Olives and red wine

29.9.2012 | 22:20

I met Suzanna at the cemetery today.

I was sitting on the bench eating a carrot when I heard her come up and say hello. She was bringing gladioli to her late husband, Vincenzo Ravalese. I only ever meet Suzanna here. We chatted, and she told me she’d just come back from a short stay in Crete with an old friend, Pat, also recently widowed. It had been so warm, and her trip to the ancient civilisation at Cnossos so absorbing, that she hadn’t wanted to come home. In the late warm evenings there, there had been black olives, and warm bread, and soft cheese, and wine, the essence of Mediterranean joy. Even our late evening sun streaming through the branches of the oak tree seemed warmed by her stories, and I asked her how she’d met Vincenzo. He’d been working in a hospital in Brookwood in the sixties, where she was a nurse, and had swept her off her feet, a romance that lasted forty years. I think we’d been chatting an hour or so when more steps crunched up the gravel path, and it was Tony, who in a previous visit had brought me that thirst quenching bottle of lemonade when I’d been dehydrated. So I told him how I’d talked to his mother Antonia the other week, which of course she’d already told him about. The late sun shone more, we laughed and talked, and eventually we said our goodbyes as Tony went to visit his late father, and Suzanna arranged the gladioli for Vincenzo. I had joked with Suzanna that her stories of Crete had put me in a holiday mood, and we laughed again.

So this evening, for late dinner, it has been homemade bread with olive oil, and black olives, and soft cheese, and red wine. A little remembrance of a Mediterranean island I’ve never been to, and a little toast to Frances, and Vincenzo, and George Frederick.

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