15 January

Mr Venanzio is dull, I agree, but he has some fine qualities. To me, for example, he is always kind, and says that I am an odd boy, and that he likes to hear me talk.

He has an extraordinary curiosity. He always wants to know what's going on in the house, and everything people say about him. For this, he gives me four lire per day.

This morning, for example, he was very interested to hear about the nicknames they use for him, and I told him lots. My sister Virginia calls him the stupid deaf old skinflint and the walking hospital. Maralli calls him Uncle Skinflint, Uncle Physical Wreck and often the old immortal because he never dies. Even the maid has a nickname for him: she calls him Jelly, because he quivers all the time.

"Thank goodness!" said Mr Venanzio "You have to agree that, of them all, the politest is the serving-woman. She will be rewarded..."

And he started to laugh like a lunatic

Next entry