What does one write on a sunny, hot day in Rome when this is the last thing one feels like doing and one has nothing to say?  Seriously.  No scribbled notes, no nothing.  All the news from the UK is just more of the boring same.  In one ear and out the next.  No movement from the Just Stop Oil brats of which I am aware.  Perhaps they have been grounded with no pocket money.  Whatever, grateful.  Having said that, we haven’t been to the Van Gogh exhibition, as yet, so wouldn’t that be just the thing?  London, Berlin … Rome!  What could it be this time?  A nice blob of creamy, fresh buffalo mozzarella?  If any one of them goes anywhere near my favourite, the Chair, I shall not be responsible for my actions.

Yes, I know, I am waffling.  I was out, earlier, getting supplies in Monti and it was so hot!  What is going on?  The Christmas merchandise has been in the shops since August; it’s November next week and … still summer!  Soon, Santa will be ditching the beard and the traditional red suit for Speedos, a bucket hat and a cocktail to hand while Jingle Bells will be replaced by the sound of ‘Club Tropicana’ as the reindeer melt in thirty degrees.  If you think Rudolph has a red nose now, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!  Climate change cannot be denied.  Anyone know of anyone with too much time on their hands and a few spare tins of baked beans?

There’s something surreal about sitting at my laptop, writing, in Rome.  Admittedly, it would be much more romantic if I was on a rooftop terrace, gazing out across the city, or people-watching at a pavement café, mindful of the glass of Chardonnay on the table to my right- my quintessential image of a writer – but, quite frankly, everywhere is packed.  People.  Are they breeding?  There seem to be far more than I remember.  Perhaps, it’s a reaction to two years of being locked up and everyone’s escaping?  It’s also Half-Term, as I mentioned.  Suffice to say, it’s just too darn busy!

Returning from a school thing in town last night, we stopped off at the Pantheon about 7pm.  It gets dark before six here, now, when Rome becomes illuminated as though in celebration of its revered past. Come twilight, every landmark, every ancient ruin is floodlit while lanterns adorn the abundance of piazzas nestling round every corner.  Thus, the Pantheon stood proud in all its splendour as the throngs gathered for a last glimpse inside the majestic dome, open to the elements.  In the square beyond, the cobbled streets meandering off sparkled with fairy lights, the restaurants vibrant with the sound of the excited chatter of friends gathered at the end of the day to share a glass or two, a meal, or both, tired from sight-seeing or just a day at the office.  We wandered in and out of the shops, still open and welcoming.  That’s something else I like about Rome – shops open in the evening.  There’s something much more civilised about that; more inviting.  Surely some ‘woke’ university has done some meaningless survey regarding the penchant for people to spend more in the calming ambience beneath the twinkling stars?  No?  Too busy wasting time concluding the likes of ‘Most of your Facebook friends are not really your friends”, apropos a study done by an Oxford University professor of more than 3,300 Facebook users in the UK, albeit in 2016.  Perhaps, more crucial, today, would be an honest, unbiased assimilation of the thousands of reported adverse reactions to the mRNA Covid vaccines and the alarming increase in sudden, unexplained deaths in the aftermath of its output!  Don’t be silly.  There’s yet another booster, don’t you know?!  Yes, I find it hard to veer from this subject, forever ongoing as this country – the world – navigates the devastating aftermath of global manipulation.  Guilt withheld … indefinitely.  (Meantime, appreciation for that effortless segue, please!)

A lighter note?  How about my birthday celebration in the Hassler Roma?  Of course, the ‘Spanish Steps’ have a special place in my heart and, thus, the Hassler, at the top, but this hotel shines brightly on its own merit.  While it may boast the patronage of Princess Diana in the last year of her life, it is more synonymous with that of Audrey Hepburn – and fittingly so, for it remains in that golden era.  One, obviously, which my friend, Tom, seems to appreciate, too!   We have been frequent guests over the years – albeit only for Aperitivo – but always a privilege.  No surprise, then, that we chose such grandeur for my Birthday soirée – who knew we would consume two bottles of Cervaro before dinner?  Cervaro?  Not a blink of an eye; its presence an affirmation of taste/class in itself.  Transported to a bygone era when manners and chivalry were a given, from the moment we arrived, the service was second to none.  Helped from the taxi, the revolving door was pushed on our behalf as we entered the foyer, from there, escorted to our seats.  Table for Three.  Sadly, one missing this time …  We toasted him.  The surrounds are sumptuous boasting old floral wallpaper in autumnal tones, dark wood and velvets, the piano player a feature. There are even velvet stools on which to sit the ladies’ handbags!  Such a luxury should be everywhere.  Defining, I would say …  Suffice to say, it was a Birthday treat I relished – and hope to repeat many times to come.

So, still in Rome but, even so, I have not escaped the horrendous image of Prince Harry adorning the front of the dreaded book as the PR machinations spring into action.  Spare.  His face, the title – his demise so astonishingly rapid.  What changed?  Dare one say?  Yes, it has Meghan written all over it.  A ghost writer?  Waste of time, he had one already.  The face?  The title?  The anger.  The victim.  Unrecognisable as Prince Harry, the final nail in the coffin.  He has sacrificed his family – including his beloved late mother with his Netflix millions – for someone who had already proved she thought nothing of hers.  A modern-day tragedy.  There can be no happy ending.  At least, as a confessed humanitarian, he is giving all the proceeds from this hideous book to charity, as he promised.  Sorry?  He’s not?  No, come on, £1.5 million has already gone to Sentebale and £300,000 to Wellchild.  The fact that he received an advance of £17 million on a deal worth, reportedly, £35 million … Best kept quiet.  After all, he needs the money.  Sixteen bathrooms, remember and, surely, Meghan deserves her own private jet by now?  Alas, poor Harry!   I knew him well …

The most expensive thing you will ever do is spend time with the wrong people.’

Germany Kent

This is Trish, signing off.