Celtic Illumination, part 139, The Hills are alive!
It would appear that I, well; this blog, has been nominated for the ‘Best Moment Award.’ This blog is of course nothing without you, the readers, the Illuminati, so you should congratulate yourselves, on a job well done. I hope you have many more wonderful nominations in the future, for you surely deserve it. Now you can look down on all those other ordinary bloggers who tell you how to boil a cat or peel a glass marble. Let’s clear the mantelpiece, for I feel that this will not be the last. Keep up the good work.
So here we are in my sisters small flat in Trento, in Northern Italy. It is the morning of my twenty first birthday and it is also the morning of my sisters twenty sixth birthday. Both my sister Carol and my now ex-girlfriend Karen were preparing for Carol’s birthday party that evening. Carol taught English at the prestigious Trento University, but she had also started up her own little business teaching English to business people. She actually went to their place of work and gave them an hour’s tuition. She was quite successful at what she was doing.
People, friends of Carol, were calling into the flat and wishing her well, leaving presents and flowers and the like. One such visitor, Alberto was encouraged to take me away with him so that the ladies could settle in to the preparations they deemed necessary for that evening. I was quite happy to escape with Alberto and we dandered, in silence, into Trento. Unlike Salvatore, Alberto wasn’t very good with the old English. He was a silver smith and like most Italian men, mad about football.
Alberto showed me a little of Trento but the language barrier kept a lot from me. He showed me a pizza place and we filled our faces with pizza and beer. Quite different from the frozen discs of chewy dough we were fed in the UK and very enjoyable. He then took me to a bar where I drank beer and he sat and watched football and drank beer. At what I felt was an appropriate moment I made my excuses and wandered off. I made my way to the river and sat myself down on a bench and just watched. Heaven for me is to sit by a river, surrounded by mature trees, in the rain. It wasn’t raining, but it was close enough.
Unfortunately time slipped away and I had to return to the flat. I had enjoyed myself and was quite relaxed. There would be a party that evening and I knew I would probably enjoy myself. The women were still preening themselves so I sat in the living room with Bob Dylan and waited. Eventually they were ready and we headed off. I had no idea what was going to happen so was prepared to just accept the evening as it unfolded. We went to a local restaurant. It was a small family affair and it would appear that our party had the whole restaurant to ourselves for the evening.
All the tables and chairs had been arranged into a ‘U’ shape. People arrived and stood around chatting and sipping wine. As we sat down Carol was at the head of the top table, after all, it was her birthday. The guests were a combination of some of her students, some of her clients and some of her friends. I think it was probably her friends who sat around her at the top table, but for the two legs of the setup, the seating arrangements were a little different. On one leg sat all the females and at the other all the males. I was invited to sit with all the girls and Karen with all the men.
I was having great fun and I could see that Karen was revelling in all the attention she was receiving from the Italian men. I relaxed and began to enjoy myself. As you can imagine I made sure that my legs were completely covered at all times. I’m not sure how the Italian women may have reacted to seeing the most loveliest legs in Ireland, but I was taking no chances. At the end of the meal there were a few speeches’ and toasts and then the crowd sang happy birthday to Carol. I had kept my part and said nothing about it also being my twenty first birthday, however the drink had loosened Karen’s tongue and she announced that it was my birthday too.
I sat down after the crowd had sang happy birthday to me, in Italian, and found a lady sitting beside me. I had noticed her earlier in the evening and thought she wouldn’t even speak to me, for she was way out of my league. She introduced herself to me. Her name was Marissa. She sat talking to me about herself and Trento and how she knew Carol. I ran through my check list to make sure that my eyes were not standing out on stalks or that I wasn’t dribbling from the corners of my mouth. I wondered if I should sit on my hands, or jam them into my pockets, for Marissa was the sort of woman you just wanted to reach out and touch.
I don’t mean that in a perverted sort of way. She was really old, I mean she was twenty seven or twenty eight, but she was pure class. She was the sort of woman who you saw in glossy magazines, and I mean the ones where the women have their clothes on. She explained that she was a representative for a holiday company. Her job was to travel around Northern Italy and visit the camp sites and small hotels they represented, to make sure that each site or hotel actually provided what they claimed to, in their brochures, and that the services and facilities were up to a certain standard.
I thought no more about it for I knew I would never see this woman again. She asked about the relationship between Karen and myself and I explained that Karen was now my ex-girlfriend. Marissa suggested that perhaps we could get together for a drink some evening. I apologised, while wondering if I could get away with murdering Carol and Karen to death and getting my money back. I explained that I had no money and felt such an awkward, useless, fool. It was clear from the way she dressed, and spoke, and held herself, that a small glass of beer and a bag of chips would not constitute an evening out for this lady.
Marissa then suggested that perhaps I might like to go for a drive the following day. She had a few places she had to visit and if I would accompany her and speak English, which would help her with her career, she would pay for lunch. I of course accepted and thought no more about it. The party broke up and a large group made their way back to Carol’s flat. I found myself a bottle of wine and settled into a corner.
That’s where I woke the following morning, but despite the aches and pains, the hangover and the trademark tell-tale signs of the visiting gorilla, I dragged myself in to the bathroom, stripped off and scrubbed myself from head to toe. There was a spark of hope inside me. It was a long shot, but stranger things have happened. I scrubbed myself raw and pulled on the freshest set of clothes I could find. I knew it would make me feel good, and it did. The morning began its slippery descent toward lunchtime and I have to admit that my hopes were fading.
Carol and Karen had taken to the balcony and were sunning themselves. I hung around in the living room, pacing about quietly. Then I heard it, a car horn beeping, below. Both Carol and Karen began to ask, ‘Who’s that?’ in a sort of who has the audacity to interrupt our perfect silence, tone. I stepped out onto the balcony and peered over. I couldn’t believe it. Standing beside an open topped, red, Italian sports car was Marissa. She saw me, smiled and waved. I returned the wave, reminding myself to be cool and tried to stop myself smiling, for if I let it go I knew I would rip the face of myself.
Carol had made it to the railing and looked over. She saw Marissa and all the colour drained from her face. I wish I could have said something memorable like, I’m going out now, I may be some time, or the like, but I didn’t. I just said something like ‘See ya’s,’ and skipped my way out of the flat. I glanced up to the balcony as I slipped into the passenger seat and saw Carol and Karen watching. Marissa looked at me and smiled and then roared off. By the time we got to the end of the street, or should I say strada, I knew Carol would be on the telephone to the parents, complaining.
I can now tell you that it was a Lancia Fulvia, Spyder, sport. A beautiful, little red, open top sport car, that not only looked good but sounded good too. Marissa handled it like a professional. We stopped at Lake Garda for lunch and then raced off into the mountains. I promise you, zooming through the mountains in a little open topped car is most pleasurable. I was expecting to come across Michael Caine and his gang, blowing the bloody doors off, or to see Julie Andrews leaping around the hills with her guitar and a gaggle of kids.
I don’t know how Carol and Karen felt about my disappearance and I’m sure they would have made a big hoo haa about me not being back in time for my tea. In fact I never made it back at all. I was away with Marissa for six days and managed to drag myself away from her just in time to get back and make my way to Venice airport for the flight home. Told ya. Improvise, adapt and overcome.