Incomincia la settima, nella quale, sotto il reggimento di Dioneo, si ragiona delle beffe, le quali per amore o per salvamento di loro le donne hanno già fatto à suo mariti, senza essersene avveduti o sì.
Day seven and, well, I feared this one. I knew Dioneo would throw the mother of all curve balls. Dioneo, a character that – critics and researches say – has the most of Boccaccio in him, with that name so echoing of Dionysus, god of pleasure, wine and madness. The most dissolute, the most rock ‘n’ roll of the ten. If this was a film he’d be bound to be played by a young Johnny Depp, for the topic of this day could only come from somebody with the face and eyes of a young JD: pranks, jests, cruel jokes played by ladies on their men.
The ten stories, in Decameron, are an artillery barrage of wily ladies using humour, brains, magic and superstition to outwit their (not particularly smart) husbands to save the bacon of their lovers. Is this something that has ever happened to me? Well, not being a particularly smart man how in the world would I know? Eventually, I landed on a story. Who knows, maybe Dioneo would’ve liked it.
Scotland is an unforgiving lady. Years ago, when I was following a project in the outskirts of Glasgow, I used to fly in to find, in those fleeting moments before landing, a magical land bathed in the sweetest golden light of sunsets up north. Dark blue lochs traded places with rust-red ferns, whilst dense carpets of green forests ran up to the feet of ancient mountains shaped by the actions of long-gone glaciers.
It truly felt like the promised land, a mixture of everything I yearned for and couldn’t – for reasons of time and money – grasp. The interplay of water and land of Norway. The wilds of Patagonia. The remote cliffs of the Putorana plateau. All at the price of a 50-minute flight from London.
Then one day at the fag end of this winter, as travel bans began dropping like VIP names at a wannabe dinner party, we got there. We would’ve gone there quicker had it not been for Britain’s stupidly low speed limits (seriously guys, 70mph? and average speed cameras?).
Scotland opened up her treasure chest as our plucky rental car buzzed through the border and deeper into the Highlands, revealing all I’d seen in those moments when the crew has already sat down for landing, and much more.
Only to hide everything behind a curtain of rain.
At times, without warning, Scotland would lift the screens and reveal landscapes that needed only Björk to pass as Icelandic. But that would last only for a minute; with a sonorous laugh, Scotland would send out some more hail, some more fog to blind us.
It should’ve been easy to give up, turn the car and head for home where, as friends were saying, the sun shone and riverside pubs were open. But I was by then hooked, dangling down Scotland’s line without even the will to trash about.
So out again we went, persevering on treks that went farther, longer, through bogs and mud and rocks, lashed by the winds and rain and hail, to try and catch a glimpse of her. Sometimes, every now and then, she’d have pity on us before the inevitable rebuff.
Still, I find it hard to hold a grudge against Scotland. Much like the protagonists of today’s stories, it’s impossible to be mad at her. Also because… but that’s for another time.
As per the original Decameron, Friday and Saturday are dedicated to other things than storytelling. Though I won’t spend Friday in penitence and I wash more than once a week, I’ll be taking a breather and will be back Sunday.