I have just come back from holiday and I miss it very much. I went to the Costeria Amalfitana, which sounds very grand but actually was mostly Sorrento. I took my mum because my dad has been everywhere and seen everything and now cannot be arsed to leave the house. She first went there 35 years ago, in a snowy March, and has always wanted to go back. If you're ever looking for anywhere to take parents or smallish children to, that part of Italy is the place because it combines safe, reasonably sedate, beautiful and interesting in just the right measures. Although you do take your life into your hands every time you cross the road because the driving is either proof that Italians are possessed of a level of spatial awareness which would defeat topologists, or they're the least rule-abiding motorists in the world.
There's something about the light in that part of southern Italy, a sweet syrupy six-month warmth that you only get here in perhaps the fag-end of August and early September. I understand why so many artists writers and musicians flocked there. Then there's the Italian way of life, which seems to very much about not worrying that everything is 10 minutes late as long as it's good.
We took sidetrips to
• Capri, which was a strange combination of posh and touristy with more than your average amount of chihuahua shite;
• Amalfi, which isn't really worth your bother save for the amazing cathedral and a lovely little shoe shop;
• Positano, of which more later; and
• Pompeii, which was strangely disappointing.
I am not sure what I expected. Certainly there's very little information on what actually happened at the site unless you hire guides of various kinds, and much of the statuery and so on has been moved to the Archaeology Museum in Naples. There's also the fact that it's crawling with tourists like me. It rather queers the pitch for a bit of sober contemplation and imagining the horrors of Vesuvius's eruption when you keep getting distracted by wandering hordes and wondering what possessed the Russian girl to go clambering all over Pompeii in 10cm stiletto heels and a denim skirt the size of a hair ribbon. It was an interesting place but somehow less than I expected.
As for Positano, I have spent much of the week thinking about how if I maxed out all my credit cards, snaffled the loan money for the house and went on the lam, I could probably hide out there for about five years. It's the very incarnation of the Italian town of your imagination, if a little tourist-heavy. It's built on the side of a mountain facing onto the Tyrhennian Sea, and looks exactly one of those Escher lithographs of impossible towns clinging to mountainsides in defiance of all sense and building regulations. There's a black beach made up of small volcanic rocks and it holds the heat powerfully. Threaded through it are what look like emeralds, but they're just shards of bottles: nothing can stay sharp under the roiling mix of sea and pebbles so they're all worn smooth. The streets wind up the hill under trellises and pergolas covered in morning glory and camelias and various other climbing plants. There's the constant sound of birds singing; I have no idea whether they were caged or not but I do know that at least some of them weren't.
Anyway, if I disappear suddenly, after emptying my bank account and ripping off various rapacious financial institutions, that's where I'll be, okay? Just don't tell Interpol
What can I say? I ate much gelato, drank limoncello, a liqueur which tastes like pissed-up lemon curd, bought cute shoes and shirts, swam in the sea off the cliffs of Capri and wandered tiny mediaeval streets. I didn't argue much with my mum, even when she was making political statements which placed her slightly to the right of Oswald Moseley. It was all good.
And then I got home and I swear to god, it was like there was a nuclear winter in London. Also my car was (now what's the technical term...?) completely shagged. So I took it to a mechanic who sucked his teeth and plucked a bottom-squinchingly high figure from the fetid, petrol-laced air and now I will be skint for the next couple of months.
But am I letting it get me down? Am I toss. Huzzah!
* * *
So I gather there was this whole deleting thing, about which everyone was tremendously exercised but now it seems to have gone away a bit? Ah, fandom, I love you dearly but occasionally I think you're like the teenage kid who goes out in his sister's dress and pretends not to know how it looks to your average Joe Bloggs on the street.
I mean, if you want to write orgiastic pansexual debauchery in which wizards frot and tickle each other's every groove with soapy sentient hedgehogs, I say "um yay? If that is your bag, fine. It is not my bag but I'm jolly glad you seem to be enjoying it. Also, you're very inventive but I am not sure joints bend that way"
However people who have not spelunked in the dark cracks of the internet where the Roy Orbison in clingfilm stories are to be found are going to be squealing like Donald Sutherland at the end of "Invasion of the Bodysnatchers", yelling "would you look at that BAG! It's DISGUSTING! With the HEDGEHOGS and EVERYTHING!" (Because let's not forget that the animal cruelty people are among the finest of yellers and pointers)
And we can all say, "Wait! All imaginary fun!" and "No hedgehogs were harmed in the making of this fiction" but that won't change the fact that it's not a 'normal' hobby, it's a bit out of the way. Granted, I think it's a fabulous hobby and more normal than, say, golf, but mine is a minority opinion.
I mean, hitting a small ball into a small hole? Whatever would Freud say about that?
* * *
While I am on unpopular fannish opinions, someone pointed out what bothers me about slash and it is this: the elimination of women. Only she said it better in such a way that it summed up everything I thought and I said to myself, self, you have to bookmark this comment because it crystallises and encapsulates your entire argument about the elimination of women from positions of influence in popular culture and addresses the increasing use of women in the media as totty, sidekicks or bitches whereas in the 30s they had all these powerful roles for the grand dames of Hollywood, and you could just point and say "yes. THAT" and write an incredibly incisive post about the pervasive minimisation of women, and how bad misogynistic slash is self-punishment and everyone would say "but of course, she is absolutely right" and continue writing their slash epics (yay!) but without making the females invisible or totty or bitches and all would be right with the world.
Alas, I then went to watch The Girl In The Fireplace on my iPod, forgot and fell asleep. But trust me, it was *ace*.
* * *
If anyone wants to take issue with me about the last two items in this post, I shall reply in meaningless made-up zen koans. Because I am right and I don't want to argue. (You see, I think that most people secretly think that when they post stuff in their LJs but pretend to be seriously considering some other idiot's opinion in the comments. I've decided to be honest about it.*)
The blue whale sings brightly in the Antarctic dawn but the lonely weasel must whistle The Pina Colada Song [/practicing]
*joke. Noted just in case. ::rolls eyes::