petite anglaise

June 28, 2006

property of petite

Filed under: misc — petiteanglaise @ 8:13 pm

I am proud to announce that I am now officially the owner of a compact and bijou little cupboard in Belleville.

Peering slightly drunkenly into my crystal ball – well, I had to celebrate a little, didn’t I? – I see paintbrushes, DIY and major, heavy-duty stress if a seamless high speed internet connection is not maintained throughout the move.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must get back to meetic to recruit some big, strong and willing furniture movers…

June 26, 2006

ne pas avaler

Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaise @ 6:37 pm

I hastily apply eyeliner, as Tadpole and I are invited to a party tonight. It is one of those Parisian fêtes I have read so much about where the residents of an apartment building gather together in their communal courtyard with their guests for an evening of eating, drinking and merriment. In this case the apartments in question are in an über-trendy converted industrial laundry, with a huge cobbled courtyard.

It is the first time that Tadpole and I have gone to a party together, so something of an experiment. I am a little unsure as to how she will react when I decide that it is bedtime, or whether I will feel comfortable drinking in her company. Tadpole however is very excited, as she has been allowed to wear her fairy outfit. She is playing on the bed behind me, arranging the pebbles I brought back from Nice on the duvet so that the larger one forms a body, the smaller one a head.

“Maman! Regarde! J’ai fait un bonhomme!”

I glance over, mildly irritated that she is doing that thing where she refuses to speak to me in English.

“Yes, that’s lovely,” I say, and turn back to the mirror to dab on some lipgloss. We are almost good to go. I wonder whether there will be any eligible bachelors at the party.

“Maman! Where did the stone go?”

I whirl around immediately, hearing the urgency in her voice, and see Tadpole clutching at her mouth in a panic. There is nothing in her mouth, and no apparent obstruction in her throat, but the small pebble is most definitely missing.

She has swallowed it whole.

Once I have established that nothing is hurting, and Tadpole has simply given herself rather a shock, I grab the telephone. None of the SOS Doctors phonelines I call will give medical advice over the telephone, and it seems a little extreme to rush Tadpole down to casualty when she is happily singing songs by my side, so I call Mr Frog and ask him to phone his GP friend. I also make the mistake of calling my mum, which achieves nothing other than to make her worry needlessly.

In the meantime, phone cradled between my ear and shoulder, I look back at my previous post to see what the pebble actually looked like, as I can no longer picture it.

Next I google “swallowed object” and read that a small, smooth object such as a stone should pass through the intestines without incident, and it will simply be a matter of inspecting Tadpole’s stools for the next few days to ensure that the offending article has been expelled successfully.

I smile to myself, realising that as Mr Frog is taking Tadpole to stay with his parents for a few days, it is he who will be on stool duty.

June 22, 2006

chou fleur

Filed under: Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaise @ 10:54 pm

I sit with Tadpole at her Lilliputian Ikea table. From across the room, an adult-sized dining table eyes me balefully. There are many pieces of furniture in our flat that I have tended to snub since Mr Frog moved out last summer. Having two sofas in the living room seems somewhat superfluous, given that I watch TV on my computer these days, from the comfort of my bed. I tell myself that as a result, moving to a smaller place is unlikely to cause me any great hardship, even if I will miss all the “original features” and the breathtaking view.

I am a little distracted, absorbed in trying to decipher Tadpole’s latest work of art, without letting the word “fisting” enter my mind, even for a moment.

“Can I have some melon now, and some raisins?” Tadpole enquires, reaching for the fruit salad with a tentative spoon.

“No,” I say firmly. “You can have melon and grapes if you eat FOUR pieces of cauliflower first.” As usual, Tadpole has polished off her carbs – in this instance some Kiri coated pasta – and pushed the vegetables disdainfully to the side of her plate. I should have learned my lesson by now: separate courses are the key, vegetables FIRST. It probably doesn’t help that I have made myself a bowl of pasta arrabiata, which conspicuously lacks any vegetable accompaniment.

Surprisingly, the toddler doth not protest. Instead, she deliberates at length about which cauliflower floret to select. Once she has identified the smallest, she takes it delicately between a thumb and forefinger and takes the tiniest of tiny bites.

“One…” she counts.

Another fairy-bite follows, from the same floret, even tinier than the first.

“Two…” she continues, giving me that look, the one that says “Clearly you know what my game is, and I know that you know, but wouldn’t it be funnier if you just played along until I reached number four?”

I can’t help but giggle at her ingenuity. She flashes me her trademark toothy grin in return, and on the count of “four”, a hopeful recidivist hand reaches grapeward.

An overwhelming urge to throw my arms around her mischievous little frame and hug her to me tightly nearly gets the better of me.

Instead, I relent and push the fruit salad closer.

I go back to examining the picture, hoping I will find it less disturbing.

June 19, 2006

in the company of men

Filed under: good time girl, single life — petiteanglaise @ 10:11 pm

I am meeting two old university friends at a pub by Hammersmith bridge, and I squint through my sunglasses at the swarms of drinkers soaking up the last lazy rays of the day by the riverside, fervently hoping it will not be too difficult to spot them. A little of my schoolgirl shyness tends to rear its timid head when I find myself scanning a crowd for familiar faces.

As it happens I needn’t have worried, there they are, pints of lager in hand, propping up a wall in front of me. I grin widely, enquire as to the whereabouts of their girlfriends, who are conspicuously absent, then deliberate about what to drink. The afternoon – spent with a handful of “friends I met on the internet” – has drifted by in a comfortable haze of Pimms and lemonade. Pacing myself has now become imperative.

We shoot the breeze while I pick at my pub food (fish, chips and mushy peas, my second platter of the weekend, which tasted all the better for being eaten outdoors), and I realise with a pang how much I have been missing platonic male company.

Back in my university days, with the exception of one special girlfriend, my closest friends were male. There was rarely any ambiguity in these relationships, as I was seeing someone for much of the time, as were they. The contents of our underwear were therefore refreshingly irrelevant. So many memories from that happy time make me smile when I replay them in my head. We were on the same wavelength. Our friendships were marvellously uncomplicated, yet rarely shallow or superficial. And in the case of present company, they proved to be enduring.

Arriving in France, and, in particular, falling in with a French crowd when I met Mr Frog, I realised that being “one of the lads” was no longer a very popular option. However well I might hit it off with his male friends, they remained his property. If there were girlfriends in tow, I was expected to gravitate naturally toward them, leaving the boys to their own conversations. On the rare occasions when I did allow myself to indulge in a little harmless banter with one of the boys present, his girlfriend was liable to frown and place an impeccably manicured, restraining hand on his arm, silently voicing her disapproval. Despite my own attached status, I was, in some way, perceived as a threat.

I do have a few male friends, these days. They are invariably expats. Or gay. Or gay expats. Which does little to dispel my theory. I resolve, hurtling back to France on my Eurostar, to seek them out more often.

Because for all her eleven years in France, this petite anglaise will never change her English ways. And she still yearns to be one of the lads. Sometimes.

June 16, 2006


Filed under: missing blighty — petiteanglaise @ 9:00 am

On the occasion of my trip to London this weekend – a trip which makes me a very excited girl indeed as I will get to see lots of my favourite people AND eat gourmet fish and chips AND go to Top Shop – I am going to go cold turkey and not lay fingers to keyboard for three whole days.

In my absence, I leave you in the capable hands of my mum, who has kindly offered to moderate comments in my absence.

Soyez sage!

June 14, 2006

latin lover

Filed under: misc — petiteanglaise @ 10:59 am

Meet Segafredo.

Fredo, as I like to call him, was gifted to me by a kind reader who spotted that Mr Frog, while he graciously left me most of the furniture, did however make away with our coffee machine.

For my first date with Fredo, I consented to an expedition to the Rive Gauche to meet him in a café. Something of a rarity for me, as I am a definitely a Right Bank girl at heart. But I did not regret it. For me at least, it was love at first sight. There was something about his particular brand of Latin retro chic which I found irresistible. From the moment I laid eyes on him, I was simply itching to get my hands on his frothing attachment.

I knew, all along, that this would only be a fling, as Fredo was officially on long term loan only, as kind reader’s husband was a little dubious about the idea of his good lady wife giving a wedding present away to a stranger, even if a spangly new nespresso machine had recently stolen Fredo’s place in his affections.

My new Italian friend was heavy, weighing in at a good seven kilos, but I battled valliantly home on the métro, cradling him in my arms, reasoning that, in fact, he only weighed the equivalent of half a Tadpole. And I was confident that Fredo would prove to be rather less fickle than my daughter.

How wrong I was.

Don’t get me wrong, Fredo and I have shared some rare moments of complicity these past few weeks. In times of stress, he was there for me, without fail. Frothing milk, I have discovered, has a profoundly calming effect on my nerves, so we have made cappuccino after cappuccino together. His espresso looks and tastes simply perfect, a dark bitter body topped with a delicate creamy head. Fredo and petite: a match made in heaven.

Until one morning, without any warning, he lost his temper with me and grew violent. I watched with alarm as grainy water gushed over the top of the filter and sullied the cappuccino I was preparing. Gasped and brusquely flipped his switch to “off” as I saw his arm begin to swing sideways under the influence of some evil impulse. Took a step back and watched in disbelief as the filter arm detached itself altogether, seemingly in slow motion, splattering me, and my entire kitchen, with boiling coffee grounds.

Today this occurred for the second time in as many weeks.

I eye Fredo, reproachfully, while applying burn spray to my left arm.

“I’m warning you,” I say, in my most menacing voice. “Three strikes and you are out. I’ll save up my paypal donations and buy myself a new friend. Throw you out on your ear. You may be fiendishly handsome, but don’t make the mistake of thinking you are irreplaceable.”

I realise that I probably should have paid more heed to my mother’s warnings about Latin males.

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