I know I sometimes beef about this city: when I can’t get my jacket out of Maximum Security Dry Cleaning because the owner has gone on vacation for three weeks; when it takes me an entire day to untangle one thread of Italian red tape. Last night I had a reminder of how good life is here.
Mr F is in hospital. It’s been a bitch of a week, what with his surgery not going as planned and the cowardy custard medics leaving me to break the news. Then there’s been the schlepping back and forth to a distant hospital, the long hours waiting for information and the universally crap vending-machine coffee. Yes. Even in Italy.
But. Our friends, more of them than we ever knew we had, have been staunch, and pitch perfect with their offers of help. Like the ‘turn up if you feel like it’ invitation to dinner last night. Well I didn’t feel like it but I suspected that if I forced myself I’d be glad, and I was right. Good, simple food with friends, laughter, wine, ghost stories. Then I had to get home. It was after midnight, which would have meant a long wait for a water bus at Rialto, so I walked. I was home in 20 minutes.
As I walked I reflected that there wasn’t another city in the world where I’d feel able to do that, a woman, alone, through deserted streets. In London I wouldn’t consider stirring outside the door unless I had a couple of crisp twenties for taxicabs. In Venice the worst that can happen to you is you disturb a rat, or you marry one and he beats you up, or kills you, behind closed doors.
And if I stumbled on the stairs because a) I live in an ante-diliuvian building where electric lighting is an optional extra, b) I had forgotten to slip a flashlight into my bag and c) I had eaten too many grappa-soaked sultanas, I really had no-one to blame but myself.
Asking for it, Your Honour.