Anything more than six reader emails usually causes my inbox to pulsate with anxiety, like a sporran during Comic Relief. So you can imagine the strain under which my account had to operate last weekend, after my shock exposé about the seeming inability of motorists in the Italian city of Naples to get from A to B without filling the A&E.
I was expecting much in the way of expat Neapolitan indignation (dead weasels on my doorstep, sandpaper in my toilet paper), but your digital response was far more cappuccino than espresso. Frothy, not bitter.
By and large, my Italian readers seem to be happy that my new wife and I managed to escape from that terrifying metropolis by the very goose pimples on the skin of our teeth (although I would suggest the fact that we did must be testament to my driving skills, which made Lewis Hamilton look like Louis XIV sitting on his golden toilet).
Chief among the positive first responders was Mario Zeppetelli. Although he may sound like Sorrento's third-best Robert Plant tribute act, I reproduce his email below in its entirety, just because I can…
Sir: May I just say how much I've enjoyed reading about your driving experiences in Naples. Can I just add, that it's not just Naples, but places like Catania in Sicily, too. Do you not find, though, that after driving in Italy for a couple of weeks, once you return to the UK, driving is kind of, well, boring? After what you've experienced abroad, British drivers who cut you up or pull out in front of you are all just lightweights. I really enjoy the first few days driving in the UK and if anything, it makes me a better driver!
PS: Have you ever driven in Portugal? Now THAT is an experience!
I must agree with Mario. Although not about Portugal. Last weekend we drove to the Cotswolds to again dog-sit our friend's Irish terrier, Myrtle (see In The Red, 7 July).
Normally, escaping London on the M25 is an experience as unsettling as finding a severed thumb in your Eton Mess, but given that I had negotiated the Amalfi Coast's fabled Road of a Thousand Panic Attacks… sorry, Bends, nothing the anti-clockwise southern half of London's so-called Magic Roundabout could throw at me caused the slightest wobble.
I was a picture of relaxation; skilled like never before; deft of touch and wholly chilled. In fact, the only time the overwhelming sense of calm evaporated was when we had to stop for a bite to eat and my wife realised that the services didn't have a KFC.