SUNDAY 26 JULY 2009
This morning I got Francesca to run me off a copy of our boarding passes for tomorrow. This involved getting her laptop up from the basement, and shortly afterwards getting Her Chap (tall, youthful, pleasant) to help get it going and then printed off. Following that, I asked for and got a pic of Francesca and Veronica (the help). Veronica also seemed very pleased and I heard her, as I arranged them, deliver a long Italian sentence which included the word ‘Playboy’. I tell Francesca I’ll email her a copy of the pic and which does she like best? She selects the one where she isn’t smiling (keeping a distance between her and the help?) and says she’ll put it on her website.
It’s approaching 7.00 pm on the last day here at Casa del mar in Forte Dei Marmi. I’m up on the terrace in the evening sun and the temperature must be above 30 degrees C. We’re sort of killing time until 7.30 – 8.00 pm when we’ll go down to the ristorante /takeaway at the end of the street and get our last supper – one helping of chicken and chips plus one more chip, plus one wine in a jug, plus some water, and maybe a beer. (Dare I drink a beer?) We’re not long back from there – hunger drove us down before 6.00 pm to get a pizza, and thirst drove me, as we waited, for a coke from the fruit n veg n everything shop at the other end of the road. As I quaffed it coming back, I met Francesca. ‘Hello Jude!’. She was on her bicycle, and it somehow didn’t seem like a meeting between landlady and client. Too sunny. Too young.
In fact we ended up not at the chicken-centre down the road but at another restaurant, much nearer downtown. The waiter was unflappable and, as it turned out, German. He greeted us in English before we’d spoken a word – I suppose you get a sense of people’s nationality when you’re doing his job for as long as he has probably been – and greeted other parties in Italian and German, all with ease and all jollying them along so they have a relationship with him inside two minutes. It was a pleasant little sidewalk ristorante, with in my case a good view of the bell-tower of the church drenched in the evening sun – and of the terrifying cleavage of a large English mum who was there with her hubby and three young girls. It seemed to be the night for children – they were at every table in sight. Half-way through the meal a chap on a bicycle, with little flashing blue lights and horns and a black top hat and little flags – ‘Magician’ it said on his sign – cycled past slowly and then back again, making playful eye-contact with the youngsters. I’m kicking myself I didn’t get a photograph of him. If he’d stayed (maybe not enough kids, even though there seemed a lot) I’d certainly have done so. And yes, the food was deeeeelicious. Veal and stuff. And I had that beer. Small and cold and perfect. In fact, a pretty perfect way to end the holiday. Being alive is – or can be – a joy-crammed experience, if only briefly.