bulk :: unknown (lots of pizza and beer - bad effect; endless traipsing with 20 kilos of rucksack on my back - good effect. Overall, most likely no change whatsoever.)
cigarettes :: probably about five a day (On Monday, I'm stopping - be prepared for some highly irritable blog posts)
alcohol :: a few beers, a few wines, a few liqueurs - nothing so serious
holiday romance :: zero, zilch, niente, di nada, bugger all
My return flight to England leaves in exactly four hours. Before I go to the airport I intend to eat a hearty lunch, send the postcards that I've been carrying around with me for the last week and make a phone call or two. I must say, on the whole, it's been a rather disappointing holiday. I'm sorry - I hate to come across a miserable, whining cur - after all, two weeks in Italy, three cities, loads of sun and wonderful food - this is not something at which one should find oneself shaking a stick. And I'm not, really I'm not. It's just that, there were disappointments.
Still, balls to the disappointments. There were also wonderful moments. I loved, for example, travelling around alone on trains - the trains here are exceptional, some of them have two decks! I loved meeting people in train stations. The ones I enjoyed the most were the old ones. The American couple whose luggage I carried up some stairs in Faenza - 'you've made my day!' said the old lady. 'And you've made mine!' I replied. And she really had.
The two couples in Agrigento. The lady who was brought up by German nuns in Nebraska, and for whom the idea of a life without rules and regulations was frankly unthinkable. Then when the train finally arrived, she said to me, 'It's not very big.' I replied, 'It's big enough', and she laughed and admired my attitude. Then she said, 'I needed to meet you today.' That really touched me. Then when we said goodbye at Palermo, she said, 'Have a nice life.' That touched me too. I'm easily touched.
Then there were the two old Irish ladies in Rome, when I was sat alone in a Chinese restaurant on publication day. We got talking, a short time before I left. They were sweet to me. We talked about the internet. One of them had been living in Rome for fifty years. Imagine that.
There were other times too, and probably quite a lot of them, when I was thoroughly happy to be amongst new friends in a new land. So I shall hang onto those memories, and put the things that went wrong behind me, as best I can.
So here's to the pizzas, the seafood, the dancing hips and plump, damp lips. Here's to the moments when eyes smiled and things, for a short time, seemed eminently possible.
I'm actually looking forward to getting back to England though, and getting back home, which I never really expected. I'm going to buy a decent bike. And see what I can do to sell this damn book. And I'm going to meet some new people, goddammit. And I'm going to live. That's all I want really. I just want to live. And if I'm not very much mistaken, for the time being at least, I am very well placed to do just that. The world, after all, is my oyster. And it's a giant oyster, potentially packed with all manner of exotic jewels. Not just pearls. I don't particularly care for pearls.
So, I do believe it's lunchtime. Have a great weekend, whatever you're up to, and I'll see you back in the north of England next week. By the way, what are you up to? Anything di bello?