One finger one thumb keep moving.

One finger one thumb keep moving.

Today millions of children will be driving their mums and grandparents potty until the schools re-open sometime in September. I join the ranks of adults who are sad the children are now on their three month holiday. Not because I have any school age children who will say “I’m bored, are we going out today”, I am sad because I miss my school pals from Cerrina School.

cerrina Alessandria news

Some of the fabulous children (Allessandria News)

During January Mrs Sensible received a phone call asking if her errant husband would like a part time job teaching English to three classes of primary school children. Initially I declined because I was busy with other work. Two weeks later the school phoned again and Mrs Sensible asked when they wanted me to start.

While Mrs Sensible gave me a pep talk on how to teach and control a class of eight year old’s I was preoccupied pondered which of my many ties I should wear.

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Tigger or Simpsons, mmmm a difficult decision.

For the past couple of years I have helped Mombello School and found the experience great fun, for some unexplained reason 9 year olds accept me as one of their own……  but a class of six year old’s would be a new experience. Mrs S suggested I teach them a song, I was a little worried about this idea as on occasions my singing has frightened little children!

Monday morning as I stood at the front of the class watching little Mario pick his nose with his finger, I pointed at my bogey free finger and shouted FINGER! The kids looked at me slightly alarmed but one or two shouted back finger! I then pointed at my thumb and shouted THUMB and the kids shouted back TUM!

It took a couple of tries before the class were shouting back thumb. Over  a period of 20 minutes we worked our way through hand, arm, leg and head. When I was satisfied that they understood the words, I coaxed them into joining me, singing my rendition of One finger one thumb keep moving.

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There is always one little boy who who doesn’t know the words (credit Macaronisoup)

For the first two weeks the lessons with the six year old’s went brilliantly. The kids loved the song and I was excited with their progress. One evening while I was eating my pizza, Mrs Sensible asked me how my lessons were going and which song i was teaching them, One Finger One Thumb I said. It goes like this….. I put my pizza to one side, stood up and pointed at my finger and then my thumb, I sang One finger one thumb  keep moving, one finger one thumb keep moving, one finger one thumb keep moving we’ll all be merry and bright.Mrs Sensible was transfixed.

As I sang I watched Mrs Sensible screw her eyes up as I hit one or three bad notes, Mrs S gamely sat through my song until I reached the bit that goes… One finger, one thumb, one hand one arm and as I patted my arm Mrs Sensible very nearly choked on her piece of pizza. Noooo she said, please tell me you haven’t taught a class of 6 year olds this song!

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Even the cat looked surprised

Erh! yes, its a good song, they are learning parts of their body and….

You taught them the movements?

Oh for sure, I have the kids stood up tapping their fingers, thumbs arms and singing their little hearts out, they love it.

Oh I bet they do!

Why! Oh I bet they do?

Pecora… Just do the arm bit again, don’t bother with the singing, just the motions.

I tapped my arm and sang (ever so slightly out of tune) one finger, one thumb, one hand, one arm we’ll all be merry and bright.

Mrs S shouted, In Italy tapping your arm and raising it like that is a swear word!

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Beppe Grillo singing my song

In my defense, I didn’t clench my fist, nor did I raise my arm quite as high, ok maybe high enough so that Maria at the back of the class could see me, and in my naivety I didn’t see how tapping my arm could be construed as a swear word.

Mrs Sensible was mortified. She said the chilblains would be going home and singing my song to their parents, even I had to admit it was a little bit of a problem.

It took three weeks to reeducate my class of six year olds that it was not necessary to tap and raise ones arm, it was sufficient to simply point at it. All except Mario the nose picker who much preferred the original version.

A stressed Englishman

A stressed Englishman

At the moment I am fighting the Italian bureaucracy, earlier this year a pen pusher unceremoniously deleted me from the Italian health system, I can no longer book an appointment at the hospital and I am probably violating some law by visiting the local doctor. I am a firm believer in fighting on two fronts, as in if you are biting their ears it is also wise to kick their shins, so here we go, not only am I trying to get reinstated, I have also starting the process for Italian citizenship.

I can see a stressed time ahead

I can see a stressed time ahead

All advice is welcome, please provide useful or inappropriate comments below. I asked Mrs Sensible for her thoughts on obtaining Italian citizenship, she said I was crazy.

Not everyone thinks I am crazy. Mishmash my cat thinks I am fabulous, well except when I throw her out into the rain or chase her around the house with a water pistol shouting at her for climbing onto the kitchen side or sneaking into one of the bedrooms for a crafty sleep.

Training Mishmash with the water aversion therapy became when she was a kitten

Training Mishmash with the water aversion therapy started when she was a kitten

The teachers from the little school in Mombello don’t think I am too crazy, Once again they have asked me if I can spare a couple of hours a week to help their chilblains with their English Studies.

Before setting of for my lesson, I once again visited the lunatics at the local ASL office (health office) with my latest documents and they then sent me to the local comune (council) to obtain a document granting me the permission to stay in Italy permanently. The man in the comune gave me a temporary permanent right to stay!!!!! I quizzed him whether it was possible to have a temporary – permanent right to stay, but he just shrugged his shoulders and I lost the gist of the conversation after his fourth word.

The little school in Monbello

The little school in Mombello

I got in my little car, which smells of cat pee thanks to the attentions the hairy gigalo of a tom cat is paying it, and set off to the little school in Mombello, for my first English lesson with the chilblains. I was a little stressed when I arrived in Mombello, what with the staff at the ASL office trying to convince me that the United Kingdom is not part of the European Economic Area (I think they believe this because we don’t use Monopoly money (Euro) and have proper money (Sterling) and also because I was trying to decide if my neighbor would notice if I kidnapped his cat and paid the local vet to deball it.

I had a good life, the local cats loved me. One day I was kidnapped, I remember the car I had peed on it often and then with a cruel snip

I once had a good life, the local cats loved me. One night I was kidnapped, I remember the car I had peed on it often and I will never forget the vet and his scissors.

I managed in my little stressed state to drive past the school and park twenty-foot further down the road. As I closed the car door a pungent whiff of cat pee assaulted my nose and as I went to open the car boot to retrieve my bag, a huge smell of cat pee hung in the air.. my little Mini had taken at least two hits on the drivers door and three on the rear bumper. That cat will disappear one night and reappear a couple of days later minus a bit of furry baggage.

It look like the right place to me

It looked like the right place to me…. I blame the mistake on stress

Outside the little yellow house that looked remarkably like the school I pressed the doorbell and was rewarded with a…

Chi e? (Who is it?)

Sono Io (It is I)

Normally this is all it takes to gain admittance to the school.

Allora? (So)

Huh! (maybe said a little petulantly) Allora!! Sono Io, per bambini! (SO!!! Its me for the children)

As I turned around in frustration, I realised the school was twenty-foot further up the road and I had disturbed some old Italian woman who had been preparing  spaghetti bolognase for her husband and children.

Another Italian language flash card for your collection

Another Italian language flash card for your collection

The lesson with the kids was great fun, I am impressed with their knowledge of the English Language, it is far superior to my knowledge of the Italian Language, and I have been living here way before some of these children were born. Which is a scary thought and not one I should pass onto Mrs Sensible.

If there is anybody out there who has successfully applied and obtained Italian citizenship…. I am all ears.