It's Friday afternoon, and I've had some good news. My only student this afternoon has cancelled, leaving us free to do fun stuff. So we get the boat over to Giudecca in order to knock off a few more Biennale installations. In all honesty, a lot of it isn't really that great, although Francesco Jodice's Weird Tales (and, yes, it is an HP Lovecraft reference) at the Michela Rizzo gallery is worth a look.
We're on the part of the island nearest to Sacca Fisola, a mainly blue-collar residential area but one dominated by the enormous Molino Stucky Hilton hotel where none other than Michelle Obama is supposed to be staying that night. We're expecting the island to be in lockdown, but there's no sign of anything special.
I'm going back to Mestre for some end-of-term beers and Caroline is joining us later; so I get off the vaporetto at Piazzale Roma. As I walk along the fondamenta I notice a police boat going past. No surprise, really, as the Questura is near here. But then there's another boat. And another.
I'm perhaps ten metres from the Ponte della Libertà. I stop walking, to take it all in. A cortege of outriders on jet skis emerges from under the bridge. And then there's a water taxi. The curtains aren't drawn and I can just about make out the figures inside. Bloody hell. It's her. It's Michelle Obama, with her daughters and her mum.
The taxi is followed by a water ambulance. Then another police boat. Then another group of outriders. Every cop in Venice must be here. And then, yet another boat on which a man in a balaclava and body armour is training a gun on the bridge. Well, I call it a gun. It's actually a piece of field artillery that's bigger than he is.
There's a really cracking photograph to be taken here and I start to reach for my bag. And then I stop. A man with the biggest gun I have ever seen is less than ten metres away from me. I'm suddenly aware that what I want most in the world, right now, is for him to think well of me. I move my hands away from my body. And then I stop moving until the cortege is out of sight.
Thirty minutes later, I'm in a bar in Mestre and Michelle, I presume, is in a suite in the Molino Stucky. And I realise that I really don't envy her at all.