It’s day nine of my 10-day Italian detox, and I have to admit to feeling seriously blissed out. I’m so relaxed that it actually makes me uncomfortable, it being such a rare thing in my existence. I spoke to my wife and kids on Skype, and watched them bickering away back in my normal existence. I told them to calm down and not talk to each other in that manner. Something in my new spiritual persona jarred with them and they all stopped arguing with each other and stared at the screen.
“What’s wrong with you? Are you having an affair?” inquired my wife steelily.
“Please don’t become a hippy,” pleaded my daughter.
“Dad sounds weird, I don’t like it,” wailed my son.
I’m sure that normal service will soon be resumed in the Joly household once I get back, but at this very moment I am floating on a sea of calm. It took me about three days to get adjusted to the rhythm of this place. I nearly booked a flight home on several occasions as I surveyed the long days ahead, eating very little and with only myself for company. Then I started to enjoy it and feel better. This has been much helped by having numerous Russians here as my fellow guests. Being alone I’ve had loads of time to people-watch.
I have broken them down into two types. The first looks as if he has killed many men, and sits at every meal with a mobile phone to his ear seemingly ordering minions to perform multiple and horrific executions. This type always has a much younger “moll” who sits at the table looking incredibly bored with life.
The other type comes in pairs of men, and seems to have totally misunderstood the detox concept of their chosen destination. They harangue the wonderful waiters and waitresses constantly. “We want change table. We want bread. We want potatoes. We want wine. We want … everything, and here is €10,000 note for you, now go.”
I feel terrible for the fantastically professional staff here at L’Albereta in Lombardy, but they cope with these brutes superbly. Sadly, Russia is where the money is right now, so places like this are forced to rely on the East for business. Soon it will be the Chinese – they are the next expected wave.
Not that most Brits behave any better abroad. The most extreme fasting regime I ever underwent was a couple of years ago in Australia. I spent 17 days in the middle of nowhere with severely limited rations and a very odd assortment of companions.
One was a “health doctor”, but seemed to have more maladies than anybody I’ve ever encountered. She had to have a special chair because of her back, she needed sunglasses because of her weak eyes, she was terrified of the local fauna and insects, and was just about the most unpleasant human being I have ever come across.
Her name, of course, was Gillian McKeith and this was when I was on I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! I lost a stone and a half on that show – and got paid for it. Here in Italy I’m doing the paying, but I’d choose the Russkies any day over another hour with that woman.