It was also a snub to the friend who had introduced us.I was castigated for the misunderstanding and the unfortunate colleague was accused of backstabbing in a text message that finished: "If you ever go out with her again, I will cut your throat." The accused was equally insulted and texted back: "I'd cheat on my girlfriend, but I'd never betray my friends!In a bizarre two-pronged attack, he mixed anecdotes about his favourite sexual position with promises to take me to his grandmother's house to try her famous home-made ravioli.Eventually, he realised that this was getting nowhere and turned to my disapproval of his smoking habit.But all hell let loose when it emerged that we had made plans without our mutual friend.My casual suggestion of lunch was, in fact, a highly forward move: a signal that it was not just lunch I was interested in.His favourite episode was the one where the naive English girl is pursued in the gym, a place otherwise known as Italian flirt-heaven.I should have read the signs: the men hanging around, idly lifting weights while modelling skin-tight shorts, the women tripping by in tiny skirts and heels, admiring hair in mirrors and swapping phone numbers.
"Any Italian man who sits next to a girl on a sofa and doesn't try it on will be sneered at by his friends and branded a fool," he protested.My introduction to Italian chat-up lines began even before I had left the UK.In preparation for my move to research Italian cinema, I scoured adverts for a room to rent." A few days later, however, the "rivals" were on the best of terms again.
In true Italian style, brotherly love had turned to loathing and back again before the week was up.
So the hapless Englishwoman finds herself the unwilling star of a bizarre soap-opera, part The Bold and the Beautiful, part East Enders.