Time for a change

I think it’s time for a change.

For the past six years I’ve been changing one word to a sentence that I’ve memorised…in Italian. More about that in a minute.

Now, we all have favourite places that we’ve been to. It may be a campsite that we went to every summer with our family, it may be the place we went on honeymoon (or minimoon for the 21st century married couples amongst you), or perhaps the location of the marriage itself. For me, I remember a week in Polignano a mare, Puglia, in August 2011. A friend of mine, Vincenzo, who I sang with at Christ Church, Oxford as a Lay Clerk, was one of the tutors at an international music course. He invited me out to sing some solos from the Fauré Requiem and it wasn’t difficult to convince me that this would be a good idea, with the promise of accommodation, food and sunshine. I’d been in the UK just over a year and was loving life in the Northern Hemisphere.

The week looked a little bit like this…

Day 1: I woke up late morning, had a chilled-out breakfast with some amazing housemates who I’ve kept in touch with (they came to our concert this evening in Rome at the Auditorium Parco della Musica), went and sang with the choir for an hour, had basically one-on-one Italian language coaching, had some lunch, went to the beach, got taught to cliff dive from up to eight metres, (not quite this but still a lot of fun) explored the region and then had dinner somewhere awesome before late-evening drinks and a caffé speciale to round things off.

Day 2-6: repeat Day 1.

Day 7: repeat Day 1-6, sing evening concert, then party.

Not bad huh?! I cannot tell you how much I’ve raved to my colleagues about my week in Polignano a mare. (They can, they’re sick of it.) Also, if you’ve attended a concert in Italy in the past six years you’ll have heard me say one phrase in a seemingly convincing way, changing one word each year. Here it is.

[insert year from 1-6] anni fa sono andate a Polignano a mare per una settimana, per cantare, e ho imparato l’italiano per…(move hands up and down alternately as if to say ‘about’) cinque giorni. Tutti giorni mi sono tuffato delle grotto delle rondinelle al mare. Fantastico!”

It translates to:

“[insert year from 1-6] year/s ago I went to Polignano a mare for one week, to sing, and I learned Italian for…(gesturing) five days. Every day I dived from the cave of the pigeons into the sea. Fantastic!”

The only problem I’ve found at this point in the conversation is that, having repeated this phrase potentially (actually) more than a hundred times of the past few years, (well, six to be precise) I am now spoken back to in rather quick Italian which I often (basically always) struggle to understand. I think it’s time for a change of phrase so when I’ve got one up and running I’ll let you in on my wee secret.

P.s. for non-Kiwi speakers, ‘wee’ means ‘little’ and ‘wee little’ also means ‘little’. ‘Wee’ can also mean ‘to pee’ (obviously) but the context hopefully informs you that I don’t tell secrets about the need to go to the toilet. Just thought that was worth clarifying.



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