What a mad week it’s been, at times I’ve felt like King Lear howling at the wind.
Sunday 17: Well we left England just as the last of our worldly possessions headed south in Duncan’s van. I turned on my iPod and Eartha Kitt sang, Let’s Do It, My sentiments exactly as the ignition guns and we leave Tunstall en route for Abruzzo. The weather in France is awful, so we opt for a night in the car and wait to see what it’s like in the morning. It’s cold and we’re lucky to grab a few hours of broken sleep.
Monday 18: The drive is tedious and having driven through weather that Prospero would have been proud of, rain in France, sleet in Belgium and fog through Luxembourg; where no one turned their headlights on, and snow in Switzerland we arrive in Modena. The hotel is quite contemporary and geared up to the business sector, but the rooms are warm, clean and well appointed. We have a wonderful meal in the restaurant, a glass of wine and its back to the room for some shut-eye. My head hits the pillow and I’m in the realm of the dead for 8 hours straight, a sleep that Macbeth would have been more than happy with.
Tuesday 19: Breakfast is an amazing array of goodies all laid out for us to enjoy, it really is a feast, comparable to the one Ariel conjures up. The other guests are dressed in business attire, apart from us and a German man in jeans and t-shirt. A tall, handsome Italian man strides into the room and confidently orders coffee before lifting a knife and with the deftness of Tybalt he cuts a slice of bread and drops it onto his plate. He walks back to his table and glances across and smiles, my countenance betrays my lust and like Benedick I toss back an amiable yet distant smile.
We begin the second leg of our journey, as Tubeway Army play, It Must Have Been Years, we stop at the cemetery where Luciano Pavarotti is interred and say a silent hello to the big man, refusing to take photographs, as it felt wrong. We continue heading south in warm and sunny weather and after 5 hours we’re outside our friend Shelagh’s house, Lyca, her one-eyed hound bounds down the steps towards us and greets us with that excited tail-wagging joy that only a dog can do. Like the weird sisters we catch up on gossip before collecting the new keys to our place; locks changed after break-in. We drive the few kilometres home and become pleasantly surprised, our rough pot-holed road is being resurfaced. The previous break-in has robbed us of nothing that cannot be replaced, mostly tools, kitchenware and new bedding. All our precious and personal items have been unwrapped and laid out, but not broken or stolen – who’d have ever thought I’d be grateful to a thief for resisting the mindless destruction of the property they had no respect for. As our belongings are still in Duncan’s van, we set up bed in the back of the car. It’s surprising how roomy a Vauxhall Zafira can be when the seats are moved back and a futon mattress is loaded inside. We enjoy a gin and tonic and like Richard lll we’re transfixed by the stillness of the evening, as a dog barks and wood smoke wafts by. Before long we’re too tired to talk and slip under the duvet and slumber like Titania in her bower.
Wednesday 20: The following morning with Karen Young, singing the disco classic and one of my favourite tunes, Hot Shot, Duncan arrives, we hail him, king Duncan, and begin to unload our life that’s been packed inside the white travelling box on wheels. A man from the water company pops by to explain that we’ve been misled by the geometra, who got the vicinity of our water pipe wrong, he promises we’ll have a new pipe and water before mid-April; so soon, we’ve waited 2 years thus far. The drive to our house is steep and we have to give Duncan a quick tow to get him out and we’re left to our own devices. We quickly sort out some semblance of order and after an hour or so like Viola when she takes on the persona of Cesario our makeshift kitchen has ideas above its station. Later as Paul Young, belts out the decidedly poor track, Wedding Day from his Between Two Fires album, Dutch tackles dinner in the halogen cooker we purchased from the local supermarket 2 years ago. After a bit of suck it and see cooking we have chicken and roast potatoes and veg out of a can, and so welcome it was. I open a bottle of fizz as Querida by Vittorio Grigolo shuffles on the iPod.
Thursday 21: A shifty looking bloke in overalls drops off some coloured plastic bins and mutters something about recycling and buggers off. I’m then left to decipher the intricate recycling that the council have put into place, our euro-bin has disappeared and now we still get the daily rubbish collection but now it’ll be broken down into different types of household waste – oh joy more OCD issues for me to deal with, heaven forbid the refuse men call each Thursday for pencil shavings from Steadtler pencils.
Friday 22: I’m having a few minutes peace outside when a man with a dog on a rope comes striding down the driveway towards me, he calls out with a cheery, “Ciao”, the man that is, not the dog, and engages me in conversation; or rather he speaks, molto velocemente and I try to keep up. He asks if I’m renting; I consider an inappropriate quip, but fear it would be lost on him, so tell him I have bought the house. He then asks about next door, “Is it for sale?” I respond telling him I don’t know, he then asks if I’ve seen anyone come to the house, I tell him I haven’t but we’ve had thieves break in a few months ago. His eyebrows raise and almost disappear into his hairline, “What you need,” he says, “when you live in the countryside, is a dog or better still,” he laughs, “A friendly wolf.” I chuckle as I recall Lear’s, Jester say, “He’s mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf.” My visitor asks my name then is confused, “Isn’t Bari an airport?” he laughs again. He tells me his name is Michele, (pronounced Mick-ay-lea). We shake hands and he asks me where the people from next door have gone, I then go on to tell him that the old lady is hospital as she has dementia, I then say, “Marito è morto,” he looks at me oddly, then sadness crosses his face and I realise what I’ve said and quickly correct myself and say, “Marito della signora è morta.” He laughs loudly, pats me on the shoulder and says goodbye. No doubt, like Feste to my Olivia, he’s off to tell the locals about the strange Englishman who is either drunk or mad because he said, my husband has died.