Le début de la fin

My only poor excuse for not writing in about a month is that I know how short my time left here is and I made the executive decision that doing blog-worthy things with my time was more important than actually writing about them.

Since last writing, I returned home for a not-a-minute-to-take-a-piss weekend to home. Arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport ridiculously early, as the way the trains work I can either arrive a billion hours before or 40 minutes before. Fannyed about for as long as I could, then headed to my gate. At the gate I noticed there seemed to be an awful lot of businessmen and what looked suspiciously like French people, waiting for the flight. The usual clientele of the Paris-Glasgow flight looks as if they handed out family-passes to Disneyland in the Dundee dole queue (also, apparently wearing your Mickey ears is entirely necessary on the flight), as well as a few token loved-up couples who’re most likely both doing social sciences degrees at Glasgow uni, both wearing “I Heart Paris” hoodies, both ironically. God, I’m getting cynical in my old age. Anyway, given this clientele, I had a quick look around, and seeing “Brest” on the boarding card of the French girl next to me, I realised this was not my gate. I also realised my flight was in 20 minutes, so adopted a light I’m-not-running,-honest jog to where I assumed the gate would be, but France being France, they’re not in numerical order, so had to wait behind a cockney speaking horrible French to a disgusted Parisienne air stewardess, to find the gate. I hate hearing other British people speaking French, it just makes me realise how awful we sound. There’s an advert here for McVities biscuits that has a typical English gent speaking over the top of it and he sounds about a million times better than I do and I still cringe.

I digress. Uneventful flight later, I arrived chez moi. In the car I could feel myself speaking at the rate of knots, and my dad basically white knuckling the steering wheel in a lovely Christ,-is-she-STILL-talking? motion, but even with the Americans, I don’t get to speak properly, so when I’m home it’s like a Supermarket Sweep of words. Started to get ready for Gayle’s 21st when I got a call from her ma saying that Gayle’s dress had just burst. Naturally, this is the worst thing to happen on a 21st, aside from your boyfriend killing all your guests, so stopped what I was doing [tanning] and ran round with an armful of dresses. Apparently a hoody, hot pants and ugg boots is not an acceptable outfit so I got a few looks on the 2 minute jog round, as well as your obligatory dad-comment from Gayle’s asking if I was in fact dressed. Eventually got her a dress so headed back round to mine where Rhuraidh prepared delicious drinkies. The do was a good chance to see everyone and a good night was had by all.

The next day was Helen and Nic’s wedding, so left to head there in the morning, and halfway there realised  that I had forgotten the shoes I was intending to wear to the wedding and sensing that the uggs I was, at the time, wearing, would not go with the purple chiffon maxi dress I had managed to pack for the wedding, I scoured charity shops, basically with the search parameters of finding one pair of matching shoes. Miraculously managed to find perfect ones, so after a quick disco nap we headed for dinner, then retired to our rooms to get ready for the wedding. The venue was amazing, it was a hotel that was essentially the house from Cluedo, complete with library-with-log-fire mingled my way through the rooms and managed to find Helen, who looked ridiculously beautiful in a vintage lace dress. Had forgotten how much fun Scottish dancing is, I feel it’s something I’ll have to teach the French.

After my Glasgow weekend I was back in France for a month, I wish I’d written about it at the time, I feel like so much happened, but trying to write about a full 6 weeks in great detail may take me far too long. I shall summarise by saying that living with Elo and Mick continues to be good fun, we’re at that nice stage when you can rip the piss and tell each other to shut the fuck up and no one gets offended. I’ve also been babysitting Lily a lot and love spending time with her, she’s not like a tiny wee baby anymore, I don’t feel like I’m cradling her when I pick her up, and now you can just sit her on your hip if you’re getting a bottle ready or cutting up lines of coke on the kitchen unit or whatever. Saying that, it has been a learning curve, I now know lots of baby-things but the thing that still baffles me is their clothing, it’s as if the companies want to make it difficult. How do you take this off….oh, there’s poppers up one leg, then buttons halfway down the back, both of which you will have to undo within a 7 second timeframe before said-baby gets bored, and which you will also have to do while one hand is in her mouth, the other is holding her foot and she’s kicking out with the other leg. No problem. Mick and I were giving her a bath the other night and literally couldn’t work out how to get this wee t-shirt off as it seemed really tight at the neck, so I was actually crying with laughter after trying everything, while both of us were swapping her between us and trying different things, then after literally 5 minutes we noticed it had concealed buttons. WHO ARE THEY CONCEALING THESE FROM??

I also spent some time with new FBF (that’s French Best Friend) Justine. She’s a neighbour of my French aunt, who lives down south, but Justine now goes to uni in Lille. Met her at a fountain (how very French) with only a vague idea what she looked like, so sent her a text when I arrived to see if the girl I thought she was, reached for her phone. I guess this has become the modern day equivalent of meeting someone, and wearing carnations. We went for cake (something that is as normal here as going for a drink, but all too lacking in British culture, I feel) and I was amazed how much I could talk with her; even with Elodie and Mickael, I stumble over words, or forget what I’m saying or whatever, but with her I was just firing away the French, like nobody’s business. The next weekend, I stayed with her in Lille, after having spent the Friday night at Ava’s. The area of Lille she stays in is one I’ve never been to before and I loved it. There’s a big North-African population in Lille, in 2 particular areas, and hers is one of them, so there were loads of different shops, cafes etc and everyone was just milling about the streets, stopping to chat, there was music playing and it just made it feel like a block party. I think the sun shining just makes everything amazing, and I was particularly delighted to see an old man with the windows to his second-floor flat open, blaring arabic music, and hanging out his window to talk to passers-by.  Justine’s mum’s from the Ivory Coast, so she’s brown enough on the Dulux chart that she looks like she could potentially speak Arabic, and apparently this man has been hanging out his window, shouting greetings and daily chit-chat at her for over a year, her without the heart to tell him she has no idea what he’s saying, him with no idea she has no idea what he’s saying. Apparently her cafe-au-lait skin also means people in the street tell her a good Muslim woman like herself shouldn’t be dressed in such a risqué fashion (read: jeans and tank top…gasp). I walked through Wazemmes (the other big Muslim area) wearing a ridiculously short hot pink skirt, but since I’m pastier I just got marriage proposals. Spent the Saturday vintage shopping and going for more cake, then in the evening Justine’s friends came over, one of whom is Chinese and he made us all delicious Chinese food. What was not delicious was when he produced a green egg, that, when shelled, was black and opaque, with a green yolk; I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. Apparently you cook them then leave them for months…..shockingly he was the only one to partake. The Sunday we went back to Wazemmes for the weekly market, it’s huge and takes over half the area and, like most french markets, it’s super busy and you can buy anything in the world. After shopping (mangoes and mascara, do I need more in life?) we went and got tonnes of spring rolls and arabic pastries and went for a drink and to sample the delights of Wazemmes.

During the Easter holidays, I once again headed for Paris for my groundhog-day flight to Glas Vegas. The Frenchmen outdid themselves once again, the guy at passport control asked for my number, and since it would’ve been ridiculously awkward to check-in if I said no, I obliged, with the blatant intention of ignoring him (Frenchmen ask for girls numbers about 50 times a day, it’ll never kill them if you ignore them) and by the time I’d arrived at the gate I had a missed call and 2 texts. I really don’t understand them, I guess they’re not fucking about, but do French girls never just feel like….calm yourself there, doll? There’s not much point writing about being home in my year-abroad blog, but I will say that Ava and her friend came to stay with us, and we had lots of fun seeing the sights of Glasgow. I did not enjoy the hangover of doom it brought me though.

Back at teaching this week, it’s been eventful. So far I’ve just been milking the royal wedding. Armed with a copy of Hello!, I’ve been getting them to write an interview with Prince William/Kate. I was corrected yesterday and told I couldn’t call her Kate anymore and must now call her Catherine. That’s me told. Also, I asked this wee boy yesterday “You can ask Prince William 1 question, what do you ask him?” and he went “How many teeth have you got?”. Naturally, I asked him what he meant in French, thinking somewhere along the line he’d made a hilarious mistake. It turns out this is what he genuinely wanted to ask, and he was being serious. I also lost count of the number of people that asked me if I participated in the royal wedding. I don’t think they realise not everyone in Britain was invited. Might just start telling them I was a pageboy. One girl also summed up the event as “The Queen married Prince William on her 25thbirthday”….at least she knew Prince William was involved.

I’m also constantly surprised by how many kids think I don’t speak French. I’m meant to speak to them entirely in English, but sometimes you’d spend so long clarifying something in English you wouldn’t have time to actually do the activity you’re trying to explain, so I’ll say a sentence or 2 in French and the classes will be like “WHAT? You speak French??”, I don’t know how they think I live my life in France without speaking French. They also get the fright of their lives when they start swearing at each other and I remind them I speak French and that includes the bad words. I was waiting outside one of my classes the other day and there were a few boys hanging around in the corridor, only one of whom I teach and who knows I speak French, and one of them made a totally inappropriate comment about me to his friend, at which point I turned round and told them I spoke fluent French (lies!) and that I understood every word he was saying (true) and they all turned scarlet and shuffled off. Belter.

Before the Easter holidays, I finished working at one of my schools, which was actually quite sad, some of the kids from my Euro classes gave me chocolates and letters they’d written for me (one of whom told me she now watched Glee as a result of my classes…..my work here is done!). As well, the majority of assistants have left to head back home, there’s still a few of the yanks, but probably the best thing that can happen to your dissertation is most of your pals leaving the country. So now, I’m here till end of June, going to absolutely cane my dissertation while I’m here, so that I can research it, get help with the French and actually have some semblance of a summer back home (and by that, yes, I do mean working nights in Asda again). Also got a few weekends away planned, going to Gay Pareeee with Gayle at the start of June, hopefully going with Chudleigh, the middle of June to coincide with my Canadian family visiting Paris, and definitely up for a weekend away with Claire.

We shall see, my beauties!

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