Everybody has gone away in a long-awaited holiday or it’s busy packing toothbrushes and clean swimming suits in square luggage. Summer is beautiful, summer brings hope and relief to the working class, right? So the prospect of being stuck in Northampton seems as much lonely as the sight of an ugly potato thrown with disgust in the corner of the kitchen. But – lo and behold! – Sunday evening I received a mysterious call. Unknown number. From the other end of the line a woman’s voice was shouting in the microphone as if she was partially deaf. “Dan, is that you?”. “Yes, it’s me”. “You know who this is?”. At first I thought of a deus ex machina that is going to fetch me out of this sordid Sunday injected with loneliness and feed me strawberries on a deserted beach, pour me milk and vodka in tall glasses and rub my belly with honey. “It’s Ricarda”. Ricarda is a girl I met approximately three years ago when my plane landed for the first time in Britain. My loneliness was still back then as ugly as a potato, but she cut it in tiny pieces and threw them in a pan and made out if them french fries that I deliciously swallowed with ketchup and mozzarella . “Come tomorrow to Oxford. I moved to Oxford.” Say no more.
The morning train came to a halt at Oxford Rail Station. There a blond Ricarda was waiting smilingly.
“We’re going to shopping first, OK?” Si, segniora. We entered a liquor store that smelled of coconut powder. “You’ll help me choose!”, Ricarda said while I definitely decided that this is the best shopping spree to go with with a woman. Two bottles of white wine and a bottle of cognac plus a small chocolate liqueur. We went out. On the way to a nearby park, I found out that Ricarda had a boyfriend and she recently broke up with him, a reason why she was feeling under water – better feel under wine when the pressure is too much for your cork. After we had a whole bottle of white wine under the scorching sun, we galloped as two Cherokee with red faces to her hut in search of precious ice and shelter.
At her apartment we opened the second bottle, when somebody started knocking at the door. Sheer panic in her eyes. Did I say somebody knocked at the door? Somebody was trying to smash the door. When she opened the door, a rather small brown character (her ex boyfriend of course) appeared at the threshold holding a Asda bag in his hand. Quiet as a mouse, I transferred my body into the adjoining room while my mind was still in the living room with Ricarda and the small brown man. After a few minutes of fairly decent talk, a threatening silence broke in and then I heard glasses crackling and something heavy hitting the floor. “Not the cognac”, I hoped. I hurried into the living room where the small man was lying on the floor with his whole body trembling and his face into a contortion of grief and delirium. I’ve seen people suffering because of love before but never in my life have I seen a more tormented Romeo! “He’s having a epileptic seizure”, cried Ricarda . It lasted for more than 10 minute. We called the ambulance. The staff promised that we will be called us later to keep us updated. The bottle of the cognac was still untouched on the table and it was reflecting the gleams of the neon with a warm indifference.
After the whole commotion at Ricarda’s, people started to fill in. Oxford students and graduates. I found myself packed in a small apartment full of people that can quote Shakespeare and Milton as easily as they can name alcohol brands. I went out to a shop with some fellows from Oxford that didn’t have the chance to hear my dramatic interpretation of Dante’s Divina Comedia when – left behind without my phone – I got lost in a big park: “In the middle of the journey of our life I found myself within a dark woods where the straight way was lost” (Dante, Inferno). After 10 minutes of lamentation, I ended up in a McDonalds where I crammed down my throat chips that felt like plastic inside me. Finally I got to Ricarda’s place and what followed cannot be put into words – it was a night full of anarchic beauty that will remain in my memory for ever.
At the end of the night I fell into a sleep heavy with alcohol. I dreamed I was taking the train to a beach where some friends were waiting for me. Soon as I got off the train an ocean was laying open and blue in front of me. The sand under my feet was soft and hot. I tried to take off my clothes but they were too heavy and too many: there were 5 shirts on me. The panic was over me. I fell when I tried to get rid of my trousers. I shouted for help and soon after my friends came and undressed me. Liberated and elated I plunged into water. My friends were giggling behind me and when I looked back their naked bodies were shining under the cloudless sky – they were ready to join me. While I was waiting for them, I bent over and took a handful of sand from the bottom of the ocean and lifted to my noise: it smelled like salt and baked potatoes.