One day, we'd cooked a large shepherd's pie which we wanted to put in the fridge to save for the next day's tea. So we put it in our bath to cool down, running some cold water for it to sit in to get it cooler more quickly. We often did this. The bathroom was right next to the kitchen, so it seemed like a handy little trick.
However, the Italian student came home from her day at college and said, 'Can I go in the bathroom to have a bath?' 'Yes, yes, of course,' we said, fetching her a towel. Only, when she'd got in there, there was a pause, and then she reappeared. 'I have the problem,' she said, politely. 'I think the dinner is having the bath first. Would you lika me wait?'
They obviously don't cool their bolognese like that in Italy.
Then there was the time my husband decided he would take a nap in the middle of the day. No one else was in the house, and the other beds were all covered with everyone's stuff or not made, so he decided he would lie down on the student's bed. Only, on the student's wall was a clock, and my husband can't stand ticking clocks. So he took the clock down, looked around for somewhere to put it to muffle the sound, and decided to slide it into a pile of ironed clothes which I had put on the student's chair. Then he had a nice little tick-free sleep.
Of course, he forgot to put the clock back and she must have gone to bed that night and put away her clothes, wondering what the hell was going on in this household. It took quite a lot of explaining the next day to make it clear to the student that not all English families keep their clocks tucked into piles of laundry.
|Magdalena's mother just couldn't understand why her daughter wouldn't go near a pile of ironing|
for years after her return from summer school in England
But what I'll remember most about her stay was that our son, who was about five then, was our main translator. He'd perfected this Italian 'just-like-mamma-used-to-maka' accent and whenever we couldn't get the student to understand what we were saying, he just had to repeat it and she knew exactly. She swore blind she didn't know what we meant when we said we were having 'tagliatelle' or 'ricotta cheese', no matter how much we said, 'But it's ITALian! You must eat it all the time!' She hadn't a clue what we were on about.
But as soon as our son said, 'They mean tagliaTELLe!', waving his arms around like he'd been born in Naples and weaned on pepperoni sausage, she said, 'Oh, I see! Yes, of course. TagliaTELLe!'
Once she told us she'd gone to the Megadonna and had really enjoyed it. We thought it was a nightclub we hadn't heard of and we had a very confusing conversation about dancing. Only our 5 year old realised she meant MacDonald's. 'Yes, yes! Megadonna!' she cried, hugging him for being the only one to understand her. 'Where you hava the hamburger and you hava the meelk shake, not the dancing!'
Of course. Silly us. The meelk shake, not the dancing.