Blog time, but I’m feeling lazy again!
I have had quite a few requests to put up another extract from my new autobiography. Couple of people asked me to put up some new stuff on the ‘vampire’ case. Sorry, I can’t do that! For that you’ll just have to order the book. Anyway, what are you talking about? Its all new stuff. But I just don’t want to give too much away for free here.
Although instead, here is a short extract from near the beginning, so you’ll just have to make do with that! . . .
“I arrived in Sicily about two weeks later. I had hitch-hiked all the way, wanting to meet people along the way, which also broke up the long journey. Some thoughtful driver took me into the popular resort of Taormina suggesting that, if anywhere, I might be able to find work there. It was fairly late, so I slept in some sandy alcove that night and wandered into the town proper the next day. It was a beautiful old town and seemed to lie high above the sea, glimpses of which still be caught between its ancient buildings as it lay deep blue in the distance. Its colour certainly matched the climate, which still allowed open sandals and white cotton shirts; and I could only imagine how much hotter it would get in Summer!
I wandered around the hilly streets making various enquiries about possible work. Hardly anyone spoke English, but trial and perseverance led me to Hotel Europa, a fairly large hotel which lay half empty in the slack off-tourist season. But it was still open for guests, and I located the manager – or a man I presumed was the manager. He said that apart from the permanent staff they usually only employed casual local labour each day, but as he could see I had come a long way, he could offer me a job with a room at the hotel helping out in the kitchen. The wages were not high, he emphasised, but these also included meals and the accommodation and if I wanted to, I could start the next day. I gladly agreed. I was still quite tired from the long trip, and couldn’t wait to get some proper sleep between clean sheets again.
It turned out that work in the kitchen mainly involved washing up greasy dishes in a large aluminum sink. It wasn’t that hard, but obviously required constant hot water, and in only a couple of hours, you’d be dripping with steamy sweat. Although on minimum staff, there were still some local waitresses employed, who came backwards and forwards collecting meals or delivering empty plates, which I found considerably brightened up the kitchen.
They were mostly young local girls between fifteen and twenty I guessed; all rather shy, and looked seemingly resigned to the tedious job of waiting tables. All the staff ate together at about 3 pm when the main luncheons had finished, and again, around 9 when the evening meals had been taken care of. I used to watch the girls in the staff dining room as they sat down to enjoy well-earned meals after finishing serving tables. They had all disregarded their black and white waitress uniforms and frilly caps that they were obliged to wear. Many just sat in T-shirts, and the cotton dresses they had had to temporarily discard in preference for their uniforms.
There was one regular girl I had been placed next to at the staff table. I learned her name was Angelique and she also had live-in accommodation in the hotel. She came from Messina but there was no real work there without proper qualifications, she told me, so all she was left to do was wait tables. She was only 16 and very shy, but I gradually learned that Messina could be a bad place to live if you were poor and got into debt and had to rely on borrowing money. The banks could be unscrupulous, she said, and it was easy to get further into debt by not repaying given loans on time. She didn’t qualify exactly what she meant but implied this involved her parents. She said that they just couldn’t find any work and had to depend on herself and her brother. He didn’t have a bad job, unloading cargo at the docks, but her only option had been to take a job ‘here’.
A pretty girl with dark eyes, a smooth complexion and glistening hair that almost reached her waist; we got quite friendly and in the habit of taking late evening walks around the quietened town after work. I kissed her one evening in a deserted area under some palm trees. She responded briefly but suddenly recoiled as if suddenly hit by some deeper conscience. I asked her what was wrong. “My parents would not like that”, she replied seriously. “We should only do that if we were married”.
She was obviously very sincere so I respected her wishes, although she allowed us to link arms as we walked back to the hotel. It was warm, not even a breeze. But she did clutch my arm as if to show she was not totally rejecting my advance, rather just trying to control it.
Adapted from “David Farrant – In the Shadow of the Highgate Vampire”
PS No remarks from you thanks Cat!