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on’t get your daughter in a rage, Mrs Worthington.
She’s already moist eyed, although it’s hard to tell
if that’s from the beauty of Florence or the tear gas.
Lift your Dr Scholl’s, Mrs W, we must reach the
bus before the next polizia baton charge. Look! She’s waving
frantically from the bus wind... dear, dear. Perhaps next time
not with a red bandana. That rubber bullet is going to leave a
All aboard Chow Bella Gourmet Tours. Not all, you say.
Davvero? Mr Condomine is apparently still queuing for the
Uffizi restrooms. A show of hands: who’s in favour of circling
back to rescue him? A wise choice. You’d miss San Gimignano
by candlelight, and he’d miss the opportunity to show his
Speaking of restrooms, we’ve almost cleaned up the bus after
Madame Arcati’s distressing incident post her seafood linguini
lunch. If someone in the back row could wedge the door shut
with an umbrella tip, we should be safe-ish until at least Siena.
Yes, yes. I realise the protesters are rocking the bus. It’s a
local custom when farewelling friends. No, I’m not certain why
they’re rioting. The Italians are such an emotional people. Now,
everyone give them a wave while Marco reverses quickly.
I felt the bump too.
Heavens, it’s Mr Condomine. Edge forward, Marco, you’ve
pinned his satchel under the rear wheel. Agreed. He really
shouldn’t have worn it so jauntily over his shoulder. I’m afraid he
went native at the San Lorenzo markets. Purtroppo, a bag stitched
from old goat hide doesn’t make you Marcello Mastroianni.
So. Volunteers to get him on board? Nobody? Then let me
suggest Mr and Mrs Chase, our honeymooners... if you’re not
exhausted. I realise the Pensione Dantesque has somewhat thin
walls, but last night it was almost as if you were sharing my
narrow bed. Fortunately enough for the other passengers, I’ve
made a video camera recording which... and there they go to
help Mr Condomine. Grazie.
Mrs W, I know you won’t mind if he sits on your picnic rug.
Blood is so difficult to get out of leatherette seats.
Patience, everyone. The Chases are making wonderful
progress despite the demonstrators’ eggs. They should have
Mr Condomine inside shortly. Push him higher up the steps, Mr
& Mrs C, I’ll get a purchase under his arms. Buon lavoro!
Everyone comfortable? Andiamo, Marco. Tuscany awaits our
Naughty girl, Miss Stillington. You know what I said about
eating gelato from street vendors. Combine temperatures that
melt the bitumen with heavy cream and vanilla bean paste and
you’ll lose more than your dignity. Fortunately, I can let you
have Imodium at cost price plus the industry standard mark-
up – and a bonus map of San Gimignano’s public washrooms.
There’s no need to thank me, just don’t look back. The slightest
hesitation could put your fellow travellers off this evening’s
Could there be anything more Italian than this long table
beneath coloured light bulbs with the flicker of candlelight,
the scent of mosquito coils and Chianti from – let’s see that
label – Albania? I’ll do a taste test. My, my. It’s certainly not an
approachable wine but it should distract from the ravioli.
Please, Doctor Bradman, I wasn’t referring specifically to
you and your... your niece. How generous to bring her – a
young woman barely out of her teens – on such a grown-up
tour. Although the more judgmental aboard the bus have called
you a fussbudget, I personally find the sight of a medical man
lathering up with hand sanitizer before touching the bread
basket quite reassuring. In fact, if you don’t mind, could you
take a peek at this rash on my thigh? If the others wouldn’t
mind looking away for a moment I’ll unzip and – there, you
can see it more clearly under the street light. You don’t think it
has anything to do with the bite mark left by Madame Arcati? I
Mamma mia, I didn’t realise it was so late. The pensione’s
manager locks up at 8pm. If we hurry, most of us should get
through the front door in time.
Tomorrow we’ll be in Siena. Ssssh, the Piazza del Campo will
be our little secret. You’ll be the only tourists there – possibly
because our piazza visit kicks off at 6am. No need to set your
alarms tonight, I’ll buzz around before dawn tapping on doors.
If you don’t answer promptly, I’ll pop my head into your room.
See you then. Buonotte! •
Copyright © 2015 GREG FLYNN
Pass the Chianti and the Imodium,
ANYONE NOSTALGIC FOR THE OLD DAYS OF ‘COACH’ TRAVEL
THROUGH THE SEVENTIES AND EIGHTIES, READ ON – AND WEEP.
WORDS GREG FLYNN ILLUSTRATION EMMA SIMMONS
GET UP & GO FICTION
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