It is bad luck to return from blue skies in Milan to a miserably wet and cold Cambridge (it is one of those times when those notices in the Botanical Gardens classifying us as falling into a ‘semi-arid’ region seem a mockery). And term has ended so the faculty is almost deserted, so that’s not very cheering either. It all gives added attraction to the idea of spending a lot more of the year in Italy when I retire.

In an Italian mood, we’ve just watched L’Eclisse for the first time in very many years. It does remain quite astonishing. And what is remarkable is just how many of the images seem so very familiar, having been burnt into the memory by perhaps three viewings in the cinema decades ago. For a tiny example, there is a moment when Monica Vitti in longshot is unhappily walking home after a bad night alongside a grassy bank, carrying her handbag and perhaps a silk wrap or scarf, and she suddenly — as one might — swishes the scarf though some plants by the road. Why on earth should one remember that? Yet both of us watching did.

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