petite anglaise

March 14, 2007


Filed under: misc, parting ways — petiteanglaiseparis @ 8:54 pm

I was standing in the queue for passport control at Marrakech airport when my mobile phone started to purr in my pocket.

“Sorry, can’t meet you for dinner tonight. Reservation problem.” Mr Frog

I felt like a balloon, slowly deflating. My first day. Out of the aeroplane not five minutes, and already some bad news.

“Shame,” I texted back. I thought that was suitably ambiguous. He could read into that whatever he wanted. It could mean “Oh, okay, never mind, that’s cool” but equally “Oh what a terrible shame. I’m gutted. You have ruined my holiday. And how much notice did you need that I’d be joining you, anyway? Was a month not enough?”

Later, as I meandered through the souk, hopelessly lost, wondering if I would ever find my way back to my hotel, my phone stirred in my pocket once more. This time it was a call. From Mr Frog. Goodness only knows how much Orange would be charging me for the privilege, but I sighed and picked up anyway.

“Hi, how’s it going?”

“M’kay. I’m lost. I have no idea where my hotel is. But apart from that, fine… You?”

“Good. We’re just leaving the medina actually. Heading back to our hotel for a massage.”

“Ah. Happy finish?”


“Never mind,” I said, wondering if it was really possible he could have forgotten the Christmas dinner at my parents’ place where I had one too many G&T’s and somehow ended up on the subject of Prince Charles. I don’t recall the exact definition I supplied to my confused grandma, but I’m surprised the scene was forgettable.

“Listen,” he said, “I’m sorry about tonight. N had made a reservation somewhere really posh, and he tried to add you on, but couldn’t.” I made a face which I was glad he couldn’t see, and refrained from stating the obvious, i.e. that he had known I would be joining him for A Very Long Time and this was rather A Weak Excuse.

“No worries. I’m fixed for tonight. I’m eating in my hotel. Which is lovely, by the way…”

“Oh. Right. Because I was going to offer to come out with you instead. Just the two of us.”

I ponder. A ploy to get me on my own? No. I doubt it. We lunch on our own all the time. A ploy to not see me with his friends to minimise embarrassment and awkwardness? Perhaps. Utterly pathetic organisational skills and a rather half-hearted attempt to make amends? Most likely explanation.

“No. It’s fine. Really. You go out with your friends and I’ll eat in my hotel. Have a lovely holiday. And tell me if you get anything for Tadpole, so I don’t end up buying her the same thing.”

So folks, I’m afraid that is the story. A bit of an anti-climax for all concerned. And proof, if such a thing were needed, that people never change.

March 11, 2007


Filed under: good time girl, Tadpole rearing — petiteanglaiseparis @ 10:37 pm

Tadpole sniffs heartily as we trot along the pavement in the direction of home. I feel around in my coat pocket for a tissue, but draw a blank. Permanently unprepared for any eventuality whatsoever, that’s me. No wipes for if she dives head first into a crotte, no umbrella should it rain, no tissues for sniffles or tears, no spare clothes for accidents, and my mobile phone battery is resolutely flat. My fingers are permanently crossed instead, but somehow – touch wood – we seem to get by.

“Mummy” says Tadpole in her ‘I’m about to say something extremely profound which changes the way you see the world around you’ voice. “When my nose gets sniffy. That’s because the winter, it does get stuck in my nostrils.”

Well that’s one way of looking at it. And not a worldview I feel equipped to challenge, as my powers don’t extend to explaining airborne viruses and bacterial infections to a three-year-old. That little pearl of wisdom doesn’t top my favourite quote of the weekend, however. Which I love, even though I don’t really understand it. “I had a dream,” said Tadpole that morning. “Not a dream in my eyes, but one inside my head. We can have two different sorts of dreams, can’t we mummy? Head dreams and eye dreams.”

I glance at my watch. Six o’clock. Plenty of time to get ready before the babysitter arrives at eight, as long as Tadpole shows some mercy and remains moderately compliant throughout. Although the check-list of “Things to Do Before the Babysitter Arrives” is long. Going out on a non-Tadpole free night can be something of a military campaign.

In no particular order, I must:

  • Feed Tadpole (cook nutritious meal and somehow ensure fruit and vegetables are eaten using carefully dosed combination of distraction/persuasion/coercion/threats)
  • Bath Tadpole
  • Tidy flat (abridged version involving throwing piles of things into wardrobe and closing doors)
  • Wash up and empty decidedly whiffy kitchen bin
  • Log out of my profile on computer and put it into guest mode to avert possibility of snooping and cookies inadvertently taking sitter directly into bank statements/blog backend/gmail
  • Hide manuscript
  • Put away Tadpole’s toys
  • Hide my toys
  • Agonise over what to wear to vagina-themed birthday party (don’t ask)
  • Supervise Tadpole’s making of home-made (non vagina-themed) birthday card
  • Write down contact numbers and dig out spare house keys
  • Get changed
  • Apply make up
  • Text door code to sitter who always forgets it

7.45 finds me at the end of my tether. Every single familiar gesture of our evening routine has been a battleground. Tadpole ate precisely four forkfuls of dinner. She splashed water all over the bathroom floor while I hastily applied make-up. She is now running around naked, refusing to have her teeth cleaned or don her pyjamas. I am dressed, and in between yelling threats and promises I am fiddling with my hair, spraying on perfume. My shoulders are sagging. I wonder how I will muster up enough energy to take the métro and actually spend four hours making small talk at a party before the clock strikes one and I leave before my carriage turns into a pumpkin/my babysitter’s bedtime.

At 8.00, when the doorbell trills, we are ready. Tadpole is sitting on her bed with her library book, the only French book in the house, her mouth minty fresh, patiently waiting for the babysitter to come and read her a story. I am ready, my bag packed with drink, present and card, money for taxi/babysitter. I did it! Against all odds. Cinders shall go to the ball.

I glance at myself in the full-length mirror and do a horrified double take.

Those tights, those magic tights I pounced on in Monoprix which make slightly wobbly tummies disappear, with their “control top” panel? Bad idea. My tummy is flat as can be, there’s no arguing with that. My bottom is also reined in to great effect. But where the controlling part bottoms out and my thighs begin? Oh dear god. I now have saddlebags. Second hips located halfway down my thighs as though there has been some sort of subsidence. It’s too late to re-think my entire outfit. And I don’t have any other black tights to hand.

There is nothing for it but to haul my two pairs of childbearing hips out on the town.

March 9, 2007

comic relief

Filed under: misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 8:01 pm

Mike Troubled Diva has had a Very Good Idea. He is compiling an anthology of funny blog posts written by UK based bloggers (and expat Brits) which will be assembled in one week flat, then sold via Lulu in honour of Comic Relief (all proceeds from the book, minus lulu print on demand costs will go to charity).

It’s a very good cause indeed and one which I am only too happy to support. So, I’ll have to dig out a post where I’m hopefully at least moderately funny (and not too long-winded) and get it sent to Mike quick smart. If you are a British blogger and would like to participate, details can be found here. And I’ll put up a link to the book as and when it’s finished.


Filed under: misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 10:50 am

Breakfast is served on the roof terrace of the Riad Watier. I emerge, still groggy from sleep, at around ten, and make my way upstairs. I have my book and my sunglasses but immediately regret not bringing my camera. The sky is a beautiful shade of periwinkle blue, the view over the rooftops to the Atlantic is spectacular, and the trade wind for which Essaouira is famous, the Alizée, is mercifully absent. The only other people at breakfast are a German mother and daughter; one scribbles, the other reads.

Essaouira is a breath (or gust) of fresh air after the dry heat and bustle of Marrakech. On the bus drive to the coast, parched earth gave way to greenery, red and ochre tones were replaced with whitewashed walls and blue shutters. The medina is small, helpfully laid out in a grid so I can’t get lost, and every single alleyway is named. I still attract a fair amount of attention when I wander around alone, especially in the evening when I eat out, but it’s tame in comparison and deliciously relaxing. I doubt the same can be said for the town in the summer months, but in March, it’s perfect.

A young woman with glossy dark hair brings my breakfast. Pancakes with syrup, yoghurt, freshly squeezed orange juice, bread, butter, jam and coffee. I tuck in, even though my stomach still feels leaden after the previous evening’s tajine. I don’t eat a lot of meat as a rule, but Morocco has been the exception. Lamb with prunes and almonds. Lamb with figs and walnuts. Chicken with lemons. Repeat to fade.

I pour coffee, and take a bite out of my first pancake, wondering what to do with my day. There isn’t much to visit in Essaouira, it’s just an attractive place to stroll around. I had been plotting a trip to a hammam, but I have a little sunburn on my neck and shoulders (which I only bared on the secluded roof terrace of my Marrakech hotel, I hasten to add) and the last thing I need is an over-enthusiastic scrubbing down with scratchy black olive soap and a sandpaper mitt. Other than that, my only firm plan is to eat lunch at one of the stalls by the port where you choose a freshly caught fish and take a seat at a trestle table while it is gutted, grilled and brought to your table with salad, bread, water and a handful of grilled prawns.

A flapping noise to my left startles me out of my food fantasy, and a seagull the size of a cat settles on the roof terrace wall, not a metre away from me. He (for the sake of argument, I’m no birdwatcher) calls to a friend in a raucous voice and is joined by another, slightly less attractive mottled seagull with a mean face. They stare at me, or at my breakfast, to be more accurate. I feel less relaxed. How fearless are they? Bold enough to snatch a piece of pancake from my plate, or indeed my hand? Those slightly hooked beaks look rather intimidating close up. The German ladies and their breakfast don’t seem to have attracted a seagull fan club. Don’t tell me even the seagulls single out lone female travellers in this country?

I pour myself some more coffee, hoping that the clanking of the thermos might frighten them away. It doesn’t. I try muttering “bugger off” under my breath, to no avail. I stare into the seagulls’ beady eyes with my very best Paddington stare. None of this makes a blind bit of difference. In fact, as soon as I set down my cup and open my book the seagull seizes the opportunity to up the ante, hopping onto the railing which tops the wall, opening his wings for a moment and striking a pose which looks decidedly more threatening.


I try flapping my book in his direction. The seagull stares at me scornfully. He mutters something uncomplimentary to his scraggy friend, who joins him on the railing. I take another bite out of my pancake. Somehow, under siege, it doesn’t taste quite so good.

It is when I glance over at the German ladies, casting around for backup, that he leaps onto the table. He lands squarely in front of my plate, only centimetres away from my face and that’s it. Enough. I panic.

“FUCK FUCK FUCK!” I cry, leaping out of my seat, my book raised in front of my face, knocking my plastic chair over backwards in my haste. The German ladies look up, impassive, then carry on with what they are doing as though nothing had happened.

Half and hour and three repeat confrontations later, I conclude that maybe Essaouira isn’t such a relaxing place after all.

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