petite anglaise

May 20, 2005


Filed under: parting ways — petiteanglaiseparis @ 12:08 pm

When you walked into the bar, wearing your cuddly blue duffle coat, I found you irresistibly cute.

I remember you kissing me gently on the cheek after our second meeting and bundling me into a taxi.

I remember going to watch some weird film at a cinema near where you lived, so I had a pretext to stop by.

I remember listening to Portishead, lying on the bed in your tiny chambre de bonne, with its sloping floor and pre-war electrics, seeing only your grey blue eyes.

I remember the joy written all over your face when I told you we were having a baby.

I remember holding on to you for dear life whilst I retreated far inside myself to deal with the pain of labour.

I remember you giving Tadpole her first bath by my side, while I looked on, helpless, unable to move.

I remember standing by her bed, by your side, many times, marvelling at our beautiful daughter as she slept, wondering how we came to create such a perfect creature.


I feel dazed yet strangely calm inside. Tearful at times, but mostly just numb.

I am profoundly sad and sorry that it has come to this.

But I know, without the merest shadow of a doubt, that it is what is right.

May 19, 2005

pole dancing

Filed under: city of light — petiteanglaiseparis @ 5:51 pm

The metro doors open with a shudder and the floodgates open. I stand well back to let everyone past, but still manage to get buffeted and elbowed in the ribs. I don’t know what it is about wearing headphones, but with them on I am noticeably clumsier. I gauge distances badly, I tread on toes and am unable to weave in and out of crowds with my customary ease.

Safely inside, I manoeuvre myself into a position where I can grasp the metal pole in the standing area at a comfortable height. The carriage is bursting at the seams; the air is damp and thick. A woman folds herself into the crook of my arm, obscuring my view of the pole and making it difficult to hold on with her weight bearing onto me. Her hair is pulled back into a slick ponytail, and whatever she has used on it that morning causes me to fight back a sneeze.

As the train pulls away into the tunnel, I feel a clammy, insistent pressure against my curled palm and recoil inwardly. Certain types of unsollicited physical contact with strangers make me very uncomfortable, even if it is only the feather-light graze of an unknown hand against mine.

I inch my hand higher up the pole. Undeterred, the hand follows my lead, applying insistent pressure, so that my skin prickles with revulsion. I can’t decide whether to withdraw my hand altogether, relying on the fact that I’m so tightly wedged up against my fellow passengers that I won’t fall over, even if the driver chooses to slam on the brakes, or to steel myself to endure the surreptitious hand mauling all the way to my destination.

I choose a third option. I don’t have much in the way of fingernails. But just enough. I hear a sharp intake of breath and feel the hand fall away.

Petite 1 – anonymous hand fetishist 0


Mr Frog and I were out shopping. We had just started working and the novelty of having a ‘proper job’ after all those relatively poverty stricken student years had not yet worn off. The metro was moderately crowded and we were standing at opposite sides of the pole, discussing where to take a break from our orgy of spending for a bite to eat.

An attractive young couple shared ‘our’ pole, along with two or three other strangers of various ages whose faces are just a blur in my memory. I don’t recall what the couple were wearing, or the colour of their hair, only that their eyes were locked together: they were wrapped up in each other, oblivious to the rest of the world.

Without taking his eyes of her for a second, the man leaned forward to kiss her hand gently, but deliberately. Her pupils widened in shock. The hand was pulled away, sharply; an older woman, standing nearby, gasped and flushed a deep shade of crimson.

It took us a second or two to register what had happened.

May 16, 2005

me me me

Filed under: navel gazing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 9:30 am

I have never partaken of a meme before – at first, because I didn’t really know what one was, and later, because I took the snobbish view that memes constituted lazy blogging. However, I’ve climbed off my high horse today because the prospect of being interviewed by blog goddess Zinnia was just too tempting. If you haven’t already discovered the beautifully written ‘Real E Fun’ (and I am mortified to say that I didn’t spot that obvious anagram for the longest time), then I strongly advise you to do so. In fact, it’s an order.

So, here goes:

Your writing, on your blogs, is excellent and enjoyable. Do you do any other kind of writing, and if not, would you like to?

Coming from Zinnia, that is a compliment indeed. Thank you. I’m blushing and I don’t quite know where to put myself.

Before I started writing as petite anglaise, the last person who complimented me on my prose was Mr Jones, my G.C.S.E. English teacher, back in 1989. I went on to choose languages and history over English, and never once looked back. As a career PA (by accident more than by design), I actually spend most days typing other people’s words, and no, sadly I don’t do any other kind of writing.

Looking back over my archives, I feel the discipline of writing every day, purely for my own pleasure, has taught me an awful lot. I’m just getting into my stride, but I really enjoy doing it. And, well, if another opportunity were to present itself, who knows?

If, for some reason, you (and Mr Frog and Tadpole) could no longer live in France or England, where would you choose to move your family to and why?

That is horribly tough. If language were no barrier, I think of the places I have visited so far then Italy appealed the most. But I abhor being somewhere I can only communicate with a phrasebook in my hand. The other language I studied at university was German, but my experiences there – through no fault of the German people, may I add – have put me off somewhat. The only other place I have visited where I immediately felt at home was New York, but I don’t much fancy living in a broom cupboard.

If I had to run for the hills, because, say, the copy of my criminal record (requested in conjunction with my naturalisation application) arrives in the post tommorow with WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE written all over it, then I’d plump for New Zealand. I’ve never been, but it has always appealed to me. Even pre-LOTR.

What is your ideal job?

If I was brave and financially secure enough to make a career change tomorrow it would be a toss up between going back to school to study creative writing, web design or translation. There was a point in my life several years ago where I was torn between doing a translation MA and a bilingual secretarial diploma. I went for the most affordable option, and I do harbour some regrets.

You write about many things, but very little about your friends. Are friends important to you?

A terrifyingly perceptive question. I think there are a number of factors at play here.

First of all, I don’t think I should write too much about people outside my immediate circle who don’t know about the blog. I tell my stories, and talk about my feelings, not other people’s.

Secondly, my friends from home and university are all in the UK, and we are all less mobile these days, with our young children in tow. The result being that I don’t see them as often as I would like. But I love the way that even if we see each other once in a blue moon, it is like we were never apart.

Thirdly, I have found that expat life in Paris means that you inevitably make friends only for them to move on, because they were only passing through in the first place. I don’t have a single really good friend in this city right now, I’m sad to say. Lots of potentially good friends, but job and parenting commitments mean that I rarely get chance to follow things through. I’m now trying actively to do something about this – with blog meet ups for example – because friendship is important to me and my life would be far richer for it.

If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be and what would you do?

I’d like to see life through Tadpole’s eyes. To potter about drawing pictures, singing songs and feeling loved, unconditionally, without a single care in the world. Just for a day.

Knowing my luck, I’d pick the wrong day and end up teething and throwing tantrums.

If you would like to be ‘interviewed’ by me, then please let me know in the comments box. First five to respond OUI will have the dubious honour.

May 13, 2005

party girl

Filed under: good time girl — petiteanglaiseparis @ 9:35 pm

This petite anglaise is going to be a very busy lass indeed if people keep organising bloggers’ soirées left right and centre. And the babysitter will be able to buy herself a new posh handbag on the proceeds, no doubt.

I’ll definitely be going to Paris blogue-t-il on 31 May – especially as I hear there will be an opportunity to sample Clotilde and Scally’s wares. Arriving fashionably late will not be an option as I’m sure the nibbles won’t faire long feu. I found out that do today, after having sent an email out last night to get thoughts on possible dates for another expat drinking do.

Saturday 25th June is what we came up with, and it sounds as though there are plans afoot for a daytime picnic, as well as an evening meetup. Feel free to come to either or both if you are an expat of any nationality or flavour and you blog. Drop me a gmail or post a comment here to be included on the mailing list. And if you have suggestions for a cosy evening venue, pipe up!

Oh, and as well as being a party girl, according to google I’m a bad mummy. Try it at home. Type “bad mummy” in or .fr or whatever and then hit “I’m feeling lucky”. Not sure how long I will retain this dubious honour but it was funny while it lasted.

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