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The British are known the world over for being eccentric. We breed eccentrics and are fascinated by them and our history has some of the best. Take the landowner John “Mad Jack” Mytton for example, who loved to arrive at a dinner party riding on his pet bear. His other adventures included trying to cure his hiccups by setting his shirt on fire, and dressing up as a highwayman to terrify people he had invited to dinner. Then there was the aristocrat Francis Egerton, the eighth Earl of Bridgewater, who was known for giving elaborate dinner parties …… for his dogs. The animals were dressed in the latest fashions, right down to their dainty shoes. Not to mention Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Ozzy Osbourne, Keith Moon……

On a more contemporary note, just think about our obsession with the weather or queuing and, of course, our tea, which we regard as the universal solver of all problems.

“I can’t do my maths homework, mum.” “Well, have a cup of tea and then try again.”

“I’ve got such a headache!” “Oh, have a cup of tea, then you’ll feel better.”

“Someone just ran over my cat!” “Oh, what a shame! Sit down, I’ll make you a cup of tea.”

So let me now introduce you to another British oddity: Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday, as it is officially called.

Pancake Day always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday. Why 47? It’s something to do with the moon, which is lunatic in itself. In any case, it is always the Tuesday before the start of Lent (Ash Wednesday) when Christians traditionally went to confession and were “shriven” (absolved from their sins – irregular verb to shrive, shrove, shriven). Shrove Tuesday dates back to the Middle Ages and presented the last opportunity to use up all your eggs and fats and thoroughly make a pig of yourself before embarking on the Lenten fast running up to Easter. And pancakes were the perfect way of using up these ingredients.

Unlike the American ‘copycat’ pancake, the British version is thin, made of a simple batter of flour, eggs and milk and fried in a frying pan. It should be served immediately with sugar and lemon juice as the traditional topping and very few British households will be pancakeless this year on February 28th.

The pancake has a very long history and has been featured in cookery books since 1439. The tradition of tossing or flipping them is almost as old: “And every man and maide doe take their turne, And tosse their Pancakes up for feare they burne.” (Pasquil’s Palin, 1619).

As if making and consuming an indecent amount of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday were not enough, whatever the weather, we also love to organise and take part in Pancake Races. These involve large numbers of people, often in fancy dress, who shamelessly race down streets, armed with a frying pan and hot pancake, flipping it as they run. And why not? Isn’t it just everyone’s dream to do such a thing on a cold February day, just for the fun of it?

In my opinion being eccentric is a means of adding spice to life and the British do it exceedingly well. And in February or early March, with all the rain, grey skies and wind, what better way to do it, especially if you can then go home to a warm house and put your feet up with a nice cup of tea.

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So, here we are, at that time of year when the Green School Teacher species goes into semi-hibernation, although it has not yet been fully understood whether they are half-asleep, half-awake or merely under the influence of some kind of alcoholic beverage. Whatever the case, they can still be spotted, covered from head to toe in a variety of toggery, sparkling eyes peeking out from under a woolly bobble hat, a chunky scarf wrapped three times around their necks and over their mouths, which only appear when they wish to fill them with food and drink.

Some may decide to return to the home country to celebrate their classroom freedom with family and friends and where they can eat enough food to see them through the entire month of January, putting on enough extra fat to keep them warm and cosy through the rest of the cold season.

But let’s take a closer look at the behaviour of some of the individual specimens.

The very rare speckled Apollonius Vigasius will be spending her Christmas vacation cooking every kind of delight to feed her brood, perhaps taking an occasional sly sip of Amarone when she thinks no-one is looking.

Then we have the Ramelyn Rotundus who will enjoy putting her feet up and commanding her mate as he does all the Christmas preparations, waiting on her hand and foot in eager anticipation of the arrival of baby Rotundus in the spring.

The great bearded Dylanosaurus Pontius will be singing and playing his way through the entire holiday. The dexterity of this particular species is of extreme interest to biologists and neurologists alike.

One of the more baffling sub-species is the miniature blonde Giollus who spends most of her working and vacation time going to and fro without any particular objective whatsoever, but whose cheery smile and merry eyes can melt the heart of even the toughest observer.

The specimens that have the tendency to cluster patiently in the front office, namely the short-legged Julius Polaccus, the red-haired, desk-bound Manualis and the exotic, oriental Alinus Conteggius may well be seen venting their Christmas joy at parties galore, drowning their sorrows and preparing for another bout of masochistic administration after January 9th.

Last but not least, of course, is the leader of the pack, the alpha male, the great dark-eyed, white-toothed, elegant and charmingly forgetful Garius Marcus, who will be temporarily relinquishing his dominance over the Green School flock for the Christmas break in an attempt to apply his power and authority over his own personal brood, although nobody thinks he will have much luck at that, since that particular sub-branch is a species unto itself.

And so, at this particular moment of the year, it is also time for the intrepid researchers of this amazing and mysterious species to leave them to enjoy their holiday in the privacy of their own particular eccentricity. Who knows what effect the food, drink and merriment will have on them. It will be an interesting matter for observation in the New Year.

A very merry Christmas to all!

by Diane Lutkin



I’ve been to North America three times and seen some of the world’s most spectacular scenery from the skyscrapers of New York to the majestic awe and stillness of the Grand Canyon, where the only sounds are the wind and the screech of eagles; from the blazing colours of autumn in New England, with its forests seemingly tinged by a giant paintbrush, to the artificial brightness of Las Vegas, seething with Sodom and Gomorrah-like debauchery; from the magnificence of the Rocky Mountains to the boiling and steaming beauty of Yellowstone Park, where one can see the planet in the making and buffalo, elk, bear and wolf roam free and to the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, appearing out of the swirling mist in the bay, where Alcatraz took cruel custody of some of America’s most famous delinquents.

America is certainly a land of extremes, geographically, socially, culturally and politically. It is truly a melting pot of nations. Walking in Manhattan, one gets lost in the ethnic mix, mingling and brushing sleeves with all races, colours, styles and cultures. It is amazing to see so many different peoples apparently living in harmony together, under the one flag. And although we know it doesn’t always work and that there is still active racism (and not only in America), for the most part, it really does seem to work. However, America isn’t exactly what we see on TV. It isn’t full of perfect, slim and healthy-looking housewives, or Sex and the City women, or hunky drop-dead gorgeous men. It is full of Americans, ordinary people like anywhere else in the world and like no-where else in the world. Let me give you an example. On my first trip to the States, I spent an afternoon in Denver, a tidy little city, fluctuating one mile high on the eastern edge of the Rockies and the capital of the State of Colorado. We took a bus from downtown to the outskirts where we had parked and, in that short ride, I witnessed what America is all about. The other passengers were melted a robust black woman got on with a Caucasian midget, a hippy-looking guy with a Mexican moustache got on, bumped into me and drawled “Sorry ma’am”, a native American got off at the main square and … wait for it.. a blind albino, wearing a long trench-coat got on at the second stop, snow white hair and pale, and asked for someone to tell him when the bus reached a certain destination. Another guy, accompanied by a portable IV pole and tubes up his nose, replied that he knew where the albino wanted to go and would tell him on arrival. Which he did and the albino got off, only to realise (I don’t know how) that it wasn’t the right stop and, as the bus drove off, he shook his stick menacingly at the back of the bus, shouting obscenities.

A real life movie, deserving of Hollywood and free for all to see.


by Diane Lutkin


The silent approach of Autumn


Shop windows sporting ‘Back to school’ offers, parents budgeting for pencils and new shoes and children insisting on the latest school bag design, all in the name of educational consumerism, these are the first harbingers of autumn.

Darker mornings, a chill in the air despite the odd hopeful whiplash of summer heat, a diminished desire for ice cream, the swimming pool, wearing flip-flops, barbecues and cold beer. The sun almost seems unwilling to bother and suddenly there are no swallows – these are the more subtle hints of the coming season.

The sky looks different, the trees seem tired, ready to turn their green mantles to a myriad of other colours, and the horse chestnuts drop their spiny fruits only to be grabbed up and coveted by English school boys, eager to play ‘conkers’ against their friends in the misty playground, or pulverised by passing cars on the

Italian streets. By now Autumn has found the door well ajar and is starting to creep in. Tans begin to fade and holiday talk wanes. The streets fill up with cars as the school year starts and people take refuge from the elements, leaving their scooters and bikes in the garage. The carefree lightness of summer is gradually replaced by a more sombre approach as people return to the seriousness of living and Autumn has made its definitive entrance.

Did anyone hear it? Did it make any noise? There were no fanfares or fireworks. No preparatory celebrations or blaring announcements. And yet the grapes are ready for picking, the mushrooms are abundant and there is a musty smell of dampness in the crispy dry leaves we all love to kick and walk through. All of a sudden we need a jacket, an umbrella close at hand, an extra cover on the bed. And when exactly did we need to close all the windows?

This silent season, with its warm and vibrant colours, crosses the threshold in all its glory with such apparent ease that we hardly notice, bringing with it the promise of hot soup, polenta, red wine, pumpkin and evenings sharing roasted chestnuts around the table with the family.

Nobody invites Autumn in because nobody hears it knocking.

But listen!…. Look!…

Ah yes, there it is!


by Diane Lutkin



Autumn years – it is often used to refer to the later years in someone’s life “In his autumn years, Peter was able to enjoy his garden a lot more”

Turn over a new leaf – to reform and begin again “He has learned his lesson and has turned over a new leaf“.

To drive someone nuts – to make someone go crazy “That noise is driving me nuts. Please stop at once!”

To squirrel something away – to hide or store something like a squirrel “Lisa squirreled away a lot of money while she was working and now she can enjoy her retirement”.



The March of the Green School Teachers


Although little is known of the living habits of this species after a certain hour, they can be observed in mass from early morning until evening in various shapes, sizes and colours. Getting into cars here, mounting bicycles there or striding along the streets on foot, all laden with the tricks of their trade, a variety of victuals to see them through the day and a smile (albeit sometimes vacant).

Green School teachers come from all over the world to gather at the Green School premises. How they arrive there originally has always been a mystery. Why should an opera singer from Boston USA home in on such a point on the globe? Why did the university educated and highly cultured South African nutritional scientist step over the Green School threshold? How did the Iranian wrestler manage to find his way to this outpost of international convergence? Or the Polish cat-lover end up in Green School’s grips for several hours every day of the week? Or the pocket-sized Philippine turn her steps in Green School’s direction?

Some would say that the species is drawn there by the fascination and charm of its dominant male leader, others by the colours of the walls and others by the promise of a sing-song once a month. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that, each September, the species descends on the School in a happy throng to face the challenges of surviving at least ten months to the following summer, when many disappear into thin air, never to be seen again, or turn up, out of the blue, like clockwork, the following September, often looking bedraggled and in need of a good meal.

And so, this army of Green School teachers, bravely goes to the front, battling forward every day to conquer the linguistic shortcomings of the multitude. The fight is often hard and energy-consuming and many teachers suffer from mental-fatigue. But more frequently the battle is a winning one, ground is covered and gained, achievements are made, targets met and the enemy, willingly succumbs and surrenders to the Green School teachers cunning. A battle of wits in which both sides emerge victorious.

So, if you should ever see a member of this species, pay your respects. They are a motley crew but always extremely friendly and have never been known to bite.


by Diane Lutkin

Welcome To Green School

Da più di 30 anni, Green School insegna l’inglese ed altre lingue agli italiani.Green School nasce nel 1981 a Verona come scuola di inglese per ragazzi e bambini, con un’unica insegnante e soltanto pochi corsi.

Da allora, molte cose sono cambiate: il numero degli insegnanti e degli studenti è cresciuto di anno in anno, fino al 1998, anno in cui è avvenuto un cambio di gestione con l’attuale proprietario.

Oggi, Green School ha allargato la propria offerta formativa e si rivolge a diversi settori dalle scuole agli ospedali alle aziende, aiutando i suoi studenti nella formazione linguistica individuale e nella preparazione di esami, mantenendo comunque inalterata l’attenzione per l’ educazione dei più giovani, dai bambini ai ragazzi.

I nostri studenti hanno raggiunto importanti traguardi accademici e professionali, e siamo orgogliosi del fatto che il nostro marketing sia basato sul passaparola, segno di autentica fiducia nel nostro lavoro.

Nel corso di questi anni, altre cose sono rimaste invariate: la qualità dell’insegnamento e l’impegno dei docenti madrelingua nella preparazione di lezioni sempre coinvolgenti e stimolanti, uniti alla costante volontà di rendere l’apprendimento della lingua inglese un’occasione di crescita personale e culturale.

Green School è riconosciuta dal Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione “MIUR” e centro autorizzato per gli esami Pearson, offrendo preparazione per le certificazioni europee dei livelli A1-A2-B1-B2-C1-C2.

I nostri studenti riescono agevolmente ad ottenere una valida e prestigiosa Certificazione internazionale: mediamente, oltre il 98% supera l’esame finale.

Green School ti accoglie con cortesia e disponibilità Il personale esperto, qualificato e professionale esamina le tue esigenze e ti aiuta a scegliere la soluzione migliore.

Entrando nella nostra scuola, scoprirai le ragioni che hanno reso Green School un centro di formazione linguistica sempre al passo con i tempi.

I nostri docenti sono garanzia della nostra professionalità: per diventare insegnanti non basta essere madrelingua o laureati, occorre anche la specifica abilitazione per l’insegnamento agli stranieri.

Per conoscerci o capire se la Green School fa per te, vieni a trovarci o mandaci un e-mail all’indirizzo per fissare una appuntamento.