Living With The French ~ A Novelette ~ Chapter Three


The Nightmare Continues

Tuesday 6th April 1993

I woke at 7am this morning feeling very tired. I slowly rose out of my bed, kicking the cat off it in the process. As long as I keep away from mad animals I won’t catch rabies, I thought. The cat had slept on my clothes! Only God knows what business it may have been up to in the middle of the night! Possibly passed water! Oh no! This didn’t help to calm my nerves about rabies.

Anyway, for breakfast I had ‘Kellogg’s Miel Pops’, a simply delicious cereal to start the day. This was shortly followed by a quick “down the hatch” drink of orange juice and then rushed quickly into the car so as to be driven to school.

School today started off very relaxing and calm. The first lesson being – Music! Fantastic! The greatest form of communication. The universal language. The subject I love and adore.

The teacher in this lesson was very kind to me. As soon as I walked into the room she shook my hand and said, “Hello Simon!” She walked with me to Arnaud’s desk and courteously pulled my seat out for me to sit in. I was very taken by this polite behaviour.

The teacher started telling the class about classical music and how the instruments play different parts in each piece. Being a musician I didn’t need to know much French to work that out. The whole class was extremely interested in the lesson.

Following this somewhat lengthy tutorial was a sudden noise which really did not agree with me at all. The teacher had decided to put on a really old and boring tape of really old and boring classical music. At which point I dropped off to sleep.

When I woke up I saw the teacher looking at me DEAD in the eyes.

“Simon… la leçon, c’etait intéressant? Oui?” She asked.

Wondering how to bluff it, I responded, “Oh! Mais oui! Oui. C’était bon. J’aime le cassette de musique classical, Madame. C’était trés bon.” At which point, Arnaud and I, being opportunists, noticed the time and quickly ran out of the room to our next lesson – Geography.

I hate Geography. I really, really do. It’s like witnessing the evolution of a snail; you know something’s taking place but haven’t really the inquisitive urge to notice.

Anyway, the class eventually filled up and the lesson began. I noticed many things in this lesson:

  1. The teacher’s long curly side-burns (even though she’s a woman).
  2. All the pictures/photos of flooding and seas.
  3. How they do a lot of work on computers.
  4. That fascinating girl who I have fallen desperately in love with.

While I’ve been sitting quietly in my chair, writing my diary, I have noticed something about French girls. Some of them can be really bugging! All I’ve had non stop this lesson is little notes being passed to me which read: ‘WE LOVE YOU… WE LOVE YOU… WE LOVE YOU’ etc. It’s flattering, yes, but also highly annoying.

When the English lesson finally came I cheered up tremendously. This will be fun, I thought.

However, to my surprise, the lesson for today was to watch a video. Not just any video I must add – a video entirely in French! I mean, what is the purpose of an English lesson where you do nothing but study French videos?!

I then noticed that plastered all along the walls were French poems. There was even a photo of La Rochelle at the head of the room! I just couldn’t get my head around it! How bizarre.

When the film had finished, the teacher and I chatted about many things to do with England and the Royal Family. I don’t know why, but the French seem to be completely potty about the Royal Family. To be honest I hate royalty and power. But the French seem to love it! They really are intrigued by it. All along the other wall were hundreds and hundreds of photos of Princess, flamin’, Diana! For heaven’s sake! What are they on? It must be the horse meat. It must be.

To lunch then, and the first course for today was Chicken – cooked. I think the chicken was meant to be a way of making me think, Hmm, they really do have good taste. However, as I discovered for the second course, they had nothing of the kind.

Ladies and Gentlemen, for the second course, I present to you… COOKED SEA-WEED! Needless to say a few dashes to the toilet were required this lunch time. Crunchy, greeny-black slime is not exactly my “forte”. To eat something like that, I have to say, you would have to be somewhat more than ‘foreign’.

At 2pm Arnaud and I journeyed back to school by car, for the first lesson in the afternoon – Technology.

The girl I had a crush on was sitting in this lesson. I now knew via a little birdie that her name was Blondine. She kept turning around and looking at me. Yes! I may have struck gold at last! I just cannot get over how beautiful she is. She sits there, over the other side of the room, working and talking, always with a smile. It’s those lips! Those priceless lips. They’re just perfectly kissable. Perfectly. The best.

This whole foreign exchange experience has been very pressuring because I know very little French. Plus I’m always using a dictionary wherever I go and today of course, I’ve left it at home!

Anyway the final lesson of the day soon finished and all was over. The storm of guilt from not speaking any French soon subsided and I calmed down. Arnaud said that he had to buy a new joy-stick for his computer and so when the bell rang for end of school, we ran to his father’s car and he drove us to the Supermarché. Arnaud bought his new joy-stick and put it to some use back at the house.

At tea time, as usual I froze and generally tried not to scream. On the table were green things, blue things, red things, black things and white things. As usual I sat through the whole meal trying not to pull faces, or at least too many, whilst trying to stomach these weird oddities. Yes… nothing quite beats a French dinner.

As it happened, the evening was satisfactory, due once again of course to the delicious coffee that Mme. Chasseigne boiled up for me. A game of Tarot with all the family finished the evening off with a shine and so I went to bed, gave the cat a stroke and fell into a long sleep, which Blondine had drifted into.

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2 thoughts on “Living With The French ~ A Novelette ~ Chapter Three

  1. More than a century ago, Alexis de Tocqueville said that “the French constitute the most brilliant and the most dangerous nation in Europe, and the best qualified in turn to become an object of admiration, hatred, pity, or terror, but never of indifference.” More recently the French have not been especially brilliant or especially dangerous, and have inspired neither terror nor admiration. Yet it is still impossible to be indifferent to France.

    The Cone Heads on Saturday Night Live were asked “ Where did you come from?”

    They said France!

    “Oh, that explains it perfectly!”

    Liked by 1 person

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