Friday, August 2, 2013

Bygone days

So yesterday was the warmest day on record this year, that is correct, the house temperature reached 30c degrees, but this morning a cool breeze wafts through for which I am grateful.  The smell of the white lilies in the garden was beautiful, bumble bees buzzed round the flowering marjoram and lavender, it was proper summer!
So what do I write? well there are parts of my life when I was very busy looking after language students, a host family so to speak.  I once counted out the letters detailing them  from the language school and came up with near on 250 students that I had listened to, fed, taken out and generally worried over. 
 There was the 27 year old one from Switzerland, the school had warned me he had problems, three months I stuck with those problems, with a house full of my own family.  Let us call him D, as I sat in the sitting room with him talking watching as he carefully spooned his tea from the mug, hot tea was dangerous!. To the times he came home from school upset because one of the teachers had told him to get a 'grip' and he would follow me round complaining, he almost caused me a nervous breakdown, and he was not the only one. There was this young lad from Thailand, arrived from an English school with black bags of clothes (so many clothes) sent to school in this country at 12 years old he had never been back to see his parents, now 18 filling in time at a language school before he went to Harvard in America, he had no skills in looking after himself just plenty of money. He must have been with us for just as long. He wanted to stay on, several did, but my energy had just about broken as well, and so he was moved on.
There was dear Mohammed from Turkey, who bought me little Turkish cups and a small jug to make that coffee a spoon can stand up in, he was going off to study textiles at university, and tried to learn to spin on my wheel, at least 6 foot tall and we were not allowed to watch his efforts.  His sister would ring up, her first word was always  'goodbye' time and time again I would say it's 'hello' but she never caught on....
Many of these students were a pleasure, there was the little Japanese girls, that arrived shy and unsure, I would take a bevy of them out for a ride in the car or to Ikea, which they absolutely adored, wanting to stay far longer than I could cope with, now of course I can't get to Ikea because LS thinks it must be a nightmare!
And then there were the Brazilian students, arriving in January from a country that was registering 40c degrees, boy did they feel the cold.  This pretty blonde girl, who broke down in tears as she arrived after a long journey, her mother anticipating  phoned just as she stepped through the front door, weird, the next weekend our young madam was up to London spending the weekend goodness knows where, and yes I did worry what they got up to as well, 18 was the pass rate before that they got a lecture from me about staying out all night. There was the Brazilian policeman, who locked everything of value in his suitcase, money, passport etc, unfortunately he locked the key in as well, so spent hours down in the basement trying to break the padlock.  He did accomplish it but then the following night went out to a pub and casually threw his money bag, with all said information about his life onto the table and it got stolen. He came back frantic,  nothing I could do middle of the night.  But next morning happenstance would have it that a child and her mother walking to school along the lane had found the bag tossed onto the verge, so his girl friend who had also arrived unexpectedly with him and was temporarily sleeping up in the attic, she and I walked down to the offices in Bath where someone else had brought it in from the village, intact except for the English money that had been stolen.
So many people passed through my life, and on the whole it was an enjoyable experience, I learned so much along the way, from the cold North, Latvia, East and West Germany, down to Peru, a lovely lad but thought he was going to have a heart attack when he arrived because his little finger was tingling.  So we spent most of the night waiting for a doctor, me watching Bagpuss on tv, he could have gone to the hospital across the road, but no he had special medical insurance, which meant phoning Peru, then London to get a doctor and then a doctor arriving on the doorstep (very cross) to diagnose a non-existent threat, which I could and did tell him all night!
What did I learn? young people are fascinating, foreign students are very polite, long discussions across the dinner table about every subject under the sun, and a realisation that an English perception of the world is not necessarily the right one;)



6 comments:

  1. What an interesting post, Thelma - my goodness, what a miscellany you have had through your hands!
    This has certainly led to a host of memories (good and bad) for you - have you completely finished doing this kind of thing now?

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    1. Hi, the short answer is yes, do not have that sort of energy now but it was an enjoyable time. They came from the Bell School in Bath, an educational trust just along the lane from us, which finally closed down, other language schools were not as good.

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  2. Good grief - you've had some experiences with those foreign students, that's for sure! I wonder you stayed the course : ) A tingling little finger = heart attack. Bless him, I wonder where he had got that idea from? It sounds like you made a wonderful home from home for them anyway - a surrogate mum.

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    1. Yes Jennie, plus my small grandchild as well because my daughter came home to after she left her partner. I had to bribe Tom with an iced bun when I took the two dogs for a walk in the morning, he hated walking the dogs and we would bargain every step of the way from tree to tree;)

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  3. I love these posts from you Thelma. Such a wonderful read - thank you.

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  4. Hi Em, you're welcome, think I was stuck for something to write.....

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