You know that thing where you get back from holiday and spend the first Monday in the office hungry? I have that today. My stomach is struggling to understand why I’m not feeding it a constant barrage of delicious Italian bread, topped with a layer of butter as thick as my little finger. Or bowlfuls of fresh pesto and pasta. Or enormous slabs of grilled sea bass, hoiked from the sea that very day. It is quite cross that it’s only had some porridge and a Pret sandwich at my desk. Poor thing.
Nevermind, I’m back and you must all go to north Sardinia and visit an island just off it called Asinara. Not that you can stay on it. It’s a deserted former penal colony turned into a maximum security prison site until 1997 when it was closed down. It’s only albino donkeys that live there now, and a few brown ones. But you can visit the old prison buildings and, if you have a slightly grisly, overactive imagination like me, imagine all the mafioso sorts who were banged up there. In the corner of one blue and whitewashed prison courtyard is a little room with the word ‘barbierie’ over it. Inside is the original barber’s chair and I had a happy time imagining a Corleone sitting in it, having his hair trimmed by an innocent barber wielding his scissors nervously about his neck.
Anyway, the island used to be hideously blighted by malaria but Mussolini sorted that out and Sardinians have the longest lifespan in the world these days. I can well believe it – sunshine, fresh fish, outrageous olive oil, a sea so clear you can see for metres deep and so on. Unless you’re a mafioso maybe. You might have quite a short life if you’re one of those.
In other news, I got back yesterday afternoon and used Deliveroo for the first time ever to order a Thai. A Thai Curry, not a Thai person. I decided to celebrate this while watching The Shooting Party. I ordered the DVD recently because various people in my office told me it was appalling that I worked for Tatler and I hadn’t ever seen it. As its title implies, it’s about a shooting weekend in 1913 and has all sorts of old grandees in it, including John Gielgud, Edward Fox, James Mason. Literally billions of pheasants were presumably harmed in its making but it’s magnificent. Edwardian toffs marching around in tweed saying appalling things about peasants. It’s basically what Julian Fellowes used as inspiration for Gosford Park and, subsequently, Downton.
I’m going through an ‘old’ films phase at the moment, following on from my Hitchcock moment at the beginning of the year. I watched A Passage To India a couple of weekends ago which made me instantly want to board a flight to Delhi. And I’m going to watch Remains of the Day this weekend because I haven’t seen that either. More breaking news on my film situation as I have it… I need to have a cup of tea and a biscuit now because I’M SO HUNGRY.