Autres temps, autres moeurs

So since my last post I returned to La Belle Ecosse for a fortnight of Christmas merriment and flu. I’ve been back in France for nearly a fortnight now, so thought it was about time I post something.

I don’t know why, since I’ve only been back twice, but the journey between Glasgow and Paris now feels like groundhog day, it’s quite sad that I’ve been to Paris 3 times and only seen anything but the airport on one visit.

Arrived at the airport about an hour earlier than I needed to, since last time I was practically sprinting to the plane, and after the excitment of having to get my handgel tested to see if it was a bomb, I sat in the lounge reading Frankie Boyle’s book (very funny, bit too standuppy, autobiographical bits are better), after a while I realised I was at the entirely wrong gate and had to go downstairs into this weird waiting room thing I’ve never seen before and it was unbelievably disease-ridden, literally everyone was coughing and it felt like I was seeing the world through the well-cleansed eyes of a person with OCD. Arrived back at Bethune, where Mickael picked me up, and I realised how rusty my French was…  After two weeks. Quelle horreur! Thankfully I’m back on track now.

Was still rundown with the flu, so was feeling a bit miserable to be back, but then I got my Christmas presents…hurrah! They’re so sweet, they got me lots of french sweets and treats I’ve come to love, a top with chained shoulder pads (they know me so well now) from Lily and Lauri got me a giftcard for a massage and another for a clothes shop, so I was considerably cheered up. Elodie phoned me in sick the next two days and I hid myself away from Lily, lest I gave her the flu.

Finally went back to school on the Thursday, had wee bastards in my last class, when 2 wee boys stood up to argue with each other, and when I told them to sit down, one of them just went “attends” which is like saying “wait a minute, hen”, and had to write in their carnets (report books), with one of the wee boys’ case for not having points taken from him was that he had none left to take away….well you are quite the model pupil!

On Friday I went to stay with Ava in Lille for a night on the tiles of the north. Sat in and Myra made us yummy dinner whilst we got ready. Since I was the only non-American, when I said “fortnight”….I got bemused looks and was told that if they said that they’d feel like Shakespeare. It turns out the differences in English run deeper than “sidewalk/pavement”. Both drinking and rain then commenced, so that we left the house clutching bottles of Leffe, with scarves wrapped round our heads making us look like pale, law-breaking Muslims. Arrived at Latina, Lille’s premier salsa and latin establishment, and after a while Coralie got bored and told me “this is wack, let’s go”…it was possibly the most American thing I’ve heard.

Leaving the club, there was a fight outside on the street, nothing exceptional, just your classic bloody-nose punch up type affair, but the Americans were all horrified, describing the French as “brutal”, and I think it’s only then you realise how much fighting there actually is in Glasgow, I think I’ll get them all to come visit and pap them on the 66 nightbus, we’ll see what happens there. Anyway, the police fired out some teargas (they seem to do this for incredibly petty reasons), so we made a hasty exit and headed for Network, another club, where we danced the night away. On leaving the club, this guy walked past me, absolutely wrecked and muttering something. I don’t think I would have understood him if he was talking in English. So, he turned round and walked past me again, this time grabbing my ass, so I turned round and hit him, and the second I did it his face completely changed and things looked like they were about to turn nasty. Thankfully Myra’s half-French so jumped in between us and started pushing him away and giving it some French chat. May need to work on my diffusing-situations French, I don’t remember that module at uni.

The next day largely consisted of the same way I’d deal with the morning-after in Glasgow, Subway and H&M, stayed at Ava & Myra’s again, but didn’t go out since I was not feeling vraiment bien.

Sunday morning, hopped on the subway to take one of only 4 trains that went to my stop that day (helpful), managed to make it several stops away before realising my makeup bag was sitting on Ava’s bathroom unit, so had to do a quick turnaround and practically jog back to her place to pick it up, then sprint back to the metro to attempt to get my train. Thankfully made it, with even enough time to pick up my new favourite heart-attack-inducing snack, pain au chocolat à la noisette, noisettes being hazlenuts. By this title, I assumed it was your standard pain au chocolat, with a sprinkling of hazlenuts on top, but upon sampling my purchase I realised it was in fact filled with chocolate hazlenut paste. The French don’t get fat and eat this…..I STILL do not understand.

When I got home my greed was continued with a cutie-patooty French tradition of galette des rois (galette of the kings). Basically, bakers all put tiny figurines (everything ranging from the traditional Virgin Mary, to the risqué Kama Sutra) into a galette (a type of cake) at this time of year, everyone picks a slice and whoever finds the trinket gets to be the king or queen and wear the gold card crown that comes with it. It celebrates something to do with the 3 wise men…..I think. First Mickael’s niece and her mum and sister were over, so I had a slice then, even though I was still feeling sickly-full after my chocolate-hazlenut-delight, then when Elo’s family arrived I forced down another slice, all in the aim of finding a figurine of either Tom or Jerry. Sadly, I was not crowned.

The week sped by, filled with nice classes and not-so-nice classes. The same girl I’d had tell me she wasn’t leaving my class when I sent her out, did the exact same this week, it’s frustrating but the vast majority of pupils are still far better behaved than the school I went to, so you’ve got to have a few dicks. I was doing physical descriptions with them this week, just your basic “I have long, blonde hair”, and it presented the awkward situation of asking everyone in the class to describe themselves, and inevitably having a fat child which someone else in the class would brand “heavy”, and having to gloss over it.

On Saturday I went to Lille with the two Hannahs with the aim of looking round the shops and seeing a movie. They have amazing sales here, like everyone starts their sales on the same day and things are much more discounted than in the UK. They have a Sephora which I could happily spend hours in, but sadly most of the good stuff was gone, so only picked up a Nars lipgloss. Went for lunch in a cute little place in the cobbled streets of the fancier part of Lille and then wandered to the cinema. Found a market tucked away in the courtyard in between buildings, again very cute and very French. As we were walking down the street we noticed a protest (no shock for France) against whatever’s going down in Tunisia right now. When we thought it had ended (ie. the banner’s subsided) we continued down the street, to notice we were the only ones walking against the sea of people who were definitely still protesting. A nice man stopped to show us his sign and explain what was going on (still no idea).

It was a treat to see a film in English (my first in 4 months!), we went to see the Green Hornet and despite 3D giving me a migraine, I do love a bit of Seth Rogen. It wasn’t that well developed I guess, one of those films with a lot of threads. On the train on the way home we had a french man sat next to us who obviously understood a bit of English so would look up and shake his head or laugh every so often. It was bizarre, I don’t know if he wanted to join in or just show he understood English.

I’m helping out with Lily more now, I got to babysit yesterday and it was so fun, she’s just adorable. She was crying so I was singing all the songs my mammy sang to me, then sat down with her and she fell asleep lying across on my chest. Elodie and I were giving her her bath in the evening and Elodie was asking me if I wanted kids, saying learning all this and spending time with Lily was good preparation, and then proceeded to sing me a song about a girl having a baby all alone. I did stress kids in the future. And touched wood.

I feel like I haven’t travelled whilst I’ve been here, so off for a weekend to Paris and one to Amsterdam next month, hurrah! It’s a nightmare to coordinate places you can meet people coming from Glasgow, it’s high time someone invented a search engine for this.

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