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For administrative purposes, Italy

  Mon 7th September 2020

I'm in the Old Post Office. The capital "O" gives it away: it's been deracinated from the state and turned into a pub. I was caught in the vestibule to have the rules explained to me, now runaway regulations loosed from science, stoked gleefully by young people relishing a scrap of authority and control at work. I was told not to stand up, and to follow the arrows.

I miss mine and Mel's pub, where no-one gives a shit who you sit with or stand up with or talk with, its weed-perfumed garden, little dots of powder on the toilet roll holders, signs saying that anyone found doing drugs will be barred - always a good sign -- and where on a Sunday afternoon we'd be snogging and stroking and undoing.


I got back to Bristol last night from Rovinj, in Istria, in Croatia. I told Cath I was going to Bergamo in Italy as Italy's unquarantined. She surprised me by telling me about her holiday in Bergamo two years ago, so I had to look up "attractions in Bergamo" to get my story straight for when I got back. I couldn't be doing with a fortnight of her anxiety about isolation, a dance on the landing every time I want to go to the loo, and worse, having to handle her, acting as counsellor and defendant, as tolerance and condemnation wrangled for precedence in her head.

I got through security OK -- they never search near your cock -- had a £6.50 pint of cider in the bar, and then went to the loo, leaving all my stuff on the table. Got back and couldn't find my phone. I'd taken the "smart" phone I never use which had my boarding pass on it. A helpful Welsh couple at the next table rang it repeatedly as I tipped my bag out onto the table, all my cheap underwear looking ragged in a pile on the table.

I missed my flight, and sat annoyed with myself for being downhearted. I went to a car hire place, where I asked to borrow their work phone to ring my eldest, Fiona. I keep important numbers written down in my diary. They were on a different flight, the day after, from Liverpool and were staying in an airbnb there.

It was five o'clock. I could still get to Liverpool. Fiona, with a lack of at least audible exasperation, bought me a sixty-eight quid ticket for their flight. I got the bus to Temple Meads. A train in five minutes. I got halfway through asking the conductor if I could go to Crewe with him as I showed him my erroneously-issued rail pass, when he cut me short and ushered me into first class.


I didn't know how it'd work, an ersatz family of me, my eldest and the middle one, and Fiona's ex Imogen, but lacking mum and the youngest. We went swimming, the equality of near-nudity, in a warm sea which was as popular with the locals as it is with jellyfish, throbbing gelatinous blobs looking like domes of smoked cheese gone mouldy, as big as your head, and hundreds of their smaller harmless children.

On the last day we went for a meal out in a slippery cobbled square. Wary cats looked up hopefully at our table. I was tense about Fiona throwing her food out to them, as though it were disrespectful to the staff. I said "Imogen, I have loved having you on this holiday. I hope it's not the last time you come with us." She welled up, as did Jenny, who tearily stared at me as I put my arm around Imogen. "No, really." I laughed with the hilarity that expressing affection can provoke.


At the airport I still had a wee bit of speed. The alarm went off as I walked through the sensor arch. They ushered me to one side, and said "your belt", which was a bit confusing as my belt was in the tray, and swabbed both my waistband and my bag. I stood, trying to calm a tremor, for some elongated seconds, before the test came back negative and I was waved through. A pint of the local beer, post-security, was three pounds. I ordered two, and felt myself deliquesce into the beautiful liminal space of an airport.

4 comments

Comment from: Scarlet [Visitor]

Oh Looby, you are a sneaky bugger, telling Cath you went to Italy!
I feel like I should send a spare M&S Voucher so you can get some underwear.
Sx

Mon 7th September 2020 @ 12:39 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Please do Scarlet. I don’t want to look like a redundant model for Ethel Austin if it ever gets to the underwear stage with Mel.

Mon 7th September 2020 @ 13:47 Reply to this comment
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

Life and how to live it… even when we fuck it up, lol! i’ve got a fiver someone walked by and nicked the phone, and that last line, there are certain times and places where airports seem so calm and relaxed even though everyone is rushing about…

Thu 10th September 2020 @ 21:14 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Yeah, I just felt so safe after I’d gone through security, but everyone I’ve told this to said, “yeah but there are opportunistic thieves everywhere.” Well, they’re welcome to my old stupid phone.

If I were rich I’d send a lot more time in airports. Not flying, just sitting in that timeless, placeless state.

Thu 10th September 2020 @ 22:14 Reply to this comment


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looby, n.; pl. loobies. A lout; an awkward, stupid, clownish person


M / 56 / Bristol, "the most beautiful, interesting and distinguished city in England" -- John Betjeman [1961, source eludes me].

"Looby is a left-wing intellectual who is obsessed with a) women's clothes and b) tits." -- Joy of Bex.

WLTM literate woman, 40-65. Must have nice tits, a PhD, and an mdma factory in the shed, although the first on its own will do in the short term.


There are plenty of bastards who drink moderately. Of course, I don't consider them to be people. They are not our comrades.
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The more democratised art becomes, the more we recognise in it our own mediocrity.
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