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I would pop along to her studio once a week, and we would have lessons. My English lessons are I suppose pretty normal, I try not to be too boring and try to be entertaining, as much as possible, but inevitably it is necessary to have your student understand certain little concepts, and sometimes things need to be remembered somewhere in the old grey matter somewhere along the line.

I am invariably patient; after all it is in the end a job. [ If I were a car mechanic, I wouldn’t get stressed out if someone kept coming back because they didn’t know how to drive and kept wrecking their car! ]They say you can lead a horse to water, but by God it ain’t half awkward sometimes to make him drink: I do indeed have loads of strategies and memory techniques to help even the most lamentable to learn a few tricks and retain something: I remember once many years ago teaching a young boy piano who was autistic – he was a lovely kid, and very sensitive, but I did feel so sorry for him. We would work incredibly hard, and make some real progress, only to find he would invariably forget everything completely the following week.

Lina was what my father would have called a ‘Dizzy Dame’; meaning she had her head in the clouds and couldn’t focus for more than about 30 seconds. Perhaps I’m exaggerating, but not much. She would also not remember much from one week to the other, and our lessons would be frequently interrupted by her phone calls. Not that I minded in the least, far from it. And invariably she would start chatting ( in Italian) about her work and her clients.

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