"Years ago," she began, "I was den mother to a crowd of students visiting Rome ... it's odd how after all these years they remember you ... completely at a loss ... all their faces, hundreds of 'em over the years, have blended and, and ... when that twenty-something-year-old is now a grandmother ... but one or two stand out and you cannot but wonder what happened to them."
A bowl of soup – surprisingly, for the time of year, split-pea – half a Cobb salad, and veal in lemon butter caper sauce made their way between our glasses, the bread basket, the butter, and our cutlery, silently brought by the barman, who also, when we asked after her, delight and pride written all over his face, showed us photos on his phone of his months-old daughter. There she was, smiling, blue eyes like her dad's crinkling with happiness and, with a swipe of his finger, laughing and looking straight out at the happy man taking her photograph. There is something entrancing about a baby's laugh, even one unheard – the sound of heaven on earth.
"Well, Miss Kate" said Boom-Boom on her return to the lodging at end of the afternoon, "I could stand stitch-stark naked on the corner of Hollywood and Vine and no-one would give me a second glance, but here in Rome ... " It seems she – curious as any nice Jewish girl well might be in St Peter's Basilica – had spotted an empty confessional and had dropped in for a chat with the priest. Such a meeting of minds was it that the young man had whisked her out of the church and spent the afternoon showing her around Rome, after first taking her for a drink at the bar in the Basilica. "Note," said my prof, "not in the Vatican but in the Basilica. Not many people believe that, but it's true and I've seen it and it's right there on the left as you go into St Peter's – and you need a priest to take you there."
As my prof used to say to many an unwilling student "you can check if you wish, I might be lying to you."
Photo of the Monument to the Stuarts in St Peter's, Rome, from Wikipedia Commons