t a r t a r u g a

[ 16:33 thursday 28 april – eurostar 9363 to napoli ]

here we are forty-five minutes out of rome. the landscape grows craggier, more volcanic, whilst bamboo, olive and cactus gain prominence in the flora. thus the mezzogiorno, italy’s intoxicating south, announces its dominion. the rain which has followed us from milan eases and chinks of blue appear in the sky.

i spent last night with bobo and roberta in milan, the first time i’ve seen them in two years. they’re simultaneously finding success in the worlds of graffiti and fine art, with exhibitions around europe and some commercial commissions too. their new home is fantastic, a long narrow cellar divided into a series of spaces for living and working. every inch of the walls is covered with the warped faces and gnomic slogans that characterise their work.

bobo and i worked together ten years ago in the electric company, the chaotic media venture i formed when i came down from cambridge. i’ve always loved his style and admired his stubborness in persuing his own creative path. he’s been with roberta, a mini-volcano of ideas from the shadow of etna, for most of the time i’ve known him. it was a joy to catch up with them both.

earlier in the afternoon i met fabrizio and kiriku by the little lake in parco sempione. fabrizio suggested we should hunt for turtles. i was delighted to play along, assuming it was a make-believe game for kiriku’s benefit. my error was revealed a few minutes later when kiriku lunged at a rock and turned round proudly clutching a turtle; twenty-five centimetres long with scarlet stripes along the sides of its head. i couldn’t believe my eyes. fabrizio explained that a couple of pet turtles were released into the lake a few years ago and have established a thriving community. it all seemed very improbable, like finding orangutangs swinging from the trees in st james’ park.

kiriku was only a few months old when i first came to live in italy. now he’s a fearless six-year-old. indeed it’s almost three years since i last saw napoli, a city that fascinates and thrills me. i hope to meet pasquale for dinner then take the overnight ship to stromboli. this is a holiday weekend so the ship could be busy. if i can’t get a cabin i’ll have to sleep on the deck. a few years ago this prospect wouldn’t have bothered me in the least but now it provokes a mild sense of unease. living in london i see myself growing inflexible and domestic. the balance in my life needs to change.

: c :

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