Day 64

Level 2 Chi Kung (with hands on floor). Microcosmic orbit (with good energy in all the right colours.). Jade egg.

A perfect day. I took the children to the pool in the morning and Nick took them in the afternoon. Katie went from tentatively putting her head under to swimming underwater and touching the bottom. Just before sunset I took them swimming in the sea and the water was warm and the swell was just the perfect size for Katie’s favourite buoy game. My turn to take Kate and Dash out for dinner. Even the wait for food was relaxed, due partly to the restaurant’s generous provision of bread and grissini and partly to a hilarious conversation. I casually mentioned that even Dash (who is very fair) is going brown, whereas I continue to look like a total lobster. Dash, who is very literal and, for reasons I won’t go into, has an American accent, said ‘No Mom, you don’t look like a lobster at all. You don’t have those weird legs, you’re not crusty, you don’t have a shell…’ and warming to his theme I said ‘and I don’t have those pincer things and that’s good because I don’t think my children would like it if I came up to them [SFX mummy clacking hands like lobster claws] and saying “Hey, I need a cuddle”. Fortunately we are in child-friendly Italy, so the staff and other diners looked benevolently on the ensuing hilarity.

Ordered the smoked fish platter – two types of smoked fish and (pescatorians beware!) a generous helping of bresaola! All yummy. Takeaway gelato on the way home tasted extra good eaten looking out to sea.

When not in the water I carried on reading JK Rowling’s ‘A Casual Vacancy’ (I have temporarily given up on ‘The Burning Answer’ on the grounds that quantum physics just isn’t suitable holiday reading). I’m now up to page 140 and there are still only two sympathetic characters and one of them is the guy who died in the first 5 pages! She really is an acute (if pessimistic) observer of her fellow human beings though. I was particularly taken with this description of a woman who has married a violent and abusive man: “part of what she had loved about him, from the beginning, was that this rough and wild boy, who was contemptuous, rude and aggressive to nearly everyone, had taken the trouble to attract her; that he, who was so difficult to please, had selected her, alone, as worthy”. Wow, it’s really not at all difficult to think of women who have married, and stayed with, arseholes, on exactly this basis. Many of whom seem to actively enjoy their husband’s rude treatment of their friends and family as a kind of weird vindication of their own value.

Makes me feel grateful to Cee Payne, who, years ago, advised me to stop looking for a partner who shared my politics and look for someone domestically compatible, a man, in her words, ‘who patchouli oils his own floors’. I have yet to meet a guy who even knows what patchouli oil is, let alone puts it on the floor – but I took the spirit of the advice to heart, and it has served me well.

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