Another notch on the belt of this damned virus with the death of Ferruccio Berolo, maestro ballerino and notable feature in the San Barnaba/Santa Margherita neighbourhood of Venice. Whatever the time of day you could depend on Ferruccio to be somewhere on your route, ready to stand you a coffee, or, preferably, something stronger.
In spite of a gilded career in classical ballet he wasn’t ever too grand to help out with amateur hoofers. He knocked my juvenile chorus of rats into shape for a production of Dick Whittington, and exceeded all my hopes when he transformed two, ahem, mature Englishmen, into Ugly Sisters capable (just about) of doing barre work to Delibes’ pizzicato from Sylvia without giving themselves hernias.
Ferruccio was also a cook. One of his signature dishes was something that converted me to aubergines, but I found I could never quite reproduce it. He was generous enough to share his secret.
‘Dollink,’ he said, ‘you must buy smaller melanzane, small as possible, not those tasteless monsters. Then keep them, days, days, weeks even, until they shrrrrivel. When they look like an old black man’s willy, they are ready to cook.’
I share this colourful piece of culinary advice in his memory. Dance on into eternity, Maestro.