John: Hello, Jane. Come in and make yourself comfortable.
Jane: Thank you. That’s a nice piece of music you’re listening to.
John: It’s one of Marlowe’s best.
Jane: Don’t you mean Mahler?
Jane: I could have sworn it was by the Austrian, Gustav Mahler.
John: Wrong. It’s by the American, Philip Marlowe.
Jane: Really? The only American I ever heard of by that name was fictional. You know, Raymond Chandler’s famous detective.
John: I assure you that piece is Marlowe’s fifth symphony.
Jane: Well, I stand corrected. I believe that bit’s the adagietto.
John: Wrong again. It’s the slow movement.
Jane: But I thought . . . well, never mind.
John: By the way, Philip Marlowe was a direct descendant of Christopher Marlowe.
Jane: Oh, yes. The Restoration playwright. I seem to recall that he wrote ‘The Rivals’, among other things.
John: Well, actually, some of those other things you dismiss so glibly emerged as far better known than the one you mention.
Jane: What other things do you have in mind?
John: Oh, trifles like ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Hamlet’ and ‘King Lear’, to mention a fraction of his output.
Jane: Fancy that. I thought Shakespeare was responsible for them.
John: Dear me, Jane. I can see that you need to brush up on your literature as well as your music. I shall have to take you in hand.
Jane: Possibly. Anyway, I called to let you know I’m off on holiday tomorrow.
John: Where to?
Jane: Benidorm. I should be all right there because I speak a little Spanish.
John: Spanish? Whatever makes you think you’ll need that in Benidorm?
Jane: Well, it’s in Spain, right?
John: No. It’s in Italy. I imagine you’re thinking of Benelux. That’s in Spain.
Jane: But I thought that word meant Belg –
John: Thinking can be dangerous, Jane. I assure you that when you touch down in Benidorm, Spanish will be no use to you. Better brush up your Italian, pretty quickly.
Jane: Oh well, at least I’ll be okay for currency. I’ve got my euros.
John: Have you indeed? What kind of euros, may I ask?
Jane: I’ve always thought they were all the same and interchangeable.
John: Not at all. They’re issued by the different countries using the currency. It’s easy to identify the source of euro coins and notes and you can spend them only in the country of issue. You need to check that you have Italian ones, or you’ll be in trouble.
Jane: Oh, dear. I suppose I should have called on you earlier.
John: Yes, you should. Still, better late than never. You may still be able to rescue yourself. And in future it might be a good idea for you to get my advice before you embark on any important venture. By the way, did you finish that history course you were taking?
Jane: Yes, and I feel better informed now than I was before I took it.
John: Well, you may be all right with that correspondence college, but you really should have gone to a proper institution, or better still, you could have come to me for individual coaching. I’m always willing to make time for you. The course was limited to the old Roman ascendancy, wasn’t it?
Jane: Yes, and I enjoyed it, though the part about Caligula was pretty distressing. Clearly he was a very unpleasant fellow.
John: Fellow? I fear you’re right off the mark again, Jane. Caligula was a woman. The clue is in her name. All the Roman ones ending with an ‘a’ were females.
Jane: But I could have sworn my instructor said several times that Caligula was a man.
John: Well, most night school teachers leave much to be desired. The poor ignoramus probably got that information from a colleague. It’s the blind leading the blind, Jane. There should be more stringent checks on these people before they’re let loose to offer what passes for education nowadays. If they get their hands on you again, you’ll wind up as weak on history as you are on music, geography and currencies. Look, I’ve had an idea. While you’re away, I’ll work out a course for you. We’ll get together a couple of evenings a week and I’ll soon have you up to scratch on all the subjects that matter.
Jane: Thank you, John. It’s an exciting prospect, but I hope you don’t mind if we delay it a bit. I’m going to be pressed for time until I catch up with a few things. Anyway, I need to be off now, so I’ll be in touch.
John: Okay. Have a good holiday, and with regard to time pressure, I’ll include in the course a few tips on managing it. See yourself out – I’m swamped with things do and haven’t a clue how to make a start. Au revoir, Jane.
Jane: Goodbye, John.
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