Wednesday, 28 September 2011

When I grow up....

Having read my post ‘September and back to school’ you’ve probably decided you don’t want to be a teacher in Italy. So, what do you want to be when you grow up??

I asked two of my students. Both female, both thirteen, both very good at English, both from privileged backgrounds and happy families.

The first said that she’d really like to use her language skills, travel abroad and maybe live in America for a time.
‘Unfortunately I won’t be able to do that, though,’ she added.
‘And why ever not?’
‘Because I want to have a family too. So I’ll have to stay at home and look after my children.’

The second said, ‘I’ve been thinking about this a lot myself.’
‘And what conclusion have you come to?’
‘Well the best thing really…. (and there was, I promise, not a hint of irony in her answer)… is to be a footballer’s girlfriend. You know, you get to go to all the good parties, meet famous people and don’t have to do anything.’

Not a lot I could say to that really!

A few years ago, when the ‘bung bunga’ scandal first came out, Noemi, the very first of B’s bambine to become famous, was interviewed by most of the press. (She was only just 18, meaning of course that B had ‘met’ her when she was underage … he’s still not been done for pedophilia but it’ll come sooner or later) The journalists asked her what she was going to do after finishing her final school exams. ‘I haven’t decided between being a TV presenter or a politician,’ was her answer.

As though the two things were interchangeable. And maybe in Italy they are.

But there are other ways of getting on…

I read an article last week about a survey involving Italian university students, of both sexes.
Apparently the number of students prepared to offer sexual favours in return for passing exams with good grades is on the rise. It was only 12% in 2009, 25% in 2010 and is now at 48%. So not all is lost.

I also almost forgot to mention that September is the month of ‘Miss Italia’. Usually for four or five consecutive evenings hopeful beauties parade up and down on prime time TV hoping to catch the right person’s eye.

This year I confess it was narrowed down to two evenings… But, you know, it was probably really interesting… the future education minister, the new tourism, agriculture or equal opportunities minister might just have been amongst them. It really is all a career opportunity here in Italy.

All that I need to do now is decide what I’m going to be when I grow up J

Monday, 19 September 2011

September- and back to court

Today Berlusconi missed an important international meeting to appear in court… 
Hey, but who's interested in that when a new and much jucier scandal is gripping (!) Italy at the moment and ironically B is the injured party not the accused.

It seems that he has been blackmailed, and has already handed over more than 800,000 euros to a man named Tarantini in return for his silence. You might have read about it but if you don’t know, Tarantini is a pimp whose job appears to be recruiting escorts for Berlusconi.

By the way, the word ‘escort’, which used to be a car, is now the official word used in Italy to describe a prostitute. It’s a much more sophisticated term, almost glamorous… It represents a career move…. only a stone’s throw away from your own television show or a cabinet post…an absolute must if you want to get on!

Whilst Berluska is desperately trying to push through a bill to limit the use of wiretaps in an attempt to save himself, Tarantini has already been arrested. As a witness Berlusconi is obliged to give evidence. And he has to do this without the presence of his lawyer and without the faculty of not answering (have no idea what that is in English- if you’re accused you can choose not to answer but if, like B, you’re a witness, you can’t… so he’s got to)
But of course he is refusing to go. He says it’s a trap.
The option open to magistrates now is to ‘escort’ him forcibly. A large number of Italians are anxiously awaiting this scene.

But the wiretaps have been used and we know what he said and what he did.
Sorry Silvio but you have no defence.

If you haven’t heard yet what our PM has been up to these are just a few of the things he said.

- “Last night I had a queue outside the bedroom door … There were 11 of them…. But I could only manage 8.” (He is almost 75 so I suppose it’s justifiable)

- I’ve got a terrible week coming up: meeting the Pope and Gordon Brown… I’m going to have to cut down the number (of prostitutes) this week.”

- “In my spare time I’m the Prime Minister. What I’d really like to do is stay at home with my bambine (little girls!)”

And here are a few of the things he did according to the wiretaps

- cancelled an official appointment at the UN, so that he could spend the evening with one of the prostitutes supplied by Tarantini.

- used government aircraft to ferry prostitutes to his parties.

- issued a diplomatic visa to his pimp to join him on an official visit to China he could organise a night's entertainment for the prime minister during the visit.

-took time out from official duties to ensure that one of his regular escorts was not voted off a reality show on one of his TV channels.

-invited senior managers from his cinema production company and from state TV to his soirées,so that he could slip his bambine into the best tv and film jobs.

We wonder whether the ageing, billionaire, sex maniac, media mogul premier can do something about rescuing Italy as it slowly disappears down the economic plughole.
And we doubt it.

The only thing to be grateful for is the fact that he is so rich and he can pay. If he didn’t have so much money he would be a seriously dangerous man!!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

September- and back to school

Well, it’s been a long time. All of August has gone by with no blogging and half of September too.
Unfortunately the holiday is over now but that also means that the usual 3 months of forced summer unemployment are also nearing an end …
Anyway September is always a great month in Liguria: everywhere else is starting to get a bit chilly and misty with yellow leaves and grapes… Here on the Riviera it is still summer … 32 ° yesterday and we went to the beach. (One of the advantages of not having any work yet and Eve still not at compulsory school age)

I used to be an English and Drama teacher in a comp in London before I came here and remember the summer holidays as being a time for planning, organizing, getting psychologically prepared for the year ahead. For me September still always feels like the start of a new year.

I don’t work in a state school now but have lots of friends who do and for them it’s a completely different story. Many of them finished work in June without knowing if they’d be called back or not. One, who is a primary school teacher, was told by her head, ‘Come into school on the first day of term in September and we’ll let you know if there’s a place for you or not.’  !!!

It’s not unusual for teachers, cleaners and secretaries too, to be without a fixed contract and not know until the beginning of term whether it has been renewed or not. Needless to say many are not.

Another classic situation is that teachers and cleaners are informed (again maybe a week before term is about to begin) that they have been moved to a different school. Yes, it obviously goes against every management ethic you can think of but… remember, a divided people is easy to control. Let them start building real relationships, doing team work and having ideas and they get dangerous. Keep them on the move and they’re putty in your hands.

To work in a state school your name needs to be on a list called a ‘graduatoria’. Your position on the list depends on the number of points you have and the first job to come along gets assigned to person at the top of the list independently of where the job is, what kind of school it is, with no interview, no compatibility match up.

Maybe things have changed back in the UK but I remember reading the Times Ed, seeing a job I fancied, sending off my cv and hoping for an interview. Here the people don’t matter. The points do!

In Italy you get onto the graduatoria by getting a degree (usually) and taking a test called a concorso (not always the guarantee it should be… remember where we are!!) More points can be added by following specialization courses, Masters degrees, working for free just to show your goodwill…

When finally you do get near the top of the list you might get sent to the other end of Italy to work (not such a tragedy for us but the Italians really hate moving away from home) and if you go humbly then you get even more points. Finally, at near retirement age, you will have enough points to be able to ask for a transfer to the school nearest your house (getting rid of the teacher who is currently holding the place and will have to be moved)

It’s like collecting petrol stamps at the garage. The more you are prepared to spend the better your prize at the end…

Me and Eve have got one thing to say about it…