A long, long time ago when I was single and living in London, I was friendly with a guy who did a lot of business travel. One day he announced that he was going to Rome and he asked me what I would like him to bring back for me from Italy. Not wishing to appear too materialistic (while beautiful leather handbags, scarves and perfumes flashed through my mind), I told him that anything would be lovely. So off he went on his travels. When he returned, he was clearly very excited by his gift. He led me by the hand into a darkened room where, sitting on the table in all its shining coloured light glory, was this.
This is what it looks like when it is not in a darkened room. (Who said the Italians don't do kitsch.)
My first reaction was to think that he was joking and I laughed which obviously was the worst thing I could have done as he was then quite hurt and thought I didn't like his gift. I then had to try to cover my tracks and said I was laughing because I was so happy. How pathetic was that!
Needless to say, the relationship didn't last long. However La Gondola came back with me to Australia where it has been lying in my camphor chest ever since. Every once in a while, and always at the insistence of either Melissa or Mandy, it had to be brought out, the lights were dimmed, La Gondola was plugged in and then greeted by howls of laughter. Any new boyfriend who came to the house had to be shown La Gondola and told the story and most large family gatherings usually included a viewing.
I had not looked at it for years until recently Mandy suggested that the littlest one might enjoy looking at it and so out it came.
From its elegant prow
to its sumptuous interiors
and dashing gondolier, it is all class.
Over the years I have thrown away so many things that I now regret not having kept, many of them much more valuable than La Gondola and I wonder that it has survived for so long. I suppose you can't really throw out something which has provided so much mirth for so many years and so I think it will go back into the camphor chest to await its next viewing and spontaneous howls of laughter.
I wonder if my old friend could have had any idea of just how much his gift would be enjoyed over such a long time. How bad do I feel now for laughing at it all those years ago.