Coucou mes chéris

I need to start writing this more regularly, like most neglected posts I’m going to sum up my week by saying that I had some right wee arseholes who I had to discipline, and also some lovely kids. I was doing “physical descriptions” again with the young ‘uns and for some reason every time I drew the “I am heavy” picture, someone would exclaim “wow! That’s one big mama!”, the phrases they pick up from TV etc are hilarious. I also had a child asking if he could show me his Michael Jackson impersonation, mid-lesson. Naturally, this would disrupt the lesson and was in no way appropriate to the topic, so I let him. It was actually pas mal.

One of the teachers has recently come to my attention as being shit-on-the-walls mental. No, that’s not an accurate description. Put it this way, he’s the kind of person that if I had to give an interview to the news after it turned out he was a serial killer who killed a bunch of prostitutes as a release for his mummy issues, I wouldn’t be telling them I hadn’t seen it coming. So, at lunch sometimes I daydream, and if you daydream when everyone is speaking English, you still subconsciously know what’s going on so can dive back into the conversation if needs be, but here it’s all just background noise. I was promptly grounded when he asked me, in English, “Guess what age my neighbour’s daughter lost her virginity at?”, while I repeated what he’d said and looked at the other teachers as in, has he made a hilarious linguistic error we’ll all later recount to other teachers in the staffroom over cups of vending machine coffee? But no, they gave me a look to say yes,-we-too-know-he’s-mental. So I told him I had absolutely no idea and he said “10 months” and laughed (potentially the first time I’ve heard what could be described as ‘maniacal’ in real life), and I thought, oh brilliant, baby-rape is apparently hilarious now. Then he said “comment dit ‘suppositoire’ en anglais?” which means “how do you say ‘suppository’ in English?” then laughed again. Naturally, I was left baffled and disturbed. Asked one of the teachers I’d been sitting with later what the fuck he was geein it, and she told me that, in fact, the neighbour has put a suppository in the wrong hole, but that she too, assumed it was baby-rape. Brilliant.

On Wednesday I had a nightmare class (made a child cry again. brilliant) then my last class got cancelled, so I left early. I walked home from school this week, it’s about an hour’s walk, but I actually enjoyed it since I hadn’t seen much of that town since I’m always in the car. However, part of it’s on the main road where there’s no pavement, and since the road is bordered by fields, I was walking along the very muddy edge. Both days I walked, a lone-man in a car stopped to offer me a lift. Not the same lone man, that would have been weird. I asked Mickael if this was normal behaviour here and he asked if it was a man or a woman and when I told him he just laughed and said “forcement”, which is basically French for “well, no surprises there, then”. Apparently the world’s romance capital has descended to trying to seduce girls with lifts home next to fields, probably taking its lead from Yorkshire. It’s funny though, in Glasgow guys are full-on and if a guy shouts at you or whatever it’s normally something leading to an aggressive sexual assault, whereas here they’re more likely to shout across the street that you’re beautiful.

I don’t work on Fridays, so after watching some Desperate Housewives with baby Lily I headed to Lille to investigate the sales and run a few errands. For some reason, Lille is still a maze at times, so failed at finding the main shopping street but decided to run with it and investigated all the tucked-away cobbled streets with indie boutiques, found a few treasures. Was again baffled by France’s attitude to opening hours when I found a vintage shop that was open from 5pm-7:30pm. This means that they’ve gone to a bank here and gone “I want to open a shop for 2 and a half hours a day” and the bank’s turned round and gone “smashing! Have some euros!”.

Also, whenever I’m on my own people seem to talk to me here a lot, this lead to several people telling me I had a jolie (pretty) accent. I know that if French people are speaking English it’s normally a jolie accent but I didn’t realise my near-butchering of français was a two-way street. Lily has this giraffe toy that you pull the string and it plays music, and Lauri was over the other night and asked how you got music to play and I explained and he was just like “giraffe! giraffe!” and was just all round delighted with this and made me say it several times over the evening along with saying his name. French people also love hearing their names with an accent.

On Saturday, I met the two Hannahs and Oodson’s friend paul on the train to Arras, after being again, stopped by men in a car who I tried to brush off by saying I didn’t speak French (it’s not hard to pretend) and who then asked for English lessons. God loves a trier. Anyway, after a traditional French lunch of quesadilla salad, we went looking for carrière Wellington which is a WW1 monument. It’s a series of tunnels that troops occupied during the war. We saw where they were living and the steps they ran up to go out to battle, led by a French guide named Ben who kept saying “shall we continue? Let’s go….only if you want to”, as if we were going to turn round at any moment and go “fuck this, Ben. I’m doing the off”. It was actually really sad, there were pictures of guys younger than me that had died from pneumonia because their superiors wouldn’t let them wear coats on the battlefield, so that they were more agile.

Then went into Lille, for a night on the tiles. Headed for Ava & Myra’s gaff, got ready and headed to another assistant’s (Jessica) flat. I’d never met her before, but I ended up knowing half the folk there since everyone basically knows every English speaker in Lille or it turns out they’re someone’s flatmates. Good fun was had, it was a totally giggly, drunken girls’ night, which I feel was aptly caricatured when Shirnette fell off a chair….during never have I ever, quelle cartoon! Left and hopped on the metro to get to the club, which was a few streets away, by this point I was walking along, full of rioja, joint in hand, just having one of those “Christ, I love life” moments. This moment was shattered when a group of guys walking on the other side of the street overheard us talking in English and therefore decided to start shouting stupid stuff in English. Naturally we gave it the “aye, very good, jog on” attitude, until completely out of the blue 2 of the boys on a bike cycled past and slapped Jessica, for no reason. Then it was like all hell broke loose, Jessica started chasing the guys who jumped off the bike and knocked her to the ground, so Coralie and I ran up to help her. The other guys (there were about 5 involved) then started joining in, I put my hands up between Jessica and the guy and was like “leave it!”, which apparently in French means “punch me, thanks”. Somehow the guys ended up leaving and we were left with some upset ladies. I don’t get it, in Glasgow if a guy hit a girl his own pals would turn round and hit him for hitting a ladytype. Headed to the club after that where Boy George is apparently doing a DJ set next month. I sincerely hope he gets dropped at the door, I can’t imagine he’d fare too well, walking down that street either.

Couldn’t sleep well that night so ended up leaving Ava’s 2 hours early for my train home, with the intention of having a look about the shops. However, I forgot 2 things. That it was Sunday and that France takes a similar attitude to work on a Sunday as those in 1845. Nothing was open, at all, so I had a wander about then decided to install myself in the 3 Brasseurs (Brasserie) for the remainder of time til my train. Had a yummy goats cheese, toast, bacon salad and wrote some dissertation ideas on a napkin. So far this is all I’ve done, I’m not sure I can hand this in. Headed to the train station and forgot exactly which train was mine, so asked at the desk and I was told the next train was exactly 3 hours from now. I told him there was definitely one in the next half hour and he said because some connections were cancelled, I had a better chance with that one. I then heard an announcement about a replacement bus service, which was so crackly I could hardly hear, so headed outside only to be told my bus had left, but that there was a train in 20 minutes. I don’t know what’s wrong with France but sometimes they don’t know their arse from their elbow.

I’m in school writing this in the middle of a 2 and a half hour lunch, and tomorrow I have one class, it really is a hard life.

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