December 29, 2013


In my last Blog I cut short details of our final evening and I feel the need to expand on those hours before closing this account of Christmas on Lake Como.

The Grand Hotel Britannia Excelsior had free WiFi, but this was limited to one rather small salon outside the lift shafts. Here people shouted into their Ipads to exchange Christmas Greetings. “Hello dear, Granny and Granpa here in Como, did you have a good Christmas?” At the other end a reluctant child utters the well rehearsed, “Yes, thank you Granny, and are you enjoying Italy?” The child is quickly gone, returned to her bedroom to watch some X-rated film that her parents neither know nor care about. Granny is left to shout into her screen at the girl's parents, “Did Brook like the little Donkey we sent her? We thought it would be good to keep her jewellery on.” Little did they realise that little Brook is now 15, and has so many bangles, earrings and other bits that they just get piled up in a mess anywhere in her bedroom. Furthermore, brother Jayden enjoyed feeding the stuffed donkey to 'Teddy' the Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross, who chewed on all the polyester stuffing before barfing it up on the fluffy rug in the conservatory.

I couldn't compete with all that distraction and so sat quietly sending written communications on my phone or laptop. That is until a family opposite me interrupted my tranquil typing with their son uttering the immortal greeting, “You look like someone from Mrs Brown's Boys.” I looked up to see a blonde-haired lad some 40 or 50 years younger than anyone else in the hotel; he was smiling at me and obviously looking for some reaction. “Which one?” I asked, “The one who dresses up as a Chicken or a Banana, or maybe the Priest?” Unhesitating J replied, “The Gay One!” Hmmmm. I didn't know whether to make some reply expressing shock, or simply ask for his phone number.

Anyway, with the ice well and truly broken, or more accurately vapourised, there began a series of contacts with this family from Windsor, the mother and the son working at a well known school of that parish. Very entertaining. They too were ipadding, but weren't shouting into their devices, and we met a few times within this electronic sanctuary over several days.

J is employed as a sports coach, with practice in almost every sport you could think of, so I knew on Boxing Day evening that he would be quite jealous of our skiing experience after his lot had endured a wet day in Milano. I quickly showed him all the pictures, assured him that I had been given the phone numbers of the good looking skiers, and illustrated clearly the ideal wintry conditions we had enjoyed at almost 2000 metres. His family were shocked that they had suffered a soggy city sortie when they could have had a brilliant Boxing Day at Bormio.

When I joined my party for the Boxing Day evening meal, a rather dapper guy walked past my table and he was one of the Shearing guides. I felt a duty to inform him about our brilliant day in Bormio, and was only doing this in a matter-of-fact informative way. Unbeknown to me, from the far end of the table our guide Marius was watching, and when I finished he applauded my efforts and my colleagues said I should be awarded the order of the Wooden Spoon for stirring.

Things escalated the next day when J's family accosted one of the Shearings' drivers about the winter wonderland they could have enjoyed like us. He was quite defensive, Health and Safety this, regulation that. I merely countered by saying that our guide Marius had been thinking on his feet all day, conjuring up several different things and keeping us more than amused; our unscheduled skiing was almost better than the St. Moritz might have been. He called me a 'shit stirrer', but J's family were not taken in by his 'company line'. I told Marius later that one of the Shearings' guides wanted an application form to join Just You; though I doubted that he would have quite the required creativity and imagination.

Friday morning was a brilliant sunny day, and at last we could enjoy some views across the lake, and even promenade along its shores to Menaggio a little place just north of us. Before long we were on-board our coach bound for Milano Linate, and thence to London Heathrow. Hazel asked me to join her in the Executive Lounge as her guest, and I enjoyed the tranquillity and the free food of this refuge from the hub bub of the airport seating; thank you. At Heathrow there was no such escape from the proletarian parlours, but I did enjoy a colossal Vegetarian breakfast at Huxleys which at £8.25 took me away from the masses for nearly an hour. In spite of dire weather warnings, the flight to Manchester took off and landed on time, and my drive across the Pennines was uneventful.

Best Wishes for 2014.

Some photos are given below, but the link given next takes you to the FULL album:

If you want to read about Christmas 2010, click on this link: the Coach Trip from Hell 2010

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