Monday, September 27, 2010

No Italian Siesta

Just when life appears to be returning to normality something disruptive seems to happen. Last night when we came to put me to bed we discovered the little plastic failsafe plug in my face-mask was missing. [Failsafe; it’s meant to pop out if the power suddenly cuts out]

A frantic search of bed and room failed to find it. So we had to revert to plan B. A new untried mask, different shape.. At first it fitted snugly, but very soon as the machine ramped up it started hissing – a sign of leakage. Anne had several goes to settle it. We settled on the best we could and she went off upstairs.

After two hours without sleep – the mask’s noise and the blast of cold air on my throat was too troublesome I rang the bell awaking her from her sleep. She tried to get it on properly but it remained not on a good seal. So we tried again for second best.

This time I dozed off but came awake to the machine hissing. I sat on the edge of the bed and tried to adjust the mask. I managed to get a good fit. Very gingerly I put off the touch lamp and lowered myself back into bed. [I have to sleep on my back with the equipment]. It worked and in the quietness I fell asleep. But I must have turned and twisted a bit for I woke up about four with the mask hissing again. I took it off and made a cup of tea. The advantage of daylight saving is that morning will come earlier.

But at least I had some sleep and oxygen delivered for over six hours. It was no Italian siesta though.

I had meant to blog about the DVD ‘Letters to Juliet’ which we watched on Saturday evening. The earthquake aftershocks intervened yesterday. It is a delightful romance, a comedy of the heart. I’ve always been a fan of Vanessa Redgrave. But above all the attraction was the Tuscan landscape and the shots of Sienna itself. .

My visit to Verona was brief. Anne and I took the overnight train from Nice to Venice. It was autumn. There was a heavy frost and mist down the Po Valley. After the stop at Milan I’d had trouble going back to sleep and as it was morning and we had the compartment to ourselves we put up the blinds and watched the bleak landscape. We stopped at ome stage and reading the station sign realised we were in Verona. It did not look appealing. Indeed, the very opposite of romantic, icicles hanging from the station roof.

But the film shots of the country around Sienna in summer sunshine were idyllic – a travelogue with romance. It’s a pretty strong combination.

I’ve been to Italy twice. With my first wife in 1970 enroute to France and Britain. A day in Rome, a four day excursion to Florence via Assisi on the way and Siena on the return. After such a brief glimpse I wanted to go back

When I finished working for David Lange I said to Anne I need a holiday, let’s have that Italian trip I’ve often talked about. So we went – hence the rail stop at Verona. I’ll never forget stepping out of the railway station at Venice and seeing the Grand Canal. It was real. We’d made no bookings. At the stations there were good information centres that arranged accommodation in the area you which to stay in.

I won’t rave about Venice, or Ferrara (with a side-trip to Ravenna and its eye-boggling mosiacs) or Florence (with side trips to Sienna and Pisa) but I fell in love with Santa Margherita a fishing town and tourist centre not far from Portofino on the Italian Riveria. It was charming and ordinary after the excitement, art and architecture of the larger centres. We both had hair-cuts in establishments where not a word of English was spoken. We ate at the taxi-driver’s caf√©. We wandered around the port and watched the fishing boats come in. Being a tourist can become wearisome.

And so on Lake Como for Christmas the one booking we’d made ahead.

I’ve always wanted to go back. I wanted to show Anne Rome and explore it more myself. We’ve talked about renting a Tuscan villa. Talk without action meant delay and now my ill-health has put the kibosh on such plans. So the DVD involved both nostalgia and regret. I enjoyed watching it immensely. There’s a full circle here. In my younger days cinema fuelled my dreams. It does so again.

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