Tuesday, May 02, 2006

PARLEZ-VOUS FRANGLAIS?

It’s been a while since I took the time to update this blog. I’ve been busy with the house one, and life post-milkfactory has been both rather hectic and chaotic in recent weeks, with so many things happening all at once, and not as they are supposed to either, which makes the lot rather disturbing in some ways. I can’t really say much at the moment but some things are looking up. All I know for now is that giving up themilkfactory for a bit was supposed to give me a chance to focus on other things, but it hasn't got my life less cluttered.

I am just back from a long weekend in Paris to see Hélène and Laurent who I hadn’t seen since Hélène’s sister’s wedding in July 2004! Their lovely daughter Margaux (named after Margaux Hemmingway) has grown up and is a proper little lady now at 4 and a half, the half being very important of course. Apparently, her parents were hoping for a quiet evening from her on Friday when I arrived while she was ‘being shy’, but it lasted the whole of half an hour. Playmobils helped breaking the ice, and after that, the little sweetheart was telling me everything there was to know about all sorts of things all evening.

It was very good to catch up with Hélène and Laurent too. As Hélène teaches English, I went along to a couple of her lessons on Saturday morning, pretending to be a proper English person for the morning. Although I wasn’t supposed to understand any French during the lessons, I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the comments Hélène was making to her classes in French, so we had to tell the kids I could understand a bit but couldn’t speak, which was a laugh. During the second period, one of the kids, who has been very seriously ill all year and has missed most of the three terms actually asked me a question in English, which made Hélène very happy I think as she hadn’t really heard him say anything at all for a very long time. Beside being a bit of fun for me and a different way to get her message across for Hélène, the purpose of the exercise was very much to make these kids see that what they learn during English lessons is actually real, and the fact that this kid asked a question, got understood, and got a reply summed it up in the best possible way.

Saturday afternoon was spent wandering in the streets of Paris between the horrible Les Halles and the rather nice Le Louvres, via boulevard de Rivoli. We passed in front of the old Samaritaine department store which, Hélène told me, closed down a couple of years ago because it was found that, in case of fire, the place would have been a death-trap. Bringing the store in line with safety regulations would have been too costly, so it was closed and split into a variety of shops, which is a shame really as this was one of the pillars of Parisian shopping. We then had coke and muffins in the shopping centre under Le Louvres before making our way back.

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The Samaritaine department store from the Seine

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Inside the old store

The rest of the weekend was spent chilling out and enjoying the company of my friends. Being in France always feels a bit strange, and I found that I was struggling to speak a great deal this time, with English words coming up in conversations all the time. I don’t really worry about it if I am talking to Hélène as she understands whatever the language I speak, but it can become very embarrassing very quickly. I also found myself bastardising English words all weekend so they sounded French. ‘Experiencing something’ became ‘experiencer quelque chose’ for instance…

Cuba is looming on the horizon. I can’t believe we have been talking about it and looking forward to it for a year, and it is now just around the corner. Sean and I are taking the train to Manchester on Friday, and we’re all flying out at some point on Saturday. The fact that the house is still far from being comfortable to live in is adding to the pressure of getting everything organised before we go. I need to move some of the stuff from the spare bedroom to the office and move all the clothes downstairs so the builders can get on with doing up both bedrooms while we’re away. Work is very busy too, with loads of ‘how to do’ guides and graphics needing creating before I go. I really hate doing these guides things are they rapidly become very repetitive to write, and I am always worried in case they are not detailed enough or I have missed something really important just because it seems so natural to me but is not. Oh well, last push before two weeks in the sun!

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