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My wife and I have been married for 13 years next month but until a couple of weeks ago we'd never had a proper holiday.
Sure, she's been all over the world with me on tour, lugged instruments and bags of CDs and T-shirts from Auckland to Oslo, but never been anywhere there were no gigs, impassioned political discussions, timetable to follow and venues to get to.
However, a couple of weeks ago all that changed. We went to Venice, a place she has dreamed of visiting for 40-odd years and I have never seen her so happy. It was wonderful.
I know it's a cliche, but cliches happen for reasons. Venice is the most beautiful place I have ever been.
A city built on water, it's a living monument to human ingenuity and creativity and the absence of cars and garish advertising boards makes it even more special.
It was absolutely heaving with tourists, including some from the US who conformed so grotesquely to awful stereotypes that we were occasionally reduced to quiet hysterics - but we were tourists too, of course. And 15 minutes' walk from the centre the crowds were gone and we were in a different world.
I've always taken at least as much notice of the posters and graffiti in a city as the architecture because it's a great way of judging the local mood. Despite the beauty of their surroundings - which they probably take for granted, as we do the industrial port and sewage outfall near where I live - many Venetians are not happy.
Their traditional way of life is being eroded by the almost exclusive concentration on tourism and, with the sheer volume of visitors, young people are moving away in droves due to the lack of affordable accommodation and jobs outside the so-called service industries.
And there is palpable anger at the ecological and social impact of the huge cruise ships which visit Venice daily and dwarf everything else on the horizon.
I wanted to talk to the local comrades at the Communist Party office about this but despite a very friendly welcome and our best mutual efforts, the language barrier was too much. But it was lovely to visit them, in a residential back street in the Castello district and, as you can see from the picture, they obviously share my wife's view that Jesus Christ was the first communist!
In between all the lovely romance and architecture there was, inevitably, time for some beer and football. Seeking out the fruits of the local small independent breweries, I found many of them at Aldo's Bar in the Cannaregio district.
I spent a thoroughly enjoyable Sunday at the football in the company of Enrico - singer of legendary Verona anti-fascist band Los Fastidios - and his friends, watching Virtus Verona play Castiglione in the 4th Division.
Virtus are firmly committed to opposing the ghastly right-wing image associated with football in Verona where Hellas, the city's main team, have a notorious fascist following.
Virtus, whose motto is Che Guevara's slogan Hasta la victoria siempre, are going from strength to strength.
Any football-loving comrades visiting the area can be assured of a very warm welcome.
And, on the subject of the fascist threat, what the hell is happening in Greece? The power and strength of the Greek Communist Party is such that they could have wiped out Golden Dawn when they first started.
Now fascist thugs are openly attacking communists in the street.
It's time for urgent action to unite and defeat fascism on the streets.
Attila the Stockbroker
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