Raining in Sorrento
Sunday, 19 February 2023
I arrived in Sorrento the day before yesterday. This is my third time here. I first came here in 2008 and then again in 2017 (when I stayed for about ten days).
I like Sorrento. It’s a bit touristy, particularly on the weekends, but it’s very pretty and there’s lots of places to eat, to walk, and to sit quietly and read. And it’s close to other things, like Capri, Pompeii and Herculaneum.
This time I’m not going to any of those places. I’m here for two more nights, and I plan to take it very easy. This morning I had breakfast at the hotel, sat at a bar drinking coffee and reading, and then took a walk down the cliff to the marina, followed by more sitting and reading. But then it started raining, so now I’m back in the hotel writing this. If it doesn’t ease up soon, I might start doing some podcast or website things until I head off for drinks and dinner.
Some random thoughts about the trip so far, in no particular order.
I’ve been trying to speak to people in Italian. My knowledge of Italian is more theoretical than practical, so I’m a bit halting and diffident, and people normally leap in to rescue me by responding in English. But I persevere.
I spent my last full day in Eastbourne wandering around while Joe was at work. During my walk, I saw three people with only one leg (each). Mark assured me that this was not something he had ever noticed, so I hope and expect it was all just confirmation bias and that the average number of legs among the population of Eastbourne is only very slightly less than two.
Pasta alla Genovese tastes familiar for some reason, but I have decided never ever to order it again.
Everything is closed in Sorrento in February. This absolutely doesn’t matter to me at all, although I am missing a bar in Tasso Square that I quite liked and a cheap restaurant just outside the centro storico which I visited for lunch the last time I was here.
Italian trains are a bit confusing, and it’s just possible that I paid €13.50 for a €58 trip from Rome to Naples. Don’t tell anyone.
As I said in my previous post, on my last night in Eastbourne, Joe and Mark took me to see Relatively Speaking, an Alan Ayckbourn play first performed in 1967 with Richard Briers and Michael Hordern as the two male leads. The play itself was fun, but Blakes 7’s Steven Pacey and Skippy’s Liza Goddard were both indisposed, and so their parts were (ably) played by their understudies. We had a great time, but I believe I was the third youngest person in the audience: my enjoyment of Act Four was affected somewhat by an apparent incontinence pants incident suffered by the woman sitting immediately to my right.
Angela and I spent a morning at the British Library visiting its Alexander the Great Exhibition. I had no idea that Alexander had had such an eventful afterlife, becoming the hero of a series of romances, including stories of his flight through the air in an engine powered by griffins, his descent to the depths of the sea floor in a glass diving bell, and his encounters with men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders. Worth a visit if you can get there.
Picks of the day
I’m currently enjoying the podcast If Books Could Kill, in which Michael Hobbes critically revisits the dark side of some of the most famous airport non-fiction of the last few decades, including Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History, Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner’s Freakonomics. Hobbes is really thoughtful and funny, and he gets extra points for pushing back on Twitter against centrist dunderhead Jonathan Chait’s credulous bullshit take on healthcare for trans children, which was published in The New York Times in the last week or so.
And while we’re on the subject of The New York Times’s appalling coverage of trans issues, here’s The Onion’s take on it — the most blistering satirical article I’ve seen from them in decades.
Hm. It’s stopped raining. Off for a walk. Chat soon.