petite anglaise

February 23, 2007

holiday

Filed under: parting ways — petiteanglaise @ 2:02 pm

“Are you sure it won’t be too weird, me meeting you and your friends for dinner in Marrakech?” I say, between forkfuls of crispy pancake. Mr Frog and I are having lunch at the Vietnamese restaurant tucked behind the Café Chéri(e) on boulevard de la Villette. Tiny and unassuming, it is nonetheless jam packed, and we were lucky to get a table at all.

“It will be slightly awkward, yes,” he replies with a half smile, “but we can’t not meet up. It’s too much of a coincidence that we’ve ended up both being there at the same time…”

“Well, I’m pleased you feel that way,” I say. “I’m quite nervous about being on holiday on my own, so it’s nice to know I’ll have some chaperones on my first night, at least.”

When I booked my holiday, you see, to neatly coincide with Tadpole’s stay with her French grandparents during half term, I knew Mr Frog was going to Casablanca, but neither of us had any inkling that a weekend in Marrakech was also on the cards. If he was going alone, meeting wouldn’t be odd in the slightest. We often do lunch, with or without Tadpole, or shoot the breeze by email or googlechat. But since our breakup nearly two years ago I’ve barely clapped eyes on any of his friends or work colleagues. They were more his than mine, and I figured I’d relinquished my right to see them. Not that they hate me or anything, and I’m almost certain that Mr Frog badmouthed me to no-one, because that’s simply not his style. But seeing these people after almost two years, after everything that has happened, both in public and in private, it’s bound to be strange.

I try to imagine the conversation we’ll have over pastilla and tajine in a rooftop restaurant overlooking the medina.

“So, Catherine, you’re writing a book now. What’s it about? It’s a memoir, right?”

I blush. “Well, er, meeting this guy for starters.” I point at Mr Frog with my fork. “And then, er, leaving him for someone else, and how we all dealt with that. Among other things.”

Oh yes, I feel sure this is definitely going to be weird.

a good cause

Filed under: misc — petiteanglaise @ 1:29 pm

Dear PA,

In the UK we often take the right to blog for granted. But what if a post on Petite Anglaise landed you in prison?

In China, internet sites are blocked, chat rooms are monitored and journalists and bloggers are arrested.

Amnesty International is deeply worried about the restriction of the right to freedom of expression in China. Right now we’re appealing for the release of Shi Tao, a journalist arrested in 2004 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for sending an email to a pro-democracy website in the US about press restrictions around the anniversary of the crackdown on peaceful protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

You can do something now to help:

You can do something now to help. We are asking for you and your readers to write to the Chinese authorities demanding the release of Shi Tao, as part of our irrepressible.info campaign against internet repression. See here for more details.

To show your support for freedom of expression on the internet add this link to your blog and help Amnesty International find more people to stand up for human rights.

Thank you for your help,

Drew Davies
(Amnesty International)

February 21, 2007

one

Filed under: navel gazing, single life — petiteanglaise @ 7:57 pm

As I sat on the métro on the way to see some girlfriends yesterday, a bag containing chablis, Nutella and maple syrup wedged between my feet, I couldn’t help thinking back to happier versions of Mardi Gras, and in particular the 2006 edition, in honour of which I threw a pancake party and invited a few friends* from work to my old apartment. It was the first and last time many of them got to meet the man I referred to on this blog as Lover (a pseudonym to which a few readers strongly objected, but I felt then, as I do now, that given just how much time we spent horizontal, the name fit very snugly indeed).

A few days later Lover brought my dreams of an idyllic life together in the Breton countryside crashing down around my ears. I picked myself up, carried on, and so much other stuff happened shortly afterwards that I really didn’t know how to feel anything other than numb for a while.

What this means is that I’ve now been single for almost a full calendar year. It’s a state of affairs without precedent, because after much racking of brains and counting of digits, I can say with absolute certainty that the last time I was single for a Whole Year was in 1988. Although to be fair, at that time I’d been single for a total of fifteen years and was breathlessly awaiting the arrival of my first proper boyfriend.

How do I feel about this? Well, of course I’d rather be happily alone than with someone who was wrong for me. And yes, messing around with few strings attached seemed like fun for a while, but now just strikes me as utterly pointless. As for online dating, I check in to look at my profile from time to time but can rarely muster up sufficient enthusiasm to actually reply to my emails, let alone drag myself out on a blind date.

I know that this year without a special (adult) person by my side has been really good for me, in some ways. I’ve built new friendships, invested a lot more in existing ones and spent lashings of quality time with my daughter. I’m sure I needed to be alone, for a while, and that I’ll appreciate sharing the good, the bad and the ugly with a special someone all the more because of it, when the time comes.

But am I truly happy with this state of affairs? Is single the best thing since the invention of Nutella? Is single the new size zero?

I’d be lying if I said I loved it. Single still doesn’t come naturally to me and I doubt it ever will. So please excuse me while I go and comfort myself with a large pot of leftover nutella, a useful side effect of which is that size zero will never, never fit.

February 19, 2007

wrong-footed

Filed under: working girl — petiteanglaise @ 11:00 am

I am going to the prud’hommes (French industrial tribunal thingy) today to contest my dismissal. This is rather unexpected, but my lawyer informed me late on Friday evening that contrary to everything we had been led to believe, my ex-employer’s lawyers had changed their minds about asking for the hearing to be deferred to a later date (and had forgotten to let us know).

Given that I’d been told precisely the opposite a matter of days earlier, it’s somewhat miraculous that I’m back from the UK, have childcare for the day and can attend at all. I suppose, to look on the bright side, at least I haven’t spent the last week feeling apprehensive, which might have put a dampener on my trip to England with Tadpole.

More later…

Update: lawyer obtained a deferral and the case now will be heard on 21 March, which should give me time to actually read the substance of the arguments being made against me and make sure all the facts are straight.

February 16, 2007

scaryhat

Filed under: Tadpole sings — petiteanglaise @ 5:00 pm

I go to a village pub in Norfolk!!!

While I’m busy, please listen to the following message from our sponsors:

February 15, 2007

Valentine

Filed under: misc — petiteanglaise @ 10:44 pm

“Traffic’s diabolical,” says the taxi driver, by way of apology when he shows up ten minutes late to take Tadpole and me to the airport. “It’ll take us a good forty-five minutes to get to Orly…”

“No problem,” I reply, as though butter wouldn’t melt. “I’ve allowed plenty of time.” Forty-five minutes will give us an hour for check in, shopping for coffee and pain au chocolat, baggage scanning and temporary boot removal. I am a seasoned traveller. My feathers remain unruffled.

“Mummy, my tummy is hurting,” says Tadpole tugging at her strap.

“I’m sorry honey but you need to keep the strap fastened,” I say, convinced it is simply a thinly veiled escape attempt. Tummy ache is also her strategy of choice when faced with a plateful of broccoli. I know better than to take such complaints seriously.

* * * * * * * * * *

“My tummy is still hurting,” moans Tadpole.

“I’m sorry my sweet, but we’re nearly there. You’ll feel better soon. When we get out…”

The traffic on the motorway is fluid, and after crawling along the péripherique for the last fifty minutes we’re finally nearing the airport. Our driver is busy murmuring sweet nothings to his girlfriend. Or at least I assume that’s who he’s talking to. He’s wearing a headset. The car radio is tuned into Skyrock, a radio station which appears to consist of lots of shouting and very little music. A presenter with approximately two brain cells and a vocoder is calling random phone numbers and trying to frighten any small children who pick up the phone by pretending to be a monster. How irresponsible, I think to myself.

Tadpole coughs an ominous cough.

Some surprisingly efficient reflex kicks in and I grab the water bottle out of my open rucksack and remove the plastic bag I’d wrapped around it as a precaution, mindful of the fact that macbooks and moisture don’t mix, holding it just in front of Tadpole’s face.

Not a moment too soon.

The next ten minutes are spent trying to remove a foul-smelling paste consisting of bile, partially digested cornflakes and curdled milk from Tadpole’s jumper, dress and tights using one mini packet of Kleenex and a small amount of water. Miraculously the driver, deep in conversation, does not appear to have noticed our little mishap.

At Orly we pay, leap out of the cab and dash, heads down, through the driving rain into the terminal building, skidding to a halt in front of the bank of screens showing departure information.

Doncaster 10.15 desks 79-81. Embarquement!

Boarding? But it’s forty minutes until take off? Nonsense!

We dash to desks 79-81. That’s odd, there’s nobody there. Back to the monitors. Which definitely say desks 79-81. Huh? I flag down a nice uniformed lady who informs us that no, the information on the monitor is not incorrect. The reason there is no-one there is that check-in has CLOSED.

I hear a ringing in my ears and feel rather unsteady on my feet.

At the Thomsonfly desk a few moments later a nice uniformed man rings up to see if there is any way he can get the desperate lady with the dishevelled hair and wild eyes and her slightly puke-encrusted toddler onto the flight.

He cannot.

“MumOhMyGodWe’veMissedTheFlightTheyWon’tLetUsOn,” I howl into my telephone. “AndThere’sNoSpaceOnTheNextOneTomorrowWhatAreWeGoingToDo?”

If Tadpole were older she would know that when mummy is hysterical (and yes, I love the etymology of that word, which plants all blame squarely on my womb) she needs to be slapped smartly on the cheeks in order to be brought to her senses. In the meantime, I just have to Get A Grip. All On My Own. Deep breaths.

One change of clothes for Tadpole, one double espresso, several hundred euros and an airport transfer to Charles de Gaulle later and Tadpole and I board a flight to Leeds. I spend the entire journey fighting off the urge to order a stiff drink (lest my readers stage an intervention and commit me to the Priory) and trying not to be convinced that since bad things always occur in threes, my luggage is unlikely to be on board.

“Mummy, can you make me some couettes?” Tadpole pleads.

As I part her curls into two vaguely similar sized bunches, I notice a partially digested piece of cornflake I had missed earlier.

It is heart-shaped.

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