After trying to find a suitable time for an age, I eventually got to go away with M for a few days to Sorrento, Italy. We jointly decided to invite my mum and dad, mainly with the intention of letting them take care of logistics so as to lighten the responsibility load on M; we got more than our money’s worth though, as mum turned out to be quite a sideshow!
The fun started at the Manchester Airport security checks. I usually allow my guide to walk through the metal detector first, and then they call me towards them. On this occasion, a scouse official called me towards him, taking my hands and guiding me through the middle.
He then said “right, stand here mate, and wait for your partner”.
I thanked him for his help, but he couldn’t apologise enough when I pointed out that M was in fact my daughter, and not my partner! Either I look young for my age, or M looks old for her age … or perhaps I just look like a dirty old man!
This became a bit of a recurring theme; we arrived at the hotel to find that we had been booked in as Mr and Mrs Curtis; M didn’t like that one bit, and she really didn’t like that I thought it was hilarious!
Mum’s calamities started before we even got off the ground! There was the losing of her hat and purse somewhere between the security checks and the plane, and then there was the early contender for the mum-ism of the week whilst we were waiting for our pre-flight meal at Burger King in the departure lounge.
We had joined the queue and, to be fair, we had been waiting a ridiculously long time whilst one person – possibly the most inefficient assistant ever – struggled to fulfil the most simple of orders.
“I’m fed up of waiting, do you think I should go and tell him that we have a plane to catch?” mum said earnestly.
“Erm it’s an airport, … everybody’s got a plane to catch Grandma” M pointed out; to be fair, the penny did drop fairly quickly!
Once we arrived at the hotel in Sorrento, mum was eager to put her valuables in the safe. She took a while to figure out how to use it, but she managed to insert a pin and it seemed to work, the only problem was that she then went out leaving the safe door wide open ….. I won’t even mention the minor amusement of mum trying for an age to get money out of an ATM with her card whilst inputting dad’s PIN!!
Lunch on the first day was an interesting experience, and this time it was yours truly who was the centre of it all! We ate at a lovely little spot down a side alley. All four of us ordered different pizzas, and they were extremely tasty and massively filling. I cut mine up into slices, and then ate each slice with my hands, as I always do. As the pizza was very sloppy, it was quite a messy job – let’s just say that I was glad that I had my back to the other diners, or so I thought!
As I started to make more and more of a mess, I sensed some interest from the table to my left. Two older ladies were dining on that table, and from the projection of one of their voices, I assumed that it was possible for one of the ladies to see me from her vantage point, but I couldn’t know whether she was looking or not; either way, I started to feel more and more embarrassed. However, as that was a feeling I have become used to over the years, I ploughed on to demolish my pizza, then my mum’s leftovers, and then M’s leftovers! If she was looking, then I was putting on one hell of a show for her!!
After towelling down with several napkins and then paying the bill, my dad took me to the toilet before we left. I played one of my favourite tricks on him; I finished before him, and then proceeded to find my way back through the rabbit warren of corridors back to the restaurant … he found me, in a slightly bemused state – him, not me (!) – casually leaning against a table in the restaurant flipping through a menu!
After only half an hour of digestion time, mum needed a coffee, so a suitable café was located.
“can I have four lasagnes please, two regular and two decaf” mum said …… Lasagne, latte; what’s the difference? About a thousand calories I believe!!
When the lattes arrived, I noticed that someone was smoking; I voiced my disgust. Mum pointed out that the two older ladies who had been dining next to us at lunch had been smoking as well.
“Could they see me eating my pizza” I asked.
“Oh yes” said mum, “one of them could, and her face was an absolute picture! She sat there with her mouth wide open, not able to believe what she was seeing!”
“Brilliant” I said laughing.
“The best thing was when your dad guided you to the toilet”, mum said. “As soon as she saw your stick, her expression suddenly changed from one of disgust to a very broad caring smile, almost apologetic”
I love it when that happens!
Later that day, on passing a shop, M noticed some unusual pasta; I obviously had to by it to add a bit of “flavour” to my cooking when I returned home.
“What’s that in your bag” mum asked.
I didn’t answer, I just opened the bag for her to take a look.
“Oh, it’s pasta”. She looked closer; “oh, it’s lots of different colours, how lovely”. She looked closer still; “oh, it’s funny little shapes”. She looked even closer still: “Oh, it’s … oh Andrew” she said very disapprovingly, as she finally realised what the funny little rude shapes actually were! Tasted really nice though!
On the first evening, we headed down to the front to watch the sunset over the Bay of Naples. My dad took lots of photos of M; they must have been good, as my mum passed me a phone for me to take a look ….. 26 years I’ve been blind; she’ll get it one day!
The highlight of the short trip for me was our excursion to Herculaneum – the site less famous than Pompeii, but one which is much better preserved – followed by our “climb” up Mount Vesuvius, and not just because M and I were given free access into both due to my “situation”.
Our guide for the day brought Herculaneum to life, and although I wasn’t supposed to touch – the artefacts, not our guide (!) – she was happy to turn a blind eye; the power of a white stick! On leaving our coach close to the top of Mount Vesuvius, , we had 200m or so to climb to the crater’s edge, and although we were one of the last off the coach, M and I were the first to reach the top; the old competitive spirit still exists!. It took us about 20 minutes of fairly strenuous walking, but thankfully the gravel footpath was nice and level for me, so I only tripped a handful of times!
As you can see from the photos above, the views were well worth the effort!