Autumn is about to come and today it’s raining in Milan. Rain makes this town comfortably uglier and, although I can’t say that I hate rainy days, I do hate rain and wind together (as much as I love sunny and windy days in an urban landscape in the morning, so that if it existed that would be my idea of a paradise). However, I would like this weather much more if I weren’t forced to go out and could instead enjoy it at home, when my flat is full of shadows making it snug. I can move around like a cat and ignore the world outside. My flat becomes a uterus, which is my ideal of a home: a place you can creep back into and be blessed with delightful forgetfulness.
I had to go out, though, and let me praise the beauty of all those who use their bicycles even in the rain. I met some while I was cycling myself and felt they were my friends and my brothers (or my sisters: one, indeed, was a woman wearing a yellow plastic overcoat). Frail humans about to drown in a rough sea made of metal, concrete, noise. It’s a form of resistance: we are very few and on such occasions as today I feel as if I were a Dane or a Dutch. (Do you know that Dutch song which goes like this: “Hoe sterk is de eenzame fietser die kromgebogen tegen de wind zichzelf een weg baant”? Cycling as a metaphor of the strength of an individual who, bent on the handlebar, finds his way through the wind whipping his face – and the rain lashing his spectacles).
I went to the post office and coming out of it I stumbled into one of my neighbours. It’s a very old man who looks like a dried up prune: he must be eighty-five or older. He’s quite skinny and he’s always wearing a beret and dark sunglasses – even when the sun is not shining, like today. He’s deaf and when he speaks to other people he always shouts without catching their words. He very much looks like the main figure of one of Pirandello’s short stories, the one about the iettatore, the bearer of ill-luck (of course I don’t think or claim he’s a iettatore, but whenever I meet him I can’t but think of that story and of the film with Totò taken from it). The only strange thing is that I keep on stumbling into him whenever I go out: a couple of days ago I saw him at the local supermarket, asking in a loud voice where he could find some coffee, and when a couple of weeks ago I was having breakfast in the café just around the corner with my Swiss guest he was there too, trying to use a public payphone with no success. My theory is that he has a livelier social life than me, so that’s the reason why I keep on seeing him everywhere. Sometimes I think that a gaoler has more contacts with the world than I have and when I do leave my desk I feel guilty because I actually ought to be rattling away on my keyboard: if only I believed in what I do, that would be a progress.