Story

You Haven’t Been in Rome

I knew enough not to step out of the flat with anything that it would break my heart to lose. I took my smokes, my keys and fifty euros.

I didn’t remember, so I wasn’t troubled by, the “incident” that had woken me a few nights before. A woman had shouted in my ear—“Look behind you!” But when I startled awake I was lying flat on my back and all that was behind me was my pillow. Odd and unsettling, but there was no shouting woman in my familiar bedroom—it was random, it was just one of those things. Forget it.

So there I am. With my handbag tucked under my arm like a well-warned and cautious tourist. Where am I? I am in an Irish pub just off Via Cavour called Druid’s Rock. Couple of nice gin and tonics warming me and an excellent Irish couple called Mikey and Bee to chat to. They have come to Rome for the weekend to go to early Sunday Mass at St Peter’s—and they have their reasons—but we are talking horses, we are talking football, we are getting more rounds in. It is an accent I could listen to for a very long time. Agreeable people, the Irish.

They had their hearts set on making early Mass—but there had been rumours of live music—so they headed off to investigate.

And I leaned back and I relaxed. I had found some friends and I was having a great night out.

And damn! My bag was gone!

I looked behind me—yes! I looked behind me. There was nobody behind me.

But my bag was gone. I remembered a tiny twitch under my armpit which I had thought nothing of at the time.

Where there had once been the presence of my bag under my arm now there was an absence. It was the absence that had got through to me.

Mikey’s smiling face loomed towards me. Before he could report on the state of play re live music I stammered—“My bag is gone.”

“Oh, that must have been the girls behind you,” he said.

There were girls behind me, you saw girls behind me, and you said nothing, Mikey? I didn’t say that but my face must have said it because he replied—“I thought they were queuing for the Ladies.”

He added—“They looked Japanese.”

The young bartender I lurched at to report my loss said—“Oh, that must have been the three Peruvians.”

My face said—You saw three Peruvians (or Japanese) on the prowl looking for the careless, the improvident, the relaxed, and you did nothing?

But he dashed into the Ladies tossing off over his shoulder—“Sometimes they take the money and throw the bag down in the bathroom.”

But no, they hadn’t.

The bartender spread his hands out and said—“Go to the police station around the corner and report it and then look around the streets. Under cars and in rubbish bins.”

As I left to join the long and shell-shocked queue at the police station round the corner, I noticed the bar had no bouncer.

See, that is where I went wrong. I am used to being looked after in pubs in Australia. Why, in the pub I went to recently in Pakenham on the outskirts of Melbourne, there had been three security guards, one of them from Sicily. He and I discussed, out in the beer garden, how he is mostly there for the violence, there’s not that much thieving. As we watched a girl toss her digital camera into her bag, which was sitting on the path behind her table, and turn back to her jolly group. We shook our heads. I told him my Rome story—which I am about to tell you. He told me that in his village if my bag had been nicked he would have spread the word—“She is my friend”—and the next day the bag would be discovered, intact, sitting on a cafe table or such like.

But that is what he is there for, and paid for. To be a friend of the second degree to the people who are out and about for a good night—and want someone to watch their wallet and mobile phone which they cheerfully leave on the ledge running along the wall, among the empty glasses, when they go for a turn on the dance floor. And to pre-empt outbreaks of thumping and thuggery, and hustle guys and girls who are just about to go off, off the premises, to cool off. We shook our heads, again, about the subtle but crucial cultural differences which it is just as well to be aware of. Nice bloke. Pity he can’t make a living in Sicily.

So, I queued in the Roman police station—among the weepers and the panickers—who had lost their passports and their plane tickets and hundreds of euros and what were they going to do!—and filed my report about what I had lost, and got a copy of the report, which I tried to put in my bag. But of course I had no bag any more. That felt really odd. I folded up the report and put it in my jacket pocket. I still had pockets.

And I felt okay, you know. As I made the freecall at a phone box near Termini to cancel my card, just in case. They don’t usually get down on your cards, but one day, maybe sooner rather than later, they will discover your cards are good as gold. I had cunningly split my money into two accounts back home in Australia and linked them to two separate cards—one of which I had hidden in the recess under the bottom drawer in my desk—so cool. I had a card to go home to.

And all I had to do was walk—downhill most of the way—from Termini to my flat near Stazione Trastevere. And—well—well, the thing was … (the penny was slowly dropping with a big hollow clang) … I wouldn’t be able to get into my flat, to my cunningly hidden card and all my spare euros, which I had abstracted from my wallet and slipped under the dinner plates in the kitchen cupboard before I had gone for my big night out.

And to my bed, which I was beginning to think of really fondly.

Because my keys were gone. Not a huge deal because I had been assured that the new portiere, a friendly girl from Romania, had a spare set. But today, it was well past midnight, was Sunday, and that was Mariana’s day off.

And because she was new she didn’t live in the flat in the basement yet because it was being redecorated. I didn’t know where she lived. I was beginning to see a problem looming.

I decided, as I was passing, to scour the streets around Druid’s Rock, on the off chance the thieves had realised the keys to my flat had no monetary value. And dumped them. Unless of course they had found my business cards in my wallet with my address and were—even now—discovering euros under dinner plates. And an excellent new laptop in the wardrobe under the shoes. But no, that was too much like hard work for opportunistic lightfingers, surely? One could only hope.

The night air was brisk, on the edge of chill, and as I marched up and down side streets scanning gutters and doorways each shadow seemed to be shaped like my familiar black bag. I was seeing it everywhere. I couldn’t believe it was lost. A gaunt woman dressed all in black, a woman of maybe fifty or sixty, sat on a doorstep and leaned her head against the jamb, shivering and dozing. Older women than me are sleeping out on the streets—I thought to myself. This is a temporary difficulty. I have a bed, with red blankets, in a white room with a view out over the TV antennas on the roofs of the surrounding flats. They creaked and clanged like the clang of halyards against the masts of yachts stirring on the tide.

And round the corner came Mikey and Bee, arm in arm. They greeted me joyfully with a wonderful lilt to their voices.

“There you are, for sure,” called Bee. “We were looking for you.”

“And now we are lost and can’t find our hotel,” said Mikey.

This was such a jolly idea that they laughed and kicked at the pavement.

“If we can find our hotel,” Bee hooted at the idea, “you can sleep on our floor if you like.”

“We’re not kinky or that,” she added.

“I’ll slowly head for home, thanks,” I said. “About eight I can annoy somebody and find out where my portière lives and get my spare keys. Just a matter of filling in time till then.” Then I smiled at the idea of this sweet couple being kinky. “I know you’re not kinky.”

“A nightcap,” pontificated Mikey.

“We’ll keep you company,” said Bee. “We wanted to go to early Mass but surely the Virgin would rather we looked after you. There’s the virtue of it.”

A shadow passed over her face and a look of concern passed over her husband’s face.

“A nightcap,” he said.

“You’ll have to pay,” I replied.

“You have no money?” he asked.

“Mikey!” screamed Bee, giving him a little slap. “Her bag was stolen.”

His hand darted to the wallet in his pocket and he pulled out a twenty-euro note and held it out to me.

I really didn’t want to take it, I am stiff-necked like that, but I had no money. I had no cigarettes. I may need to make phone calls in the morning, I would definitely want a cup of coffee as dawn broke.

“Take it, take it,” said Bee.

So I did. With a stiff-necked expression of gratitude as I tucked it into my trouser pocket.

A plan had formed in my mind. My bag had gone. I would never see it again in this world. I had to let it go, and get on with things.

“Let’s head to a place I know,” I suggested. “I’ll buy some cigs at a machine on the way.”

They were up for it so I led them up the three flights of stairs to the centro sociale in Monti that a Roman friend had revealed to me. Where students manned the cheap bar (no ice for the drinks) and all sorts milled in the courtyard of what had once been a school.

They loved it, as I knew they would. Mikey went off to the bar to get a round in, glancing about him in delight at behind-the-scenes Rome, I lit a smoke and ingested a long overdue hit of nicotine, and Bee cracked open and showed me her heart.

They were trying to have a child and had struck difficulties and were on the IVF program and the last round of egg retrieval and sperm dispersal and embryo insertion had not worked—so they had come to Rome to throw themselves onto the tender mercies of the Virgin mother. A woman who wants to have a child and cannot is someone who is wrenched askew. As I sucked deeply on my beautiful cigarette I hoped she was not expecting her kindness to me to be rewarded with what she so deeply yearned for. You don’t always get what you want. But because Mikey was not monitoring her she gave a sigh and showed me her true face and I saw that she had looked squarely at barrenness and was reconciled to the cycle of hope and despair. Despair had made her my friend. I wished for her what she wanted so much. Or at least, to come to no longer want what she wanted. To be off, to quit, the terrible wheel of hope.

And the night wore on, the Roman night.

They kicked us out. Did we fall down the three flights of stairs or did we fly? Did we yahoo around the little square in Monti and did they take pics of me posed on the little fountain? Did we meet two nice young local lads who had a little English who in exchange for Mikey’s football club chant—he supported Millhall and his chant was—You don’t like us and we don’t care—lugubrious and menacing, demonstrated the Roma club chant—quick and urgent—Roma! Roma! Roma! Roma in the night?

Then Bee’s legs wouldn’t work any more. She started falling over. As she fell over she was trilling—“This is the best night of my life.” As she fell like a puppet without strings onto the cobblestones.

“Take her home, Mikey,” I said.

And he gathered her up tenderly and I saw them off. And turned my head towards home.

I walked and walked and walked. Across the Ponte Garibaldi and down the long sweep of Viale di Trastevere. It was Sunday, the day of the Porta Portese market, so the whole area was stirring. Including the birds in the trees. It was just before dawn.

I was flagging. But there was a cafe about to open and a sleepy girl setting out tables and chairs. I lit up a ciggie to rest for a moment at one of their tables before ordering a rocket fuel Roman coffee, which I really needed, and the girl gave me a sharp Roman look and peremptorily demanded—“Sigaretta!” They’ll do that to you on the streets of Rome, demand a cigarette or light without a kiss your foot or a how’s your father—and I don’t seem to be able to refuse. I knuckle under and give them what they want. She took it without a grazie and swept off into the cafe. I meekly followed and ordered the necessary coffee and chatted to two very lucky fellows who had cleaned up big time at the bingo the night before. They were very amused that they had cleaned up, 4000 euros was it they had won?—and I had been cleaned out. The symmetry of it amused them and it amused me too. It was a joke. But hey ho, time to get back to my block of flats and start chasing up the portière.

I lurked by the security doors until one of the dog owners was rushed out by an urgent early morning dog, and slipped through the grille before it clanged to. And up in the tiny lift to my front door. Now I was so close to my bed, I was so close to my shower and my kettle and my fridge and my money and my Visa card. Everything I needed was on the other side of this implacable door. I gave it a push. It didn’t budge. The boredom of fatigue and difficulty hit me hard and I slumped onto the doormat and I tried to sleep. But it was cold. I slept fitfully for an hour or so maybe, then the whining of the lift mechanism, the distant thump of doors, signalled the awakening of the apartment block and I blearily faced the fact I would have to do something. Something had to be done.

I banged on the door of the downstairs flat. I’d meet the guy from time to time in the intimate lift, although we weren’t exactly intimate. But I knew he had a few words of English. My problem was the very last thing he wanted to have to deal with but he fetched his cellulare and rang the guy who headed the condominium and got Mariana’s phone number. Everything was going according to plan. He rang Mariana and floods of Italian and many expressive gestures indicated my plan had struck a snag. With an expressive shrug, he handed me the phone.

“No, no,” said Mariana. “I have no keys. No. I have no keys. I do not have your keys. No keys!”

That seemed pretty clear. I did not press my point. I did not protest. I gave the phone back to the downstairs guy and thanked him and withdrew upstairs to sit outside my door and think again.

Later I found out that Mariana, at the very moment that we rang her, was struggling to make the key to her flat work and was, as she put it later, in a big temper. But I didn’t know that then.

I decided to ring Clelia, who was in charge of the flat and the people who lived there. It was she who had assured me Mariana had my spare keys. But of course I didn’t know her home phone number. She would be at work at the Australian embassy come Monday morning. That phone number would be easy enough to find out. I had the money to ring her. Then I could trek over to Via Nomentana, pick up the keys—which she would have!—and trek back to my flat.

But I couldn’t do that for twenty-four hours.

I didn’t occur to me to try and get hold of a locksmith. I didn’t know what locksmiths were called in Italy. (Ferramenta e colori, and also, it seems, fabbro. Perhaps fabbro is slang, or regional.) And I didn’t have enough Italian to explain over a public phone, as the roar of traffic drowned me out, exactly what I needed. Mind you, I was silly with exhaustion by then.

Here’s a tip though. The fire brigade, the Vigili del Fuoco, will come and let you into your flat or rescue your handbag from the Grand Canal in Venice, or send someone up in a cherrypicker if you have collapsed on your balcony against the door. I saw them do that a few months later while the ambulanza waited below. And local friends ran me through how very simple and easy it is to get into your flat, or retrieve your handbag from the canal, once you get onto the fire brigade. “It is their job,” said Riccardo. “They come straight away,” said Antonia. “It costs you nothing,” said Riccardo. “Well, hmm hmm, maybe if you do it too often, then they charge,” said Antonia. “You must prove it is your flat, of course,” said Riccardo. “But when they let me in the cats made a big fuss of me, so they believed me.” It is so simple, once you know how.

I had twenty-four hours. I had enough money to eat and drink and for cigs and for phone calls. I just needed a place to sleep.

I decided to walk back to the centro sociale in Monti—I had been told it was a squat. And people lived in a squat, right? The kind of people who would take pity on an old lady Australian who wasn’t coping with Rome very well and give her a mattress and a blanket for ten hours, right? It seemed like a very good idea.

I fuelled myself with a crocchetta di patate and a coffee and a visit to the gabinetto in the cafe downstairs (public toilets can be very hard to find in Rome) and set off back to Monti. I will see the streets and the life of the streets—I was saying to myself. This is an adventure. This is a big opportunity.

But when I arrived at the centro I lost my nerve. I sat in a plastic chair under the portico. The only people there were an older man and a young boy mending a rusty bomb of a car up the other end of the courtyard. It did not seem to be the kind of place where people were living. Maybe squat meant something different in Italian. It was clear, in daylight, that the building was a bit of a shambles, and people were not at all careful about where they dumped their rubbish. There were rusting bicycles, rickety bits and bobs of furniture, rotting piles of newspapers. Not very savoury at all.

I approached the car mechanics. The elder of the two was a stocky tough guy with a shaved head. The younger was slim with curly dark hair and soft, expressive eyes.

I put my case to them. Baldy snorted disdainfully. “Nobody live here. Nobody sleep here.”

“But what shall I do?” I asked plaintively.

“Go to the church,” he said.

“The church?” I asked.

“Yes, the church. They look after people like you.”

The boy looked alarmed at the tone of his voice and rolled a sympathetic eye.

Baldy made a go-away gesture—so I turned and retreated. Every man’s hand against me, it seemed. I must have seemed very old and pathetic, I wasn’t travelling too well by this stage, and Baldy called out to me in a softer tone—“The rats would eat you if you sleep here.”

I turned back to him and said in ringing tones—“I don’t believe that for a minute. Rats don’t eat people.”

He laughed. “That is what I like about the Australians. They know so much about animals.”

I stood on the steps of Madonna dei Monti and tried to steel myself to step inside and ask for mercy, pity, a cup of coffee maybe or a bowl of charity soup, and a bed. Most of all, a bed.

But I just couldn’t. I didn’t know how to go to a church and ask for help. What if the nuns were cruel to me and rejected me and chased me away with scornful gestures? If only I could sleep for a couple of hours, then I could think straight. There must be some way out of this tangle I was in.

I considered the Polizia. But the Polizia last night had had very little sympathy and even less English. I think it was at that point I decided it was essential to acquire some getting-around Italian. Then I thought of a park. A park with an obscure bench, hidden behind some shrubbery. Or I could even doss down in some shrubbery. The sun was warm now and the chatter of children playing and the bird song would lull me off and refresh me.

So I started walking, looking for a park.

By now I was beginning to enter a fugue state. There was a loud conversation in my head. I was hallucinating, I think.

I said to myself—Give yourself up to the streets. It is just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Keep on walking until you find it.

I replied to myself—That seems as good a scheme as any. Keep on walking until I converge with the right place at the right time.

I found a park. A patch of scruffy grass. But it was a dogs’ toilet. Maybe it was even a people’s toilet, public toilets being so hard to find in Rome. No one would want to sleep there. I walked past the Roman Forum. There was some sort of demonstration on Via dei Fori Imperiali, there so often was a demonstration going on there, it was the place for it—and an ambulanza was parked on the pavement, with a young paramedic on standby.

I got a cunning scheme. Just fall over, right there, right by the ambulanza. I had travel insurance. The paramedic would scoop me up, stuff me in his vehicle and rush me off to a bed with crispy white sheets. It wouldn’t be hard to fall over. And I could almost guarantee my heart rate, state of dehydration and exhaustion, and air of confusion would add the necessary touch of verisimilitude. The paramedic glanced at me.

Do it now! Do it now! Just fall over.

But I couldn’t. I was too proud to fall over until I fell over. I trudged on. I had forgotten how to stop walking.

Then it hit me like the kdang that a stone makes as it falls down a deep well and hits the water below.

The urgent warning I had been given that had woken me up! I hadn’t heeded that warning, I had not looked behind me, so now I was playing out the parallel scenario. Let that be a warning to me! So now I must listen and heed to find my way out of this mess.

Be in the right place at the right time! That was the answer. I cheered up. It was out of my hands. I didn’t know where the right place was or when the right time would be so they would have to find me. All I could do was be proactive and enquire—Are you the right place? Are you the right time?

I was standing by an elegant building with a sweeping flight of white stairs. Was it a museum, was it a library? Two elegant older men, suave, well-groomed, were chatting together as they made their way down the steps towards me. One was wearing a rather unusual sage-green duster coat. They looked like academics or actors or publishers. They were exactly the sort of men I am friends with, they teach my poetry, or publish it, or act in my plays, we chat on the phone, have coffee together, they come to my dinner parties and I go to theirs.

I approached them. As I asked them if they spoke English they gazed at each other, and at me, with wild surmise.

“I am an Australian poet living in Rome for six months and my bag has been stolen …” I ran them through the whole deal.

But they did not believe me. Scam scam scam flickered in their eyes. Unusual scam, even an interesting scam, but a scam! What will they come up with next? Australian poet, my eye!

“We cannot help you,” the man in the sage-green duster coat said. He spread his hands and turned away. His friend, the drabber one, took a moment longer. His penetrating glance questioned my sanity, he tried to place me amongst the hierarchy of the more demented examples of Roman street life. He was curious, but his friend was in charge. He turned away from me.

Not them—I thought. It’s not them.

I have sort of lost my grip on what I did for the next couple of hours. I was trying to get the feel for which direction I should head in. So I wandered. I knew in about twelve hours I would just fall over and problem solved. Someone would have to scoop me up and do something about me. I hoped they would do it nicely, with some compassion, some tenderness. But I was beginning to see that that might not be possible in Rome. Any sort of scooping, or its brutal equivalent, would have to do.

I remember prowling Porta Portese market—on the off chance there might be a stall selling keys. On the off chance that if anyone was selling keys that there would be a key that would fit my door. I was looking for the key.

I was asleep, I was drifting. I was a molecule pinging here, pinging there.

But I came to, I woke up, as I was heading past Standa on Viale di Trastevere. I glanced up and there was sage-green duster coat and his drab friend heading towards me. I smiled broadly, prepared to greet them, they seemed like my only friends in Rome, I held them no grudge. I was about to say something apt as I swept past them like—“It’s a small world and a big city.”

But they saw me and froze in mid-stride—quite funny actually—their body language said as plain as day—Oh no! There is that mad woman who thinks she is an Australian poet!

And with one swift movement, like a double act, in perfect synch, they vanished sideways into Standa.

I couldn’t help but laugh as I walked on past the store. I didn’t glance in their direction but I imagined them lurking, peering anxiously through the glass doors—“Dio mio! Has she been following us?” Or maybe they had plunged down into the supermarket in the basement and were cowering behind the imported biscuits at the back, prepared to split up and make a run for it if I ferreted them out.

Random act, chaps. Do not fear it. These things happen. The stuff of life.

And then I knew what to do.

Go on line! The only reason I was at the mercy of Rome was because I had joined a travel site called Virtual Tourist and got friendly with an Italian called Paolo who had the clout to get me an invitation to the Genoa Poetry Festival and from there the Italian connection burgeoned. Return to the source. Go back to Virtual Tourist.

I sprinted to my e-mail cafe/laundrette and handed over two precious euros for an hour online and logged on.

I headed my posting—I AM LOCKED OUT OF MY FLAT IN ROME—and painted the picture for them.

In two seconds flat—maybe a little longer—Maria and Berni in Britland, Krista in Slovenia and John in Finland were on the case.

Together we chewed the whole conundrum over. Maria suggested shoulder-charging my door and busting it open and dealing with the fallout later. Krista managed to draw me out about exactly how exhausted and deranged I was. Berni picked up on that and said that if I could give her the name of a hotel nearby she would book it for me over the internet.

I was so grateful for a friendly word tears leaked wearily out of my eyes. But the hotel idea didn’t seem the right place at the right time so I asked Berni to hold out on that one. It was about 5 p.m. Time for that later perhaps. John went off to look for Rome members who were on line. Not that Rome members are very active and now I understood why. They were so busy just surviving in this maelstrom.

Other members popped in and out. There was a rather unhelpful woman from Yankland who kept suggesting I call a locksmith. “Use your cell phone,” she said. “Call a locksmith.”

“What is a locksmith called in Italy?” I asked her. “How do I find out their phone number?” (I ignored the cell phone suggestion. Too silly for words. My bag had been stolen! Even if I had ever owned a cell phone it would have been gone.)

And several members popped in to observe and comment on how great it was to see so many people trying to help me. I thought it was great too.

I told the folks I would try shoulder-charging the door, I had enough money to come back online if that didn’t work, thanked them the way you thank people who are being truly kind to you, and logged off.

I approached my front door. I shoulder-charged it. Damn—it hurt. Not the sort of door you should try that with. And what a noise. And, sure enough, wife of downstairs guy opened their front door and called out something in Italian which I interpreted as meaning—“I am calling the police!”

I stood as quiet as a little mouse until she shut her door, then tiptoed down the stairs. All eight flights of them. And I could smell gas. Lovely! Now there was a gas leak and the whole building was going to explode. Nervous flat dwellers appeared on the landings asking me questions that I couldn’t understand but were obviously to do with the reek of gas.

I sat on the front doorstep as night fell down onto the streets. It was close. If I was any judge, if I had any sense left at all, it was very very close.

There was about to be a convergence.

I contemplated taking off my silk head scarf, folding it in a square, laying it in the street in front of me, and begging for money so I could go on living. This was a viable option. This is what people did when they reached the impasse I had reached. I knew this now. I felt so frail, and yet so powerful. I could go on living.

A gang of young Italian princesses swept down the street towards me. The chief princess, the queen to be, spotted me and called out in scornful tones—“What are you doing sitting there on the doorstep like a dog, little mother?”

Now, that was a very good question, and if she had paused in her progress I might have answered her. But she laughed, and swept on with her retinue of fortunate maidens.

And then I saw Mariana coming down the street. Mariana was the key.

“Why are you here?” I asked her.

“There is gas!”

And she bustled inside to deal with gas.

I lit a cigarette and slowly smoked it. I finished it and stubbed it out in the gutter, yeah dirty thing to do but I was a homeless, a senzatetto, someone without a roof, and that is the kind of dirty thing we do, and followed Mariana into the lobby.

I watched her bustling to and fro, up and down stairs, dealing with the gas. Then I caught her eye.

“Mariana,” I said. “I cannot get into my flat. Do you have any keys, any spare keys at all? Any keys? They just might fit. Do you have any keys?”

She paused. She held up a wait-a-minute finger. She went into her little glass cubicle and came out with a shoebox full of odds and sods of keys.

The second set of keys we tried worked. My door swung open. I looked at her. Her face was frozen in a mask of dismay and guilt.

“Thank you, thank you, Mariana,” I said, and kissed her. And then I saw into my flat and all the necessary things my flat contained, and I just fell over. At last I could fall over so I did, in a dramatic and self-mocking way.

She laughed and laughed and picked me up.

I strolled down to my email cafe with my money and Visa card and the keys to my flat, just like any ordinary person with a home to go to, and logged on to set my VT friends’ minds at rest.

Thank you for arranging for the smell of gas in the hallways so the portiere would have to come in and discover that she did have my spare set of keys—I typed. That was very clever of you to do that. But now the emergency is over so you can let it dissipate.

Yes, I was being facetious. But I wasn’t absolutely sure it wasn’t true. After all, I hadn’t slept for well over twenty-four hours. And I had seen such strange sights and into such dark corners. I knew a great deal more about myself and about Rome and about some other things as well.

I went home, made a cup of tea with care, exactly how I like it with a lot of milk, in my favourite bowl-shaped cup. Then I went to bed and I slept.

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