When the sun gets down, so do we

The Saturday after my last blog, I went back through to Lille. I felt sketchy walking through Vieux Lille (the nice bit, but weirdly, also the bit with the hoors), the French girls are always dressed in their major-casual-yet-chic way, wearing layers upon layers in 30 degree heat, whereas when I went out I was dressed sort of like a cartoon 6 year old, all bright colours and mini-skirt. I find it funny, Elodie told me that when she was in England, and went to a club “the girls there were dressed like princesses, but absolutely out their faces”, girls here just don’t dress up for anything whatsoever. A guy even asked me once if it was true that girls in the UK went out in short skirts and heels, and -gasp- no jacket. He asked me half-jokingly, as if this was just some sort of ridiculous stereotype, and I was like…..yes, that is exactly what we do. We will then end the night with a chips-and-something snack, which we will promise taxi drivers we will definitely not eat in the taxi, but which we definitely will eat in the taxi, we may even have to stop to be sick on the way home….but let’s not act like the UK isn’t classy. Ava, bless her, described the ladies, based on her Glaswegian experience as “they may not have the figures of the girls in LA and Vegas…but they’re 100 times nicer”….this is what happens when you take Americans to £1 a drink Thursdays at Common, classy times. I digress. Walked through the VL hood, stopping on the way to pick up a tenners worth of cakes (that translates as 3, in France) at a bakery, and arrived Chez Coralie.

Sat and ate our cakes, then went to get our booze for the night. The woman at Marché Plus must wonder why we don’t have rickets since all we ever buy is vodka, wine and eggs. The wine here also comes under the Primark-effect of everything being cheap so when something is actually a normal price you scoff and refuse to buy it, we realised we were like “3.40€ for a bottle of wine?! That’ll be right”, but the wine here is nicer than back home, and like 2€, it seems to be the only thing that’s cheaper. Tell a lie, waxing is also weirdly cheap for some reason.

Ava’s friend, Kaitlin, was visiting from the states so they were still in Paris when I arrived at their gaff, and by the time they got back, me and Corcor had put away 2 bottles of wine and were sitting listening to such recent hits as My Neck, My Back and TLC. Eventually got everyone out the house at 1am, and this is where we entered some sort of time wormhole. The club is a fair hike away, probably about 45 mins walk, but we didn’t get to the club till 3am…1h15 has gone awol. What I do know is that we met many people on the route, most of whom, your classic French charmers (read: North-African-French guys who will shout to you in the street). My normal response to this is a well-practised confused look and “What? Sorry, I don’t speak French”, which that night, the guy responded to with some dirty comment (taking advantage of my not-speaking-French). I think he might’ve realised I did actually speak French when I shouted “Ta guele! Va te faire enculer…..pfft putain!” [“Shut the fuck up! Go fuck yourself….pffft fuck!”]. I’ve definitely picked up some interesting phrases here. I did meet a nice man who gave me his LOSC scarf in exchange for a little bisous, LOSC won the league that night, so it was again a brilliant atmosphere in the streets. My glory hunting has done well for LOSC, fan for a week and they’ve won the league and the cup?? Anyway, got a lift from some mecs (again, personal safety regards have gone out the window here) to vaguely near the club, with Ava deciding the whole way there that we were going the wrong way and that the guys were taking the piss. It’s surprisingly hard to talk down drunk, paranoid girls. For some reason, I knew the way and knew it was all good. Anyway, vaguely near the club, we were talking to some old men from my hood who were disappointed with me for wearing a LOSC scarf and not supporting a team nearer chez moi, disgusting. Our next lift was from 2 guys in a Smart car. That’s 2 guys, plus 4 girls in a Smart car. 6 people, in a 2 people car. It was certainly interesting to have 4 people in a front seat and 2 girls sitting in an open boot with their legs hanging out. Thankfully, it was only 10 mins in a residential hood, so no one was maimed.

We know one of the guys that works at the club so it was a cheap night since we got in for free, papped in the VIP lounge with a bottle of GG and some red bull. I felt it was far too classy for girls that then danced like fuds on the dancefloor. Every so often in French clubs, I love to just look round, I know I’ve mentioned it before, but we’ll be dancing like crazy and you look round, and the French are just standing about whereas we look like provocative epileptics on ecstasy. Ava’s mec, Terence, turned up as a surprise so she went home shortly after with him and offered us a lift, but we were in no mood for hometime, so roughed it out till French club shutting time of whenever-they-feel-like-it-o’clock, in this case 6:15am. It’s always a bit disorientating to come out of club when it’s light. Headed for the metro where we were horrified to discover it didn’t begin until 6:40am. This led to about 20 folk that had been at the club all lying about on the platform like some sort of homeless shelter. Some guy had also been with Kaitlin in the club and was concerned she thought he was gay (him kissing a guy may have led to this wild assumption), and since Katie doesn’t speak a word of French, the guy gave me some spiel for about 15 minutes (while I was trying to sleep) and apparently I just turned to Katie and went “he’s not gay” and went back to sleeping, while the guy looked crestfallen with my paraphrasing of his speech.

In Glasgow at the end of the night you find something fried and something with sauce on, in Lille this is only possible right on the strip and since we were not right on the strip we were left with a bakery inside Gare Lille Flandres (the train station), open to service the early morning communters, and drunk girls wanting hot croissaints. Walked through the market on the way home, then KOed the second I got home. Slept till half 2 and woke up, a horrendous mess of death. This was unfortunate as my train was at 4, and meant I had to leave the house. Had that horrendous actually painful stomach on the walk, and decided I had to eat something, so stopped at the bakery (sensing a pattern here), where I waited behind English people trying to order in English, then realising this was not going to work asking for “dos, por favor”. The amount of time it took for them all to get their stuff I left in a huff and settled for a street vendor en route. Didn’t call Mick to come and pick me up (I live 45 mins walk from the station), since the thought of being in a car (or, the thought of vomitting in someone else’s car) was not appealing.

Here’s the part where I’ll miss out a week of my life. It wasn’t that exciting, I tried to work on my dissertation (now on 7 words approx). Since I’d lost my bankcard I also lived that week on like 3euros, it wasn’t hard to do since I get driven to school and didn’t go out. Losing your bank card in any other non-3rd world country would result in a new card being delivered to you within 2 days. Not so, in France, home of wine, cheese, bread and bureaucracy. First I had to call to say yes, I have drunkenly lost my bankcard, no I did not have my pin written on it (yes, I’m foreign but no, I’m not a moron) to cancel my card. I was then given a reference number that I then had to write to the bank with (thank god for e-mail), then wait patiently 8 days (E-I-G-H-T DAYS) to then go in person 35 mins drive from my house to pick it up. Some may say, speedy and efficient! I did become French that week though, it was 31degrees and me and Lauri were going shopping for a necklace for Lily’s christening and I wore…..black jeans. Back home I’d essentially be quite happy to leave the house in my scants and a pair of sunglasses, France has made nice weather the norm.

So last week Elodie was away on a school trip with our Euro classes to England so me, Mick and her essentially set up a sweat shop of dossier-making in the living room,making up information packs for every kid going. Tried to get the wee yin involved, but at 6 months she can’t grip things, let alone listen to me repeatedly telling her “Lily! The British Museum one goes in the Warwick Castle leaflet….fuck sake!”. Mick was off work so I wasn’t looking after Lily on my own that much, so I can report she made it through the week alive. Thought I had this baby thing nailed though, apparently I don’t. We were giving her her bath and Mickael was away doing something, so I was playing with her and washing her in her wee bath chaise longue and she just shat everywhere. I actually just looked at her for about a minute, being like what the fuck do I do. I had a baby in one hand and a bottle of baby-oil in the other, and I was just like, right, brilliant, well that’s happened….what now.

Was meant to be heading to Paris from mine, early doors on the Friday morning, but Coralie called me and told me there was a party at Nicke’s boyfriend’s gaff the Thursday night so decided to forego my plans. Nicke moved back to Germany last month, but came back for a lil (should I say Lille?) holiday chez son mec. Headed through in the daytime and we went to the supermarket to get booze and guacamole ingredients while the guys bought bags of meat for a bbq (stereotypes ahoy). I was meant to have a date but shamefully feigned migraine when I heard ‘barbecue’. Our plan was then to go shopping, this turned into sitting outside in the courtyard, getting some sun about us, limboing and drinking. It was such a nice day and we all sat round the table eating and I was just thinking, I could NEVER imagine my guy friends making lunch and making big salads and going to the bakery for bread and stuff, you would actually get the piss ripped right out of you, if you did. Sat out drinking for a wee while longer, soaking up the sun. I also realised the next day in this time I made it through of full pack of cigarettes and a few joints, which is fairly impressive for a non-smoker. Anyway, Coralie and I finally motivated ourselves to go back to hers to pick up some red-cups for beer-pong. We were in a hurry, so naturally this being France, our bus driver stopped for 10 minutes so he could pick up some planks of wood, which he then flung in the disabled area of the bus, much to the bemusement of everyone else on the bus. Seeing as Coralie’s flatmate’s a knob we ended up with 0 redcups, so quelle wasted trip!

Made it back and made some quesadillas while the boys made bbq, a few other folk turned up, mostly the guys girlfriends who were all really cool. One girl asked me if I was English then when I corrected her she went “oh really, I did my Erasmus placement in Glasgow, do you know it?”. Was cool to meet someone that knew about my hood. She was very diplomatic when answering her opinion of it “Well, I was there from September until December so it was not a nice time to be there, but I loved the people”. I feel that about sums it up! A few of them had also done a road trip in the states and had brought back with them the cultural experience of Circle of Death. It was definitely amusing to hear “seex eez for deeks!” and even more amusing to hear some of it getting translated [“allez les putes!”]. Everyone got silly drunk, managed to start a dance party, managed to get half an hours sleep before getting my train to Paris. Paris, which I shall update on when I can find some more time!

A+ les potes!

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