On the following pages Sports Illustrated presents to American readers three remarkable sketches by the British author Anthony Carson. Few people on this side of the Atlantic have yet heard of Carson, but the London 'Observer' calls him 'one of the few great English humorous writers of the century.' In the tradition of Laurence Sterne, Robert Louis Stevenson and Hilaire Belloc he makes literature out of his travels. He was once a professional travel guide (and it's alarming to speculate on where he may have led the tourists), but here he scorns the Grand Tour in favor of the Great Ladies he talks about in these vignettes, all taken from his new book, 'Looking for a Bandit.'
THE GIRL ON THE SANTA LUCIA
I had just arrived in Naples and decided to stay in a hotel on the sea front where I had formerly acted as travel agency courier, pushing tourists through cathedrals and museums and squeezing them out of grottoes. Although it was winter, the night of my arrival was tenderly spun with moonlight, and I could hear the old wheedling Neapolitan songs echo from the little port of Santa Lucia. After dining in the restaurant I was strolling through the reception hall when I was approached by a young, frank man in a well-cut blue suit.
"Good evening, sir," he said. "I represent a Roman illustrated magazine, the Tevere. Would you kindly give us your views on the Italian Woman?"
I looked at him in amazement. Why me? I was not a deposed monarch, a film star or an American.
"I have been told you are a writer," said the frank reporter, "and I would like to include you in the series we are running on the Women of Italy. Would you be kind enough to give us a few of your impressions and experiences and specify by what measurements and other anatomical advantages the Italian Woman surpasses those of other natives?"
"But I have only just arrived," I said.
"In that case," said the reporter, "I trust you would not object if I have you photographed with a model on Santa Lucia."
"I would not," I said eagerly.
"Tomorrow at twelve then," said the reporter. "A photographer will call on you at the hotel."