petite anglaise

January 29, 2008

shameless self-promotion

Filed under: book stuff — petiteanglaise @ 1:30 pm

The Boy and I were able to focus some energy this weekend on finalising a series of simple banners to promote the upcoming publication of “petite anglaise”. Or should I say, The Boy did the work, while I regularly plied him with coffee, junk food and sexual favours in return for his hard graft.

You can see an example in the sidebar to your right. I rather like it.

Just in case you’ve been in Outer Mongolia for the past few months, the UK version of “petite” will be on sale from 6 March in various territories which the outdated term ‘commonwealth’ still refers to in the world of publishing, including South Africa, Australia and English language bookshops throughout Europe.

If you would like to adopt a banner, I’ve created two pages where you can view them and copy the code you will need to paste into your blog template. The only difference being that the first links to the book page on Amazon UK when clicked, the second to Amazon France.

Having lost the best part of the day fiddling with these, I suppose I’d better take myself off and do some writing now…

January 26, 2008

Tadpolecast

Filed under: Tadpole sings — petiteanglaise @ 10:18 am

Tadpole has a Chinese classmate called Evelyne. Evelyne didn’t start the moyenne section in September with the rest of the class. Her name was on the register from day one, but she only arrived shortly after the Christmas holidays.

Every schoolday, when I stumble down the hill to drop off Tadpole, jeans and a jumper hastily thrown on over my silk nuisette, bed hair crying out for a comb, we are greeted by the same sorry sight. Evelyne, crying inconsolably in the arms of Tadpole’s teacher, her eyes tightly closed as though she wants to make the world, or herself, disappear.

“Why is Evelyne so sad?” I ask Tadpole.

“Well,” Tadpole replies. “La Maîtresse says that she was nice in China and she doesn’t want to visit Paris. She doesn’t know how to speak French. She speaks always Chinese and she doesn’t understand us.”

“Perhaps you could try saying some words to her in Chinese,” I suggest. “It might make her feel better if she sees you are being friendly…”

Tadpole has been attending a Chinese class after school once a week since September. It’s a very informal affair, where she seems to eat more Chinese sweets than anything else, but that’s fine by me, because it’s just supposed to be a fun activity, and a way of helping her to understand the culture of many of the children in her class. Aside from being able to say “hello”, “goodbye” or “thank you”, she doesn’t seem to have retained a great deal, so far. I’m grateful for those few words, however, when we take a seat in one of our favourite Belleville haunts and Tadpole mounts a charm offensive on our unsuspecting Chinese waiter. Speedy, attentive service is guaranteed once Tadpole has wrapped the staff around her little finger.

Her repertoire of songs in Mandarin, on the other hand, is pretty impressive, even if she can be somewhat vague about the meaning of what she is singing. In the Tadpolecast which follows, there are three songs, and here is what I was able to glean:

1) “It talks about two tigers. One of the tigers has only one eye. The other has no tail. Or maybe it’s one tiger with one eye and no tail. I can’t remember, mummy.”

2) “It’s about a pair of ducks. The fisherman is fishing for them.” (No doubt they end up crispy? Yum.)

3) The first bit means “I dance, I dance” and the second bit means “I sing, I sing.”

Enjoy!

January 21, 2008

smoke

Filed under: city of light — petiteanglaise @ 4:00 pm

When I whisked The Boy away to London for his birthday last autumn, I remember wandering around Soho amazed at how all the pubs were so full that many of the drinkers had to resort to nursing their pints outside on the pavement. The penny only dropped when we pushed our way through the crowds to venture inside to order drinks of our own. As soon as we were through the door we realised that outward appearances had been deceptive. Indoors, all was silent as the tomb. The smoking ban had literally turned the pubs inside out, and the odour of cigarettes had been replaced with the (arguably more unpleasant) tang of stale beer and sweat.

France followed suit on January 1st and since The Boy is a hardened smoker, never to be found without a packet of Lucky Strike about his person, I shivered at the prospect of sitting outside our favourite bars in the bleak mid-winter. It was either that, I reasoned, or sit indoors, but regularly find myself alone, tapping my fingers impatiently on the table, while the smokers (almost everyone but me) took themselves off outside for a nicotine fix.

So far, I’m pleased to say, we seem to have managed to find a happy medium: bars and restaurants with heated terrasses and clear plastic awnings which effectively mean we are seated almost indoors. Granted, the patio heaters usually leave me pink-cheeked and frosty-toed, so I should probably start wearing an extra pair of socks if I want to be spared chilblains this year (yes, I know, they went out with the ark, no one gets chilblains any more – try telling that to my feet). I’m also well aware that heating the outdoors is an exercise which is unlikely to have a positive impact on the environment.

Hearing The Boy making arrangements to meet his mum for a drink this weekend – suggesting first Aux Folies, then saying “Eh merde, ils ont pas de terrasse chauffée….. Va falloir que je la rappelle pour donner rendez-vous au Zèbre…” it occurred to me that if I had an ounce of spare time, I should probably write a handy little guide called “Paris, la Clope au Bec” and pitch it to Parigramme, where it would nestle comfortably among the other titles in their collection.

I currently own “Bien naître à Paris“, “SOS Jeune maman parisienne” (I think it was the word “young” which clinched that deal) and “Les Mercredis des petits parisiens” (which despite all my resolutions, I have yet to open). Today, having browsed the full list of publications, I’d be curious to read “Comment devenir une vraie parisienne“.

I suspect that my own favoured solution – find myself a real, bona-fide Parisian, born only a couple of kilometres from where he now lives, and regularly exchange bodily fluids in the hope that some of his Parisien-ness will rub off on me – may be a little, um, unconventional…

January 9, 2008

I say pyjama…

Filed under: book stuff — petiteanglaise @ 9:23 pm

It’s a surreal experience reading my book translated into American.

I mean, I knew that you people over the Atlantic say diaper instead of nappy, stroller instead of pushchair, sidewalk instead of pavement and elevator instead of lift, but until I started reading the copy edits for the US manuscript, I hadn’t really noticed all the other spelling variations, or the slightly different punctuation rules for speech.

The copy editor has been scarily meticulous, converting metric measurements back into Imperial, subsituting millions of s’s for z’s and assiduously removing the unwanted u’s from colour, flavour, or humour. There are double l’s which have become single, ph’s which have become f’s (drafty? really?), fringes which have morphed into bangs (ahem)…

And who knew that Incey Wincey spider is actually sung ‘Itsy Bitsy spider’ in American? If you ever watched UK children’s TV programme ‘Paperplay’, you’ll fully understand why I had an epiphany when I read that part.

So far, there is one thing I intend to dig in my heels about, and that is the proposed use of the word ‘mommy’. Every instance of ‘mummy’ gets a resounding STET from me. I mean, I can relate to making the manuscript comprehensible to the American masses, but I dare to hope that ‘mummy’ will be understood without modification. Because putting that word in Tadpole’s mouth is Just Plain Wrong.

Taking a random American tome from my bookshelf – American Psycho, as it happens, and I wish I hadn’t opened it to the page where the rat features – I scanned the pages this evening to see whether it too had been translated for an English audience. I have to say, it looked pretty American to me – I spotted a ‘gotten’ within the first thirty seconds, a ‘newsstand’ and a ‘busboy’. (I also realised how dated that book now is. Someone calls a restaurant on a portaphone…)

So why is it that British people prefer to read American books exactly as their authors intended, but books written in British English need to undergo an intensive word substitution exercise to make them fit for American consumption?

While you ponder that question, I’ll just get back to puzzling over why ‘plonked’ has been changed to ‘plunked’…

January 2, 2008

squawk

Filed under: mills & boon, on the road — petiteanglaise @ 2:35 pm

I spent most of my Christmas in the UK wishing I had it in me to behave in a more diva-ish fashion. Because if I’d stamped my foot and point blank refused to pose for photographs outdoors, minus my coat, in sub-zero temperatures the previous week, I wouldn’t have wound up in bed. Feverish. Aching. Counting the minutes until I could have my next fix of paracetamol.

As it was, Tadpole had to open the presents under grandma and grandad’s tree sans moi and I had to content myself with second hand accounts of how she stumbled blindly around the living room with an upturned Santa’s sack on her head. Let’s hope those pesky photos – due to run in forthcoming editions of Weekend Knack (Belgium – next week, I think) and Marie Claire UK (April issue) – were worth the pain. I doubt it somehow. Photogenic I am not.

It was something of a relief that I appeared to be on the road to recovery when I joined the Boy in Paris and we boarded a Thalys on Friday morning, bound for Amsterdam. Granted, I was still rather hoarse. When I attempted to speak, I sounded like a cross between a forty-a-day Gaulloise smoker and a teenage boy with a breaking voice. ‘C’est pas grave, ça me fera des vraies vacances‘ said The Boy with a teasing smile.

Suffice to say that my indignant reply lost much of its force when it came out as a strangled squawk.

There followed three days of strolling through parks and along canals hand in hand, pausing at regular intervals for a restorative hot chocolate with whipped cream, and using my convalescence as an excuse to retire early and rise late. (Do hotels make everyone feel, um, frisky, or is it just me?) The weather was perfect: mild temperatures, blue skies, low winter sun striking huge windows and bathing them in warm, golden light. We meandered in ever decreasing circles – no matter which direction we took, we seemed to end up at the same point (Hotel de l’Europe) time and time again – admiring the architecture and peering inside the houses (the Dutch don’t seem to favour net curtains). We wandered through the red light district – disappointing, I got far better underwear inspiration from watching Billie Piper play Belle de Jour – and stopped in coffee shops, bars and cafés to rest our feet.

And all the while I pondered when would be the right time to ask the Boy a question. Something that had been simmering at the back of my mind for a while. I almost blurted it out when we were sitting on a bench by a particularly picturesque stretch of canal. A little later, warm and fuzzy from a 9.5% proof Trappist beer, I had to rein myself in again. The timing never seemed quite right, and my voice simply couldn’t be trusted.

We boarded the Thalys on Sunday afternoon and as I settled into my seat and accepted my first cup of coffee from the trilingual waitress I couldn’t help feeling a pang of disappointment.

Qu’est-ce qu’il y a?‘ asked the Boy. I hesitated for a moment, took a deep breath. And decided to hold my peace a little longer.

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