Posts Tagged ‘Employment’

Down Wiv Skool


Weary Wanderings for Wednesdays!

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

I loathed school, I mean really really loathed it. Even now – seventeen years after my torture schooling ended (bloody hell that makes me feel old :-() – when I find myself on the wrong side of the gates, my heart beats wildly and I struggle to catch my breath until freedom has been safely regained.

Knowing that I would have to spend several days traipsing the hallowed halls, filled me with not a little trepidation.

So as a panic-reducing displacement activity, I attempted to distract myself by studying the idiosyncrasies of Italian school life…

Most noticeable is that Italian children talk A LOT. The noise levels in the classroom, in the dining hall, in the playground, and indeed anywhere where there is more than one bimbo italiano are excruciating.

They also find sitting still for longer than…

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A Translator Very Good Am I


Tired Old Tales for Tuesdays!

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

For a few days I fielded some rather odd questions from Fiona;

Fiona: Would you say ‘a sea borough’ or ‘a sea district’?

SV: What the…? Let me have a look at that.

Fiona: No, no. It’s ok. I’ll get you to check it afterwards.

I struggled to concentrate as she redirected her strange questioning to an Italian colleague, X;

Fiona: X, would you say ‘the San Marco palace is made revived on the will of the Filippi’s family’ or ‘the Filippi’s family made will the San Marco palace to revived’?

X: Ummm… I think the second one.

SV: ?@!*!@*?!

Needless to say, the document ended up on my desk, and after tearing my hair out over it for less than a day, I was treated to the following haranguing;

Fiona: Why are you taking so long to…

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Job Disatisfaction Guaranteed (final part)


Memories for Mondays

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

My frustrations were somewhat alleviated by the arrival of ten other English speakers to help prepare the summer camps.

All ex-tutors from previous years or actors from the school theatre tour, they brought a much-needed breath of fresh air and sanity. Even Shrek seemed to find it in him to generously overlook their exuberant English-Speakingness; copping sly squeezes of the pretty girls and jovially slapping the boys on the back.

So having spent a fortnight stapling sheets of paper and stuffing them into 250 plastic folders (in funereal silence, Fiona’s orders – she objected to the fact that I was conversing with a colleague in Spanish because she couldn’t understand what we were saying) I was allowed to escape the office and start training with them.

After a few days singing the camp song (a ditty so mind-bogglingly…

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Job Disatisfaction Guaranteed (part two)


Flashback Friday!

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

After the ‘business trip’, the director asked me if thought I would be capable of taking over that side of the job.

Ummm, how can I put this…

I think I would probably be as capable as the next man of zigzagging aimlessly round the Italian countryside, wasting hours and hours and hours due to sheer incompetence before talking rubbish to Italian parents for half an hour. However, despite being aware of the very great honour bestowed on me by the assumption that one day I might be a suitable candidate for filling the great man’s shoes, I had to decline. Leaving (and paying someone to look after) Pooch for five days out of every seven, for an itinerant life of tedium was not exactly what I had in mind.

That having been explained (in words not dissimilar…

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Job Disatisfaction Guaranteed (part one)


Tired Old Tales for Thursdays

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

A little over three months ago I saw an advertisement for some sort of office job in Italy. This was lucky, because any sort of office job in Italy was exactly what I was looking for. The company even had an interesting concept to sweeten the bitter pill of shackling myself to a desk once again – English theatre productions in Italian schools, and English summer camps in Italy.

I applied.

The first blow was the monthly salary. I had been prepared for the fact that Italian salaries were very low, but this was worse than peanuts. Even monkeys would have politely declined.

Then the director told me that if I took the job I had to stay with them for a reasonable amount of time.

“That’s ok,” thought I, “truthfully I had been considering nine months, but…

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Shopkeeper Over and Out


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

After a tourist season that lasted approximately three weeks, I have been left with no option but to close the doors of my itty bitty emporium, In po’ de tütu.

The months of indecision and evermore tangled thought processes have been brain-scrambling in the extreme; but ultimately, all my ponderings on what to stock and how to stock it, opening hours and window displays, lead me unfailing to the same conclusion – if there is little or no footfall past the door, most everything else is futile.

I live in a village of barely a thousand inhabitants. There are three grocery shops, a butcher’s, a patisserie, a newsagent, two hairdressers, a post office, a bank and a shop selling anything from bras to olive nets – i.e. most residents’ basic requirements are met.

And understandably, in the current climate of financial uncertainty, basic requirements are all most of us are really concerned about.

Which leaves the usually fairly predictable tourist season; this year beset not only by atrocious weather, but also what has undoubtedly been a record low in pit-stopping travellers.

The second-home owners (never my best customers anyway) staged their annual arrival en masse, but there was a pronounced dearth of new faces; those that did pop up being primarily of the self-catering variety and in frustrating possession of well-honed budgets that did not apparently include serious provision for knick knacks, souvenirs and/or bric-à-brac.

Thus the final dawn of yet another SV endeavour is heralded, but as battling on in the face of such financial precariousness seems the very antithesis of a sensible parent-type, I shed no tears…

Besides, having some stress-free time to spend getting used to the terrifying connotations of impending motherhood, may be just what the dottore ordered 😉

This is Status Viatoris, bobbing plumply on a never-ending sea of change, in Italy.

A Bit of Everything…


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

…is what has been keeping me from SVing for the last month and a half.

What’s that?

You want me to be more specific?

I can’t.

Honestly, it really has all been down to A Bit of Everything.

Or to give it its true title: “In po’ de tütu” – AKA… my new shop!

MINE! Lock, stock, barrel (rent, taxes, stress, responsibility, success, failure) and all.

Now you must believe me when I say that this is absolutely not how I envisaged things going when I was called in to run Ci Vuole over the summer months.

No, the best I could hope for then was to be able to make it enough of a success to tempt the owner to stay open for another year – thus keeping me out of trouble on a part-time basis whilst providing regular-ish dollops of dosh to keep Pooch and me in bonios and focaccia.

But in typical SV fashion, taking over and re-opening the entire enterprise was something I decided to do after seriously considering it for about, oh, twenty minutes.

A Little Bit of Everything cheerfully muddled up together!

Because although those summer weeks indicated that with the right stock, the shop had the potential to be quite a hit, it was also apparent that even if it did work, it was unlikely ever to be in a position of offering enough income for two people.

So upon noticing the owner’s waning interest – which clashed uncomfortably with my gut feeling that both the shop itself and the village really deserved at least twelve months of hard work before its fate was decided – I made what may yet prove to be one of the rashest decisions of my life…

An exciting collection of smellies!

Ci Vuole, during the short months it was open, had dealt principally in antique furniture; not a particular hit with the locals, who all have cantine bursting with roba vecchia (“old stuff” as they scathingly refer to it); although a popular port of call for incomers wishing to furnish their village purchases with authentic pieces.

Thus the “usato” part of the trade triumvirate will stay on but in a slightly reduced format – the larger pieces remaining in their current owners’ houses and cantine, whilst their photos do the sweet-talking from a home-made catalogue that will be found in the shop.

Evil small-boy magnets used to part parents from hard-earned cash…

The “regali” are the small gift ideas that are so far finding favour with pretty much everyone, be they native or otherwise.

Relatively inexpensive smellies, jewellery, scarves, children’s toys, old-fashioned wooden games, decorations, greetings cards and Halloween (soon to be Xmas) items from Italy, the UK and Germany are just some of the products that the village seemed to be in need of.

Not forgetting the artistic contributions from local seamstresses, potters, painters, basket-makers and carpenters amongst others; whose talent is providing many of the wonderfully original and sometimes quirky items that help to make In po’ de tütu such a fun place to come for a pongle.

Postcards nestling in their home-made (ex-draining rack) display case.

The souvenir side of things has positively juggernauted since I asked for your help in putting together a postcard collection.

There is now a selection of books about the area, cds from the local polyphonic singing groups and instrumental bands, hand-painted aprons, maps, tourist guides, 2013 photographic calendars, pens, bags and possibly even umbrellas if I ever get around to it…

No chance of any visitor to the village escaping without purchasing some little knick-knack or other to keep memories of their stay alive!

Preparations for a chestnut festival that never was – snow (of all things!) stopped play.

Unfortunately the plan to stock some local produce – olives, honey, jams, dried tomatoes in oil and bottles of olive oil has had to be abandoned along the way, as a month-long (and rather expensive) course in food handling would need to be undertaken in order to sell even ready-packaged edibles.

But as food is one thing this village has never lacked, I’m sure my little offerings will not be too sadly missed.

The English Book Swap! Take one and leave one, or take one and make a donation to UNICEF!

So in a chestnut shell, this has so far been a hugely fun, vastly terrifying and terribly exciting journey through the initial trials of shopkeepery.

I have absolutely no idea what is waiting around the corner, but whatever it is, I am definitely looking forward to all the challenges the project will undoubtedly bring.

This is Status Viatoris, preparing to try a bit of everything in order to make this venture a success, in Italy.

The Root of All Evil


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Greetings, Dear Readers!

This is just a quick note to apologise for my shocking lack of commitment to Status Viatoris in recent weeks… A plethora of brand spanking new activities of the money-earning variety has been keeping me on my toes and distracted enough to banish any flicker of literary creativity to the most rear of back burners.

(Coupled with the fact that the miserable state of my bank balance has forced me to give considerably less time and attention to non-profit making endeavours – AKA blogging 😦 ).

The postcards have not yet arrived back from the printers, but when they do they will be taking up (hopefully temporary) residence on the proud shelves of Ci Vuole; the Antique/Bits’n’Bobs/Souvenir emporium that has been the most important of my projects over the last three and a half weeks.

Despite the lack of foresight involved in not getting the shop back up and running long before the busy summer season, I am actually very happy with the progress that has been made since being summoned for (unofficial) managerial purposes  at the end of June. Local maps, books on local history and the extremely popular one Euro table have joined olive oil soap, pot pourri, candles and an impressive collection of pewter, antique furniture and assorted knick knacks in order to provide tourists and locals with whatever their hearts may desire.


(I am still waiting for the local jams, honeys and other delicacies, still trying to source some tasty Italian sweeties and still trying to decide whether or not to rape my nostrils with a selection of scented candles – the item most requested by seemingly olfactorally-challenged locals).

Slotted in between Ci Vuole opening times, I now also boast some language students, the exact sort I attempted to court two years ago, but who apparently needed the intervening twenty-four months in order to assess whether or not my linguistic credentials were to be trusted.

Or something.

Teaching this time round is an entirely different ballgame from my experiences eleven years ago in Spain – perhaps because I am not planning it as a full time activity; but probably also because my dubious levels of maturity have since been inadvertently  tinged by a degree of patience.

Disconcertingly, I also find myself in the position of having more foreign students wishing to learn Italian than Italians after a smattering of English; but despite owning up to an utterly imperfect grasp of Italian  (pun a happy coincidence), they so far profess to be happy with my attempts at imparting the language.

(And who knows, may be the grammar overload will eventually push me into speaking an Italian un-bastardised by the French and Spanish I currently have spinning around up top).

So it is due to the inconveniently time-consuming, but sadly necessary evil known as the acquisition of hard cash that Status Viatoris may suffer from occasional periods of neglect over the following weeks. That said, it (and you) will never be far from my mind and I solemnly promise to splash these pages with fascinating tit bits and gossipy nuggets as and when they occur.

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer and I would just like to send very much love to the fabulous Mr and Mrs F, Status Viatoris readers extraordinaires, and now the proud parents of a simply exquisite baby boy.


Status Viatoris

and Pooch (who although not busy at all, nevertheless remains singularly disinclined to get off the sofa in order to fulfil his blogging responsibilities).



status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

“The French are just bad-tempered Italians” said Jean Cocteau somewhere back in the mists of time, and the phrase was give a fresh airing this Friday when I was called upon to translate for a French couple venturing into the minefield of Italian real estate.

But in this instance at least, Cocteau’s utterance was certainly not applicable; possessing, as these two  did, natures sunny enough to rival the innate joviality of any Italian.

They remained unfazed throughout the predictably tedious and long-winded process of opening an Italian bank account:

“Sign here, and here, and here, and here. Initial here. Sign here. Initial here. Sign here and here. Initial here, here and here… Oh! Whoops. No, not there. Hold on a minute while I reprint everything so we can start all over again…”

They managed to keep their brilliant smiles whilst the notary explained all the issues involved with the property they are trying to buy:

– Due to issues of inheritance it was owned by six different people when the sale was set in motion.

– It is now owned by seven different people because one of the six died and that particular section was passed to two new beneficiaries.

– One of the beneficiaries is a Russian living in Russia (original beneficiary married his Russian carer before dying, she then inherited his section but  it passed to her brother upon her death) and has only just been tracked down.

– Each beneficiary owns a different percentage of a different section of the property.

– Each beneficiary will have to be paid separately by the buyers on completion.

– The property has been added to extensively over the period of about a century and no longer corresponds to any official plans.

Meanwhile I was busy coming to terms with the fact that  verbally translating  technical real estate Italian into technical real estate French at the speed of light  is not something I excel at…

Nevertheless, being paid for the privilege of assisting some of the nicest bad-tempered Italians I have ever had the fortune to meet is not something to be sniffed at, especially as they have promised me a barbecue in their new pad should this most convoluted of sales ever reach the desired conclusion.

Mercy buckets lay fronsay!

This is Status Viatoris, not convinced she can be called a linguist if she can’t actually get any of her four languages to work in tandem, in Italy.

Time Management Can Be Tricky…


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

…when you don’t have a boss to tap his watch and glare at you sternly.

Being my own boss, I am rather more inclined to throw myself an indulgent smile and comfortingly murmur, “Take your time. There’s no rush; life is to be enjoyed don’t you know.”

And although I usually manage to rise promptly from my slumbers at seven o’clock – any earlier feels like a crime against all that is right and natural – it tends to be also the exact moment at which my interest in timekeeping fades.

A bit of yoga, the consumption of breakfast whilst perusing the news, getting washed and dressed; all these minor activities somehow unfailingly preclude me from leaving the house until after 9h.

Bugger me if I know where the time goes. (Turn of phrase. Please don’t.)

There follows an approximately three-kilometre walk around the village, which takes in the region of 35 to 40 minutes.

Or at least that is how long it would take if it wasn’t for the profusion of friendly faces with whom to exchange news and views along the way.

(At the moment we are all about the weather, here in My Little Italian Village. Those who claim an obsession with discussing meteorology to be a purely British trait, are grossly misinformed).

Pooch and I pop into a bar on our way home for a quick cappuccino and a catch-up on local gossip.

But then someone we know might pole up, and it would be only natural to offer them a caffè. If the nattering goes on long enough, they will eventually return the favour.

And before long it is dangerously past 11h, I am at least three cappuccini down, and I still haven’t written a single word.

Thus we continue the journey home, where I feed Pooch, before settling down in front of the computer; quite brimming over with purpose and good intention.

At 13h, a  rumbling crescendo starts to indicate that it may well be time for a soupçon of lunch.

At 15h, a crescendo of grumbling starts to indicate that the previously supine heap on the sofa reckons it may well be time for another walk.

So off we set.

We might be two-thirds of the way round, when a small puppy pops out of a property to bounce up and down in front of Pooch’s unimpressed nose. So intent is it on capturing Pooch’s resolutely averted attention, that it continues to bounce merrily alongside us as we carry on our way.

So we have no choice but to return to the property and inform the owner of his puppy’s fruitlessly misplaced affections, at which, this rugged man of the land promptly invites me in for a drink; no refusals brooked.

A  convoluted putting-to-rights of the world ensues – people need to get back to basics, people are too materialistic, people no longer feel a connection to the natural world, hunters are evil shysters whose crap smells atrocious… can’t quite remember how we got onto that particular subject.

Anyway, before long it is dangerously close to 18h, I am half a large bottle of home-made wine down, and still nowhere close to reaching my writing deadline.

So we hot foot it zigzaggly home, where I feed Pooch (again), before settling down in front of the computer; quite brimming over with purpose, good intention and fermented grape juice; and proceed to tap away with cross-eyed, panicky concentration until pumpkin hour or deadline are reached.

I may one day get the hang of managing my time more efficiently, but in the meantime I shall take note of my boss’s wise maxim:

Life is to be enjoyed, don’t you know 😉

This is Status Viatoris, who would certainly perish if she was ever obliged to return to the level of timekeeping required  by the average employee 😮 , in Italy.

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