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John Palcewski's Journal

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I sit at W. H. Auden's Table

It’s named, appropriately enough, Bar Maria. In the 1950s, Thekla Clark tells us, “Evening life in Forio was centered on The Caffe, where The Table was reserved for Wystan, Chester and their friends….It’s official name was Caffe Internazionale, but I never heard it called anything but Maria’s….

"’Cozy!’ said Wystan.”

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the photo with your face is beautyful, the other one is very interesting.

Nice of you to say, thanks!

The scene with Auden is interesting. What is he wearing on his feet? Are those carpet slippers, and his pasty English ankles exposed, or are those loafers with white socks? And the waitress (Maria?)- still wearing the vamp hair-do of her youth, a third of a century later. They both look a bit displaced.

Those are his "saint slippers," I imagine. St. Restituta, a very real figure here in Forio, arrived during the reign of Roman Emperor Valerian. She'd been tortured to make her renounce her faith, but she refused. They put her in a burning boat at the mainland near Napoli, and she died praying in the flames, while the boat sailed on to Forio. It's said she miraculously came back to life and stepped ashore. Gino, my former landlord, works in his mother's business: "Restituta Botique." Auden loved the story, and referred to her as "Dear S.R." because the saint's intervention was sought for sexual or intellectual problems. Wystan, of course, had more of the former than the latter.

Great. I love those moments where you are where they were.

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