Friday, March 15, 2013

Lunch In Venice

Mr Tabubil and I have just returned from three weeks holiday – a week in Holland, so that I might see a bit of his country and meet his family, and two weeks together after that in Italy.  Right now, we're in Venice.

The kind tour-tout had given us directions to a quiet piazza where we could wait under a tree until the tour began.  Half-way there, the skies opened up and it began to rain. Not rain – pour.  It was a proper storm – an avalanche of water, falling onto a flooded city out in the middle of a lagoon. The effect of all that water on the tourist psyche was colossal. We felt six-feet under and waterlogged.
            We ducked into the doorway of a little café to wait out the weather, but the weather wasn’t going anyplace, and rather than be brave and stride about the flooded streets, soaked to the skin, we went inside and had lunch.
            It was a dreadful lunch. Venice is a city famous for terrible tourist food, but the owners of this little joint were pushing the boundaries of the possible and all by themselves, managed to lower the standard at least three orders of magnitude.
            A crowd of damp tourists was squashed, soggy and steaming, around rows of narrow yellow tables.  The menu was mostly fish.  Of a sort, via the bits most discerning restauranteurs would reserve for pussy-cats hanging around the back door softening up the cook.  As I was finishing up my fresh filet de blubber, an almost-elderly British couple burst, dripping, through the door and squeezed in next to us. 
"Bit of a squash, what?"
"Oh, but I say, darling; it's a lovely thing on a day like this.  Jolly good, really."
"Too right, too right, darling.  Nothing for it on a cold day like a good mucky bowl of Spaghetti Bolognese, what?"
"Ooooh, yes!  Hey, Garkon!  Parlez-vous English?  Don't need a menu, gracias; just two plates of Spaghetti Bolognese over here, eh?"
"Jolly good, darling."
"Oooh, do you know what?"
(she lowered her voice slightly)
"I'm going to have a beer."
"Naughty naughty!" He chuckled back at her, waggling his finger back and forth and winking his left eye.
            For one delirious moment, I wondered if they were part of the set dressing but they were so jolly and kind and so clearly thrilled to be in that sweaty steaming hole because outside was the glittering city of Venice, that I loved them.

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