Monday, June 13, 2022


 Just a few photos of where I live, in Modica, a Unesco World Heritage Site, from its highest point, the Pizzo.

And what Saturday night is complete without a pizza?  This delicious Ortolana pizza was consumed with pleasure at the smart new Pizzeria S. Antonio , Modica Alta.

Sunday, June 05, 2022


On the occasion of Her Majesty The Queen's Platinum Jubilee, I'm going to begin with another extract from my memoir, A Place Called Siracusa:

I think we must have got the TV for the Coronation and we had red, white and blue flags all over the house in the run-up to it. I dressed up as the Queen and paraded around pretending to be her for what seemed like months and when it was all over I kept asking when the next Coronation would be.

Not until the Queen dies”,

said Auntie Mabel, disappointing me abjectly.

I did not want Her Majesty to die but I couldn't believe I'd have to wait till I was as old as Mum and Dad, or even Auntie Mabel and Grandpa! But meanwhile we had a new, young Queen with a dazzling smile and a year or two later my class at school was taken to watch her drive through Bristol. All we really saw was a flash of the strawberry-coloured suit she was wearing as she passed but we waved our little flags like mad, and afterwards drew excruciating pictures of the occasion for posterity. The Queen was soon to disappoint me again, however and the reason for this was our new, red sofa. I was so happy because it was red, my favourite colour at the time but Dad quickly decided it needed to be covered and covered it was, in heavy, drab material. I cried buckets and asked Grandpa when the covers would come off.

When the Queen comes”, he replied.

I spent months with my nose pressed against my bedroom window, waiting for the Queen to come, but she never did. I've been disillusioned with the monarchy ever since.

Sixty-nine years on and I still don't want the Queen to die. I'm not even a monarchist but I can't imagine the world without her. In a very strange way, which is hard to explain to non-Brits, the Queen has been a part of our lives, though most of us have never met her, many have never seen her at a live event and a large percentage are indifferent to the monarchy, if not against it. I can only explain this sentiment by saying that she perhaps represents the collective memory of the nation. On this particular Jubilee, I am watching the coverage and celebrating in my little way because I believe it is possible to have doubts about the relevance of the monarchy as an institution, whilst maintaining respect for a woman who has always done what she regards as her duty. I also rejoice because, wherever we are, we have had very little to celebrate together for a very long time. I must say that yesterday (2nd June), as I watched the crowd in London walking peacefully to Buckingham Palace, as the people of Britain have, on important national occasions of both joy and sorrow, for generations, I was able to think, “Yes, that is the Britain I remember and the Britain I continue to love.”

In this spirit, then, I wish Her Majesty and the country that made me a very happy Platinum Jubilee. This little rhyme came into my head the other day:

So here's my Coronation Crown

and I paraded up and down,

a “pretend queen”, when I was three,

yet all things pass – and I, and she. 


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