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Un ballo in maschera

  Mon 28th September 2020

Back from Milan, and my favourite letter on the table is Scarlet's masterful transcription of Kitty's advice -- "be kind to her in all ways" -- in a calligraphy of a precise exuberance that doesn't really come across in a photograph, but there are some on her blog far better than the ones I was going to post here. The brilliance of the colours radiating off the page, and the energy in the lettering, in the collaged setting, come together in one beautiful ensemble.

Thank you so much Scarlet. I will frame it properly, without cheap Chinese clip frames from Argos that ping off every five seconds.

I have the feeling I am being taken for a ride, by the driver of a car that knocked me over yesterday.

I came out of the cider house, and seeing the road clear to the bus stop on the other side I darted across. Out of nowhere, a car appeared, braked hard, and gave me a small nudge which knocked me over. I'd had three pints of cider, which isn't usually enough to make cars appear.

I was fine apart from a slightly sore ankle and continued my dash to the bus stop. A few minutes later I was approached by the driver who wanted to show me the damage I had, he alleged, caused to his car. I was surprised to see a few concentric fractures a few inches in diameter and a larger one about a foot long extending vertically.

He was worried because it was a company car. This morning, I had a phone call from his boss. The driver had said that the windscreen had been damaged by my phone flying out and hitting it.

Feeling a little delayed shock, I left a garbled message for Hayley from the bus, using the same phone that had not only acted as a surprisingly potent projectile minutes earlier but which had somehow bounced back into my bag.

"Well, I'm glad you're OK," he said, moving to his real concern. "It's just the windscreen. How do you intend to resolve this?" "Well, we'd have to decide on liability wouldn't we?" He said that someone else would be ringing me tomorrow to discuss it further.

Something isn't right here. There is no way that a phone which weighs three ounces could have caused such damage to toughened glass. My guess is that the driver had done something to the windscreen and wants to pin the blame, and the cost of its replacement, on me.

Milan. Golly. For someone who delights that we have stolen the continental words "flâneur" and "dilettante", Milan is a gift, where people watching is worth every Euro of the pricey drinks in the bars with the best views. I overspent on clothes from the secondhand shops, but have ended up with three lovely Italian pieces which will last and last. The shops in the centre are Huysmanesque galleries. The beautiful arrangements of handmade paper and glinting, iridescent fountain pens in a stationer's made it look more like a jeweller's showroom.

We stayed in an ex-council flat with a filmmaker and her two cats, in what might be a fractious suburb. A bit of graffiti read "Romii sunt animali". Not a flicker of disharmony all week between me and Jenny, which surprised me somewhat. La Scala was open, but unfortunately the cheapest remaining tickets for La Traviata were 112 Euros. From Madrid came the news that audience members in the more crowded cheaper seats had forced the Teatro Real to abandon a performance. The opera? Un ballo in maschera.

Artist and title unknown due to author's Slack Alice attitude

My new haircut, modelled on the Beijing Military Academy School of Progressive Socialist Hairdressing, must make me look like an art thief, since Jenny and I were tailed by two security guards through every room of the Gallery of Modern Art, thwarting my attempts to strengthen my holdings of the Scapigliatura movement.

Once I'd got over the weird feeling provoked by complying with Jenny's wish to have me film her eating, we had a long lunch, where a waiter keen to talk about the brewing scene in Milan supplied us with free post-prandial digestifs of limoncello, something made from mango, and a revelatory drink new on me, Rattafia. It's a fortified wine flavoured with sour cherries that had us both going "oh!" in unarticulated pleasure. As we left, he gave me a bottle of the local beer I had had with my pizza.

Leaving for our separate airports on the last day, I felt wrenched away, sad to leave. "This is my city," said Jenny. I've made her a little card. She was excellent company. Organised, curious; considerate and chatty with our host. And looked great too, even by the testing standards of the Milanese.

I went to collect some post from The Beautiful House. The vandalising owner has grubbed up all Cath's years of gardening. I sat on the Common with some cider, when Trina, who always waits long enough so that the surprise is greater, texted with a proposal. She wanted to know if I'd like to go away with her for a week next year. To Milan.


Comment from: kono [Visitor]

The yin and the yang… the beauty, joy and pleasure of Milan… the shitshow known as humanity and automobiles…
I’d let Company Man know that you’ve talked to your lawyer (not that you really have :) and after explaining the situation how he believes you have a very good case for compensation and how considering it was a company car being recklessly driven by an employee that he believes the company is liable as well… also your lawyer feels that something is amiss with the damage to car and windscreen and believes you may be being harassed as well, meaning more compensation for the mental duress you’ve been put under because of being hit by a company car. My guess is the calls might stop at that point. I’m not a lawyer… but i play on at the pub.

Mon 28th September 2020 @ 12:48 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

Well kono, it’s quarter to five now and the phone call from the company car people hasn’t arrived so maybe they’ve been advised that the idea of a three ounce phone fracturing a windscreen might not hold up in court. Had they rang, I’d have said that I don’t want to talk any more, and that we’ve got to have everything by email, to have it in writing, as a record. I don’t think they’ll pursue it though. My left foot was a bit achy and a dark colour this morning but no permanent harm done methinks. Shady dealings going on somewhere. And you know, in a way, good luck to them. Just not with me :)

Mon 28th September 2020 @ 16:51 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Scarlet [Visitor]

I’m so pleased that you liked my offering!!
Blushing now.
I don’t like the sound of the car business - and agree that you are being played. It all sounds a little rum, but please be careful when crossing the road in future.
Milan - I swooned at the mention of arrangements of handmade paper and glinting, iridescent fountain pens! Lovely!

Mon 28th September 2020 @ 13:03 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

I love your card. It’s propped up on my knicker drawers using an empty tin of peanuts to support it at the moment, but soon it will be displayed with a bit more style in the centre of the old fireplace wall, in a proper frame.

Yeah, Milan was a sensual city, especially visually. You end up sighing sometimes at the colours and the light. I thought it might be a bit up itself and preening, but it wasn’t that in the slightest.

Mon 28th September 2020 @ 16:59 Reply to this comment

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