It’s so hot that my gelato is melting almost before the serious looking lady hands it to me.
The “Zuppa Inglese” is teetering on top of the “Pina Colada” flavour and, as I hurry to the hopelessly inadequate shade of the trees, I am licking furiously to stop the whole mound toppling onto the scorched cobblestones and wondering if one scoop would have been more sensible.
It’s hard to savour something rushed, but needs must. Sometimes.
It’s late in the evening and a man is loitering outside the hotel. He looks like Boo Radley has fallen from the pages of the book. He is sweating in the sultry heat and he looks both shifty and annoyed. Moments later his wife appears with a similarly thunderous expression. They both follow us into the hotel walking several paces apart, then she goes up the stairs and he enters the lift. At breakfast the next morning they still don’t appear to be talking.
Every day I watch the same German guy, here on holiday with his wife and young son, spending hours on the phone. If he isn’t wandering around talking on it he is texting on it. This goes on and on, then they are gone.
At breakfast a man gets angry when there is no coffee freshly brewed in any of the myriad silver Mokka pots standing to attention like an early morning regiment. One lid after the other is lifted and receives an audible “tut”. Then he puts a fresh one on the burner and proceeds to look at it every ten seconds or so. I want to tell him it will take a good ten minutes but I don’t think he’s in the mood.
It’s Sunday and busy down at the pedaloes. A family are hauled off a launching vessel because they have jumped the queue of people who have been patiently waiting in the burning sun. They curse and walk off.
In a corner of the pool a little girl is making pretend tea for her parents. Her mother stays the course but dad disappears to the opposite end of the pool and sits in peace.
This evening, as the sun dips over the horizon, making no discernible difference to the heat, I watch a very old man gingerly lower himself into the pool. It seems like quite an effort and no less an achievement. Moments later his tiny grandson is handed to him and they laugh and splash happily together, both generations united in absolute joy.
When we are confronted with fewer days than we once had with those we love there is an urgency which falls across us. Sometimes we can make use of it and sometimes it feels so weighty that we are hardly able to move at all.
When our children are grown up and no longer invite us to take tea from a plastic watering can, and offer us cake from an imaginary plate, we yearn for those days like nothing else.
We appreciate the small moments most of all when we look back at them, but we are architects of our own unnecessary sadness and loss simply by letting them go too easily.
If you are fortunate enough to have time to relax with the most precious and wonderful people in your life it is more than enough to concentrate only on that.