Wednesday, 14 January 2009


Italy. August heat. On the road. Mad to be out in shirt soaking heat. Driving on. An endless scorched plain. Road like a metal rule. No traffic. Searching for shade. Survival tactic. Dark smudge of woods far ahead. Like a mirage. Takes an hour before we get any closer. Lake shimmer illusion. The trees morph into tall people walking away. Blink. Hold onto your belief in what you saw.

Trees. It became the most beautiful word in the world. There. Off the road, at the end of an endless pale track. Hot fire of gravel leaps up. Warning. But we are beyond sense. Don't care if the only shade is in a field that belongs to a farmer aiming a gun.

It was a war memorial. Dedicated to the allied troops who helped liberate the region. Shaded by twisted trunks of pink barked Cedars. Dark silent shade. A bed of dry needles and fragrant tree litter. Instant blissful sleep.

Listening to Goldcrests above me. Too dark to see their flitting. Out of the twilight, coming closer, two elderly women, dressed in long black, waving. They bring bowls of homemade ice cream. Tell us that they saw the British car and came to ask us to say thank you to our fathers.....