Related Topics
BUON GIORNO. Actually, I mean the other one, the one for afternoon. What is it? I can never remember. Anyway, greetings from Umbria, which is in Italy, very near Tuscany and every bit as good, no matter what anyone says. In fact my brother's house, where I'm staying for the next two weeks, is so near the Tuscan border that I sometimes refer to it as Tuscany. What's the difference? It's all Italy.

The Tuscan way of life is, for someone of my temperament, very easy to slip in to. As the hot sun beats down outside and a gentle breeze stirs the lavender and rosemary beside the open door, I have been all week sitting in the relative coolness of this quaint farmhouse kitchen, eating a bit of rough bread, drinking a glass or two of vino rosso locale and watching the snooker on Sky Sports 2. In this atmosphere, the complicated, fast-paced, ugly world of Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky, one-day cricket and a 2.6 per cent underlying rate of inflation seems far away indeed, no matter how many times a day I hear about it on CNN.

When you think about it, it seems odd that I can spend all day lying around eating and drinking as much as I please, and still get paid to rap out 750-800 words about what I did on my summer holidays, even though I'm not doing anything at all. Quite a scam! Not for the first time, I fancy, my regular readers are left wishing that they were me. Here at the Castello dello Mellow, as I call my brother's place, the living is easy, the pace is slow, and everything, including Oprah, starts an hour later.

Of course, as I mentioned last Sunday, I'm also supposed to be helping out with my brother's kids, but so far they've been no trouble. There was a bit of a scare on Tuesday when Ruby fell into the pool while I was asleep on the lawn, but luckily my brother's wife was just a few hundred yards away and heard her screams. Since then I haven't really had to look after them on my own, which is lucky since I've had some really criminal hangovers this past week. It seems that my brother now feels he wants to spend a little quality time with his children, which is lovely, but I hope he realises that he has to pay me anyway. A deal's a deal, after all. It's hardly my fault that his nanny can't travel because she's an illegal alien.

In fact, I don't understand why he's making such a big deal about a measly hundred quid (280,000 lira, approx); it's not as if he'll miss it. Fortunately for him, I have decided to adopt a Tuscan "what, me worry?" attitude to the whole business. In my experience these things usually work themselves out. My brother and I have certainly had bigger arguments than last night's.

Speaking of people who aren't speaking to me, my girlfriend Julie (not her real name) never did call, or e-mail, or anything, despite my direct and heartfelt pleas for contact in last Sunday's column. This is perhaps not surprising, since I found out from her mother (I do my Ned Sherrin voice, so she doesn't know it's me) that Julie is in Italy herself, staying with whatsisname and his parents! It's such an extraordinary coincidence that I can't help thinking that it isn't a coincidence at all, but fate's timely intervention. For a while I even imagined that I might run into her in the local village, where, of course, I would just say buon giorno, warmly but coolly, without taking off my sunglasses. A chance encounter seems unlikely, however, as the place where she's staying is right the other end of Tuscany. According to the map it's nearly 60 miles away, and there are only two buses a day, one at 10:17 and one at 3:44. I think I'll play it by ear. I don't want to do anything rash or foolish unless I can be sure it will seem endearing. For now it's important to stay cool, or conservare in luogo fresco, as the Italians say. In the meantime there's plenty of sun, plenty of wine, a bag of slightly weird Italian crisps and a classic episode of M*A*S*H starting in 12 minutes.

I could rattle on like this for several more hundred words, but I hear my brother's Mondeo coming down the track. They're back from Urbino, so I think I'd better grab a few beers and go to my room. Ciao!

Wallace Arnold is away.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yvette Cooper campaigning in London at the launch of Labour’s women’s manifesto  

I want the Labour Party to lead a revolution in family support

Yvette Cooper
Liz Kendall  

Labour leadership contest: 'Moderniser' is just a vague and overused label

Steve Richards
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine