Pardon the provocative title, but I’m writing this yesterday, when I woke (don’t you love that word?) at 4 a.m., to take my daughter to the airport, for her flight back to London, England.
Lack of sleep makes me tetchy.
Why am I writing this yesterday? Because today, when you read it, we’ll be en voyage ourselves, also flying to what is, for the moment, known as The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
It’s neither ‘great’ nor particularly ‘united’, but it is where I’m from, for better or worse, and where my folks still live. And with Roomie gone, we’re due a visit.
So I’m a Brit, who lives in Italy. and freely confess that, for the last twenty-five years, I’ve been frustrated by just how wrong things are here.
Leaving aside how appallingly people drive, I have a list of dozens of things that are obviously messed up and which should, if Italians ever came to their senses, be immediately put to rights. For Italians’ own sakes, obviously, not just for me.
I further confess that it came as rather a shock, back in 2016, when slightly over half of other Brits who were allowed to vote (I wasn’t, thanks to a dirty deal that excluded expats from the polls) made the patently wrong decision to leave the EU.
Well, how could people be so short-sighted??
If you’ve read this far without wondering whether wrong, as used above, should actually have been ‘wrong’, then well done!
Yesterday I was reading about the revolting French, who are in a tizzy (again!) about their nice President’s latest attempt to put right the country’s obviously-broken pension system. Can’t they see just how necessary that is??
And then there are the Swedes, with their absurdly polite, idealistic politics, the sheer civility of which doesn’t entirely mask the fact that their elected leaders have no answer whatsoever to the inequality and violence plaguing Swedish cities.
And the Spanish, oh dear… And the Christian church (churches actually, though Italians find it handy to ignore that.) And the Moslems, for that matter. Plus China, and of course Putin, and Italy’s current government, and Britain’s current government, and…
Never a day goes by that I do not wonder at how stupid people are! I feel sure that the world would be a better place if everyone were more like me. Well, in some respects.
All that said, I am not a conspiracy theorist. Beyond a tendency to believe that the world is as it is because the rich organise things so they can stay rich, thus keeping the rest of us poor, and always have done, I lay the blame for the state of things at the door of…
As nations, as communities, as members of niches within those communities, we do what we are used to doing. Which is broadly what suits us, and those around us. We defend ‘our’ place in the world, ‘our’ possessions, and ‘our’ children’s pure uncorrupted little souls, from everyone who is not ‘us’.
‘We’, broadly-speaking, are right, while ‘they’ are usually wrong, as I mentioned. Or at least, they are an existential threat, which should be KEPT OUT!
Which all – I’m finally getting to the point, here – adds an additional challenge to learning a foreign language, wouldn’t you say?
Not only do you have to worry about grammar, and pronunciation, and building listening skills, and so on, but there’s also the terrible realisation that IF you ever reach the point of knowing the foreign language, or languages, well enough to be able to chat, read newspapers, watch TV, and generally participate in life as lived by the community of people who use that language, or languages, then…
…you’ll find they’re all wrong-thinking.
About most everything.
Take it from me, it’s very frustrating!
We get people like this occasionally – readers, students, people of Italian descent, who are shocked, SHOCKED they tell me, at how wrong many Europeans are. Can’t we see?? Abortion bad, guns good, Covid a myth to enslave us.
But we’re all like this, I know I am. No, really!
As I wrote above, I rage about the way things are all the time, and not just in the country I live in, but in the rudderless relic I hail from, and in other people’s countries, too.
I admit, I have some cheek.
The difference is, I’m aware of my behaviour. Italians might all be wrong – to the last man, woman, and child – but they seem to like the chaos. Who am I to question that?
I do anyway, of course. I haven’t given up hope that the other sixty million inhabitants might see reason. But I’m totally conscious of being in a very, very, small right-thinking minority.
Occasionally an American club member will write to tell me that they’re praying for me, which is sweet. The Italian state just preys on me. Run a business in Italy and you are, by definition, corrupt, selfish, an exploiter, and busy trousering as much as you can, at workers’ and customers’ expense, while paying no taxes.
I haven’t the heart to tell those offering prayers that most people in Britain, where I come from, are non-believers – there are more moslems than christians in the UK, apparently – so I’m unlikely to benefit from divine intervention. My bad, I know.
Nor that the busiest churches in the Italian city where I live are modern buildings that look like school gymnasiums, or offices, and serve as meeting places for the Testimoni di Geova and such like, many of whose members hail from places as far afield as Africa and Asia. Mosques do good business here, too.
I’m aware that OnlineItalianClub.com members tend to be on the nostalgic side, keen on historic buildings, fine wines, and pasta hand-made with egg, rather than on inner cities and dark-skinned youths swigging beer from brown bottles outside takeaway kebap places. I usually don’t care to disillusion them.
But ragazzi, learning a language means opening up to other people, at least to some extent. And those other people might – in fact probably will – think differently to you.
They are from somewhere else, so might be uninterested in the debates you have with your neighbours, or horrified by them, even. They might be offended by your views, although everyone you know at home thinks that way.
The other? That existential threat?
Ever thought that might be you?
The idea doesn’t please you?
Then maybe don’t work so hard at learning to read in another language.
It would be remiss of me not to remind you about this week’s new ‘easy reader’ ebook, especially as there seems to be a strong correlation between people who learn Italian and people who like opera.
This being the first week, Madama Butterfly is 25% discounted, so just £5.99 rather than the usual ‘easy reader’ ebook price of £7.99.
Do check out the Free Sample Chapter (.pdf) before you buy a copy, though. That way, you’ll know whether the level is suitable and that the format works on the device you intend to use it on.
So, what’s it about?
We’re in Nagasaki, the famous Japanese port, in the early years of the twentieth century. Let’s have a drink with Pinkerton, a U.S. naval officer – today’s his wedding day! The bride-to-be, Cio Cio-San, is beautiful, just fifteen years old, and fragile as a butterfly. Should be a happy day for them both!
Begin with this ‘easy reader’ ebook before watching the actual opera, or simply use this original Italian reading/listening practice material to add a little variety to your study program.
- .pdf e-book (+ audio available free online)
- .mobi (Kindle-compatible) and .epub (other ebook readers) available on request at no extra charge – just add a note to the order form or email us
- 8 chapters (based on Puccini’s Act/Scene structure) to read and listen to
- Comprehension questions to check your understanding
- Italian/English glossary of ‘difficult’ terms for the level
- Suitable for students at pre-intermediate level or above
- Download your Free Sample Chapter (.pdf)
How do I access my ebook?
When your order is ‘completed’ (normally immediately after your payment), a download link will be automatically emailed to you. It’s valid for 7 days and 3 download attempts so please save a copy of the .pdf ebook in a safe place. Other versions of the ebook, where available, cannot be downloaded but will be emailed to people who request them. There’s a space to do that on the order form – where it says Additional information, Order notes (optional). If you forget, or if you have problems downloading the .pdf, don’t worry! Email us at the address on the website and we’ll help. Also, why not check out our FAQ?
Did you read/listen to Tuesday’s bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news? It’s FREE, though horribly biased, and with a skewed agenda…