Would you like to see a dead elephant?

So after 3 glorious weeks home (and by 3 glorious weeks, I mean 2 glorious weeks and one flu-riddled icky one) our heroine has returned to the dizzying heights of St Cyr sur Loire….

It’s weirdly tiring to travel and when I got back home I was exhausted. Got to my door and realised it was unlocked. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a burglar, it was my landlady who thoughtfully gave me a bag of iron wool stuff and a million-hour lecture on floor waxing and told me that if I just put in a ‘few hours work’, the floor would be beautiful. This from the woman who rented us a house so dirty we had to wash the fucking wallpaper when we moved in. She was there because they’d been doing up the kitchen while we were away and for some reason she felt the need to go through our cupboards while she was at it. She told me, outraged, that the soup pot and salad spinner had been filthy and when I pointed out they weren’t ours and we didn’t use them so we’d never washed them she eyed me like I was lying and triumphantly asked me how we made soup and then looked disgusted when I said we bought premade soup. Gone are the days of landlords who just came over when a pipe burst.

My first week back was invigilating exams which was très, très boring so I shall not sully my blog with it. However, this was the first week of teaching. Since, I teach in France and not a country you’d expect to have an organised education system, like, say, Iraq or Afghanistan, for example, the first week was a tad bumpy. On Monday, I was taking a class which prepares the students for an external English exam they have to take if they want to become teachers of any subject. Having reviewed the example test papers, I printed out all these articles about organic food and had a role-play/debate organised for them. My first clue that something was amiss was when only 3 students turned up (1 of whom turned out to be in the wrong class). My second clue was when I said “ok, so can you write your name and e-mail address on this” and handed one of the girls an attendance sheet. She responded by staring blankly at me and when I asked her if she’d understood she said no. Having realised at this point that if she couldn’t understand “write your name” she was probably not going to be a fine enough orator to be the chairman of a fictional primary school’s PTA trying to persuade a budget-pressured headteacher to switch the kids’ meals to organic. I explained to the girls that I was going to go and print off something at a lower level for them and that I’d be back in 15 minutes. Then, not one but 3 offices’ printers didn’t work and I was running about like a maddy. I eventually decided to wing it and headed back to the room. En route, I met the two girls and they told me that a man had turned up to the class and cancelled it. Utterly confused I eventually met my friend, who had indeed arrived to tell me that due to an administrative fuck up it was cancelled. Vive la France!

The rest of my classes have been great though, I have a lot of the same students as last semester so it’s nice to already have a bit of a rapport going with them. It means that if I trip up over a bin or have chalk all over my boobs or something they’re much more likely to be laughing with me than at me.

I’m also still au-pairing on Wednesdays which is mostly good fun and the girls are lovely. This week though I realised how hard it actually is to look after kids. All I had to do was to take them both to where the wee girl does gymnastics and the older girl was going to roller skate at the skate park next door. This resulted in us leaving about 3 minutes before we were meant to be there (it’s a 20 minute walk), the older one despising me for saying “no helmet, no skating” when she tried to tell me her mum didn’t mind if she wore one or not and the youngest one running about the kitchen screaming and crying because her kitten had licked the bowl we mixed shortbread mix in and thought the kitten would die. Fuck knows how parents do it. I’ll end up being one of those mums you see on the news that’s had her kids living in kennels or something because she just couldn’t cope.

I continue to be baffled by French people. They just don’t seem to follow the same social decorum as the rest of the world. It’s sort of like they’re all a wee bit autistic and don’t try and gloss over anything, ever. After receiving some amourous (and ignored) messages from a colleague, I chose to delete him from Facebook, since I follow the British rule of let’s-ignore-things-and-see-if-they-go-away. He, however, now acts normally to my face then sends me creepy messages literally about a minute after I see him. I got a message the other day along the lines of “see how I don’t blame you for deleting me from Facebook. I always help you out with a smile, there’s no problem between us :)”. Which I read as “One day, I will fucking murder you in your sleep :)”.

I’ll sign off with the best question I was asked by a student this week. “madame, would you like to see a dead elephant?”.

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