Nights under dripping plastic tents, days on the road. From public rally to public rally we travel across Italy and I thank heaven for lipstick. Having to jump out of a van after several hours on the road and turn up to a civic reception at the drop of a hat does have its aesthetic challenges, and I am definitely up for it. I can now whip up a hairstyle and change into an exotic caftan in just a few minutes from the somewhat restricted confines of the front of my little Suzuki van (I can't use the back because it is ful of humanitarian aid). The trick is to do it so quickly that no-one notices what is happening. Boots No 7 Stay Perfect is the lipstick for me - oh yes. Thank you Mr Boots I love you.
Bologna is beautiful and the welcome a torrent of support. Great hearty meals of rice, fresh salad and luscious pizza are laid out in the main square to greet us. Police escorts, television interviews and speeches seem to pop out from every town we visit, and I have now decided not to tell the press what they want to hear any more. I have decided to tell it like it is. Thus I find myself in an excerpt from 'Network' (Peter Finch, 1970's, watch it please do) and get just a little mad. - why are so many people afraid to join us on the convoy? Why are so many governments shielding their populace from the truth? Why do people like me have to take such a dire position just to draw attention to what is happening in Gaza? We interview ourselves silly in every town as awareness in Italy about the real situation in Gaza is restricted to the informed few.
The incredible city of Turin takes us all by surprise. We whizz through red lights as our police escort literally flies us through this imposing classical city of high arches and sophisticated boulevards. We want to stay, but after more speeches and interviews are whisked away amidst a sea of waving flags to the next rendevous point. But we lose half the convoy and end up having to camp out in a lorry park in the motorway services on the road to Ancona. A nifty move (through a no entry sign) in the petrol station gets us in trouble with the police, but as I explain our predicament to one English speaking man in uniform, we find that not only are we let off, but we have a Palestinian sympathizer to boot!
The convoy grows a little almost every day. From Ancona in Italy we wait almost 4 hours for the rest of the convoy to catch up, then travel on the Hellenic Spirit and enjoy the luxury of a berth, a private shower and a civilized meal. But a 5.00 am start gets us up and moving for the next leg of the journey which will take us through Greece