Mostly written on 9th September.
Mantova! I’m so happy to be back here.
Everyone says I look so happy. This is true – and not only for being back this year. Even last night, B said that I looked happy. It’s how life should be.
I’m sitting at Grifone Bianco, having lunch. The antipasto was a rather tasty Leek and Cheese Pie.
My Italian is still not that good and sometimes I confuse things. I thought I had chosen a veal pie for my secondo. What came was three, rather large balls of veal tartare. Luckily, I eat everything so it doesn’t phase me – other than it was slightly unexpected. It was, in fact, the most fantastic tartare I’ve ever had. After the meal was over (I was the last diner to leave), the woman behind the counter said that she was sorry she hadn’t recognised me before. It was nice that she had recognised me at all – it being a couple of years since I had last been there!
I only wish that F could be here with me. It’s warm and muggy; the sun hidden behind clouds – moisture hangs heavily in the air.
I got here much later than I had planned. I forgot to set the alarm and so we woke up at 9. 9, I tell you! I didn’t wake up that late when we were on holiday! I guess I needed the sleep. I guess that even more because I have developed a sty – and I’ve always believed they were a result of a lack of sleep. Or, maybe, that’s an old wives’ tale from my mother or grandmother. I don’t know any more. It’s what I believe anyway and so that makes it true, even if it isn’t.
I was asked about V both last night and when I arrived here. It’s to be expected, I suppose.
I’m ashamed to say that, last night, at least, I told all that I had heard. I gossiped with gusto. It was the first person I had done this with. It was the first person who I had seen since I had heard the gossip and who had known us as a couple.
I wanted to stop but I couldn’t. Today, on the other hand, I kept it simple and kept most of the information to myself. It’s better like that.
I asked about editing. I would give up my job and my English teaching if I could earn enough with that. Maybe this was the job I was actually destined for?
Anyway, it’s something I can do even if we move to the other side of the world – but that’s a different post. I’m afraid I don’t tell you everything, especially if it’s only an idea and more especially if it’s not even my idea but one that’s reliant on other people who I don’t really know very well – actually almost not at all!
It’s a late lunch I’m having, having only got here, to Mantova, at 1.30 and to the restaurant at about 2.30.
After lunch, I wander a bit. Mantova is one of those places that you really should visit. It’s a pretty town, surrounded by lakes. The problem with the lakes is that, when it’s really hot like this, it’s also humid – more, even, than Milan.
I go to a talk with Tim Parks, a writer who has lived in Italy (somewhere in or close to Milan, from what I understand) since the early eighties. He speaks Italian very well. I understand a lot. I even understand some of his jokes. This is good, really. It’s during his event that I realise that Mantova is more humid than Milan. He seems a funny guy and enjoys his time on stage. I leave when the questions from the audience start as I have to get back.
I take my leave of the staff. I wish I were able to stay. Maybe I can organise it for next year as this one has been too hectic.
But I’m so happy that I came. If you get the chance you should go to the Festivaletteratura. The atmosphere is great and the weather is (usually) very good. For me it’s another of those things that extends the summer.
To next year! And thanks to M and S and all the other staff who always make me feel so welcome.by