Living With The French ~ A Novelette ~ Chapter Two


My First Day At School,
Re-Lived In French

Monday 5th April 1993

I had woken up at 8am this morning and I felt awful. I lifted my head and looked down the bed – Aaaaaagh! A ghost! I froze in my bed. Then, like the calm after a storm, I was relieved to find that it was in actual fact Arnaud’s white cat.

So, feeling more relaxed, I got out of bed, washed and dressed, ready and waiting for the big day ahead. Yes, today was the day when I’d walk back down the alley of wisdom – my first day at school, all over again.

To fill me up and get me perfectly ready for the day ahead, I had a delicious breakfast. To start with I had ‘Kellogg’s Smacks’. Hmm… beautiful. That delicious little snack was shortly followed by a ‘Chocolatine’, which is a bread roll filled with a stick of chocolate down the middle. Then, to finish it all off, I washed it all down with pure orange juice. Absolute bliss!

But, even though the delightful breakfast may have raised my spirits a little, I still felt nervous about today. It’s not every day you re-live your first day at school. I put on my coat and shoes, then collected my bag from the bedroom. Arnaud led me to the car where we got in and were driven to school.

Arnaud’s mother was driving. We continued along some dusty roads until eventually we arrived at a tall building with grey panels, which divided the floors and windows. This sixties styled building was Arnaud’s school.

As I got out of the car and said goodbye to Mme. Chasseigne, I looked at the side of the building which stood hideously before me. Nailed to the side of one wall were the words, ‘Max Linder’.

We both walked through the large cast iron gates to the playground area, just in time for the first lesson.

The first lesson for today was Maths. Most people don’t mind Maths as their first lesson as you can get it over and done with, leaving the rest of the day to enjoy without any stress. As would be usual in my case. Only when it’s French Maths things don’t tend to go as smoothly, as you can expect.

Anyway, the Maths teacher was very much the sort of person you’d find in one of those surrealistic French comedies. She was a tall lady with brown hair that came down just below her shoulders. She wore a brown cardigan, grey dress and a scarf around her neck. The funny thing was she wore these tiny small spectacles which rested on the very end of her very long nose.

As I walked past her into the classroom she grasped hold of my arm and said, “Hmm. Oui, oui, oui. Tu es Simon Jepps, oui? Je te connais bien. Asseyez-vous.” I sat down as she asked whilst still rubbing my arm from where she had grabbed me.

The work these children were doing looked ghastly. They were drawing triangles and working out equations. I thought it might be Pythagoras but it looked much more advanced than that. I was hoping that the lady wouldn’t ask me to answer any questions for the class since:

(a) I can’t speak a word of French.
(b) I haven’t the faintest idea what is going on.

I was simply shitting myself right the way through. Luckily however, I wasn’t asked a single question during the lesson.

The next lesson was physical education. I didn’t have a kit, plus again I didn’t understand what the lady was going on about and so I really didn’t know what I was supposed to do!

I noticed as soon as I walked into the gym that girls and boys do P.E. together. This, I thought, was an excellent way of bringing equal rights into the 21st century.

The lady teacher tossed me the ball. She mumbled something at me. I couldn’t help noticing how the jogging pants she was wearing managed to hold themselves up around the great larder of fat she was storing behind her belly button. Especially when she started dancing around the floor.

“Fait de ça.” The teacher said.

I paused for a moment and thought, Why does she want me to dance around the room like an overweight turkey, bouncing a ball between my legs? Nevertheless, I did as she said and got a round of applause at the end.

Well, that lesson went swell. At 11am we went home for lunch. Yes, lunch. To me this was like a great honour awarded to me. In England I don’t go home for lunch, instead I would have to stay at school and have it there.

Lunch was a bit of an eye opener. We had green things, red things, blue things – oh and of course the growingly famous “horse meat”.

Arnaud’s mother looked at me and smiled, “C’est le cheval, Simon,”she said.
“Mais oui,” I replied, trying not to show my shock horror.
“Tu aime le cheval, Simon?”
“Oh, oui, oui, “ I replied… but I prefer them ALIVE.

I sat there chewing on the horse. I ate very slowly, it was a very different meat to the types we have over in England. I don’t know anyone in England who eats horse. I watched Arnaud and his mum eating the meat, occasionally turning to me to say something, but instead smile.

The main course was shortly followed by dessert. This was strawberries and cream. Then, like every meal, just to finish it all off perfectly, Mme. Chasseigne boils me up a lovely cup of rich Espresso coffee – the best.

I found out from Arnaud that we don’t return to school now until 3pm. This meant that their lunch time break lasts for four hours! Brilliant! We only get one hour at my school, in England.

The time was 1pm and so we had two hours to kill. So from 1pm until 2.45pm we played the ‘Snes’ games console. I thrashed Arnaud a few times at ‘Street Fighter 2’. He promptly returned the favour when it came to playing ‘Super Mariocart’.

After one and three quarter hours of computer playing, Arnaud’s mum called us out to get our shoes and coats on as it was time to go back to school.

The first lesson back at school was Science. In this lesson, I think my romance journey had started. I knew somewhere along the lines, I would meet a girl whom I had very much fallen in love with. Now, as it seems, I have.

The class had started an experiment, at which point I noticed that the girl I had taken a fancy to had not appeared in any of the other classes.

She was also very much different from all the others. She smiled, yes, laughed occasionally, yes, but she was still rather on the quiet side of things. She was the sort of girl I liked. Not too ambitious – that can lead to problems in the long run. She had beautiful long brown hair which reached all the way down to that cherry-like bottom – just the type you want to pinch! She had crystal blue eyes and a bunny-rabbit nose. Her cheeks were as rosy as the queen rose herself. She made me feel so fine every time I looked at her.

I started to dream about her and I sitting on a park swing together, her on top of me. The swing swinging to and fro, gently so, as we hold each other. Then she huddles closer, just jerking the swing slightly, but not so as to knock us off completely. The sun is just setting and there is a light breeze sweeping the Autumn leaves across the park. Then slowly, our lips touch, the atmosphere sweeps us like two feathers, as we hold each other tighter and tighter, pressing our lips together harder and harder, wrapping our warm tongues together over and over again, as she gives off quiet sighs of love and excitement, and bonding for all eternity.

“Oh Simon,” she says, sucking my tongue more tightly, “Simon! Simon? Simon? Simon?!”

Who, what, when? Hey? Oh! I felt a tapping on the shoulder. A dark skinned boy sitting at the desk behind was trying to get my attention.

“Simon? Simon! Halo. Do you have beautiful girl in England?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Not here. French girls are not the best.”

I sat back in my chair. I beg to differ, I thought, smiling to myself.

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