Mussolini’s Gardener

I did not start serious hiking until I returned to live in my native country, in December 2004. Just a fortnight later on a black January morning at Devil’s Dyke, I was beginning the South Downs Way with a friend, now of fifty years. Since then I have completed the SDW, the Thames Path, Greensand Ridge Walk and John Bunyan Trail (both twice), besides extensive local walking in the pretty but flat local Bedfordshire countryside. All this for twelve years and the body holding up fairly well. Until now.

What has this to do with the infamous Benito? Another friend (isn’t it easy to mistype it as ‘fiend’?) of mine, a wag of sorts, and who doesn’t walk as much as I do, listened kindly enough to my tale of woe about the bad foot that has brought my walking to a stop. In fact, so stopped is it that my doctor has ordered only walking around the house, whatever that means: I am housebound, and for a month. That was ten days ago but I broke the rule a few days later when I struck out the almost two miles to the station and a suburban pub crawl in St Albans. Not a good idea, and since then I have followed the doc’s advice to a T.

Must hasten to the point. The wag likened my complaint to an imagined horticultural assistant to Il Duce. A painful condition of the heel, it’s called plantar fasciitis.