Help!  Still here but doing my best to fulfil my promise to post on a Friday.  Just nipped down to the little boutique hotel down the road from Becca’s apartment – too close and too easy – where I thought I could sit and have a Cappuccino in daylight (Becca’s apartment is on a typical narrow, cobbled street and very dark) and rattle off my thoughts but … it is unusually busy and a friendly Cypriot couple have just sat down beside me.  He has just given me his card and invited me to visit.  Excellent.

Can’t believe I have been here for almost three weeks.  Of course, it has flown by but, at the same time, it feels like forever.  How’s my Italian?  Spoken?  Terrible but I, actually, understand a lot.  The thing is, Italians never say in two words what they can say in twenty and everything is so intense!  Forget relaxing.  Hand movements, too, are obligatory – adds to the intensity.  What else?  I, now, need a new wardrobe of clothes.  Seriously, feel as though I’ve put on two stone just in time for Christmas!  I’m not sure it’s possible to be healthy in Rome.  Far too social.  The city comes alive at night.  As dusk falls and the fading sun casts hues of deep orange and pink in the skies over the ancient ruins, thoughts turn to aperitivo.  In the cobbled streets of Monti, the shops re-open and friends gather in the doorways to catch up on the day and welcome passersby.  There is a buzz.  The café in the piazza is alive, the waiters in and out with glasses of wine and Aperol Spritz – spill that on white jeans! – and nibbles.  The restaurants fill up and, it seems, nobody stays home.  I suppose an oven would be handy but, it seems, few flats bother with such a triviality.  Perhaps the Italians, themselves, don’t eat?  That would explain why most – certainly, the young – are so skinny, though not why the men are so short.  I mean, seriously short!  Why?  That’s the other thing … the fondness for black.  They all wear black!  Agreed, black is chic and definitely slimming but I do find it a bit depressing after a while – and characterless.  Everyone looks the same, devoid of individuality.  The cloning of the human race while most are sleeping.

How do they get to decide who wears clothes and who doesn’t?’

While they are sleeping?  For too many, read ‘brain dead’!  The above quote, I jotted down on my phone last night as we couldn’t help but overhear the Americans next to us, at one of the local eateries, chatting amongst themselves and to the waiter.  Unbelievable.  From Oregon, it seems they were ‘doing’ Rome, on their travels, with no concept of its history and, moreover, no desire to learn.  Seriously!  How can anyone be so ignorant?  Did they go to school?  (Thank you, ‘Chandler’).  Can they read?  How about booking a guide in order that they might learn something?  Sadly, not alone, I find it inconceivable that anyone could visit this beautiful city, so rich in history – and, moreover, of such lasting importance to the world today and life as we know it – and be so arrogantly ignorant!  I give up.

Then, I think of Pompeii …  What a privilege to visit that historic archaeological site, poignantly, the remains of a thriving city which, in the shadow of Vesuvius, was so cruelly buried beneath its wrath in 79 A.D.  No time to escape, the sight of the preserved casts exhibited in the Garden of the Fugitives is particularly moving, their final moments of panic clear to see as they were engulfed, instantly, by the searing ash and pumice spewing from the volcano.  The child, face-down in distress, the couple clinging to one another, the fists clenched in reaction to the blistering temperatures …  Once more, a stark reminder of nature’s eternal dominance.

We spent the day in the walled environs of the excavated remains of the city.  There can be few more picturesque sites in the shadow of the mountain.  I have seen it many times on television but to, actually, be there was incredible – and how lucky was I to have my own personal guide and font of knowledge!  Becca knew exactly where to take me, a necessity in what could so easily be a maze to the unfamiliar.  I saw the remains of the amphitheatre, the forum, the theatre, the baths, the villas of the wealthy and the not-so wealthy, the original bars.  So much to absorb but, more than anything, I was struck by the vibrancy of their lives; the colour!  From the beautiful, intricate mosaics on the floor, to the hand-painted murals on the walls.  The hues of terracotta and teal predominant in so much.  My kind of people, their houses reflected them – and, of course, their wealth and standing – but, moreover, each and every one of them was a celebration of the individual.  No minimalism where they could breathe life!  No black, no grey, not a whiff of cloning.  These people lived.  They were vital, social.  I have a little marble sign on the bookcase at home which Sandro – Via Margutta – gave me on my birthday a few years ago now.  Three words: Vivi Ridi AmaLive Laugh Love.   Despite the tragedy of Pompeii, that is what I will carry with me in a world which is increasingly grey and a people who have forgotten how to live – and, more importantly, how to laugh.

In the here and now, I have still been listening to the radio, acutely aware of the news.  The last days of Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary with her own mind and the bravery to speak the truth?  She is to be lynched for stating the obvious in her article published in The Times recently, namely that some among the Metropolitan police chiefs care more about avoiding ‘flak’ than ensuring public safety.  Prompted by the proposed pro-Palestine march on Armistice Day, she suggested that there was a bias towards left-wing protesters in comparison to the stern treatment of those on the right.  Double standards?  Blatant!  Thing is, nobody is supposed to dare say anyone is pro the far-left.  They rule, don’t you know, the aggrieved and humourless.  All hail, the chip!

Then, there is her previous comments about multiculturalism and its failure in terms of integration …  Once again, she is so right – and it takes courage to be the lone voice!  Thing is, I heard today that she is perceived as a potential threat in terms of the Prime Ministership and, apparently, the hench mob will not entertain.  No guesses as to who’s in charge of that little lot!

Ah, well, nothing could be worse than Humza ‘Useless’ – or, in real terms, the White Stiletto’s puppet and mouthpiece.  God help us all!  This week saw Rishi’s proposal with regards to enforced minimum staffing during NHS strikes, among other key services.  Long overdue.  ‘Useless” response: Scotland will not comply.  It does not favour ‘the worker’.  Is that the godlike ‘worker’ who is not subject to common human ailments and disease?  Silly me!

Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.’

Edmund Burke

This is Trish, signing off – rushing and unchecked!