Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Project 2014

The signora fumbles with her keys, but the door opens more easily than expected. It swings open, and a glance confirms that the lock has splintered away from the frame. Somebody has tried to break in.

She smiles, and looks a little embarrassed. I smile back, in a 'well, these things happen' kind of way. She looks apologetic. We both know that her job has just become that little bit more difficult.

The rest of the apartment confirms our suspicions, but she does her best to talk it up. The floor, in particular, is very nice; but once you raise your eyes, it's immediately apparent that that's all it has going for it. There's plenty of space, but it feels run-down and shabby. There was once a pretty good balcony, but an unsuccessful attempt has been made to glass in the top part and it's held together with masking tape. Half of the balustrade itself has been covered up with chip board, the other half open to the elements. An abandoned exercise bike in the spare room strikes a poignant yet slightly threatening note. All-in-all, it's probably the most depressing interior space we've seen in Venice. Our neighbours appear to be students on one side, and anarchists on the other.

No. We're not going to spend the next four years here, no matter how cheap it might be (and it's not even that cheap). It's our turn to smile apologetically, and we make our excuses and leave.

This year's Project is to secure a place on a proper long-term contract. Ideally un- or partly-furnished, so that we can start moving our stuff over from the UK. Caroline informs me that an outside space is non-negotiable. We'd also like to have a cat. So that narrows our options down.

We saw an almost ideal flat in San Marco. Almost, with the caveat that the area is on the main tourist drag, with few normal shops or bars. And more expensive than we'd like. And with seventy steps to climb every day. Oh, and the owner wouldn't let us have a cat either. Put like that, it doesn't really seem that ideal at all. Nevertheless, we swithered for a couple of days before deciding no.

Still, we've got ten weeks left and people from the coro have been keen to help ("we don't want to lose a bass, Philip"). Something will turn up...

Monday, 6 January 2014

New Year

We enjoyed the traditional New Year’s Eve meal of cotechino and lentils rather more than last year’s. It might have been the quality of the sausage itself, it might have been the fact that we knew we wouldn’t have to eat another one for twelve months, it might even have been the negroni we had beforehand. Whatever. It was better this time.

We half-considered going down to Piazza San Marco, but decided against it. The fireworks aren’t as impressive as those for Redentore, and only last about fifteen minutes anyway. We decided to give it a miss.

Then, just after the bells, Caroline came back from the kitchen to tell me that somebody was setting fireworks off in the street. There were three people, a young boy, his dad and grandpa who was entrusted with firework duty, possibly due to past experience in lobbing Mills bombs at fleeing fascists.

As we watched, he moved slowly and purposefully around the street, oblivious to his own safety and, indeed, the safety of anybody else. Spent fireworks were examined at arms length. Live ones were lit within inches of recently extinguished ones. A small rocket pinged off a neighbour's balcony, fortunately without setting light to anything, at which point we thought it prudent to close the window.

Caroline wondered if perhaps we’d seen enough by now, but I thought we should stay and watch just in case we were needed to make an emergency phone call.

He finished up by gathering together the smouldering remnants and placing them in a bag of live ones. Then, without even turning his head, he insouciantly tossed a banger over his shoulder and they were off into the night.

We went up to the altana to watch the fireworks above San Marco. Fun, but to be honest, they weren't really able to compete.

Buon Anno everyone.