… is more than hot enough for me so, I was pleased to see that I was down for the night-shift and my unfortunate fellow Magneteer would, working in a plastic tent, have to suffer the full effect of the Italian sun. A balmy 20 -26° would see me through the night quite comfortably.
We were just round the corner from Naples in what seemed to be a slightly less salubrious suburb of Pozzuoli. This did nothing to detract from the fun of being in Italy again – my last trip was to Rome on one of Cook’s Tours – the scooters, the horns, the battered cars and general mayhem had changed only with the addition of mobile phones with which it seemed obligatory to engage whilst in charge of a vehicle.
The local trains were a colourful sight – obviously a lot of money is spent on paint – and I was glad to be able to take pictures of railways, unencumbered by fences and threats of prosecution.
In my hotel room, with shutters continually closed to keep out both the heat and light during the day, I was obliged to shuffle around in the half-light. This Hughesian existence was relieved only at supper time when, on my way to start the night shift, I would stop at a local restaurant for something to see me through the next 12 hours.
And then on to work as the sun set and the bitey things came out to play.
There’s a particularly vicious type of mosquito, black in colour, which on the first night made a mess of my arms and legs. I’m not usually attacked by insects but I’d had the foresight to pack some cream to take away the temptation to scratch and make an even bigger mess.
The beach below the pier was probably the source of my persecutors as it was strewn with litter, stray dogs and the rotting remains of picnics. Nevertheless, every morning at about 7.00am, half a dozen or so elderly couples would drift down, carefully pick a spot to put their towels and breakfast and wade into the calm and clear waters of the bay as the rising sun turned Pozzuoli a pinky orange.
Quickly the dawn would turn into day; the view into the water below the pier would reveal hundreds of fish in shoals, darting here and there, the mozzies would disappear and I would be looking forward to my relief arriving.
The last time I ordered Penne all’Arrabbiata was in Amsterdam. It was disappointing (Mr Vadar and Mr Stevens would have had words) so I decided to try it out at source – so to speak. My order was prelude to a lot of shouting and arm-waving – I wondered if I’d upset someone – and then it went quiet (by Italian standards at least; there’s always someone shouting and arm-waving about something). A second uproar heralded the arrival of my food, carried from somewhere up the road by a hapless youngster who seemed to get it in the neck for some crime or other.
The Penne was superb but the lad didn’t deserve the 3rd degree.