big news when SF Zoo acquired one in 1982. I even bought a T-shirt from the zoo to mark the occasion. Charlie was disappointing with slightly crossed blue eyes and a pink nose and he did not like his chosen mate. He never fathered any cubs. White tigers are rare in the wild. Without camouflage, they are unsuccessful hunters and in captivity they have many health defects. I suppose that was why Prince Charles was a rarity.
I had been living back in England for some years, when I heard that San Francisco Zoo was again in the news. Tatania, a four year old golden Siberian female tiger had escaped from her enclosure just after closing time and attacked three young men, killing one. Several brave police officers distracted the animal, endangering their own lives and shot her. Two unnecessary deaths in one day. The police were nominated for bravery awards later. Needless to say, lawsuits were filed, there were accusations of animal taunting, alcohol and drugs. Strangely, it happened in the Chinese Year of The Tiger.
On a happier note, what do you think of this striped white cat who jumped from the bushes in the grounds around Eltham Palace when I visited there last year with the London Explorer group from the U3A? Handsome enough to join my Fantasy Tigers? He is certainly stunning but does not compare with the big cats on my fine Italian silk scarf with their fantasy coats of sweet-smelling flowers.
Speaking of Italy, I’m not in Bologna because of cancelled travel, so I’d better boil the water for the spaghetti and play some Pavarotti or Andrea Bocelli. I’ll watch out for the sauce dripping on my scarf!
Busy Bee, Scarf Face!