A Game of Spillikins

Jan Windle

With a metallic rattle and a screeching, grinding, roaring rumble like a thousand faulty supermarket trolleys, the train passes within an inch of where my hammock is slung on the station platform. Overnight, it has gradually taken on the contour of the inside of a drainpipe.

I don't need an alarm clock here at the Hotel d'Anna. The first train came through on the dot of seven am. By 7.30 the activity dies down a little, replaced by restless city background noise: clanging metal sounds suggesting a giant game of spillikins being played with RSJ girders somewhere nearby; urgent male voices calling instructions; the roar and nasal hooting of the traffic. Somewhere someone is hammering a nail into a wall and a cleaner has begun to sweep the corridor outside, banging the broom against the walls and, by the sound of it, a metal bucket. The trains arriving and departing every five minutes or so add an unpleasant counterpoint to this rhythmic feast.

You learn - never mind Feng Shui. Just check the orientation of your hotel room to the railway line before you book.

Jan Windle trained as a fine artist at the Central School of Art and Design (1966-9), then went to the London University Institute of Education for a postgraduate course in teaching (1969-70). While working as an art teacher, she enrolled in the British Open University and gained a second, academic degree(BA First Class Honours, mainly in Psychology - 1992). In 1981 she went with her husband to Brunei, and in 1983-5 moved to Bangladesh. Jan took up teaching again in 1988. In 2006 she retired. She began visiting the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento and Naples, Italy, in 2004 and now goes there several times a year, mainly to paint and exhibit her work. She has been writing a blog about her experiences in Italy since 2004 and has now begun writing poetry, also published on her blog and on Poemhunter.com.