Conquering Italy By Bike by Meike Ziervogel

Peirene is a changed Nymph. She has turned into a fitness fanatic.

While only last month it was me who had to persuade her to come out for a run, this week she’s been to the gym for an hour each morning before work. More curiously, books about long distance cycling are piling high on her desk. And then yesterday a huge parcel arrived. Peirene has replaced her desk chair with a gym bike.

She has balanced her lap-top on the handle bar and she cycles while she types. I have to admit the noise of the turning wheels is starting to get on my nerves.

‘Aren’t you overdoing it, Peirene?’ I don’t want to discourage her because I know how much good physical exercise does me. It helps me to concentrate and my best ideas come to me on a run. But I’m not sure I can stand a gym bike in the office for much longer.

‘I need to get into shape. This summer I will cycle the length of Italy.’

That’s news to me. ‘Isn’t that a bit ambitious…’ I want to add ‘at your age,’ After all wasn’t she complaining about heart palpitation last week? But I keep quiet.

Peirene has suddenly slowed down, hanging exhausted over the handle bar, no longer typing.

‘I owe it to the Italians to pay them a visit.’ She’s gasping for air. ‘They adore me and it’s rude to ignore their admiration. By cycling the length of the country I give the entire nation a chance to meet me.’ I hand her the water bottle. She takes a sip. Then continues to explain: ‘Look at this week, for example: On Tuesday Chiara Macconi from the Italian publishing house Armando came to visit. They will set up a new series of international female novelists and want to find out more about our authors. And on Thursday we received an email from a university professor at Miami University in the US who has taught our books for years and is now in Rome researching Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman.’ Peirene slides off the bike and lies down on the floor.  ‘I need to take the rest of the day off.’


Good news: the Nymph and I have agreed to get rid of the gym bike. However, she still hasn’t given up on the Italy trip. She now believes that I should accompany her in case she needs a push up the Alps. Maybe if I offer her a pay-rise to buy a couple of new bikinis she might decide to come with me on a beach holiday.

By Meike Ziervogel

Image by Seika

This blog was originally published as part of Peirene Press‘s series Things Syntactical. The Pain and Passion of a Small Publisher on 23 May 2016.

Category: The Pain & Passion of a Small Publisher


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