In honour of Dante
I signed books at Witney Waterstone's with Rhiannon, Mark Robson and Sarah Singleton, whom I hadn't met before. It was quite fun, even the moment when I asked an obviously teenage boy if he was interested in teenage books and he said no thank you very vehemently!
The edits for Troubadour arrived today and I must be pretty nippy in the turnaround, since I'm teaching in Wales at the end of the month and need to start City of Ships on my return. With that in mind I spent three days in Ravenna, of which more below.
I heard/saw a concert performance of Messiaen's opera St Francis at the Proms. It wasn't really an opera at all, ore of an oratorio, with some very good moments. I'm glad to have done it but it hasn't realy permeated.
I saw the US Open final between Roger Federer and Andy Murray, paying a month's sunscription to Sky Sports for the privilege but it was a bit of a let down and I wish I had done it a few days earlier to see Murray beat Nadal.
I also saw mosaics at San Vitale, Galla Placidia, Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Sant'Apollinare in Classe and the Arian and Neonian Baptisteries in Ravenna. I was particularly knocked out by the baptisteries and Galla Placidia because there are no ghastly baroque additions - just gorgeous early, early self-contained little treasure-houses.
And I saw someone demonstrating mosaic techniques and bought loads of books and CD-Roms.
We also saw, most movingly, the annual Florentine tribute of oil to keep the lamp burning above Dante's tomb, last Sunday, which was the anniversary of his death. The Florentines treated him abominably while he was alive and will have to keep doing this for many more centuries to wipe out that shame. They asked the Ravennans for the body back and they said the Italian equivalent of "on yer bike!"
Which reminds me, the "pedestrian centre" of Ravenna is awash with bikes, which are as perilous and annoying as the scooters of Florence or Rome.