We all know that Venice is a city with canals instead of roads. But nothing, I mean nothing, prepares you for the Real Thing.
By the way, Ravenna, further South, was a canal-surrounded city when Venice was still an unoccupied marsh.
Life revolves around the canals. Absolutely everything has to be delivered by boat, then transferred on to large trollies to be rapidly pushed through the narrow lanes and up and down the bridge steps by hunky, tattooed porters with bulging muscles.
I saw a large red fridge and a huge marble bath in shop windows and I wondered how on earth – I mean on water – did they get them there?!
Our dustmen have to drag plastic bins along and hook them up to a lorry that tips them up and empties all the rubbish.
Imagine piling up bin bags, all smelly from the hot sun, onto a trolley, pushing it through the streets, dropping the bin bags and the trolley onto a boat, then unloading them again somewhere else.
Our climate is apparently altering due to Global Warming and Britain is regularly suffering terrible floods.
So how would we cope if London became the New Venice?
Passengers transferring from the airport on the water taxis, known as Vaporettos, wouldn’t just be allowed to walk up a gangplank carrying their luggage. The gangplank would have to be firmly fixed and fitted with a handrail. There would be ‘Please wear a mask’, ‘Mind your head’ and ‘Mind the steps’ signs everywhere. An announcement in four languages would be made before the boat departed; ‘Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Welcome on board this Vaporetto. We will be leaving in five minutes and our journey will take approximately 50 minutes. Will you please fasten your seat belts and remain seated for the duration of the journey.. Please don’t stand up to take photos or admire the scenery. When you leave please make sure that you take all your luggage with you. Make sure that you read the card with the safety details in the pocket in front of your seat. There will now be a demonstration of how to use the lifejackets….’ Blahdy-blahdy-blah.
Gondoliers would have to wear hard hats instead of straw boaters in case they hit their heads on low bridges, and gloves so that the poles don’t hurt their hands. Luminous yellow jackets must be worn while gondolas are in motion. No singing or accordion-playing would be permitted in the gondolas any more due to complaints in certain residential areas.
Passengers must wear lifejackets, hard hats and seatbelts. They would have to listen to a five-minute talk on ‘What to do if Your Gondola Runs into Trouble’, and sign a disclaimer.
Double yellow lines would be painted along historical walls so that workers could only moor their boats in certain areas where parking metres have been roughly concreted into the ground. The transferring of goods from boats to trolleys would be limited to five minutes to avoid congestion.
The trolleys must have a flashing light on the top and make a loud beeping noise.
Porters would only be allowed to carry two boxes at once to avoid personal injury, and never stacked on top of each other in case one falls off and injures a passing pedestrian.
Steel-capped boots and industrial gloves must be worn at all times.
Due to sexual equality, women porters would be allowed, but as the work would be far too hard and demanding for them, all bridges would have to be fitted with stair-lifts, and special trolley lanes would be painted pink to avoid weaving through all the tourist groups.
Only a maximum of six months’ sick leave would be allowed for damaged ligaments, backache, sore throats and stress caused by shouting at people to get out of the way.
Every historical bridge would have to have wide concrete ramps for the disabled. The cement must be mixed elsewhere and transported from the mooring-bay four streets away. Masks must be worn while carrying it and the pavement roped off with large warning signs.
All the steps and every canal must have white-painted edges, and strong high barriers to prevent drunks and old ladies from toppling in the water.
Warning signs would be clearly displayed everywhere to warn people that they’re approaching water and that swimming is forbidden.
Suitably-dressed Water Wardens wearing life jackets would whiz around in small motor boats, slapping tickets on illegally-moored boats.
Councils all over the country would regularly hold expensive lunches and dinners to discuss Health and Safety, cutbacks, and plans to stop historic Britain from sinking.
But before any decisions were made, I think Britain would completely sink under all the red tape and paperwork, don’t you?