A BIOGRAPHICAL INCIDENT
(more - or less - )
by Michele Celeste
AN AUTHOR'S BIRTH
My first name should have been Michelangelo. Now that's something that even after all these years still gets me reeling in drunken-like haze.
My parents, Matteo, a blacksmith, and Algenia, a farmworker, never had an education - my grandparents were too poor to to be able to afford sending them to school. And my parents went into their 'professions' at the age of eight!
When I was born my dad went to the town hall to register my name as Michele Angelo. That is how my grandfather on my father's side was called and it is tradition in that part of Italy to pass on the grandparent's name to the grandchild. As I was the only boy in my family it 'had' to be my name. However the snotty town-hall officer either rushed my dad or he was not too bothered to listen to an uneducated man like him. So, to make it quick, he wrote down only Michele in the register.
Many times I have been tempted to reclaim Michelangelo as my rightful first name. But its artistic connotations are just too awesome!... And, having emigrated to Britain, it is too long a name to say in English anyway. Besides, knowing the British sense of humour, I could already imagine the jokes about it... So - I've stuck with Michele... (That got another set of problems: mistaken sex, never pronounced properly by non-Italian speakers, etc.) But sometimes - I have just that tinge of regret at not being Michelangelo!
The same regret I feel for not playing my guitar anymore. In the early Eighties I was on my way to becoming a classical guitar concert-player. I had worked hard all the Summer as a door to door salesman and got enough money together to attend a very prestigious guitar master class run by Oscar Ghiglia, a disciple of the holy Andres Segovia. I was so thrilled to be there! Imagine my disappointment and fury on discovering that the master classes were run mostly in English. Everyone else there seemed to speak English properly, and I could not understand a word! And we were in Italy! So everyone else was getting the full benefit from the master class - and me? Zilch. I decided that at my next masterclasses the following year I'd know enough English to get their full benefit of them as anybody else there. That's when I decided to come to the U.K. to learn English, naively thinking a couple of months would be enough.
But, as it happened, in London I discovered the theatre and writing. Accidentally. Another longish and kafkaesque story - maybe one day I'll put it down on this site. For now, to cut it short, it is enough to say that in 1982 my first play, RIOT PARTY won the first prize in the Young Vic Theatre International Playwriting Competition. Accidentally - I am sure as at the time I did not know anything about theatre and I had literally no English when I wrote it!... However since then I have dedicated myself to full time writing.There you are. There's more than one way of becoming a writer!