Flat Earth: And finally ...

On Italian newspapers, writing is seen as the privilege of the old and wise. As a result journalists in their twenties and thirties sit around getting frustrated and bored while their older, more eminent colleagues - some near retirement age - fly to war zones, mingle with students demonstrating against despotic governments, doorstep all-night meetings and so on.

Since the prose of the correspondent in the field is considered sacrosanct, mistakes big and small sail straight into the next day's paper. There are several stories of reporters testing their own untouchability by deliberately inserting jokes or errors.

Legend at the Rome newspaper, Il Messaggero, recounts how one of the paper's senior crime reporters found he had run out of material but still had a few lines of his allotted space to fill, so he copied out his wife's recipe for melanzane al forno, baked aubergines, which duly made it into print.

And since I seem to have a little space left here, can I mention my much- acclaimed method of cooking veal al limone? Oh dear, I'm not sure there's enough room now.

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