Sunday, 7 December 2008

Rugby stars and domestic demons

One of the things I do in my ‘spare time’ is trying to learn Italian. I love Italy and the Italian language, but I’m not sure one class a week is enough. Last week, our tutor brought along Martin Castrogiovanni (Who he? I hear you say, and I’m tempted to reply with the words of Jeremy Paxman on University Challenge; “If you don’t know that, you shouldn’t be here.” But, instead, I’ll tell you.) Martin plays for Leicester Tigers Rugby Team. For a great picture of Castro, see

Castro with some of the Italian class

Here’s Wikipedia’s bit on Castro; “Martín Leandro Castrogiovanni (born October 21, 1981) is an Italo-Argentine rugby union footballer. He played for Ghial Calvisano, with whom he won the Italian championship in 2005. He has since signed a new contract with Leicester Tigers, and after a successful 2006/07 season with them was named Guinness Premiership player of the season. He wears the name "Castro" on his shirt rather than "Castrogiovanni" A native of Paraná, Argentina, Castrogiovanni made his international debut for the Italian national team on June 8, 2002, during the tour against the All Blacks, and since, has become a regular in the national side. He played every game of Italy's 2004 Six Nations campaign and was a reliable member of their forward pack, being elected man of the match in the victory against Scotland. One of his most famous moments came in 2004, when during the summer tour against Japan he scored a hat-trick, a rarity for a prop forward,”

I think most of us were a bit overawed with a guy who grew up speaking Spanish, then learned Italian and English and still manages to be a world class international. He was really friendly and understanding of our attempts to have a reasonable, if basic, Italian conversation. Over the last few weeks, we've rather ripped through the tenses - passato prossimo, passato imperfetto, and I found it difficult to keep up, having missed the week before last due to a bug (stomach, not computer). Anyway, I am encouraged by the beauty of the Italian language and by its idiomatic foibles - as with all languages; each has its own. I think the word that stays in my mind from the last few weeks' classes is that for vacuum cleaner - aspirapolvere - the sucker of dust. Sounds like a domestic demon. After I'd vacuumed and shampooed the bedroom carpet, Mrs R said; "I thought you were the sucker...." Cruel, I thought.

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