This is our house: that grey patch towards the centre top in the photo. So, being slightly off the beaten track, a fair few Italians round here speak only Italian. This works brilliantly for me when, for example, I’m trying to use my Italglish (as I like to call my own particular brand of trying to communicate here), to buy basil or tomato plants:
‘Allora, il meso questo giugno allora il basilico in pieno campo non in …’ I trail off and point to a pot. By the way, I read ‘in pieno campo’ from the back of the seed packet. I didn’t know that bit straight off.
I enjoy this kind of exchange – I get to practise speaking just a little and I get to listen to a great deal of Italian poured forth extremely quickly as I race alongside trying to pick up the odd word I know. So far, I’ve managed to elicit from such exchanges how to buy a SIM for my mobile and directions to the garden centre and swimming pool.
Incidentally, that was quite amusing: anyone with one child, let alone three, will know that getting out of the house ‘con bambini’ takes just slightly longer than it does ‘senza bambini’. (If you don’t have children and are reading this, I suggest googling that Michael McIntyre sketch entitled no doubt, something along the lines of ‘trying to get out of the house with kids’.) Throw into this the requirements for swimming safety, hot weather and hunger and it takes exponentially longer. We’d been up since 7. We set off for the pool at 10.45 (remember, we were trying to avoid the heat of the day – mad dogs and Englishmen being the ones out in the midday sun, not wannabe Italiani). The children were really excited: H. was wearing her ‘fling on over cossie’ dress; P. had the swim noodles; everyone was slathered in factor 50. The route to the pool was slightly circuitous (for which read: Tom and I had forgotten precisely where it was) but that Italglish helped me out and we got there. We parked. We wondered why the old guy in the only other car in the car park kept glancing over. Just as we were about to unpack everything he called out ‘piscina?’ – si, si – ‘Chiusa. Troppo fredda’ – what 25 degrees and a bit of wind is too cold to swim in an outdoor pool? These guys clearly haven’t made it to the UK. In London, they’ve just opened a pool by King’s Cross complete with weed at one end, totally and completely unheated, for Londoners desperate for a bit of summer action to use, voluntarily, after work – for fun. But I couldn’t say all that in Italian, so we turned round and bribed the children with ‘gelati’ instead.
Anyway, I was pondering this Italglish at the end of day five while looking out over this:
I was feeling quite pleased with myself and my mash-up of French, classical Latin and a slightly Italian slant to get by. Then la Principessa toppled over in one of those little Tikes plastic cars and, when I rescued her, blood was pouring forth from her mouth. I remembered my NCT friend’s daughter who had managed to bite straight through her lip and needed hospital stitches. I remembered the hospital trip we made when P. slid over on the wooden floor and split his forehead. I looked at the beautiful terrace before me. The beautiful tiled floor inside. The beautiful and very hard terrace. The beautiful and very hard floor. The beautiful and very hard steps between the two.
Allora, in the event of a real medical emergency – where are the exit routes?
As in, how do I get help to us?
I can foresee jumping into the car and heading into C. to ‘l’ospedale’ but, you’ve seen the view – we’re not quite here, not quite there. It’s not that easy to explain where we are in relation to the nearest village in English to an English man, let alone in ‘Italglish’ to an Italian if I’m trying to call an ambulance. For that matter, what number do you call in Italy to get an ambulance? Resolution 1: Find emergency services numbers. Resolution 2: Find Italian-English speaker to translate for me: ‘I live on the dirt track forking left off the other dirt track on the left off the road heading west between M. and P.’
La Principessa is fine, by the way. Mum on the other end of Face Time was left looking first at the blue sky and next at the guttering as I tried cold flannel, H. tried ice block wrapped in flannel and we all tried chocolate. Fortunately, while chocolate worked wonders for H. and P., a bottle of milk worked for la Principessa, and the bleeding abated while we watched the beautiful sunset. She’s now just a beautiful bambina inglesa with a big fat lip for a few days.