Caption Susan Digby with dinner guests Camera pans along the table to Hugh, lips also moving wordlessly. Jeremy James Duff, travel-writer, broadcaster and journalist. Pan/track along to Leslie. Leslie Crith, the Independent.
Stephen ... and similarly louche places. But Jeremy, I must tell you. I was in Venice last year.
Hugh Ah, la serenissima!
Stephen That's right. You probably know more than anyone else in the world about Venice.
Hugh The Queen of the Adriatic.
Stephen Is only one of the things you've been called. I was walking along the Rialto, returning from a walk that took in Santa Maria della Salute and San Giorgio Romano ...
Leslie Along the Giudecca?
Stephen Along the Giudecca, and I think I'm right in saying that I counted no less than seventy-nine backpackers.
Leslie Backpackers, oh dear lord.
Stephen ... who were "doing", as I believe they say, the Accademia.
Hugh Ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh. Tourists, you see.
Stephen And I remember thinking, they're taking away our Venice.
Hugh Our Venice is being taken away from us. It's crawling with Germans.
Leslie And Italians.
Stephen Our Venice is sinking under their weight, not just physically, but the beauty, Jeremy, the grandeur of our Venice is sinking under the blue nylon of their wind-cheaters, their Coca-Cola cans, their eternal flashlight photo-cameras.
Leslie And that monstrous tinny noise that emanates from their Sony Walkmans. Hugh and Stephen are baffled.
Stephen Their ... ?
Stephen Oh you mean those personal stereophonic discotheques?
Hugh Stop it, stop it, stop it at once.
Stephen If only ...
Hugh Ah, yes well now you see, I have campaigned for years now to have tourists banned from Venice.
Stephen Have you? Have you?
Hugh I have, I have. It sounds very harsh, very cruel, very ...
Hugh Very deglante, thank you. But I'm sure it's the only way.
Stephen Ng, ng, ng, ng.
Leslie Who was it, who was it, who said "He is a tourist, you are a holidaymaker, but I am a traveller?"
Hugh Oh, was it Humbert Wolfe?
Stephen It was Cocteau, surely?
Hugh It doesn't sound very Cocteau.
Stephen But then Cocteau never did, which is how you can always tell it's Cocteau.
Hugh True, true. Trouche!
Leslie Of course it's not just Venice is it?
Hugh It's not just Venezia, Venedig, Veneeess, not by a very long stroke.
Leslie Our whole world is being stained.
Stephen/Hugh Stained, stained.
Stephen Eheu fugaces! O tempora, o mores, Jeremy.
Hugh Yes indeed.
Leslie I blame television. I'm sorry but I do.
Hugh (Pained at the thought) Ah ... ah, ah, television. That fearful Mervyn Bragg.
Stephen Mervyn Bragg, stop it, don't, shush, now please, really. If I had my way with Mervyn Bragg ...
Hugh No one would be in the least surprised. Lots of laughter.
Leslie This is most awfully good Tarte Citron.
Stephen/Hugh Er ... ?
Leslie Tatre Citron.
Stephen Oh, the lemon pie. Thank you. I always said I could never really be friends with someone who didn't love lemon pie.
Hugh Susan, don't be sly, did you make it yourself?
Stephen Let's just say I made it to the shops in time to buy it.
Hugh/Leslie Marks & Spencer?
Stephen Who else, but M & S?
Hugh M & S!
Leslie M & S! M et S. They are simply amazing aren't they?
Hugh And have you tried their new boxer shorts?
Stephen No I haven't, I haven't, I haven't.
Leslie I have. Delicious.
Hugh And their dips! Oh bless me, their dips.
Leslie In my local one there's a really marvellous school.
Stephen A primary school?
Leslie Oh yes. Both mine and my husband's children go there.
Stephen Mine's just opened a hospital section.
Hugh Have they? Have they really?
Stephen Oh yes, you can go in and have minor operations, everything.
Hugh In the one just round the corner from me they sell weaponry.
Stephen Is that right?
Hugh Oh it is. Quite right.
Leslie Mine too.
Hugh I bought an F1-11 there last week ... so fresh ... I swear it was made that day ... Fading out.
Stephen And of course if you're unhappy, you can always go back and change it ...
Hugh (Holding up plate) See this? You could eat your dinner off this.
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