If you are reading this in England you will know that it is late January, the rain is falling steadily – as it has for most of the day – the US President is busy making friends and influencing people, and the world is holding its collective breath to see how the other powerful nations and organisations will take his presidential out-pouring. I shiver, but not because it is cold, but because I can see a dark cloud on the horizon.
It feels like an age since I felt the warm Italian sun on my skin. But, as might be guessed, it is not the memory of sunny days and sultry nights that lingers most in my mind, it is the people, their warmth and their welcome – and yes, the temptations that my stay with Vitalia and her family brought into my life.
The months have not diminished the skin tingling memories and feelings that sent my pulse rocketing, and the heart banging like a drum in my chest.
Did I do right, or wrong? I will let you decide.
We were lying on loungers by the side of the pool, soaking up the afternoon sun and sipping from tall glasses of iced Long-Island tea, which typically isn’t tea; the vodka, gin, tequila and triple-sec it contained was going straight to my head. Vitalia had apparently developed a liking for it during her visit to New York the previous June.
“You’ll enjoy the experience,” she said, her eyebrows arching as her brown eyes slid unashamedly over me. “How do you stay so slim?”
“Exercise, liposuction, and periodic bouts of self imposed starvation,” I replied.
“Well I exercise…. almost every day, and look, I’m still carrying a God-damned kilo-and-a-half of fat on my ass and three on my hips.” She crossed herself quickly, glancing up at the sky in that typical catholic apology for taking the Lords name in vain.
Her hips and bottom were thicker than when I’d last seen her, but then she had given birth to two beautiful children, and she still had a passion for gelato (iced-cream), pasta and burgers.
“But you look wonderful,” I told her.
“Yes, for a prize-winning heffer.” She took hold of the surplus fat below her navel.
“That’s not very much,” I said.
“Be warned, this is what children do to a woman’s figure. They bring stretch-marks, saggy breasts and a belly soft as a pillow. Take my advice, don’t get pregnant.”
“Your children are so lovely,” I said.
“Oh, they’re lovely enough and I wouldn’t do without the little darlings, but that doesn’t mean I don’t resent what carrying them for nine months did to my figure.”
“But think of the compensations.”
She laughed softly. “I could always sell them, if we needed the money.”
“Well, if you ever decide to auction them, I’d be interested in buying at least one.”
She slapped her thigh with palm of her hand, “Sold, to the lady in the pale blue bikini. Anyway, I was telling you about the yacht. It’s a real beauty; a little over ninety metres long, and luxurious as heaven. I wish I could come with you, but I have to take one of my little blood sucking darlings to the dentist in the morning.”
Just about then we were interrupted by Vitalia’s mother carrying a large tray of damp grapes, freshly peeled and cut oranges (from their orchard) and juicy pineapple rings.