Every Wednesday evening except in summer, an odd assortment of people meets in the local library for English conversation. Because Italian time is elastic, I always say we’ll meet at 8.45, but that’s because officially it starts at 9pm. Despite this, they still wander in at about 10 past 9, but Franco the librarian just gives me the key, and we finish when we like, even though the library officially closes at 10 o’clock.
Last Wednesday’s lesson was partly about schoolgirl pregnancies in England. This is because my most earnest student, Luigi, always has a subject in mind when I ask what they’d like to discuss next time. The others don’t care, and leave it all to me. Luigi’s last subject for discussion was coal mining in Wales, so obviously I take it upon myself to think of something to bring light relief after serious debate.
I’d prepared a page of primitive drawings as a starting point for conversation practice using prices and quantities. We were getting along very nicely with special offers like three for the price of two etc when Arturo got into his stride, playing some imaginary role as a market salesman.
“A pore of sex,” he shouted excitedly. “Tree pound.”
“What?” said everybody else.
“A pore of sex,” he repeated as if we were all stupid, then lifted up his leg to point.
Then I got it.
“He means a pair of socks,” I explained. “Think of something else you can buy in a pair.”
He frowned, deep in thought, then the inspiration came.
“A pore of gloovez” he said triumphantly. (He meant a pair of gloves)
I don’t think I’m ever going to produce a group of distinguished linguists, but it’s fun, and we always retire to the bar for several proseccos afterwards.