A typical autumn day. Coldish. Dampish. With sunshine enjoy at lunchtime and a tittery little breeze to snaffle the leaves off the trees.
Now I know what it's like to live in a house where the building work never seems to finish, but unlike me, Sarah Winchester didn't want the round-the-clock work to come to an end, and in fact she was able to perpetuate it for 38 years. The house is a labyrinth of corridors, secret passageways and apartments. There are numerous chimneys, turrets and towers. There are staircases that go nowhere, doors that open onto blank walls, windows that open, not onto the outside, but into yet another corridor. The house has 2,000 doors, 10,000 windows, 47 fireplaces, 13 bathrooms and 6 kitchens. The whole stands as a weird monument to a woman convinced that her actions could fend off the inevitable.
And so it is here in Carmine. Not with the restoration of this big old house, even though I'm sure there is the odd Winchester or two on the premises. And not with the infestation of vengeful spirits, although after spending Hallowe'en alone here last night, I do wonder.
I'm talking about the laundry.
Yes, the laundry.
Laundry, laundry everywhere. My house is full - and is always full - of laundry at all stages of the process. In the dirty baskets and the clean baskets. Wet laundry of every size, shape and colour hanging from every available hanger - and believe me, I collect laundry horses the way Sarah Winchester collected tradesmen.
What I'm getting to is this. Do you think that if I ever got through the laundry...such that there is not a single sock languishing under a bed, nor a single pair of shreddies hanging limply from the washing line, nor a single shirt in the queue for the starch...if I ever got through the laundry, do you think something dreadful might happen?
Might a great tsunami whip across Lago Maggiore and drown us all? Might Monte Carza suddenly erupt, burying us all in ash and preserving us for posterity? Might this 1,000-year-old house come crashing down around my ears? Might the dead buried not 50 metres away in the piazetta by the church rise up and engulf us?
Might the world come to an end? ...
Tell you what. If I promise not to risk the end of the world by finishing the laundry, will you promise not to look sideways at the overflowing ironing baskets next time you come to my house?
It's a deal.