petite anglaise

July 6, 2006


Filed under: navel gazing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 2:05 pm

The hour is a little after midnight. I am fiddling around on my computer, trying to fill in a hellishly complicated ASSEDIC form for my nanny, whose contract is almost finished. I am loath to turn in, even though I am exhausted from a lengthy trip to Ikea, because I doubt I will be able to sleep, thanks to the jovial racket emanating from my neighbourhood’s football fans.

The conundrum is this: open the window and hear whooping, car horns a-beeping and, more worryingly, people singing along to something cheesy which I suspect may be Claude François, or slowly broil to death in my apartment.

I can’t escape the feeling I am being held hostage.

* * * * * * *

The year is 1998. Mr Frog and I are moving into our first shared apartment, on rue Richard Lenoir, a stone’s throw from Père Lachaise. The day has been uncommonly stressful, despite the fact that Mr Frog didn’t actually possess much in the way of furniture to begin with.

After delivering his belongings to the new flat, we made the mistake of heading off in the rented van to Ikea that very same day. Predictably, we buy half the shop, including elephant ice cube trays and a Klippan sofa. Arriving home, we realise that said sofa will not budge beyond the narrow hallway of our building, and certainly cannot be manoeuvred into the courtyard from which our apartment is entered. As it is a bank holiday weekend, a monte-charge cannot be procured for several days, and when it can, hiring it will likely cost as much as the sofa itself.

We also realise that we have missed the deadline for returning the van, and will have to pay for an extra day’s rental.

Hardly an auspicious start to our life together.

Once the tears have dried, I graciously allow Mr Frog to go out with some friends to watch the final, leaving me to unpack our belongings and assemble the remaining furniture. In peace.

Except of course for the small fact that France are playing in the final, and the streets are alive with the sound of men watching sport, loudly. I haven’t yet plugged in the television, but there is little point. There is no mistaking that sound people make when a goal is scored. No room for ambiguity whatsoever.

I know the score.

* * * * * * *

Eight years have passed, almost to the day, and I can’t help marvelling at the symmetry of it all. My imminent move, today’s trip to Ikea (and I don’t know what they put in those meatballs, but I believe they are evil, and am holding them responsible for all my retail bulemia), new beginnings…

As for the football, I resolve to wash and dry Tadpole’s Italia t-shirt dress, which is currently liberally smeared with ice cream fingermarks, in time for the final.


  1. Yeah, I’ll be cheering for Italy as well, being portuguese and all…
    Sorry you had to endure the french celebrating.
    I hope that despite the similarities, this new beginning will be a good thing in your life. :)

    Comment by Joana — July 6, 2006 @ 2:48 pm

  2. I empathise with your sofa story. Last Autumn my boyfriend and I hired a van to move our sofa and suffered an even worse fate than forgetting to return it – we scraped the side of the van going through a very narrow gateway and had a seriously large fine to pay. This year we are on the move once more and face having to go through the same rigmarole again. And this time we even had to turn down an otherwise lovely flat on the grounds that its new-build doorways and hallway were way too narrow to get the sofa through. What happened to yours in the end? Did it have to stay outside in the rain? And will your imminent move mean dispensing with other items of furniture too?

    Comment by old school friend — July 6, 2006 @ 2:53 pm

  3. I like those hotdogs they sell at Ikea.
    However, everytime I buy one they give me the sausage and the bun seperately and tell me to assemble them at home with an allen key.

    Comment by Jack Hartley — July 6, 2006 @ 3:00 pm

  4. I was beginning to wonder how you could still avoid the subject of football, after the recent crazy nights in Paris. As a frenchman, I do regret that you will dress your (half-french) child in the enemy’s colors. That does not seem really fair… Is this because you’re still angry about her recent attitude towards the English language?

    Comment by Chris — July 6, 2006 @ 3:37 pm

  5. WRONG!!! How can you be for Italy when you live in France and come from England? Get a grip woman.

    Comment by nardac — July 6, 2006 @ 4:15 pm

  6. You are a brave woman!!! I think you should head back to your swimming pool this weekend and escape it all

    Comment by kingston girl — July 6, 2006 @ 4:35 pm

  7. Because Tadpole has an Italian surname, and Italian grandparents.

    Yesterday in the park, wearing that dress, she greeted me with “viva italia”.

    Mr Frog taught her that (and bought the dress) of course.

    Comment by petite — July 6, 2006 @ 4:41 pm

  8. I’m surprised that those grandparents and Mr Frog who you always described as quintessentially french turn out to be “italian”.
    Then Tadpole is not a tadpole after all, much more like a linguina (small spaghetti)…

    Comment by Chris — July 6, 2006 @ 5:19 pm

  9. So she could, potentially, be tri-lingual…

    Or just trying.

    Comment by Damian — July 6, 2006 @ 5:30 pm

  10. Why is it ALWAYS the sofas that won’t fit? Two moves ago, I tried to get my extra-long queen-sized sleeper sofa into my new apartment, where it never occured to me that the angle of the entry doors and the low ceiling in the staircase would create a barrier that even the professional movers could not surmount. It just would. Not. Fit. So I slipped the movers some extra cash under the table to drive the thing over to my mother’s house, where it stayed until I found a buyer, at a ridiculously low price considering how it was almost new and in perfect condition. I adored that sofa and it killed me to go out and have to buy another one.

    I hope your new move goes well and you’ll enjoy living in your new place… you’ll have lots of happy new memories to create there.

    Comment by The Bold Soul — July 6, 2006 @ 5:41 pm

  11. Ah the details of life in quaint France. I once ordered an “angle canapé” from Habitat, only to find that I needed to have part of it lifted up to my flat on a “monte charge”, which did cost me alot!

    As to the football, I somehow can’t conceive of the Italians winning, my having spent some time in their country, beautiful as it may be.

    Comment by Lost in France — July 6, 2006 @ 5:52 pm

  12. SOS – I harbour a fantasy of going to the Batofar tomorrow at 11ish. But I have nobody to play with. Any possible chaperones out there?

    Comment by petite — July 6, 2006 @ 6:34 pm

  13. Aha, are the ‘in-laws’ trying to persuade Tadpole that she should speak Italian instead of English?

    By the way, did anyone find the pebble? . . . .

    Comment by Sablonneuse — July 6, 2006 @ 9:45 pm

  14. Petite, I’ve been considering going to Batofar for a while, but after a scary experience at the Rex a few weeks ago (me, my boyfriend – and a whole lotta 15 year olds!) I’m a tad reluctant at being made to feel ancient at 30… I take it the Batofar is less scary in this sense?

    Comment by Poulette — July 6, 2006 @ 9:53 pm

  15. ‘d love to, but I won’t be able to make it in time… Shouldn’t have moved to toulouse… Never been to the Batofar before, but I heard good things.
    Enjoy your evening, I’m sure you’ll have company!

    Comment by Tommpouce — July 6, 2006 @ 10:25 pm

  16. Well Poulette, as their speciality on new wave day is electro with some 80s stuff thrown in (new order, the cure, visage, all sorts), it tends to attract a broad span of ages, and has more of a thirtysomething feel…

    So if you fancy it, drop me a line?

    Comment by petite — July 6, 2006 @ 10:48 pm

  17. Had it been France vs. England in the World Cup final where would Tadpole’s allegiances have lain?!

    Comment by old school friend — July 6, 2006 @ 11:46 pm

  18. Petite –
    you write beautifully and today’s story in particular touched deeply – I’m a huge nostalgic.
    you encapsulate here such a beautiful yet melancholic arc of story, even as it begins anew with such (deserved!) optimism … I won’t degin to give you any advice (duh) but only mention that I’m very happy to read your blog for as long as you write it. and best wishes



    Comment by chris — July 7, 2006 @ 12:25 am

  19. Tadpole is a “girina” then (that’s Italian for a female tadpole). Actually she (and her father) are in the lucky position of being happy whoever wins the final.

    Comment by Hazy — July 7, 2006 @ 9:10 am

  20. petite you got my number if you fancy batofar but not friday havea works do – saturday would be ok

    Comment by Cheria — July 7, 2006 @ 1:39 pm

  21. I bought some ear-plugs for the match. I am unluckily located just above a pizzaria, so no matter who wins I’ll have my sleepless night….

    Comment by Mezzanotte — July 7, 2006 @ 3:54 pm

  22. I am so glad that I am not the only victim of the IKEA meatball. I love those things. I also love the lingonberry sauce there too. My husband used to live in San Francisco and we were long distance before we were married. One of the highlights of my trips out there was going to eat at IKEA, because we dont have one where I live. Maybe I should plan a trip to Sweden instead.

    Comment by Wide Lawn — July 7, 2006 @ 4:06 pm

  23. I have a great remembrance of a brand new sofa arrived the very day of a winning football final (albeit a champion league victory, from an unusual suspect). I was also moving from one appartment to another in july 1998, so I take the sign of your new Ikea Sofa as a a solid indication of a french victory…

    Much more than Henry’s wife, I propose Petite as the new French football Icon!!

    Go wild, Petite : accept a date with the whole french young males sunday night around 11 p.m. !!!!

    Comment by coutho — July 7, 2006 @ 5:20 pm

  24. Your excuse sounds weak. She lives in France, speaks French and probably not an ounce of Italian save spaghetti and viva italia. Blood or no blood, sport is lived in the moment.

    Anyways, you lose both ways. If your team wins, you’ll be lonely in your joy. If your team loses, you’ll be lonely in your pain. Whatever. Just don’t write some whiney post about not being able to sleep from the honking.

    Comment by nardac — July 7, 2006 @ 5:24 pm

  25. Goodness Nardac, it’s only Tadpole’s dad having a bit of fun. No need to take it all so seriously

    To be honest, I couldn’t care less one way or the other, I shan’t be watching the final.

    But I’ll whine if I want to.

    Comment by petite — July 7, 2006 @ 5:39 pm

  26. So… I can see you have a lot of contacts, i hoe you read this, youll see, my name is Christian, Im from mexico, and Im 20. Im a writer, kind of lkea poet, well, i wanted to ask you some info äbout how much does it cost an apartement or a room over there at paris. im going for studiying at the Sorbona paris 4, so if you could get in touch with me by mail or meessenger, it would be great. Thanks a lot for reading this. see ya. sorry for my english its been a long time since i dont improve it, my french is better… i guess ehheheeheh


    Comment by christian — July 7, 2006 @ 5:57 pm

  27. IKEA angst must be one of the Western world’s true unifiers. One opened near my daughter’s school (just 0.5 miles away). Amazing how often I can talk her into going to the IKEA cafe for snack and homework time, just so I can walk through my dreams of kitchens afterwards…

    Comment by Cee — July 8, 2006 @ 6:37 am

  28. I’m going to Berlin for the finals, and believe you me there is no way I’m rooting for the I******s!
    [Especially useless since Zidane y va marquer, Zidane y va marquer…]


    Comment by babyteks — July 8, 2006 @ 2:10 pm

  29. A babyteks
    Bah,ouais, il a marqué! C’est ‘allez les bleus’ et non pas ‘faites des bleus’. Vraiement dommage.

    Comment by J — July 10, 2006 @ 12:21 pm

  30. I guess Tadpole has had the last laugh, with her “Italia” dress and all.

    Comment by Lost in France — July 10, 2006 @ 5:33 pm

  31. He he!

    My tiny daughter has been wearing her ‘Italia’ tee-shirt all day since she has one Italian grandparent (my mother). And I got through quite a lot of champagne last night. SO nice when one’s team does well instead of embarrassing themselves as England always do.

    Forza azzurri!


    Comment by Paola — July 10, 2006 @ 11:45 pm

  32. Once again, the world was amazed by the elegance (head butt) of France losing the World Cup.

    Why this happened? Visit my blog for analysis.

    And celebrate this new French defeat!

    Comment by Uranus — July 11, 2006 @ 1:09 am

  33. Oh that’s really nice that italy has won the world cup and I am really happy to that you also supported the same country that I supported. It’s really nice buddy!

    Comment by Graham Stewards — July 11, 2006 @ 9:13 am

  34. Wonderful, nobody can be as happy as i am. Finally Tialy has won the world cup. This is something that have really prayed for. Go man this is the spirit!

    Comment by Robby Thompson — July 12, 2006 @ 9:53 am

  35. What generation Italian are Mr. Frog’s parents? I was just wondering how Italian they are. But they must speak good French since Tadpole comes back from visits singing and talking in French.

    Is it difficult to have an Italian surname in France because of prejudice? Just wondering if that would be a factor when Tadpole goes to school.

    Comment by Elle — July 14, 2006 @ 3:05 am

  36. Actually Elle, it would be more accurate to say that her great grandparents are Italian, they came over just after WW2 and although her grandad was born in Italy, he doesn’t really speak Italian much. In those days the Italian immigrants were encouraged not to speak Italian to their children at home, to help them integrate into French life… A shame. So her mamie and papy are really both French. But the great-grandparents in their Sunday best look like something out of the Godfather.

    And no, I don’t think there is any stigma whatsoever in having an Italian surname. It’s pretty common.

    Comment by petite — July 14, 2006 @ 11:52 am

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