petite anglaise

August 29, 2005

bribery

Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaise @ 3:57 pm

A loud, repetitive sound, not unlike rapid machine gun fire, echoes around the almost empty plane, which is basking in the late afternoon sunlight on the tarmac of Leeds Bradford airport.

I hope to goodness that Tadpole won’t choose this precise moment to fill her nappy, as I won’t be able to remedy the situation until the plane is airborne, and the fasten seatbelt signs have been switched off. I am relieved that no-one seems to have noticed this little outburst, however.

Until, that is, Tadpole yells “Mummy! Did a prout!” at the top of her lungs, collapsing into a mirthful little mass of giggles.

Unfortunately, I fear I am the only person on the plane who heard that all important punctuation. Tadpole doesn’t do personal pronouns yet, which can give rise to a certain ambiguity.

Cheeks blazing, I reach for my magazine. Tadpole promptly grabs it, giving me her reading material in exchange. I sigh, and leaf through her brand new colouring book, while Tadpole pores over photos of British C-list celebs in Heat, seemingly fascinated. As she hasn’t had a nap today, and is therefore a volatile little element, I decide against challenging her.

Instead, I unveil my secret weapon. A little unwise, at this early stage in the journey, but needs must.

I pull a pair of gingerbread men out of my bag.

She may be old enough to have her own seat, wear her own seatbelt, and have her own drink and snacks from the air hostesses’ trolley, but she’s not yet old enough to eat a gingerbread man and read a magazine simultaneously.

Mummy: 1, Tadpole 0.

Only one and a half hours to go…

August 26, 2005

Guest post: Tadpole

Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaise @ 12:01 pm

Bonjour!

Ive grown!!!

My trousers and my old jeans are too small and my new jeans slip down a bit.

On Wednesday Grandma washed my hair – I didnt mind at all!

Do you remember the sponge balls that I used to bite? Now I know what they are for! They are fun! Grandma says I can Bend it like Beckham – what does she mean?

I think I’ve convinced Grandma that potties are just for fun. Anyway she says it’s too cold to play in the garden with a bare bottom. She has something she says is a toilet seat but I know its a picture frame as my face just fits in it. She says you can borrow it but I don’t think you’ve got any pictures that size.

Grandad and Auntie R took me to the swing park again. There’s a slide (a “super-toboggan”, just like in Dora), an elephant and a great roundabout. When I got back to the car I couldn’t get in my seat. I said in my best tired voice “Auntie R do it – je suis fatiguée.”

I’ve drawn some really amazing pictures. Tell Daddy I drew Mamie and Papy in their car. And Noddy. With a bell on his hat.

I gave my dolly with the blonde plaits a name – Michael, like Auntie S’s boyfriend – but after a day I decided it didn’t really suit her.

I’d better go. Grandad needs me to help him with his vegetables for the Gardeners Guild show tomorrow and the sun has come out at last!

See you in the morning.

Lots of love,

Tadpole xxxxxx

August 25, 2005

daydreaming

Filed under: mills & boon — petiteanglaise @ 11:34 am

I should, by rights, be feeling blue.

My Lover is wending his way back to Rennes, as I write, after an idyllic month spent together, pretty much joined at the hip. The sky is the disappointing grey of a favourite t-shirt which has been accidentally washed with something black. As I write, a fine rain begins to fall, covering the window in tiny droplets. The kind colleague who usually provides buttery brioche on Thursday mornings is on holiday; my tummy growls in protest.

I feel good. Regardless. Images from the last three months dance in my head, keeping the demons at bay.

In my mind’s eye, I see myself knocking at a door, leaning my hot, flushed cheek against the smooth wall of the hotel corridor, heart pounding, barely able to draw breath as I wait for him to open it.

I see us kissing in the metro, and remember my wistful feelings when once I wrote about other people doing the same.

I feel the knots in my stomach as my TGV train hurtles towards Rennes for my first visit. Is it really possible for two hours to crawl by so excruciatingly slowly?

The tappety tap of his fingers on the laptop keyboard echo in my head as I drift in and out of sleep, half dreaming, half aware of my surroundings. Opening my eyes, I spy a cup of tea steaming on the bedside table, and smile.

Reaching the end of a chapter, I raise my eyes from my book and give him a surreptitious, sideways glance as I take a sip from my wine. He looks up, sensing my stare. Why is it that the longest, darkest eyelashes are always wasted on men?

Tadpole is shrieking with excitement as he swings her high into the air and onto his shoulders. Daddy is, and will always be, irreplacable, but I am relieved and cautiously optimistic at how well she seems to be getting on with the new man in our lives.

I daydream about our future. I see myself putting down my paintbrush momentarily, in the house we are renovating, so I can grope his bottom through his overalls. Or taking his hand and pressing it firmly to my belly. I test the sound of his surname with my christian name and like what I hear.

So many tantalising possibilities.

August 23, 2005

name calling

Filed under: misc — petiteanglaise @ 12:03 pm

Finding a suitable name to describe the man in my life is proving almost as difficult as finding a name I approve of to refer to certain parts of my anatomy.

The word “boyfriend” makes me feel as though I have time travelled back to being sixteen again, with all the enthusiastic ineptitude/dry humping that teen relationships evoke. This couldn’t be further from our reality: he is divorced with two children, I have a daughter, and we are both on the wrong side of thirty. The French equivalent “mon petit ami” is even worse. My little friend? I don’t think so. It sounds like something that lives in one’s trousers. “Mon copain”, on the other hand, is a bit too matey and casual for my liking. It can be used to mean any male friend, not just Mr Right.

I encountered a similar problem with Mr Frog, exacerbated by the fact that we had chosen to have a baby out of wedlock. I often found myself referring to him in conversation as “Tadpole’s dad” (“son papa”), which eerily foreshadowed the events which were to follow, as it carries with it, to my mind, an implication of separation. Her father. Not my anything.

Often, if an acquaintance or a stranger made the assumption that Mr Frog was actually “mon mari”, I chose to go with the flow and let them go on thinking we were married. It just seemed easier that way. Although I do recall a heated exchange with my mother once on that subject. She was lamenting the fact that she didn’t know how to refer to Mr Frog when talking to her friends. Exasperated, I retorted that I was hardly about to get hitched just to make her life easier by putting her out of her semantic misery.

“Partner”, which I find somehow cold and clinical in English, aside from any same sex relationship undertones, doesn’t really have a French equivalent. Living together, or co-habiting, is known as “concubinage” in French, a choice of vocabulary which I personally feel uncomfortable with, conjuring up as it does images of courtesans, kept women and secondary wives.

Feeling thoroughly let down by both French and English, I tended to refer to Mr Frog quite simply by his Christian name, relying on context to fill in any blanks people might have.

I intend to do the same with my new man, at least until we get around to tying the knot. But this doesn’t seem fitting on the internet, so you’ll just have to make do with “my Lover” for now. With a capital “L”.

Now that particular thorny subject has been put to bed, all that remains is to resolve the anatomical question.

Answers in my box, please.

August 21, 2005

frisky

Filed under: misc — petiteanglaise @ 10:15 pm

We take our seats on the soon-to-be-Paris-bound Jet2 plane, patiently parked on the tarmac of Leeds Bradford airport.

I am feeling a strange little pang. It is the first time I have left Tadpole in the mother country. She will be holidaying with mum and dad for the last week of the childminder’s vacation, and I will retrieve her next weekend. The Lover and I took the opportunity to conduct a a grand “meet the parents” tour of Yorkshire.

The pilot makes an announcement. “We are currently delayed, as two passengers have checked luggage onto this flight but have failed to put in an appearance at the boarding gate. We apologise for this delay, and will be setting off just as soon as their baggage has been removed from the hold.”

I sigh, mutter something grumpy but inaudible and glance at my watch. The only good thing about arriving in Paris a little later than expected is that I will probably not be subjected to the Grand Prix on TF1.

I reach for the Sudoku book, pen and pencil. I’m sad to say that, as with most things (blogging included), I have come to it unfashionably late. I completed my first puzzle in the Yorkshire Evening Press at 1 o’clock on Friday morning. By Saturday afternoon I was addicted and have already had several vivid dreams involving rows of numbers. Particularly 9’s, for some reason.

Time passes, without me noticing, so absorbed am I muttering “it can’t be a 4, a 7 or a 9,” or something similarly fascinating, under my breath, and then the pilot takes to the PA system once more.

“We have a new development, Ladies and Gentlemen,” he says, clearly enjoying himself. “The two missing passengers have been located and rather than remove their baggage, we will be allowing them to join us on board.”

I roll my eyes at my Lover, and we agree that we would not like to be in their shoes when they finally board the plane and feel the weight of a hundred or more Paddington stares. The pilot, however, has not yet finished his speech:

“I think you should all give them a hearty round of applause to show how much you appreciate them finally deciding to join us!”

Grinning at this somewhat unexpected suggestion, I put down my puzzle and watch the doors. Will it be another dim-looking perma-tanned couple, he with a rather too tight T-shirt, her with a Burberry handbag? Or perhaps a couple of old dears who are a little hard of hearing?

Instead I see a reasonably attractive (if you like the boy band look, which I don’t) young man and his very slinky black girlfriend. She looks flushed, and slightly dishevelled. He looks exceedingly pleased with himself.

The Lover and I give each other a conspiratorial look. “They were so shagging in the toilets,” I exclaim. Probably too loudly.

At first, no-one claps. But after a few seconds of silence, someone does start to applaud, a few rows behind us, and is joined by other, hesitant pairs of hands.

The young man shoots his companion a glance, then breaks into a wide grin and takes a theatrical bow, to rapturous applause.

I join in, unsure as to why I am enthusiastically congratulating a complete stranger on his sexual prowess (well, they must have been out of earshot of the tannoys for a good half hour) and ability to seduce such a fine looking lady. After all, these people have made me late.

Late for the Grand Prix.

I clap with renewed enthusiasm.


petite vs France Telecom
I feel I ought to share a small personal victory with you. Following the post below re France Telecom, I wrote a strongly worded letter and received a reply informing me that a full refund of € 55 would be credited to my account to “regularise the situation”.

C’est gagné (as Dora the Explorer would say)!

August 15, 2005

Cure for migraines

Filed under: good time girl — petiteanglaise @ 9:04 pm

I have come to the conclusion that music festivals and migraine headaches do not good bedfellows make.

Tadpole safely deposited with Mr Frog for the long French bank holiday weekend, the time had finally come to accompany my Lover to the Route du Rock music festival, held in an eighteenth century fort near St Malo. I hadn’t been to a fesival since Glastonbury in 1995, and was no longer sure I had the required stamina, but it did sound very tame indeed by Glastonbury standards, and the Lover can be very persuasive when he wants to be.

We arrived early Saturday evening, and pitched our brand new Decathlon tent. Time to pitch tent: 2 seconds. My scepticism when examining the instructions was unfounded: all you have to do is throw it into the air and watch it spring into shape, as if by magic.

I thought back to my Glastonbury experiences, where, by a combination of bad planning, inebriation and stupidity we often ended up trying to put up devilishly complicated tents in pitch black fields, with only a cigarette lighter or a box of matches to guide us. I have a less than fond memory of waking up and realising that I had pitched my tent on/slept on the deep imprint left by the treads of a tractor tyre. But pitching a tent in the dark and swearing/giggling a lot is what festivals are all about, so Decathlon are making it just a little bit too easy with their magic tents, in my opinion.

Headliners at this year’s Route du Rock: The Cure. It was their only date in France this year, and if you have spent any time in France at all, you will realise that The Cure have always had an ENORMOUS following in this country. So this was quite a big deal. In fact, for the first time in the festival’s history, Saturday night was sold out. All 12,000 tickets.

I was rather excited myself. I must confess that I did go through a Cure phase of my own, in my late teens and early twenties, and a black and white Boys Don’t Cry poster adorned the wall of my university bedroom (later to be replaced by Kurt Cobain). More recently, whenever I have indulged the ipod and let it have a little shuffle, it has shown an alarming prediliction for Cure tracks, so albums like Faith and Disintegration have undergone something of a revival in my household. I’d never seen Bob and Co in concert, however, hence my eager anticipation.

There were Cure fans everywhere. It was a fantastic people watching opportunity. Hours of backcombing. Litres of hairspray. Metres and metres of black satin and lace pulled tightly over bulging thighs and middles. Brides of Dracula. Rather rotund Robert Smith clones. Official and unofficial band T-shirts in every direction. Clearly the unwritten, tacit rule that one does not wear a band T-shirt at the band in question’s own gig is not one the French are aware of.

The other bands played, and struggled to make much of an impression on me, however enjoyable the general festival vibe. I rarely get into a band at a festival, unless I am already familiar with their music. Otherwise, it tends to wash over me a little.

And then The Cure arrived, and launched into… an album track. A long, swirling hymn to doomed relationships and depression. Followed by another, in a similar vein. Or an obscure b-side. These gave way, occasionally, to catchier, crowd-pleasing tracks. But it was a self-indulgent set, which seemed to be aimed more at the brides of Dracula than the festival going public at large.

After about an hour, I realised that a flashing red bicycle light, which some considerate person was wearing on his head, was bothering me. In fact, now that it was dark at the festival site, all the stage lights were vivid and glaring, and I was actually having trouble focusing my eyes. People moving through the crowd suddenly loomed in front of me, appearing out of nowhere. I was confused, disoriented, and wondered, idly, if one of my drinks might have been spiked with something chemical.

I struggled on, valiantly, for a while, but the visual disturbances were getting worse, not better, and the Lover and I retreated back from the standing room to a place where we could sit down. “It feels a bit like the aura I get before a migraine attack,” I mumbled, brain addled by too many lagers to realise that it wasn’t “a bit like” a migraine; it was a migraine.

When the feelings did not subside, we decided that heading back to the tent would be the best course of action. The headache struck just as we were zipping our sleeping bags together by the backlight of a mobile phone. Indescribable pain, which made me claw and clutch at the right hand side of my head in futile desperation, rocking forwards to wedge my head between my knees to stave off waves of pain-induced nausea.

Through a veil of throbbing, pulsing pain I heard my favourite tracks. A Forest. 10.15 Saturday Night. Boys don’t Cry.

I realised I was crying.

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