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Reading skills - DEAR JULIET...


Klausimas #1


DEAR JULIET...

     Every year, thousands of letters arrive in Verona, Italy, simply addressed to 'Romeo and Juliet' or just 'Juliet'. Nobody seems to mind that unfortunate lovers of William Shakespeare's famous play do not really exist, and if they once did, are long dead now. All of them pour out their feelings, asking Juliet for advice about affairs of the heart. The letters come from all over the world.
     But the amazing thing is that they all get replies.
     The Juliet Club answers over 3,000 letters a year, from a tiny office in the middle of Verona. Sixty-year-old Giulio Tamassia, President of the Club, and his twenty-nine-year-old daughter, Giovanna, work with a team of helpers and translators to answer letters from lovers and would-be lovers the world over. The majority come from America, Italy, France, Turkey, China and Russia. The Germans and British hardly ever write.
     The Club began in 1937 when a lovesick Englishman addressed the first recorded letter to 'Juliet, Verona'. His letter received a reply from a kind-hearted man called Signor Solimani, who was the guardian of Juliet's tomb. He wrote as if he were Juliet's secretary, and this began a tradition which heartbroken, lovesick, abandoned, confused and even happy lovers everywhere have continued ever since.
     Over the years, responsibility for the Club has been taken up by various generous-spirited romantics until Signor Tamassia took on the job six years ago. The Club is partly funded by the local council.
     What kind of letters do they get?
     'Letters from Turks are often straightforward', Signor Tamassia says. 'They complain that they can't get a bus to the next village to see their boyfriend or girlfriend - that sort of thing. The French always seem to have the most complex problems.'
     Sometimes the problems seem to have no solutions. What could anyone suggest to the young Lebanese woman who wrote: 'I cannot seem to find my Romeo. The problem is that, with the wars and economic problems, all the ambitious men have left for America or Europe. I am not the only Juliet who is left waiting - there are twelve women for every man in the Lebanon'?
     Then there was the forty-three-year-old married woman from Florence who was obsessed with a brief failed affair with a younger man; the young girl from Rome who saw her boyfriend only at weekends and longed for the day 'when we can open our eyes and see each other'; and the twenty-two-year old French girl who wondered whether it was normal to find her boyfriend boring and wanted to know what true love was like.
     There are sadder cases, too. Sixty-year-old Franco had fallen in love with a nun, but she refused to give up her wows. 'Our reply was that he must learn to accept her decision and that if he was strong there was no reason why they should not maintain their friendship', says Signor Tamassia's daughter.
     Perhaps Juliet really would know all the answers. It seems the world is no easier for lovers than it was when she left it.

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