La vraie rentrée

There are many things about Tours which I didn’t expect. For example, there is a ridiculous number of vintage cars. When I first got here I assumed there was a convention but no, 4 weeks on they’re still here. The other strange thing is that throughout the city there is a fruity, synthetic smell that I can only describe as smelling “purple”. However, my favourite unexpected find is the high number of Mentals. These aren’t your Glasgow Buckfast-Stab-You-In-The-Face mentals. These are a certain pedigree of charming characters. There’s a high population of what my mum would describe as “crusties”, those who all dress in sort of baggy trousers, dreadlocks and look like you would feel the need to wash your hands if they gave you anything. Anyway, one such of these gentleman who was pushing 50 and looked like he’d taken far too much acid about 20 years ago was at the guinguette (the riverside, open-air bar-restaurant) the other night and tried to entice me into a dance with him, I brushed him off and then he started trying to dance with a girl near me, I continued to watch him and while he was dancing (the girl just looking at him) he reached his hand up to his mouth and just held his 2 front teeth with his fingers, I had the natural thought of “what the fuck is he doing” and a split second later he just whipped out his (false) teeth. I’d just like to clarify, this man removed his false teeth as part of a seductive dance routine. I screamed. I’ve also seen another mental, also toothless. She too was spotted at the guinguette, wearing an 80s sundress, white sports socks and slippers. I then saw her the next night wandering about the town, in a different sundress and different slippers AND then again the next night. She must have quite a collection of slippers, really.

Clément came down this week to see me. He’s so cute, he got off the train in a suit with a massive bunch of flowers for me. I’d gone out in a tshirt without so much as a cardigan and just after I left the house it was torrential, so I was at the train station like a drowned rat. We spent the week having a wander about Tours, he now knows the city almost as well as I do since I had 2 3 hour meetings whilst he was here and he spent the time meandering about. We went out for dinner a few nights and went to a crêperie one night that had half the menu in English. I think I found my overall favourite translation error, a crêpe boasting that its filling was “St Jack’s nuts, without coral”, which by that they actually meant “scallops”. Appetising. It was so nice to have him here and I’ve just booked a train to go and stay with him for a few days on Wednesday, which means I’ll also see my French family up north!

On the Friday afternoon I got given my timetable, which contained classes that I had no idea what they were. They’re not as simply marked as “English Comprehension First Year” it’s more like you have the “hvrhgr4944” class, which is great. So spent the weekend frantically trying to contact staff to see what the class was and eventually got an email half an hour before my class on Monday telling me that for the first class I should “simply” give a presentation on the British education system. Despite timetables being so last minute, mine is now much better. Previously I was in Mon 8am-Fri 19:30 and now I only work 2 days. Admittedly, 2 very full days, but 2 days nonetheless….hurrah! My first week’s classes went reasonably well and I have a better idea now of what I’m meant to be doing. I’ll definitely need to give the kids a lesson on “miss/ms/mrs” at some point. I’ve had students put up their hand and say “missus, I need some help” and I have received no fewer than 3 emails addressing me as “Mrs”. I feel like next week I’ll need to rock up with headphones in and the obligatory Longchamp bag and sit down and be like “Mrs [surname]? Pleeeeeease, that’s my mother’s name”.

Moving out has also made me much more of a grown up than normal. I’ve become much more like my mum, I can’t sit still and am constantly doing something, whereas before I was a lot more procrastinatey. I’m also taking a weird pride in having a nice house and organising meals and making sure the bins are out and stuff. Perhaps instead of progressing I’m actually regressing to my nursery-age self and just playing house. We get paid next week but we only get 70% the first month then they give us 130% in October and since we need to pay extra rent this month, we’ve worked out that we have 40e a week to play with after our bills etc are paid. Normally, I’d tap my parents for money but I feel that at age 23, it would be getting ridiculous, and since there are people much worse off than me and still manage to survive I’ve decided to go it alone and see how far 40euros gets you in a week. However, with 2 hungry flatmates, cannibalism could run rife. I think year-abroads have already had enough bad publicity thanks to Amanda Knox, so I’ll try and stick to eating pasta every night for a month! Bissssssoooooouuuussss!

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