The Trials Of Life
Wednesday 7th April 1993
I woke this morning to find Arnaud already getting dressed. It was a quarter to eight! I was half an hour late! I quickly got out of my bed, ran down the stairs and got washed as quickly as I could. I didn’t have time for my Miel Pops this morning and so I just ate a Chocolatine.
When I had finished my breakfast, I collected my bag and coat and got into the car. Arnaud’s dad drove us to school.
Today, I thought, is going to be a brilliant day – a Wednesday.
Wednesdays in France are very much loved by the majority of school children. This is because they have half a day off. However, that doesn’t mean there is no point going in – hell no. The work on a Wednesday is tremendous.
The first lesson of the day was Maths. Once again I noted how all the work they do looks so complicated. They must be more intelligent than the English if they have come so far already.
Of course, I didn’t do any work. I wrote my diary – not forgetting Blondine! She didn’t seem as happy as usual today. She seemed distant… very distant. She had the same sort of look on her face as a clown when nobody laughs. I wanted to go over and put my arm around her to comfort her, but I knew that it wouldn’t be possible.
The only work I did in this lesson was study French socialism, i.e. greeting people. I noticed that when different people meet each other they greet each other differently depending on what sex they might be.
I made a list of results:
- Boy meets boy = Shake hands
- Girl meets girl = Kiss
- Man meets man = Shake hands
- Woman meets woman = Kiss
- Man meets woman = Kiss
- Boy meets woman = Kiss
- Girl meets man = Kiss
- Boy meets man = Shake hands
- Boy meets girl = Kiss/shake hands
France is quite a complicated country. Even the roads are difficult to understand. Paint is spread all across the road, making lovely pretty patterns!
The next lesson was History. Yet again I noticed a sudden increase in the number of pupils in the class. This is because in France they have different classes for each subject.
During this lesson I was once again impressed by Arnaud’s intelligence. He answers many of the questions asked by the teacher. Always alert and ready to do anything the teacher asks him. I think they’re studying the French Revolution.
Anyway, as it happened, a nightmare exploded in my mind. I had been half asleep all the way through the lesson and the History teacher was looking at me as if she was expecting me to tell her something. Darn! Caught again! Then, like someone had just hit me round the head with a bat, I realised what she wanted. She wanted me to read a passage from the text!! I froze. I just completely froze.
“Mais… er… mais oui! Mais oui, Madame.” I said nervously, trying to pretend all along I had understood what she had said to me.
Arnaud showed me the passage which I was to read. I cleared my throat and began.
“La ville de Paris et tous habitants…” the nightmare just felt worse and worse with each word… “Serant tenus de se toumettre…” er… er… how do you speak French again?! “… sur-le-champ et sans delai au roi…” Of course, I had absolutely no idea what the donut I was reading, but I got a round of applause at the end all the same.
Although many people sniggered whilst I read, I didn’t see Blondine laughing. Instead she smiled every now and then, nodding in appreciation. She really isn’t like the other girls; I’ve noticed. She’s not just all fun and games, doing stupid things in lessons. She’s serious. She actually cares about her future. This made me feel even closer to her.
School finished at midday and so Arnaud and I were picked up by his mum and taken home to have lunch.
After lunch we visited Arnaud’s dad’s work: The Fire Station. M. Chasseigne was a fireman and in the building he showed me all the wonderful fire engines. There were many, many engines and all of them had different uses. It must be a great feeling to have saved someone’s life.
Anyway, it had been an exciting day today. As evening drew near I went off to bed, and so did the cat – all be it on my head. I drifted off to sleep with the thought, Holidays soon… God, I can’t wait!