Essentially, I had a rather large blog, half of which deleted itself. Brilliant. I’m now trying to recreate it, hastily.
So, I left off on my way to meet the parents. I navigated the small-country that is Charles de Gaulle airport, and was even asked for advice on train tickets by a confused looking frenchman. I helpfully delivered my sage-like wisdom having been in paris for a full 40 hours, while he was probably thinking “oh fuck. She’s English. Please stop talking so I can ask someone else”. Waited on my parents, and since they thought I was meeting them at the train station and not the airport, they walked right out when they arrived. It was actually quite nice just seeing them without them seeing I was there, I broke into an involuntarily smile and just jumped up and walked after them. Naturally, decided to follow them about a foot behind, instead of saying hello like a normal person. After a few minutes I got bored of them not seeing me and was just like “Christ! you guys are going to be fucking rubbish with the pickpockets”. I definitely think they’d missed my charm. After much hugging and “ya-hoh!”-ing we went for (tiny) coffees and got caught up. Found the train after much stressing about lugging a broken case about the train station and boarded. Naturally, being France, we were sat across from a woman, laughing and joking away…..I presumed she was on bluetooth. It was only on closer inspection I realised she was in fact, talking to herself and was not the full shilling. My personal highlight of the train was that I was hank-marvin’ and discovered my dad had a box of sushi and a packet of Thorton’s Jumbles in his pocket. As you do. He also told me he’d done his online research into pubs he wanted to visit, and it turned out 2 of them had entered my conscious previously, one for the basis the french can’t pronounce the (Scottish) name, and one for the fact I’d eaten there before, the 3 Brasseurs.
So we arrived at the hotel and got settled in, my parents gave me more magazines, cadbury’s, shampoo, underwear and jammies than you could shake a stick at, and we headed to the pub.
The 3 Brasseurs turned out to be very popular with my dad, I think it was the volume of beer, but I can’t be sure. Had a yummy dinner, where the waiter took quite a shine to me and kept insisting on kissing me. This lasted the weekend, I’m not sure why French men are so forward. What happened between the channel and here that made men so different?
Saturday morning, we woke up, had some hotelly-breakfast and went on the Lille bus tour. I’m aware there’s a lot of art museums and historic buildings, but the unmentioned highlight of the entire trip was most definitely seeing a kebab shop called “Le Glasgow”. I’m glad to see our reputation for a penchant for exotic food has made it worldwide. We also visited the fine arts museum that morning; it was the worst designed building ever. You go in, and go downstairs, and there’s like 4 things in what must be a massive floor space, so we were wandering about, wondering where everything was, then discovered everything good’s upstairs. Was a very brief visit though since we were meeting Elodie and Mickael for lunch, so hopped on a metro back to the city-centre. The restaurant we went to was quite fancy, and I am not. Made my entrance to the restaurant, lugging bin bags full of presents in (from my parents, to E&M, and since it was raining, the pretty gift bags were now hidden by hastily-purchased Carrefour bin bags), doing the classic clumsy antics of banging them into people’s chairs and stuff. Spoke to the waiter in my absolute worst French – I don’t know why but I don’t mind saying sentences I know are entirely wrong, if I think they’ll get the jist, if I’m never going to see them again. Unfortunately Elodie and Mickael were already there and sitting right next to the door. Mortifying, frankly. Had wondered before how this lunch would work; given that my parents’ knowledge of French is a 40-year old O-grade, mine is mixed, Elodie is fluent in both, but unused to Glaswegian accents and Mickael speaks no English. It actually went surprisingly well. Conversation flowed in both languages, with people occasionally translating, and my dad managed to not “speak french”. He has an amusing habit of talking English with an accent of whatever language the other person speaks. I’m fairly certain it’s unintentional, but hilarious nonetheless. It was also hilarious being in a restaurant selling exclusively fish, and my knowledge of fish vocab being limited to the words for mussels, goldfish and salmon. Thankfully there was no goldfish. After our yummy meal, Elodie asked if we wanted to go for a coffee (“or perhaps your father would prefer a beer?”….2 hours in and already an accurate assessment) so jaunted off to a (thankfully covered and heated) pavement cafe for coffee. I decided on Leffe and waffles instead, having just eaten a pudding. I don’t know why I can’t refuse food here, I wasn’t even hungry, but I’m now in the mindset that Christmas Leffe and waffles go together.
That night we went to the famed McEwan’s pub (which French people think is Macavens) where my dad sampled the local delicacy of beer, I sat with my face tripping me since I had a migraine and Shields…..I’m not sure what she was doing. Probably making up a song or pretending the beer mat was an elf or something. I hate life when I have a migraine and I’m what Shield’s describes as “snippy”, so felt bad I was being grumpy, the one weekend I was seeing them. Headed home, trying to find something to eat for Shields’ on the way, which was surprisingly difficult. Restaurants don’t seem to have the 24/7 attitude down to a tee yet. I think what ended up happening was us getting back to the hotel, and falling asleep with the room service menu.
Sunday morning, we went to see Lille’s modern art museum, which was amazing. Lots of Cubist stuff, which I love. There was this exhibit that was rifles made out of tin cans and wood and coloured sticky tape and stuff and a video to go with it that was the artist talking about them and showing you how he made them. He was clearly mental and Shields laughed so much at this she sat crying and generally making a scene for a good 5 minutes, it was hilarious. Once we walked past the screen we saw a mini bio of the artist, which stated he’d been in and out of psychiatric care since he was 19. Shields, who works for a counselling service, immediately felt awful. Other is-this-really-art? exhibits included 4 raincoats hanging on pegs. They did have amazing big pop-coloured chess pieces that were like 6ft high and a big display you could walk through that was all different coloured perspex cubes hanging up that were a million colours depending on what way you looked. The bus back to the metro station was a nice reminder of Clydebank, everyone looked like they’d eaten from the Chernobyl vegetable patch (Lisa, Google it). We then, again, tried to find somewhere to eat and ended up at the Three Brasseurs, where my dad was delighted to find sausages and lentils on the menu.
Later that evening we got chatting to a man who was from Canada, but actually from Rwanda, but lived in France, and may or may not have been a policeman. He was chatting away for a bit, bought us some drinks, then went back to the bar (which was next to our table) to talk to his pal, who was increasingly wrecked. After finishing our drinks, my dad went to the bar to return the favour and Shields and I held our heads in our hands when we heard our new friend tell my dad his name was Pacific and my dad say something to the tune of “Pacific? What the fuck kind of name is that?”, but maybe slightly less harsh. He continually bought us drinks and then told my dad “you don’t seem to have noticed I’m black”. Racism is indeed rife in France. One of Elodie’s aunties was sitting yesterday and described someone as being a good doctor “but she is black, though”. Her auntie is absolutely lovely, it’s just more acceptable to be racist here, I think. Doesn’t sit well with me. Anyway, the bar staff grew increasingly weary (it being a Sunday night, when pubs in France would probably shut at 3 in the afternoon if they had their way). The night ended with Shields fidgeting and hissing “finish your fucking drink” in my ear. So I finished my fucking drink and we headed back to the hotel.
My dad had been drinking for some time but seemed to have that kind of drunkenness where you’ve been sitting down the whole time, fine and dandy and the second you stand up it’s like “ohhh so that’s what quadruple vision looks like”. The journey from bar to hotel was potentially 7 minutes walk pre-beer, but during our time in the pub, the road had evidently become so uneven that my dad managed to stagger from the middle of the pavement, to one side, then right to the other side and on to the road, to then to return to the middle, look uncannily surprised, and confide in Shields and I that “I think I might have had a wee stagger!”. He also provided a hilarious quote in the pub when I was talking about their impending anniversary (41 years as a couple, and 35 married) and told them that if they’d had a child when they started going out, he’d be 40 now, to which my dad replied “I don’t want a 40 year old child. If I had a 40 year old child, I’d just take them out and punch them”. Thankfully, Rhuraidh has 17 years to go until he reaches his punching birthday. On arrival at the hotel, my dad accidentally head-butted a painting and fell asleep. All in all, a cracking weekend, was lovely to see them, and it’s always lovely to sit and have a drink and talk with them. I don’t think Rhuraidh and I realised how cool our parents were till we were in high school and you start to realise everyone’s parents aren’t like yours. I feel I’ve forgotten a lot of what happened and I’m annoyed at myself for not blogging more quickly.
The Monday we headed off to Lille station, and they bid me farewell. Having brought over an absolutely massive case, Shields left with a little holdall, given that the majority of the case was presents for Elodie, Mickael et moi. I had been gifted the broken case to continue my journey with presents. Sadly a case weighing roughly what Pluto does (that’s the planet, not the Popeye character. Although his weight may be more realistic) is not easy to manoeuvre when you’re my size. Got on the train and settled myself in, only for the conductor to come and tell me I couldn’t sit there as it was his seat. This meant, humphing my case down the aisle of the carriage to try and find another seat with a bit of space in front of it to put my case in. I’d like to say, I popped the handle up, and glided along, until I found an adequate seat. Needless to say, I dragged it along with one arm, the other busy trying to untangle my scarf, which was trapped between me and the case. Luckily, my facial blood-vessels were too busy exploding from exertion, to make any attempt at blushing.
Met Mickael at the station and was home for a good hour before my classes. This hour was not used to plan classes of any sort. Sat with some teenagers who looked like they’d rather be watching Skins or snorting plant food or whatever the hell teenagers do now. Thankfully right after, it was Hudson’s birthday. Well, it had been all day, but afterwards it was her birthday dinner. We headed to Arras, where we admired the pretty square before finding the restaurant that looked most French (it promised Raclette and wine). There really is no better way to celebrate your 21st than with 6euro carafes of wine. Despite having improved my French greatly (from autistic 3 year old to 7 year old, occasionally described in report cards as “bright, but can be quiet sometimes”) menus still present a problem. I struggle with menus back home, they’re a language unto themselves. So here, I like to just guess. I ended up with a typically french meal of a cheesy-potato thing, with seemingly-unplanned side dish of salad and slices of ham. It was a good giggle, and the first time we’d had a girly dinner since we got here. Mickael came to pick me up at the station and I was telling him I felt like my hair smelled of smoke, but somehow from this he took that I’d been smoking weed at dinner. I feel something may have been lost in translation.
The less-than-two-weeks from this until me writing this, has been very eventful, but only the last few days. So in haste to reach the exciting bit, I will surmise that the time in between was largely spent teaching. Teaching is still problematic, it’s hard to think of stuff you can do with 11 year olds, some of whom have been learning English for 3 months or so, and with the older ones, the problem is that they’re at an age where you ask them what they dislike and they say “school” and sit pouting for the rest of the lesson. I did however make a child cry this week. It was brilliant. He was fannying about the full time and I kept being like “haw. Cunto. Rap it”. Except the only phrases they understand for this are “be quiet” and “silence, please!”, so at the end of the lesson I asked him for his carnet (which is this wee book they all have, that teachers can write notes in, and their parents have to sign them). Having no clue what to write or where to write it, I nipped through to another teacher’s room and she started listing massive French phrases at me. Decided just to look and see what other notes the little angel had warranted and essentially made a remix of them. Came back to the class, to find him and a girl still putting their jackets on, so passed him back his carnet and he went “Madame!! Pourqoui?? Baaaa nooo!”, threw it down and burst out crying. I told my mentor teacher this, mildy horrified and she just went “ouais? C’est pas grave”. Which is basically “no big deal”.
On Thursday night, I finished work and sat playing a Dragonball Z beat-em-up game, that Mickael was surprised I managed to beat him at, having never played before. I explained that me and Rhu spent the nineties playing Street Fighter. My winning streak was short-lived, so had a petted-lip and went to prepare for my big surprise visit home (essentially putting beer Lauri, Mickael & Elodie had given me into a case). I was heading home, as a surprise for my dad’s birthday and it was also a surprise for Shields since she is awful with secrets. The only things in my case that were not for my dad were a small make-up bag and a selection of pants. I’m getting good at travelling light. Except that my case was full of beer and weighed a fucking tonne. So after packing, I had a migraine come on and sat in my room willing myself not to projectile vomit. People who allow you to live in their house after projecticle vomitting on their walls, may only permit one vomitting, I do not know. So, sat on Skype to Shields, I was actually glad I’d told her I wasn’t feeling well, as me not talking much was explained by me trying not to be sick and not that every thought in my head was “DON’T FUCKING TELL HER YOU’RE COMING HOME TOMORROW. LIE”. After some Skyping Mickael came to tell me he’d made dinner, half considered not eating but since Elodie wasn’t hungry, I felt I could not let him have cooked hunners of food and have no one to eat it. I’m clearly too well brought up, that I would literally rather be sick than be rude. Thankfully the food stayed down a treat. Retired to bed early.
The next morning (I’m all excited typing this), I was up and putting my makeup on in my room, when I heard mick in the living-room turning on his camera. I questioned why he’d be playing with his camera at 8 in the morning but largely ignored this. Went out into the kitchen and started making myself a sandwich for later when a red-eyed Mickael asked me if I’d slept well, and told me he didn’t get to sleep til half 7. I don’t know why, since the verbs sound nothing alike, but I assumed he said he’d got up at half 7, so wasn’t that shocked. Then he turned the screen of his camera towards me and was like “Lily was born last night”, and at this point I was like “eeeeeeeee” then just inexplicably started talking English at him “oh my god! It’s a girl! I told you it would be, didn’t I! Oh my god, she’s soooo cute. Oh…je parle en anglais??”. So Lily Bouque is here, alive and well, and absolutely beautiful. She was a good weight (it was in kilos, so I had to ask…)I was super excited and gutted I had to go for the train before I could go for a swatch and a cuddle. Phoned Shields from the station to tell her and was all excited, and she was like “so are you going baby shopping after work?” and I was like “eh yeah, maybe”, in my head being like “I could work for the MI5, I’m coming back to Scotland and you’re none the wiser”.
The journey to Paris is always pish, not the journey itself, but I had a heavy bag and it’s a 8million mile walk within the train station, then about 14million miles from one side of CDG airport to the other. I did see Tara Reid at the airport, so I guess that was of note. When I got to the queue for Glasgow it was all these folk from Falkirk and Fife talking in their grating and frankly intolerable accents, and I just thought…..god, can I tell the staff A. I’m from Glasgow, not Falkirk. and B. I live in France, I wasn’t here for Disneyworld and C. I speak French. I hate feeling like a tourist, and it’s always funny if you talk to people in airports or whatever and you’ve said some basic sentence and they either reply to you in english or commend your french, as if you’ve been practicing your phrase book.
Lisa, Lynsey and Laura picked me up a the airport. Hilariously, Lisa greeted a girl coming out, thinking it was me. Her logic to this was that she was wearing a fur coat. I’m not sure how she’d forgotten what I looked like in 2 months, but apparently this happens. We made a swift exit, Lynsey having parked illegally, with only Lisa’s (expired) airport parking pass on the dashboard as insurance. We then had the full Chudleigh driving experience, my favourite part of which was an angry taxi driver being very angry indeed that we were in a taxi-only area at Queen St. Did eventually get parked (with some uncharacteristically impressive parallel parking) and went to Waxy’s, where I celebrated my return with….haggis. Bien sûr! Spent the evening crying with laughter at inappropriate antics, which wouldn’t be repeated. Headed back to Lisa’s afterwards, where I had the rare treat of St Tropez. Awoke horrendously early, but golden, to be picked up by Gayle. Scott was sitting in the back seat, with cartoon-messy hair, an inside out suit jacket and what appeared to be an old lady’s cardigan. It turned out this was all accurate, and he was a very hungover boy.
Arrived at Gayle’s (bear in mind this was about 7:30) and sat talking to her ma for a while before going to wake up a very-hungover Heather. Heather is Gayle’s cousin who’s over visiting from Canada and is one of the girls we stayed with when we were over there. Naturally woke her up in the incredibly compassionate fashion of jumping on the bed shouting “Heather”. She appreciated this greatly. We then tried to fit 3 girls in a single bed, which failed miserably, so went and made up the sofa bed with Gayle, with the aim of fitting in an hour’s sleep before heading to chez moi. Needless to say, we just chatted for an hour then Gayle gave me a lift (we live about 3 minutes walk apart) so that I didn’t need to walk past my house and could go in the back door. Called Rhu who confirmed Operation Spiderman (for it had been dubbed thus) was go, go, go. Started walking across the garden till he berated me into walking at the sides to avoid snowy footprints. Arrived at the conservatory where we had a big hug then I hastily tried to hide my holdall and jacket (parents were upstairs, but Shields has watched enough Diagnosis Murder to last a lifetime). Then proceeded to lie in a massve wrapped up gift box, which Rhu wrapped up further before telling my parents they could come into the conservatory. I still don’t know why I wasn’t standing up in the box, but lying down meant that when my dad started unwrapping the box, I just basically crawled out. He was very surprised indeed. Shields, perhaps even more so, burst into tears. Had a while of “oh you!” type chat. Also, before I left for Paris I told Mick my parents didn’t know I was going home and not to tell them, then said….”oh why am I telling you this, you don’t speak English”. So at one point during the family lunch in Lille I was winding him up or something and he just said in French “she’s going back to Scotland at the end of November as a surprise”. So told my dad this and we all shared a hearty chuckle. Then Shields turned into “oh heavens, we have another person for breakfast” mode and ran off to put more sausages on. Had a yummy fry-up and went for a well-earned disco nap. Rhu also brought me (french) cereal and a cup of tea in my (childrens’) Peppa Pig breakfast set. Perfect.
Woke up, went for a shower and realised I’d need to go straight from my dad’s impending birthday dinner to Shannon’s 21st, and also that it was snowing. Naturally given all these circumstances I went for a fuschia one shoulder body-con dress and fur jacket. Who says I can’t dress for the snow? Had an enjoyable run through the snow to catch the train, then had a quick wander in TK Maxx before heading to the Scotia for a few drinks. It was here that a man tried to chat-up both me and Shields, simultaneously. We were with my dad and brother, of course, so you would think he would either assume we were a family, or 2 couples, and therefore a no-go area, but no. At one point his friend sitting near us called something to me about being pretty or something, and I went “Thanks, but I’m 15” and he went “you’re the one”. Mmm concerning!
Headed to The City Merchant for some dinner, which Rhuraidh ate so slowly that the owner (a charming, wee Italian man) came over 3 times to laugh at him about it. It turns out he used to live in Whitecrook and Shields started naming Italian families she knew of which ran businesses there and he basically said they were all lying about being Italian. What a scamp. Tried to get a taxi to Shannons, but was told it would be an hour so headed for the train in a huff, more so since I was running later than planned and the thought of walking from the station (all 5 minutes) in 6 inch heels on the ice was not appealing. Thankfully found a nice lady who directed me after the station and managed not to deck it. Couldn’t get through to Shebs or Broghan so just carried on walking up the path to the venue when a guy in a tux started waving at me. I think I must’ve lost my 20/20 vision because I just kept walking towards him staring blankly till I realised it was Ian, Shannon’s boyfriend.
It was so cute when I finally got Shebs, she was standing at the other end of the path to me, and the windows to the hall were between us so she was shouting at me to duck and run under them, and I was standing trying to peek in to see if the coast was clear, so we were standing far apart for a couple of minutes and she was excited to see me so was jumping up and down. Precious! Eventually ran and gave her a big hug, before we walked in the doorway. Asked her where Shannon was, as Shannon just opened the door to come out. She too was very surprised and she too cried! Was a touching moment for sure! Came in and saw everyone and got lots of hugs, it was so good to see the girls again, I’d missed them muchly. Went and bought myself a bottle of wine, which I had to answer “two” to when asked how many glasses I wanted. You just can’t say “one” no matter how many months you’ve spent in wineland. They’d recorded a song for Shannon’s birthday, accompanied by a slideshow of some beautiful images of her and of Ruesha in an Asda shirt, pulling some beautiful faces. I was even thanked in the speech for attending, normally in our group of friends it’s a kid-on-you-hate-the-ones-you-love type affair, so it clearly made an impression on her. After that full-on got my dancing on and was even tempted into whisky shots by Hayes after we drank the bar dry of all other shottables. This led to me drinking out a bottle of wine, on the dancefloor. Classy! My memory next cuts in with me waiting with the boys for a non-existent taxi, in the snow. Somehow eventually got one and decided in light of no transport being available we’d head to the Boulie. Can’t remember why, but no surprise since Sean was there, got absolutely pounded in the taxi and threatened with gangrape at one point, which the taxi driver seemed amused by. The boulie was the boulie, managed to see everyone in Clydebank and have very fuzzy memories. Returned home and had the worst pakora of my life.
Awoke the Sunday, hangover-free and had to head to Asda for gifts to bring back to France, as well as visiting my gran in the home after. Managed to get a train and hike through the snow to find some adorable baby gifts in TK Maxx and Next then headed to Asda where everyone I met was like “ahhh when did you get back? How’s France?”. Literally, word for word, the same. I don’t know how they coordinated their chat. After finding such delights as a christmas pudding babygrow, we headed to Colpi’s, where I indulged in a pannini and ice cream float, yes I am indeed 6, and we people-watched the horrors of Clydebank. I honestly forgot how obese and unattractive 95% of people there are. I think I must just surround myself with the only hot folk in Clydebank. Then since all transportation was shut, hiked it to Dalmuir to visit my gran, where she told me she’d been in the Marines at one stage. They also have this tree painted on the wall at the home where the residents get an apple with their greatest wish on it, and when it’s granted they get to put it on the tree. This is cute when people have stuff like “see a Rangers game”, but I was actually in tears reading them, some people had stuff like “to be able to walk again”, “to be with my husband again” and “to have my health”. These were all on the tree, so I don’t know how they’d granted them. Walked home afterwards with the aim of finding a taxi, which we eventually did, very close to the house, but let me tell you, walking in the snow with bags of shopping is not a fun experience. I told Shields we were playing at being poor people.
That night had mince for dinner, to continue the Scottish cuisine theme and headed to Rufus T’s for drinks for Wallis’ birthday. Again, was good to see everyone and good to see Glasgow. Jordan arrived late so hardly saw him since I wasn’t going to the club afterwards, so he called me when I was on my way home and ended up seeing him for a bit. Returned home wearing a tiger suit. As you do.
On Monday I headed to the airport, where I was running late and had a family in front of me who spoke no English and had no bags to check in but evidently just felt like queueing anyway. Despite running late, I still went to Boots to buy makeup and not one, but 2 meal deals. Still managed to make my flight however and spent the next million hours travelling. Mickael picked me up in Bethune and we headed home. Lily and Elodie were still in hospital, and since I was working all day the next day, he said he’d take me to hospital after work. Got an early night and awoke with no lesson plans other than “I’ll teach them family”. So drew my family tree and labelled it with new vocab for them. They repeatedly mixed up the word “aunt” with “cunt” so would say “my uncle’s wife is my cunt. Her name is Celine”, which I made no attempt to hide my giggles at. When I returned home I opened the door to see Elodie, who it turned out had been released early since Lily had put on enough weight. She’s unbelievably cute. All new-baby squishy way and she smells of babies. I got to give her her bottle the other day and I help give her a bath and stuff. She also sleeps all the time, and drinks all her bottle, they’ve got it lucky so far.
Once again, I’m still not caught up, I’m about a week behind on this blog malark, but I shall try my bestest!