Friday, 5 June 2009

Feedback Friday :: Hometime

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?

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SugarCain said...

See? That's what I'm talking about. You get me all misty-eyed because you made the day of some old lady. Keep it up, please.

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

You go on and do some living. You're better at it than most, whatever you think.

I shall be chilling out, buying new sandals, and visiting a minor but liked acquaintance so that we can do mutual baby admiration and she can reassure me that I'm doing the right thing in turning my life upside down again. Cos she did it too. Lots of people do it. It's not particularly dramatic in the grand scheme of the world and all its bigness, but it's a big thing in the small scheme of my life and all its drama.

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

PS I have to buy new sandals, cos mine have disappeared. I bought them in London several years ago, a couple of weeks after my book was published. It was an Expensive London Sandal Shop in central London, next to the third book shop that day which didn't stock a copy of my book. I gave up looking after that. I've only once seen a copy sitting on a book shop shelf, and that was because it was a tiny outlet and I delivered them myself. I have seen copies on people's bookshelves though. That's pretty cool.

Remind yourself, if you ever feel low, of what immense good fortune you have in being a Very Good Writer and having a Really Big Publisher who can afford to pay for such things as 3 for 2 promotions and big piles of your book in prominent places in every book shop. The rest of us, sadly, don't always fare so well.

Sorry, I shouldn't be bitter. You deserve it, you really do.

The sandals were £50. That's VERY expensive in my book, but they were super-comfortable, soothed my aching feet, lasted several years and I'm really really pissed off that somewhere between last summer and this summer they have disappeared, and now I have to buy new ones. Bugger.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean, 'I don't much care for pearls'? Sulk.

I'm sorry the trip didn't live up to your expectations, but hanging onto the little moments of beauty is definitely the way forward.

And I'm glad you're nearly home. I've missed you.

Helen said...

This weekend I shall be mostly reading your book. And not drinkince nice wine. And not eating nice food. For I am on a diet.

But your book will make it all better I'm sure. If not, do I get my money back? ;)

Anonymous said...

The people you meet while traveling are always so fascinating. Meeting people is much easier when you are traveling solo than as part of a couple. In fact, that is probably one of the biggest benefits of traveling solo.

Kirses said...

It's funny how much it means to you when you speak to someone while travelling on your own - its just really really nice.

Bike? Bicycle or Motor?

I'm going to a cycling event at Smithfield Market on Saturday - hope the rain holds off:

Andy said...

I hate to come across a miserable, whining cur

Two week holiday in Italy? There's no pleasing some people.....

Canuckian's Evil Twin said...

"i needed to meet you today." i got a little verklemped. :o)

Maureen said...

I suggest the next DVD you rent be Harold and Maude. Seen it already? There're all these amazing old women passing through your karma, so watch it again.

Some Chilean Woman said...

I'm easily touched too...

The Gossamer Woman said...

There are pros and cons to traveling by your self. The things, when you are having a bad experience, there is no one to have a talk about it with and get back to the lighter side of things a little quicker. You sit and ponder the thing all by yourself and imagine the worst sides of it and put yourself in a bad daylight, when it isn't really necessary. I hope you come to grips with that. I can't say, welcome home, because I live in the Netherlands, but I hope you enjoy being home anyway.