Monday, 20 July 2009
Bagni but no Browning
SATURDAY 18 JULY 2009
• Last night, shortly before going to bed, I discovered that the vague ache I’d had in my shoulder area for most of the day was not some sort of kind of wrenched muscle but two bloody big mosquito bites. A quick check established I had another on my bum, another on my arm and another on the jugular vein down the side of my neck. (At least that stabbing pain below the jawline wasn’t a stroke. Think positive). AND when I turned out the light, with the window shut, the room became insufferably hot, or at least in my fevered itching state, I thought it did. Eventually with the help of two paracetemol I got off to sleep and – amazingly – got around six hours.
• I rose in time for a 15-minute run, then off on the bus to Bagni di Lucca…Only not so fast. As we descended from the wall and crossed to the bus station, we negotiated a grassy dusty patch, except my negotiations broke down when my left foot lodged itself tightly in a pot-hole. It was like two cars coming in opposite directions: I was proceeding hurriedly in Direction A and the ground was proceeding equally smartly in Direction B, and next I know we’re both at Collision Point C. Soooooorrrre. The heels of my hands bit into the ground and I stopped with my gob about one inch from the earth. I knew that I could get up but I also knew that to move would cause pain.Besides, there was a heavy oldness to my body and the pebbles stuck in my hands felt as if they'd taken out a long-term lease, so I lay there gasping and swearing between gasps. Maureen and a passing Good Italian Samaritan helped me up, both enquiring if I was ‘all right’ (or at least that’s what I assume the Italian chap was saying). What they really meant was, had I broken any bones or would I need to be taken to hospital? I hadn’t and I didn’t, but when I cleaned my wounds by pouring frizzante water onto my palms, the sting was pretty oh-ah-oh-bloody-AAAAHH.
• So that’s an assault by at least five kamikaze mosquitoes and both my innocent palms sliced by a stigmatic experience. Charming.
• And then to top it all, Bagna di Lucca turned out to have little beyond a sort of all-right village charm. We located the English Cemetery, which in fact was wildly overgrown and contained mainly dead Lieutenant-Colonels who had fought at Waterloo. No Robert Browning or his wife and forever love Elzabeth Barrett Browning (she sounds like a sub-machine gun). There was a wall plaque saying something about the pair of them having had an estate in the town, down by the river. After we’d seen that and taken a few pics and got some over-priced insect repellant and insect-bite ointment in The British Consulate Pharmacy, we’d had enough.