A River Without Banks

Ponte Vecchio

There is a river bridge in Florence called the Ponte Vecchio that is lined either side with buildings – antique or art emporia rubbing shoulders with up-market tourist traps together with the head office of the Bank of Italy seated within a spandrel segment of the bridge, a business concern that many feared was teetering upon more than just a metaphorical ‘fiscal cliff’.

Less up-market — in fact decidedly down-market both metaphorically and literally — were further buildings beneath the bridge itself and then along the artery flow’s own riparian territoriality of snaking’s course and current. These represented the residue of Berlusconi’s country but all that the idle tourist like you could imagine seeing from the bridge were tiny roofs where hobbits might live. Indeed, along both sides of the river — if you LOOKED hard enough or, as some say, DREAMED hard enough — were a group of low abodes and side-by-side corner shops selling dubious artefacts for even more dubious customers. No banks in sight.

I lived in one of these low abodes just within sight of the Ponte Vecchio that, as an edifice in its own right, was almost vanishing around a bend in the river near the Uffizi. I didn’t know I lived in that abode since I was one of those people I mentioned earlier who said you needed to DREAM rather than simply LOOK at us river folk. So I, I presumed, dreamed of myself. And that self I dreamed needed to reciprocate so as to keep the bargain of existence, a bargain so much stronger than the bargain of currency, a river’s or a bank’s.

You see, however trite, I dreamed the dreamer dreaming me.

In the corner shop next door to my low abode, they sold memories in jars, like old-fashioned sweets, sugar candy, sherbet lemons, spangles, fruit gums, stickjaws et al. Of course, I never could resist that shop. You see, when I was a real boy in real boy trousers rather than a dreamed-of hobbit or billy-goat gruff, I actually did live next door to a shop, one that sold things that would only become memories after I myself became older. They were real things once upon a time – in your face – up front – the mechanics in which I could see tangible cogs moving.

Today, though, in Europe, there was a big storm, a big crisis in confidence. In its aftermath, I predict the river regained its bank – but was one bank enough to create a river or actually to make money worth more than the paper it was printed on? Like this electronic transaction of a story.

Pity I was no longer strong enough to DREAM or LOOK. Or perhaps I was, am … dead. You don’t need money if you’re dead.

I did somehow manage to watch Berlusconi, older than ever, walking along the now empty bridge, a canvas at the Uffizi now potentially dreamier than ever. Perhaps he was looking for a good looker, for eye candy he hoped to buy.

If you fit, wear yourself.

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