petite anglaise

August 21, 2005


Filed under: misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 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 — petiteanglaiseparis @ 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.

August 11, 2005

Tadpole the explorer

Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 2:50 pm

Two weeks with the French ex-in-laws sufficed. Tadpole has gone all French on me again. French and a little more square eyed than I would like.

“On va regarder Dora [the explorer], oui, d’accord?” she says earnestly, nodding her milky little chin for extra emphasis and widening her eyes. My daughter, the hypnotist.

“Mmmm I’m not sure. Why don’t you draw mummy some pictures of Noddy instead?” I reply, endeavouring to be a good mother who doesn’t allow herself to resort to CBeebies and the other delights on offer on Lover’s Sky TV until the going gets really tough.

“Si! On va regarder Dora, quand même!” Tadpole counters, seemingly very sure of herself. Her intonation is not indicative of a question. I wonder how used to getting her own way she has grown of late.

I capitulate, eventually, and enjoy Tadpole’s look of utter disbelief when Dora opens her cartoon mouth and (American) English words trip off her tongue, along with a smattering of Spanish phrases. Because the Dora whom Tadpole has grown to love speaks French, with a few token English words thrown in.

All manner of phrases with which she wow us with this week appear to have Dora-related explanations. “Tico l’ecureuil” turns out to be a character from the same. It is somewhat galling to see that my daughter can already pronounce the notoriously difficult French word for squirrel far better than I can.

At mealtimes, Tadpole repeats a previously unheard phrase over and over again. “It’s delicious!”, she exclaims. Even when it isn’t. Mr Frog confirms my suspicions, rather bashfully: this is indeed yet another Dora phrase. He then goes on to list all the activities Tadpole took part in over the past fortnight, in a feeble attempt to convince me that she didn’t just watch videos all day long.

I notice that whereas the French Dora has a pet monkey called “Babouche”, in the American version, the very same monkey is called “Boots”. How very confusing.

However, in true toddler style, Tadpole decides only to hear what she wants to hear, successfully filtering everything else out. Rather like when I mention key words like “bedtime” and “nappy”, which are generally greeted with temporary deafness and a vacant stare.

So, when I try, helpfully, to explain why the monkey has two names, she looks at me scornfully, flatly refusing to believe a single word, despite the fact that she has just watched an entire episode.

“Non. Il s’appelle Babouche, le monkey, mummy, pas Boots. Quand même!”

That’s me told.

August 9, 2005

domestic goddess

Filed under: missing blighty, Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 8:48 pm

Odd things have been afoot in my kitchen.

Over the past two weeks, while my Lover was in town, I changed beyond all recognition. First, I started cooking proper meals (on the nights when Lover didn’t cook for me, I hasten to add, although I never managed to persuade him to cook only wearing an apron, despite much pleading), as opposed to scoffing Tadpole’s spurned fish fingers and sweetcorn, followed by a few crisps or other unhealthy snacks, and washed down with a glass of wine in front of the computer, which is what my diet habitually consists of.

Mr Frog and I didn’t tend to eat together, so I had abandoned my non-wifely kitchen duties long, long ago. Largely because I ate hours earlier, unable to stave off the hunger pangs until he arrived home from work around 10 pm.

But, not only did I cook proper dinners for the past fortnight, but I also found myself baking. Custart tart. Scones. A rather tasty quiche. Carrot cake with cream cheese topping. All very English. In keeping with the extraordinary volume of tea which I was drinking.

Now, I’ve always been a firm believer in the old adage that the surest route to a man’s heart is through his trousers, and emphatically not via his stomach, so I simply don’t know where all of this domestic goddesshood has welled up from.

The bakefest will have to cease, as my waistline is already suffering, but before I turn the page on this worrying episode, I just wanted to share the fruits of my labour with the internet.

I made shortbread biscuits, in honour of Tadpole’s return. We decorated them together.

Do be careful not to drool on your keyboards.

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