Sunday, 20 July 2008

Hand of God.


It's Sunday morning now and I'm in full post-recovery mode with an espresso in a Milanese pavement cafe after the most wonderful wedding... bride arrives in shades on a vesper, a list of saints to bless the union that was so long that my neighbour in the pew began showing me pictures of his children on his mobile, dancing barefoot under vines to a Balkan gypsy punk band until six in the morning, free ice cream all night. Typical Italian traditions.

My last days in Naples were also extraordinary. I took the funicular up to Vermero, walked along the the sea at Mergellina and explored the Palazzo Reale - with its exquisite private Teatrino di Corte before coffee in the Cafe Grimbus, where Oscar Wilde once met Bosie. I fell into conversation with a man called Giovanni here. We were quickly onto the tragic subject of my disappearing luggage (most Neapolitans have now had to endure this sob story.)

'Marco. You must pray!' he said,
'It might be worth a try, but I'm agnostic-a at best,' I replied.
'Ah, but do you like football?'
'Ye, very much.'
'Then we go to the shrine for you in Napoli! I have time to show you!' and without further discussion we were off in double time up Via Toledo, past Piazza del Gusu Nuovo, along Via San Biagio del Librai until we stopped outside a small coffee shop opposite the Statua del Nilo where we found the shrine of the Maradona (see above), complete with a wiry hair plucked in 1987 when Napoli (or rather he and ten journeymen) won the Scudetto and a small vial of the great man's tears.
'Now we pray for your clothes!' said Giovanni. But in my mind all I could see was Maradona breaking my fifteen year old heart as he rose like a salmon to punch the ball over Peter Shilton's head at Mexico World Cup in '86. Giovanni noticed my anxiety. 'He took from Ingleterra - yes? Maybe he owes you something? Come on you are in the South!'
So we stood and I silently wished that Maradona would deliver my luggage safely back to me. Once we'd done Giovanni went on his way warmly shaking my hand and assuring me 'Maradona - he makes miracles. You 'll see!'
Several hours later back at the hotel I was greeted by Umberto, the friendly desk clerk who with a broad smile took me personally to my room, opened the door with a flourish and pointing at the bed proudly announced:
'Mr Griffin, I am honour-ed to present your luggage!'
Thank you Maradona...(wherever you are!)

1 comment:

ROBIN said...

This is a brilliant piece of comic writing