Like General MacArthur ” I have returned” though fortunately I didn’t have to wade ashore like he did but rather take the world’s shortest bus ride from the steps of an Easyjet aircraft to the Bari airport passport control a distance of some thirty paces at the most.
It was as well I didn’t have to get my feet wet as I caught a cold on the third day of my visit. Now being male of course it is not any old cold. It is first degree pneumonia with added complications that have the doctors outside of my oxygen tent shaking their heads solemnly and I am sure I espied a priest lurking nearby just now with a bunch of roseries at the ready.
Whilst doing a little internet self diagnosing the other day just to see how dangerously ill I really was as Geraldine tends to keep the truth from me I think .It was galling to learn from the Common Cold institute how difficult they find it to get volunteers to actually catch a cold. Sitting in a room with someone with a cold doesn’t do it nor does them sneezing all over you it seems. It is more subtle than that and mainly focuses on the hands.
Sneezing and coughing should be done into the crook of your arm at the elbow they recommend and certainly not into your hand. If done into the hand then anything touched becomes dogey for the next toucher like say me but once again it has to be something your body hasn’t come across before. Anyway the incubation period is always 2 days and so Mr Easyjet has my vote and a five pound note collected by the cabin crew from an old lady at the back of the aircraft and given to me in change was likely the culprit. I knew that second bottle of wine was a bad idea.
Still any of you males out there who aren’t sure about man hugs especially those living here in Italy. adopt them immediately. Handshakes are the fastest way to catch a bug. Indeed Mr. Mick Jagger when on tour has a minder that carries an antiseptic spray with him and each time Mick has his hand shaken the minder races up and sprays his hand.
I’m still with the five pound note as I didn’t race up and down the Easyjet aircraft giving high fives to all the passengers though maybe the pilots should. Why do Italians insist on clapping when the aircraft lands ? I remember my mother always said when my father and I cheered when a goal was scored on Match of the Day ” isn’t that what he is paid all that money to do” and I feel rather the same about pilots. Mind you I have never heard them clap on Alitalia flights so I guess it is foreign carriers they are grateful to be getting off in one piece. I have to admit to privately clapping and indeed thanking god on Bangladesh Biman Airways one time when the 40 year old Boeing 707 finally came to rest after a tortuous approach and about 10 firm hops quite close to the runway at Chittagong Airport.
I have returned to an heatwave as well, 25C ( 78F) today as it was yesterday. I did manage to get off my death bed to go out for lunch yesterday and of the 12 around the table five had been shooting that morning. It seems if I had had a sense of smell I would have sniffed the testosterone in the air as the iPhone photos were passed around by the lads. They had managed 49 tordi ( thrushes) . Now I don’t know much about bird recognition but I think “tordi” is obviously a generic name for birds in Italian because even I know what a thrush looks like and believe me these weren’t they. The guys seemed oblivious to this fact and were already planning how to cook them now they rested in the freezer. Italian males do a great deal of this meal planning especially in bars and over grappa at lunch tables. It is always quite fun to look at the women rather than the men on these occasions as the wives raise eyebrows at each other and smile knowingly. What I asked Tina quietly will really happen. Oh, she said, they will sit at the bottom of the freezer and he will bring home pork and lamb and chicken over the winter to plan yet more great meals. Next summer I will find them at the bottom of the freezer and throw them away as always. Well the bar calls and I must answer. £1.25 a pint here as opposed to £4 in London. Bliss.