Umbria: Give Me a Minute, Will You?

MikeachimItaly22 Comments

Right now, I’m lost in time.

I’m stood on a hillside. Heat hisses, in a way I remember from my Cypriot childhood (aha! I’m in the Mediterranean). Everything smells fresh in a way household cleaning products never could.

Somebody is picking asparagus – not out of a tin – out the ground.

I’m on an EasyJet flight. We’re heading in for landing – clots of sunlit cloud tumbling past, and we lurch – and I’m on another EasyJet flight, with the rain pulsing against the window like a washing-machine on a rinse cycle. I’m somewhat tense. The floor is moving from side to side, taking us with it. Is it meant to do that? Someone please tell me it’s meant to do that…


Moving lazily against a sky so blue it’s obviously fake. Has to be fake.

….it’s fake, right?

Now I’m in front of a lot of people, and I’m pacing back and forth. I have a script in my hand. It’s not in my head, it’s in my hand, and while I kinda hate that right now, I also know it’s an opportunity to say exactly what I meant when I wrote it. I just hope these people aren’t looking to me for, you know, answers. All I have are questions. If they walk away with the same questions, the same curiosity about storytelling that I was feeling when I wrote that script, then I’ll be a very happy…


That’s what I’ll be if you guys keep bringing out this wine. Admittedly, it’s incredibly good wine, and to my surprise I’m starting to notice subtle difference and tones in each sample (me! I know!) – but things are getting pretty warm and fuzzy in here. Give me a minute, ‘kay?

What…what are you saying?

You’re “Oregonian“?

Isn’t that some kind of herb?

Rumble rumble rumble clank goes the funicular, dragging us higher and higher. I look back. It’s like the credits of Doctor Who┬ábeing played backwards. (Slowly). There’s a lot of people in this car, nearly all of them carrying cameras. One of them has a particularly large camera – I decide he’s some kind of leader. Or massive show-off.

The car straightens out, we slow down and…

I’m not in England, am I? It’s the little signs. For example, the availability of actual food, out in the open, unashamedly.

Oh. What? For….for me?

There’s something really interesting going on here, and it’s this – simplicity. I’m tasting individual ingredients. My palate isn’t being pounded into submission by a broadside of flavours. It’s just A, and B, with a little bit of C to provide contrast. And it works because A, B and C are themselves incredibly complicated tastes.

My brain is having problems with this. It’s like opening a wardrobe and finding Narnia.


Now I’m in Narnia.

HEY. What, do I look stupid? OK, don’t answer that, but my point is – I’m not drinking that.

I’m not drinking that because the bottle is surrounded by cork. This is one of Mother Nature’s Warning Signs, like yellow & black strips, or a microphone in front of Sarah Palin. It signifies a clear & present danger to the fabric of the universe.

I’m not going anywhere near that sucker.

Well…maybe just a bit.

Well, she seems very happy, whoever she is.

Now there’s some kind of massive party going on, and I’m covered in stickers. Kate, what does it all mean? I put my drink down and…

You know, I could get used to it round here.


I’m back in East Yorkshire, planning my next move, catching up on work and getting used to the fact that I don’t really live anywhere anymore. I’m feeling unanchored. Let loose. My mind is skipping back and forth, unable to process everything in order, grabbing handfuls.

The last 2 weeks have been intense, and I’m sorting them through.

I can’t be sure right now, not until I’ve written everything up properly – but it seems I had an incredible time.

All photos: Mike Sowden.