The Italian exchange has arrived. Mr. Waffle and Dan took him into town this morning and showed him the sights. They seem to have been very thorough in Rome and I think there is hardly a significant sight that Dan hasn’t seen. I felt we were on our mettle and, let’s be fair, even on a good day, Dublin is not really going to rival Rome. But it seems to have passed off peacefully and the visitor expressed suitable interest in our local sights. The visitor seems to be a nice polite young man. At about 9.30 last night he asked, “Where’s the sunset?” so the lads were able to fill him in our long summer nights. Already he has learnt something from this cultural exchange.
They’re off in the Dublin mountains zip lining this afternoon. I had firm instructions to conceal from the visitor that I speak Italian but, for obvious, reasons, it hasn’t really arisen so far. He speaks pretty good English. The Italian school system has a strong literature focus which is why Italians are familiar with Shakespeare and Blake (yes, really) but weak on finding their way to the train station. This is not a problem for our visitor, in fairness.
I did not tell you that my last week at work was slightly blighted by bicycle chain problems (now resolved you will be pleased to hear). One night, as I was leaving about 8 the man in the portacabin at the gate insisted on helping. I begged him not to but he insisted. After about 10 annoying minutes he said, “The problem is, that’s broken you’ll have to take it to a bike shop.” I thanked him as civilly as I could, wheeled the bike around the corner, turned it upside down and after some poking to deal with the damage the man in the portacabin had wrought, fixed it. A group of Italians nearby burst into applause. They were from Naples and very pleased though not surprised to find an Italian speaker available to them. They had a number of queries about the joys of Howth. And also the pronunciation of Howth. If only it had featured in the English literary canon they would be alright.
So I’m still confined to my bedroom. My sister sent me a cheering hamper of food.
Today’s test is definitely a less strong line than earlier in the week so maybe, maybe tomorrow I will be released back into the wild. Let us remain optimistic.