Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Ah Paree, how you render me speechless. Literally.
I took French for years, years. From my first french class aged 11 when my Mum asked me what I'd learnt, 'something about apples' I replied loftily, to which she added 'that'll be je m'appelle then won't it', to AS-level french, taking business notes and being all poncey and reading Le Petit Prince. Who me - poncey? As soon as we got off the plane I realised that I was about as useful as a french poodle to LK and Anna. I could say 'j'ai quinze ans et j'habite en Harrogate', and 'regardes les jolies fleures', but that wasn't going to get me via some sort of public transport into the centre of Paris now was it? And how exactly do you say to the lady at the information desk that you'd forgotten to bring a car seat and was it legal to just hold a child in the back of the taxi? (it is, fortunately). LK was rolling his eyes at me going 'this would have been soo much easier if we'd gone to Barcelona because I not only profess to speak the language, I actually do....'. We made it though, and gradually my ear if not my voice came back. Bloody good job too, because the reason we were going to Paris was not just the £9 flights from Leeds Bradford.
£9, that's right, $18.
So ludicrous a fare it deserves it's own paragraph. Thankyou Jet2. No, LK has a friend who just happens to have a pad in Paris. In the Mayfair of Paris, looking out over Parc Monceau and the Arc de Triomphe. A pad that just happened to be empty. Sacre bleu!
We turned up and the concierge very kindly let us in, and handed us the sheaf of keys, and then proceeded in tres rapide French to explain the intricate use of the keys, and the buzzer system, and the elevateur anciente (a blog in itself) meanwhile I'm smiling like a nodding dog and my brain is grabbing every third word in ten and latching on to them like they're going to save me from drowning.
Concierge 'blah blah blah blah la porte blah blah blah ferme blah blah'
Me 'oo, I think he said door there. Yes I'm pretty sure of that one, door.'
Concierge 'blah blah, gesticulate wildly, blah blah absolument ferme'
Me 'crikey, this sounds like I should at least be taking some of this in. Why don't I just say 'lentement', come on, you know the word, just say it, 'lentement', it's easy, you know the word.'
Concierge 'blah blah il y'a beurre et du lait dans le frigo parce que.....blah blah'
Me - oh great, I know there's butter and milk in the fridge because today's a public holiday, but crap, what was that stuff about the keys. Ummm, 'repetez-vous' is that right, just say it you repressed English idiot. Say it!
Concierge 'alors, d'accord, a tout alors'
Me 'merci beaucoup monsieur' suddenly fluent when it no longer matters.
LK looks at me with a 'well sunshine?' you'd better not just have been merci-ing the poor man to death, and I give him a stern don't mess with me look and just to prove I know exactly what I've just appeared to be listening to, I tell him to look in the fridge for some milk and butter, a-ha, just you look Monsieur Americain! And here, while you're at it, you take the keys, I'm having a bath.
I don't think LK fell for the 'hmm this key does not appear to be working quite how the concierge explained it would' line later that day, but we did manage to get back in the apartment later. Thank the Lord. Photos this weekend I promise.
We had a wonderful time, lots of things to write about, and as usual no time.
I will leave you with a superb quote from my friend F. He's a frenchman married to my best friend S. I told him we'd be going to Paris, and did he have any advice? He said, tell them that you're fifteen years old and come from Harrogate, and be sure to comment on how jolies their fleurs are (no, not really). He actually said 'just be nice'. Just be nice, I thought. Huh, how strange. What he didn't say, and maybe I should have read between the lines, was 'be nice because they might not be.'