I soon worked out that Stromboli's caravan was a realm set apart from the outside world. In there was peace and calm. In there was music and beauty. Stromboli loved his music and, being generous, he was not selfish with his pleasure.
It was here that I first discovered the glories of the Enigma Variations, Handel's Water Music and, my own personal favourite, Saint Saen's Carnival of the Animals.
Stromboli, as I think I have already said, greatly enjoyed reading aloud and so I was introduced to the wonders of F. Scott (Come back, come back o glittering and white) Fitzgerald's luminous prose and so many of the great classics. It was a mystery to me how all of that heart tugging beauty could be wrought from that ugly, confused place on the other side of the caravan door.
The only thing that I didn't like was that wretched little glass box that sat, bug eyed, in the corner. The main reason that I didn't like it was the effect that it had on my friend. It seemed that every time that he switched it on gloom settled on him like a mantel - usually because of some new evidence of the world's wickedness as explained on the latest news.
It might be something earth shattering or something relatively unimportant but, if it touches a nerve, the effect is much the same.
He marches up and down the length of the caravan fulminating against the ways of the world and then sits down to compose an email to be sent to some newspaper, broadcaster, M.P. or other on the subject in question.
For most of us this sort of behaviour would very quickly exhaust us but Stromboli cannot rest until he has righted the "wrong" - even if only on paper. HE is exhausted until he does so!
Last Saturday, however, it was the Radio, not the T.V., that had my friend wearing out the carpet.
Some dour Scots writer called A.L.Kennedy who, incidentally, is no oil painting herself, was having a "go" at Susan Boyle, the You Tube singing sensation. Kennedy was being all post modern and "Sunday Supplement Clever" about her "victim" and her looks and I could see my dear friend getting more and more worked up. After listening for a while and before the steam started to come out of his ears he switched the contraption off so violently I feared that the nob might come off in his hand.
He strode up and down the length of the caravan, as is his custom, cursing a world which cannot accept the beauty of a voice such as hers without questioning the packaging or attempting to qualify it in some way.
He worried for the lady herself and worried that the wretched media, having built her up, would soon be dragging her down again.
We listened to her sing a few more times on You Tube and every time we did he got more and more angry that people couldn't just accept this wonderful gift with gratitude.
He then spent a tortured hour composing a letter to The Times and then, happily, the anger faded away. His self administered therapy had worked once again and the sun, once more, shone in our little world.
Nuts, whole hazelnuts....
6 months ago