petite anglaise

December 13, 2006


Filed under: single life, Tadpole sings — petiteanglaiseparis @ 8:53 pm

For Tadpole’s sake, I am valiantly struggling to make Christmas feel special.

As with all treats, like a trip to see grandma and grandad, or mamie et papy, or even just the prospect of a weekend with daddy, I enjoy whetting her appetite, watching her excitement build every time I mention it, until, finally, she reaches fever pitch. Because my own childhood memories suggest that it’s the anticipation of the event which is often the best part.

So, on Sunday, despite a mild hangover, I braved the department stores of the Boulevard Haussmann so that Tadpole could marvel at the Christmas windows. Her little ooh’s and aah’s of delight were almost worth the stranger danger terror each time I lost her pigtails from sight for a few heart-stalling seconds. The windows at Galeries Lafayette and Printemps have cunning little boardwalks erected in front of them, you see, and you are expected to dispatch your little darling onto the steps at one end, then wade through the sea of frazzled parents, stacked approximately ten deep from windows to edge of pavement, and intercept your child at the other end. There are some activities which are much more difficult as a single parent, and this most definitely qualifies.

On Monday I heaved a rather soggy Christmas tree home, a fine mist of drizzle making it difficult to see much through my glasses, and causing me to bump into several fellow pedestrians. After some head scratching, I finally remembered that my Christmas decorations had been safely stowed in Mr Frog’s cellar when I moved apartments. Once these had been duly recovered, Tadpole helped me to hang the stars and tinsel – breaking only two paper-thin baubles – and her gasp when I switched on the lights gave me all the validation I needed for spending € 25 at the florist’s for a tree which doesn’t even come up to Tadpole’s forehead.

The presents I cunningly ordered two or three weeks ago arrived from Eveil et Jeux by post yesterday. Or rather, I collected them from the local post office, where unbeknown to me they had been sitting for the past week. I dashed home to wrap them immediately, so that if they were accidentally found, the surprises would remain intact. There are only so many hiding places a 33m2 apartment can afford, and a single game of hide and seek could all too easily throw the whole enterprise into jeopardy.

Our Christmas cards – featuring a festive Tadpole wearing antlers as per usual – were written, signed (both by me and by Tadpole) and posted two days ago. Hopefully the old antlers have a few years mileage in them yet, before Tadpole reaches for a telephone to call the French equivalent of Childline.

It would appear, on the surface, that everything is in place.

And yet, somehow, my heart just isn’t in the whole thing. Whatever we do, it feels as though something, or someone is missing. An extra pair of eyes at the grands magasins, an extra pair of hands helping me to drag the tree home from the florists and hang the decorations, another person to help me choose and wrap the gifts.

There is a Mr Frog shaped hole in our Christmas preparations.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I want to rekindle the flame with Mr Frog. It’s just that there’s something about Christmas which makes me yearn for his presence alongside us. Watching Tadpole’s delight alone is only half as exciting as watching it with him. Instead of catching his eye and exchanging gleeful smiles, I must content myself with sending pictures and short “guess what she’s done now!” texts to his mobile. It’s not the same.

I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that there are some parental pleasures which need to be shared in order to be fully appreciated.

December 12, 2006


Filed under: misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 1:22 am

I’ve been rather quiet of late, I realise, and this has much to do with the fact that I have to pause to cough approximately every thirty seconds and that makes most endeavours Extremely Tiresome Indeed. The worst things, I find, are cleaning my teeth and reading bedtime stories. I’m guaranteed to go into a paroxysm of noisy, eye watering coughing within seconds of inserting a toothbrush or attempting the opening sentence of “Mog’s Christmas”.

And while my French is pretty convincing these days in most situations not involving the word “frog”, I do find it tends to let me down when talking about prescription drugs and ailments. Some progress has undoubtedly been made since that fateful day a decade ago when I had an entire chemist’s shop in fits of laughter after earnestly explaining that I was suffering from a small British songbird. But there are gaping holes in my pharmaceutical vocabulary, all the same.

On Saturday, having finished swigging my Tesco chesty cough syrup from the bottle, I decided to brave one of the six pharmacies within a 100 metre radius of my apartment. Naturally I chose the one with the most attractive male assistant.

Bonjour,” I said with a smile. “J’aimerais un sirop contre la toux.” I delved into my mind for the French for a chesty cough, but drew a blank. A dry cough is most definitely a “toux sèche”, but is a chesty cough a “toux grasse”? The phrase conjured up a rather unattractive, greasy mental image so I decided against it.

C’est quel type de toux?” enquired the attractive young gentleman, as I knew he would. The simplest course of action would probably have been to give a short, spontaneous demonstration at this juncture, but for the first time that day I found myself unable to perform.

Euh. Ce n’est pas une toux sèche. Ca vient vraiment des poumons…” I replied, paraphrasing hopefully, although I’m guessing that few types of cough don’t involve lungs.

Les bronches, vous voulez dire?” Ah, pardon me, not my lungs, my bronchial tubes. Where ailments are concerned in French, the more technical the term, the better. This is after all the country where a common cold is referred to as a rhinopharyngite.

“Oui. Je vais voir un médecin si ça persiste… c’est un peu dégueulasse.” Oh, how I wished I could have taken that last comment back, on the grounds that it constituted too much information. But no, it was too late, he was now going to pursue another line of questioning and seek to ascertain the precise colour of my phlegm.

Ah, c’est coloré?

Oui, effectivement,” I stuttered, mortified. I should have stuck with “toux grasse”. Why in god’s name didn’t I trust my instincts and go with “toux grasse”?

I took the bottle and inspected it. No codeine, more’s the pity.

Je peux vous proposer autre chose aussi,” added the attractive pharmacist. I eyed him suspiciously. An expectorant suppository perhaps? Some sea water to squirt up my nose?

A few minutes later, my wallet considerably lighter, I stepped back out into the drizzle and inspected my purchase dejectedly. Nose drops. Water, bicarbonate of soda and some parabens for good measure. A carcinogenic cocktail to “pulverise” my nostrils with, four times a day.

If the attractive pharmacist hadn’t scrawled his phone number on the back of the receipt, I think I would have wept.

December 7, 2006


Filed under: misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 11:03 am

On Tuesday, Mr Frog drove me to Ikea so I could kit out my new office space. As always, when we are together, it doesn’t take long for us to remember why we split up in the first place. In this instance my near hysteria when I called him at 8am to wail that RenaultRent didn’t actually have the vehicle I reserved on the internet (and hadn’t bother to phone and advise me of the fact) reminded him of all the times I’d gone off the deep end in the past over trivial matters.

“Look. I’ve just woken up and I don’t need to hear this right now,” said Mr Frog groggily. “Call me when you’ve found another van.”

Once upon a time, that exchange would have deteriorated into some sort of fight, but not any more. Now he’s just a friend who has kindly offered to do me a favour, and must be treated accordingly. When one of us gets annoyed, all we have to do is walk away. A much healthier state of affairs for all concerned.

Later that day, tearing along the A1 motorway towards Paris Nord II, the atmposphere is relaxed, radio Nova is playing, and we are swapping Tadpole stories.

“Has she done that song for you, the one with the actions about Monsieur Grenouille?” I take special care over the word “grenouille” which is the single most difficult word for an anglophone to pronounce in the French language, in my opinion.

“Yes, the Mr Frog song. Very appropriate, I thought,” my own Mr Frog says with a smile. “Oh, that reminds me, I have something to tell you that you might want to use in your blog…”


“Well, I didn’t tell you this before, but I’ve been on meetic. I took out a four month trial subscription to see what it was like a while back, no photo or anything, I wasn’t going to mention it to you… But then yesterday I got an email from them with twenty profiles of women that might interest me. And yours was the first one in the list! How weird is that?”

“Wow. I don’t know whether that is proof of how well it works, or the opposite. Did you look at my profile? Or send me a tease? I haven’t logged in for ages, so I wouldn’t know…”

“No, I didn’t open it up, it didn’t feel right.”

The conversation moves onto other things. The girl he is going to visit. Tadpole’s bowel movements. Christmas presents. The day is a success, all in all: everything I need is in stock, we have a pleasant lunch in the Ikea cafeteria together and get back to Belleville in plenty of time to unload before school pick up time.

That night, nursing a lemsip and watching junk TV on my laptop in bed, the meetic story pops back into my mind. I’d pretty much given up on online dating. But, I reason, if there are people even half as cool as Mr Frog out there, it might just be worth swinging by for one last look.

December 4, 2006


Filed under: good time girl — petiteanglaiseparis @ 12:20 pm

The petite anglaise is mainly nocturnal at weekends, or at least on those weekends when she does not have the care of her offspring. This weekend was a textbook example.

On Friday night I started off the evening at a bloggers get together Richard’s beautiful loft apartment in the Marais, where I met a whole host of contributors to The Paris Blog. Much seems to have been made of the fact that I arrived with my own gin, tonic and lemon but this was all part of a master plan – to stick to the same drink all evening – which I’m sure my body was grateful for the next day.

Once the party was over, I went on to dance a good portion of the night away with a girlfriend in the distinctly grungy Batofar where the first Friday of every month is “New Wave Day”. I love the Batofar for its lack of dress code, the fact that the people are all there for the music, and get wildly enthusiastic when certain French crowd pleasers (Indochine, Visage) are played, but I must say, now that I’ve been to a few of these nights, I’m starting to notice a distinct lack of variety in the playlist. It was a pleasant surprise to hear Siouxsie and the Banshees “Peekaboo” nonetheless…

Best chat up lines of the evening were:

To Meg: “You dance in a very 80s style. Do you like New Order?”
(One of the safest possible approaches to adopt at New Wave Day?)

To me: “I think you are the most beautiful girl in the room. What’s your name?”
(taken with a pinch of salt the first time, due to enlarged state of suitor’s pupils; even less flattering the second time, less than half an hour later)

On Saturday I roused myself with some reluctance at 5pm (having missed daylight altogether) and managed to muster up the energy to attend a friend‘s leaving party in the Paris office of the Daily Telegraph, housed in a beautiful apartment with panoramic views overlooking the Tuileries. It was well worth venturing out for, and I was even introduced to the British Ambassador and his wife. I pondered over whether to talk to them about Left Bank and its ending involving a dashing, single British ambassador, and then thought better of the idea.

The last outing of the weekend was a pilgrimage to the left bank, to the Café de Flore, to meet up with some Australian friends for a spot of Sunday brunch. If rude, incompetent waiters and indifferent, overpriced food is your thing, I can heartily recommend it. Personally, I think I’ll stick to an occasional hot chocolate upstairs in future. After that brief but ill-advised outing during daylight hours, I retired to my boudoir for a nap before the return of Tadpole.

Now, your turn. I’d like to shamelessly pick your brains and hear about where you would eat/drink/dance on your ideal weekend in Paris. Hopefully a subject which will give me a much deserved break from the very wearing comments box vitriol I’ve been experiencing lately. So?*

*Second consecutive post without punchline. Please proceed to paypal if you require a subscription refund.

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