Aiming to be happier families.

THE GOVERNESS DIARIES – Series; 1 Episode 1 : What am I in Italy?

[This is the 1st in a series of 12 episodes of THE GOVERNESS DIARIES, click on the link to the right under ‘recent posts’, where you will find the rest of the series. If some of them are not there, you will find them in ‘THE GOVERNESS DIARIES’ under ‘categories’, just scroll to whichever episode you missed.]

I recently did a stint as a governess, teaching English to two little Russian children in Italy.  This is how it went…

(Names and places have been changed)

 The agency organised a taxi to take me to the airport for my flight to Italy however, when it arrived, it turned out not to be a taxi, but a driver… a large Lithuanian driver whose only words to me were “Gatveek arroport. Norts?”

Now you have to understand that not only have I never met the Russians I am supposed to be flying to work for, I have also never met the person who contacted me for the job –  and, having only been in London for a short while, I have no idea what direction ‘Gatveek arroport. Norts’ is in… So there I sat, in the back of the car facing Igor’s large, bald head and two shifty, brown eyes in the rear-view mirror.  (I have no idea what his name was, but he reminded me quite a lot of that character in the movie ‘Identity’ with John Cuzack and Ray Loitta. The one where they all end up at that hotel and get murdered one-by-one). I even checked to see that my door was not locked. Eventually, the signs for Gatwick came in to view and I heaved a sigh of relief.

I checked in and while I was waiting for boarding time, I bought some books and things for the children in the duty free bookshop. As I was waiting to board, Vladimir (the father,) messaged me to say – wait for it – Deni, I forgot today is a football European finals we need to be with children that time as well. Taxis at Pisa airport are plenty so you can safely arrive at our 29 Via …, …. Please confirm if ok. Thanks! Vladimir.

 Please confirm if ok?  No – not ok. I have no idea where I am going, I no speaka Italiano…. I don’t even know what the Italian word for exit or taxi is! I could be wandering around the airport forever. I messaged him back: “no problem I will try not to get lost” (coward). I then realised I had the most terrible heartburn so decided to get a milkshake (they work for me). When I bent down to pick up the bag of books, it was nowhere in sight. I retraced my steps to make sure I hadn’t put it down somewhere, even though I knew I had had it when I answered the SMS. (why do we doubt ourselves?) I went to information where the woman yawned at me and said nothing had been handed in and to try security. I went to security where another bored character kept me waiting for 10 minutes before fobbing me off (hello… I have a plane to catch and those books cost me £65, which is a lot of money to me, and I can’t claim expenses for things that have gone missing.) Time ran out and I had to proceed to gate number – I can’t remember but it was miles away….

Then the boarding was delayed. I saw a couple of people with shopping bags from the shop I had bought the books in and the temptation to sneak up and peep inside was overwhelming, but I managed to restrain myself by telling myself not to take all this as a sign and hair-tail it out of there.

15 minutes later, we boarded and then we sat for another 10 minutes as the baggage was still being loaded. The captain said he would try to make up the time in the air… great, now he was going to speed, and I was already nervous – it was one of those little planes. The good part was that I had checked in online and changed my seat so I had two spare seats next to me.

There was a lot of turbulence on the flight and I spent most of my time clutching my red wine and hoping that I wouldn’t arrive with a red stain down my front and smelling Like an alcky.

We landed 15 minutes late (obviously not a lot of time was made up in the air) and the baggage took as long to unload as it had to load. Vladimir sent a message asking if I was close to the house so I replied saying I had just landed. From the moment we landed, the world became Italian, but fortunately the sign for toilets is international so I went to brush my teeth in case I smelt of wine, before looking for the exit. The Italian word for taxi, is ‘taxi’ so I followed the sign outside to a… bus-stop? It did say taxi on the road, so I waited. I found out pretty quickly that when a taxi arrives, you have to be on the ball and jump out or someone grabs it before you. I eventually managed to grab one and showed him the message with the address and off we set…. as we drove for over 20 minutes, I watched the price rising. At 80 euros, the driver decided he didn’t know where the road was so I called Vladimir and he directed him. Vladimir was standing in the road waiting for us and paid the taxi the 100 euros (I am sure there must be a symbol for euros on my computer, but I can’t find it.)

We went into the house, whispering as everyone was (supposedly) asleep. I was shown to my ‘room’ (My contract stated… “The Governess must at all times have a private room.”) which turned out to be a sleeper couch in the laundry, with an adjoining room containing a basin (laundry sink) and what Vladimir called an “occasional toilet”.

He took me to the kitchen and told me to help myself if I wanted to have something to drink or eat and then took me downstairs (the house is on three levels) to a self-contained flatlet (Bedroom, kitchen, bathroom) and told me I could use that bathroom….

It was very late, I was very tired so I used the laundry basin to wash and brush my teeth (feeling distinctly like a maid) and went to bed… err… couch.

As I was dropping off to sleep, I thought – what the heck, if I am a maid then at least I am an expensive one.

I will stop there for fear of boring you and write some more another day.



17 March 2013 - Posted by | The Governess Diaries | , , , , , , ,

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