The company behind the new pizzas is called, Eat Balanced, from Glasgow. I spoke to them today and their marketing person is actually a coeliac and she told me that gluten-free pizzas are in their company’s development plan.
So here’s hoping!
Sometimes things just happen that make you smile ever so much. One such thing happened last night as I made my way home from Oxford on a Victoria Line train to Blackhorse Road, where I had parked my car.
A guy entered carrying a bookcase and as the train was a bit crowded comments were made. These started to get funnier and funnier and for the five stops he was on the train, there was a lot of jokes and laughter. The journey moved very quickly.
Here’s a photograph of the guy sitting on his bookcase.
Before he left, I talked to the guy and found he was a photographer called Mario Guarino from Naples in Italy.
I have read that France and Italy are fining people and even putting them in jail for having fake goods in their possession. I don’t think it has much to do with stopping the practice, but with raising money.
Perhaps I am a bit of a goody-goody, but I don’t buy fake goods. On the other hand, according to my Dorling Kindersley travel guide approximately half of all the fake goods in Europe come in thrpugh Naples.
If most come through one place, wouldn’t it be a good idea to police the port there properly.
Ask a postman and he’ll tell you that he’s more likely to get bitten by a irate dachshund than a large brute of a German shepherd. And if there’s a serious dog fight, they’ll usually be something like a Jack Russell involved. It’s just that small dogs seem to have more fight.
Now I’m 60 kilos (9 st. 6 lb.) or thereabouts wet through. Not that that I usually get wet outside of a bath or shower. And I’m just 1.71 metres (5 ft. 7 in. and a bit). Which means I’m somewhere in size between a flat and a jump jockey or about the size of a lightweight boxer. I’m also 62 in August.
I was probably being stupid by wearing a watch in Naples, but then I’d done it before and hadn’t had a problem. But thinking about it, when I had done it before, it had been cold and I’d been wearing my elderly Gieves and Hawkes jacket. The jacket is the sort that British gentleman wore all over the Empire, as it’s capable of dealing with knives and small arms fire.
So as I was walking around the city with a lady friend, a thief struck and tried to take my Rolex. Now it is not just any Rolex, but one my late wife gave me as a Christmas present two weeks after she died. It is inscribed with something personal and it is very precious to me.
Subconsciously, I gripped my hands together and as one would expect from a watch like a Rolex, the strap held, giving me some bruises on the wrist. We ended up rolling on the floor, with nobody giving me any assistance. I chided my friend afterwards for not doing what women should do in these sort of circumstances and that is scream and scream loudly. She just tried to kick him in the balls.
As we rolled, I was able to grab his index finger with my right hand and still I think keeping my left locked tight to my right wrist. Something snapped and it wasn’t anything of mine and my assailant was up on his feet and jumping on to his accomplice’s scooter. Did I just wrench his finger or break it? The doctor I saw in the UK, who was built like a prop forward, said it was an easy thing to do.
So it was a win on points to the terrier. Especially as the thief was perhaps well under half my age and perhaps fifty percent heavier. Hopefully, he’s a good bit wiser and will think twice about attacking small Englishmen.
I didn’t come out unscathed in that I had a large cut on the back of my head and I was bleeding quite badly.
No-one helped or came forward, so we eventually ventured into a pharmacy, where the pharmacist patched me up and called an ambulance. Only then did some of the local women come forward to say how sorry they were. But not a man said a thing. Is this silence because of the fear that people have for the local thugs and the Mafia?
At the hospital, everything went well and I left an hour later with seven stitches in my head and a clean CAT scan, which checked that nothing more was broken.
As to the Rolex, it cost just £2 to have the strap straightened at Wigg’s in Newmarket.
Now would I go back to Naples?
Of course. It’s a wonderful city with marvellous museums, Roman sites galore and lots of good food. I had a glorious gluten-free pizza in the Umberto restaurant. And that’s just the city itself.
On the trip in June this year, I also visited Pompeii.
Pompeii is south of Naples and is just a few stops on the Circumvesuviana railway.
Pompeii is one of those places, that must be seen. It is a World Heritage Site.
It was then north to Naples.
I love Naples, despite getting mugged in the city on this trip. On a previous trip, I described it as a glorious dump.
Naples is a dump. A glorious dump!
It’s as though everybody has sent their leftovers and rubbish to the city. I know they are still going through the end of a dustmen’s strike or something like that, but there are full bins and rubbish beside them everywhere.
Take the transport system, which actually works extremely well. They have standard buses, bendy buses, electric buses, trolley buses, trams, underground trains, surface commuter trains and funiculars.
I can’t think of anything else that they might want, except for boats. But then they do have ferries to Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast, Capri and other islands, as well as much further afield.
So the city is a transport enthusiast’s delight.
They are also building a new SudMetro to close a gap in the system. According to the signs they started in 2001 and aim to finish in 2012. That makes CrossRail in London look speedy.
I’ve said that signage and maps are good, but not always.
I wanted to get on the trains at Dante, which is one of the central stations. I thought the station might be the one I wanted, but all it had was a large M. Only when I got on the train was I sure I’d got the right station.
But it all adds to life’s rich pattern.
Now I said Naples was a glorious dump, but it still has all of the good Italian shops and an awful lot of little ones with a Neapolitan slant and they are all such a contrast to get inside compared to the chaos outside.
But I like the city.
If I ever wanted to learn Italian properly and perhaps combine that with the cooking course I need, then I’d do it in Naples. It would probably be Italian with a harder edge.
This reminds me that perhaps when I was 18 or 19, I was hitching home to Felixstowe from London and got a lift from an sergeant in the Royal Corps of Transport, who was helping to run the TA in Ipswich. His previous posting had been in Marseilles Docks, where an officer, a sergeant and a few squaddies, helped to unload and chaperone the British Troops who used to exercise on the Lodève plateau.
As befits the Army, they’d sent him on a basic course in French, but he’d really learnt the language in the hardest docks in France. With his large size, powerful build and close cropped hair, he was not a man with whom you would pick an argument.
One day he shared the driving with the officer to Paris for a meeting with the French Ministry of Defence. His appearance and his French meant that when he asked in a bar for a drink, the owner thought the Marseilles version of the Mafia had come to collect their money.
Let’s say that it all ended well.
Note the picture of the sign at the Stazione Toledo.
I also wrote this about the backstreets of Naples.
Was it Peter Sarstedt, who wrote the Backstreets of Naples, with the line, “Where did you go to my lovely?”? (Should that sentence have a double question mark? My father would have known.)
I’d been singing the song and asking that question of myself and about my late wife, as I’d been meandering through those backstreets, in what is one of the most fascinating cities in Europe.
The streets may be dirty, graffiti-strewn, covered in rubbish and blighted by parked cars, but they are alive.
And at the moment that is important to me.
You can call me boring, but I’ve just seen three working Heidelbergs, including two at once! So now we know what happens to them! One I suspect was even older than me!
But the shops are more interesting in a way than Florence or Venice as they sell different things that may or may not be aimed at tourists like me. I have bought a few little presents of paper and clips that I thought simple and sweet. They also fit into my limited luggage space!
In the middle of it all is the Duomo, which is magnificent in a light marble, with all of the usual art and total excess. But why oh why, do they have electric candles where you put money in a slot and a light goes on? Now that is really tacky and not worthy of the rest of the cathedral.
But I also bought a cappuccino for a euro in a little cafe in those back streets. It was delicious.
Naples is a World Heritage Site.
Solfatara is a strange volcanic area that I visited near Pozzuoli.
I think it is true to say that most will not visit the area. But if you want to, just take the Metro from Naples to Puzzuoli and then walk up the hill. Don’t wear your best clothes, as Solfatara is not too dirty, but the trains are.