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a tiny scare

Do NOT, if you are a man who does everything at exactly the same time every single day, vary that routine. Because people will get frightened. People being the person who’s travelling with you and who does not appreciate a scare at 8.30 in the morning.

This morning for the first time I actually got up early. My sleeping has not been good, so I’ve been later than Bruce, which he has tried gently not to make a bone of contention. This morning, thanks to earplugs, I got up on time, knocked on Bruce’s door as I went by at 8 – no answer, he must be already there, as he always has been, at 8 sharp – and got to the breakfast room. 1000 travelling Australian schoolgirls and their teachers, loud Italian music, no Bruce. Not a happy scene.

I ate quickly – the breakfast is inedible – went back, knocked again. No answer. Getting worried. In my room, I managed to open email, which takes forever because of complicated codes that only last a short time and very weak reception. No message. I sent him one. Went back and knocked again. Could he have gone for a walk? Could he have been kidnapped? No, he wanted to leave early for Pompeii. By 8.30 there is only one explanation – he has had a stroke or a heart attack in his bed. I must try his phone. But the hotel phone doesn’t work, and as for my cell – I don’t know how to call Canada from Italy, and the internet has gone down.

I am imagining poor Bruce in hospital, me having to stay in Naples, a nightmare, I am anxious to get out of this hotel and this city. But of course I will stay for my sick Bruce – change hotels, call his family, make sure he gets good care. I go down to the desk clerk. No, he has not seen my friend. Can we go up and open his door together? Yes, but first, he says, check the breakfast room.

And there, cheerily drinking his coffee, is Bruce.

He heard my knocks, must have replied too softly for me to hear, and then we just missed each other. Family of Bruce, you’ll be happy to hear he’s alive and well. And now the internet has gone off again. I hate this hotel. I know, it could be worse, as he pointed out. It could be the hotel Chris found for us in New Delhi, the hellhole of the earth. So – my two beloved wonderful Vancouver friends are ideal to travel with except in their choice – sometimes – of hotels. And in their morning habits. Sometimes.

Enough of that. Kwitcherbellyaching. As they say.

In the night, I thought of two things: why Caravaggio is so great – because even when he’s painting religious myths, he’s painting people. His saints and virgins are real human beings; they smell, they feel, they have deep complex human relationships.

And – the tragedy of Richard. He spends many years building his dream home on a cliff with the most spectacular view in the world – and his eyesight fails.

The world moves in mysterious ways. And Bruce and Beth, today, are moving not so mysteriously to Pompeii. At some point.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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