The hotel is full. The front desk people are very warm but the waiting staff look askance at us. We probably appear rather rough whereas every hotel staff in Venice has been specially trained in case Mr & Mrs Clooney drop by. I’m more George Burns than George Clooney.
We ask for afternoon tea. Our hotel sadly betrays it’s common roots by using tea bags. We hunt in vain for a strainer. The milk jug is chipped. The terrace adjoins the water front prom but is padlocked to keep hoi poloi at bay. Pigeons flutter expectantly onto empty tables, unaware of the bird flu risk. There is a Venetian in a dhoti to chase them off. The pigeon-wallah. The waitress spoils the aloof veneer by dropping Mrs. Ha’s order on the ground. Embarrassment kicks in and we don’t rub her pretty little nose in it. The pigeons think it is Christmas as they pounce. The replacement order is a high quality, over-generous portion.
It may not have the best china but Venice has been discovered by the mainland Chinese and every waiter can say ni hao and xie xie. And no more. That is enough as unfortunately Mrs. Ha is Cantonese and cold shoulders the gratuitous insult that assumes every Asian is from the PRC. The staff return to a less inflammatory language and address us in English. I consider being difficult and feigning a lack of comprehension. But I don’t.
Long trains follow the red flag with five stars. Always the stragglers dashing to keep up. Time for another selfie? I must buy that umbrella, the gondolier’s boater and the carnival mask. Can’t go home without a genuine slice of Venetian life. Their tour schedule includes a gondola trip. They pile in. Some get a song thrown in. Just one vaporetto. At the Ponte della Paglia a sad girl plays the accordion. In three days we only hear her play Que sera sera. The tourists hurry by to gaze on the Bridge of Sighs. I’m more Sospan Fach than Sospiri.
Soon it will be time to return home. So we must make the most of our last day. But the only thing I can hear in my mind is……….Que sera sera.