Day One of Italian lessons and Caroline has spent the entire night, and much of the previous day, convincing herself that she speaks no Italian at all. I need to judge the atmosphere with absolute precision here. Do I go straight into full-on Supportive Hubby mode, bouncing along with with smiles, hugs, and "it'll be alright"s; or is this a situation best played as if nothing untoward was happening at all. I decide this is not the morning to be Mr Life and Soul, and choose the latter. It turns out to be the right choice, and I award myself a bonus Hubby Point.
As it turns out, enrolling really isn't that bad. We've already completed the online application and test; but there's a short written test and a brief interview to go through first, in order that they can be reasonably sure of our level. As it turns out, we're Level 4 of 5 (or Upper Intermediate, if you like). I feel quite chuffed.
Our Italian isn't bad. Trouble is, it's not really that great either. The Great Printer Humiliation excepted, we can pretty much do everything we need to do; but we can't do it with much ease or spontaneity. If The Project is to succeed, we need to get better. So we're signed up for a three-month intensive course with the Istituto Venezia, based in Campo Santa Margherita in Dorsoduro; a pleasant twenty minute stroll for us. Four hours a day, five days a week, everything in Italian - nearly five years worth of evening classes condensed into twelve weeks. This, surely, will set us right.
We're a cosmopolitan bunch in our class. Not everybody is there for the long haul, but, at the moment, we're made up of : three Swiss, two Russians, a Catalan, a Venezuelan, a Colombian, a Japanese woman, a Dutchwoman, an Englishwoman, and a Scot. I'm the only Welshman. Actually, I'm the only man. They all seem like nice people : this is going to be hard work , but it's going to be fun as well. There's a welcome party organised for us at the end of the first day's lessons, with Prosecco and tasty bar snacks. I talk to the Dutch lady for a while. It turns out her husband works for a company called Unisys. I nearly choke on my Prosecco at this point - Unisys make a product called URBIS, the support of which utterly blighted my last three years with the bank! I'm sure he's a lovely chap and had nothing to do with it, so I tell her nothing of the nights of utter horror it caused me. Small world, though, eh?
Finally a big thank you to the Italian Institute back in Edinburgh ,who granted us a bursary which knocks off a full 50% of the cost of the course. And grazie Carlo, grazie Caterina for all those evening classes - finally, it seems, they're paying off!