When her nine-year-old daughter Jemima protests that she is actually going to melt in the Piazza del Campo, in a rare attack of flexibility, Kate suggests a quick pit stop for lunch before their tour of Renaissance art at the Pinacoteca Nazionale.
“That way we can squeeze in some fractions later,” she explains to her husband Will, as she adjusts the schedule on her iPad.
“Why can’t we just stay at the villa by the pool like other families?” Jemima pants.
“Water, water everywhere and never a chance to swim,” grumbles her older brother, 13-year-old Caleb as they stop to admire yet another fountain in Siena’s main square.
“You can’t let your brain atrophy in Tuscany when you’ve got the 11-plus in less than a year and a half,” says Kate, whipping out a non-verbal reasoning paper from her handbag. “You have a very light schedule, Jemima. A lot of people take their tutor on holiday.”
“Then why haven’t we?” interjects Will.
“He got poached by a Russian family,” Kate explains. “That’s what we’re up against, Will. It’s like the nuclear arms race.”
“Can I have squid, please,” Caleb asks the waiter.
“Ask in Italian, Caleb,” instructs Kate.
“I don’t do Italian,” says Caleb.
“It all originates in Latin,” says Kate. “Calamari from the Latin calamarium meaning pencil case.”
“How could I know that?” asks Caleb incredulously.
“Because squid look like pencils in a case,” says Kate. “Use your non-verbal reasoning skills.”
“Pasta puttanesca per piacere,” says Will to the waiter, in passable Italian.
“Any ideas, Caleb?” Kate asks. Caleb shakes his head.
“Piacere, from the Latin meaning to please,” says Will. “And puttanesca meaning …”
“Will!” warns Kate. “That’s not on the syllabus!”