petite anglaise

November 6, 2007

princess shoes

Filed under: on the road, Tadpole rearing, Tadpole says — petiteanglaiseparis @ 11:58 pm

It is a week in which I’ve already made two Paris-London-Paris trips on the Eurostar, complete with identical on-board meals of hachis parmentier and a very bland slice of bakewell tart on both Sunday and Wednesday evenings, and adjusted my watch five times (albeit a little slow on the uptake the day that daylight saving time was adopted, having completely forgotten).

On Thursday, Tadpole and I board a flight to Leeds. I pore over the in-flight magazine, wondering what my collection of loose change can buy us for lunch. I would appear to have exactly £7.70. Just enough to procure one “junior snack pack” and a still mineral water (for her) plus one packet of mini-cheddars and a coffee/kitkat combo (for me). Not the most nutritious meal, with not a hint of the requisite five servings of fruit or vegetables, but we’ve had worse. I wedge the magazine into the seat pocket in front of me and settle back in my seat, closing my eyes for a moment, waiting for the attendants to reach us.

Tadpole is studying the laminated safety card with fierce intent.


“Mhm?” I mumble, without opening my eyes.

“Why does a cross sometimes mean a kiss but sometimes it means ‘no, you CAN’T do THAT’? Those two things are not the same at ALL, are they?”

“I suppose you’re right,” I say, opening my eyes and leaning forwards to rummage in my handbag for moleskine and a pencil, nostils flaring. I smell a blog post in the making: Tadpole appears to be on fine form today. “So… what does it say that we’re not allowed to do, on the card?”

“It says no cigarette,” says Tadpole primly. “But that’s alright because me and you, we don’t fume any cigarette, do we?” I shake my head. “And it says no telephone…” she pauses and looks at me accusingly. “Why did you bring your telephone, mummy? It’s not allowed, it says it here!”

“Ah, I’m allowed to bring it, you see, but I am supposed to switch it off…” I fumble in my handbag once more and re-read my last message from the Boy, for the nth time, before complying.

“Why are those people going on a toboggan?” Tadpole wonders aloud, pointing at the picture of a landing at sea – I love the fact that there is a proper French word for this: “amerissage” which somehow makes it sound like something utterly banal and routine, and not at all like an exceptional emergency occurrence – in which several people are calmly gliding down an inflatable slide, minus their baggage and shoes. I decide not to evoke the possibility of planes falling unexpectedly out of the sky and mumble something implausible about people using slides when there aren’t any spare sets of stairs handy at the airport, instead. No sense in worrying her. Flying has hitherto been as natural to Tadpole as taking a taxi, and I wouldn’t want to change that. Pointing at the next picture, I lure her eyes away before she has time to register that the runway is blue and slightly squiggly.

“What do you think this one means?” I say, tapping my finger against a picture of an unfeasibly high stilletto shoe with a bold black cross through it.

“No princess shoes,” Tadpole replies with unshakable certainty.

Chortling, I reach for my pencil.


  1. Moleskines, eh ? It’s great that you’re doing so well!

    I passed through Leeds last week, returning from a weekend in the Dales. Make sure that you get out from the city during your visit. Swaledale was beautiful.

    Comment by Moses — November 7, 2007 @ 1:20 am

  2. Tadpole is precious. I love the way their little minds work at that age.

    Comment by Kaycie — November 7, 2007 @ 1:24 am

  3. Maybe Tadpole could be the narrator of your second book? It would make for some hilarious and very thought provoking reading.

    Comment by Froguette — November 7, 2007 @ 2:14 am

  4. Priceless!

    Comment by Eats Wombats — November 7, 2007 @ 2:35 am

  5. she is just impossibly adorable…fun story

    Comment by Eclat in Paris — November 7, 2007 @ 5:22 am

  6. :-)

    I wish I could take someone like her on business trips (my own kids spring to mind). That sure would lighten the mood.

    On second thoughts, maybe the experience would not be nearly as nice on a flight across the Pacific (sigh).

    Comment by ontario frog — November 7, 2007 @ 5:28 am

  7. I have a feeling that if I were Tadpole’s age, or she were mine, we’d be brilliant friends.

    Comment by K — November 7, 2007 @ 6:33 am

  8. I love children’s view on our grown up world. Their world is just a little bit nicer.

    Comment by Peggy — November 7, 2007 @ 6:48 am

  9. “amerissage” is perfectly ordinary for seaplanes…, as used in various Tintin books.
    Thank you for another interesting and entertaining post, Petite.

    Comment by pierre l — November 7, 2007 @ 9:13 am

  10. That’s so cute. :-)

    Comment by Anna — November 7, 2007 @ 10:22 am

  11. Once again, a perfect Tadpole-ism. I will remember that next time I’m reviewing the laminated card in the back of my seat pocket.

    Comment by The Bold Soul — November 7, 2007 @ 11:10 am

  12. En vieillissant, je commence à avoir peur en avion et, en plus, je peux compter sur mes fils pour alimenter mes angoisses. Ils adorent imaginer et décrire des accidents aérines à leur mère spécialement au moment du décollage et de l’atterrissage !
    Voyager avec des enfants n’est pas toujours chose facile !

    Comment by marie-hélène — November 7, 2007 @ 11:54 am

  13. As I recall, ‘no princess shoes’ is a requirement on EasyJet anyway.

    Or did I read somewhere that they’ve brought in a new £20 supplement for each stiletto ?

    That’s likely to prove unpopular with some passengers. And the airline is bracing itself for thousands of complaints from all those Essex girls, flying out of Stansted…

    Comment by Roads — November 7, 2007 @ 12:05 pm

  14. Vive les chaussures royales!

    Comment by Winchester whisperer — November 7, 2007 @ 12:57 pm

  15. By the way, are there any statistics on numbers of stilettos found in crashed planes?

    Comment by Winchester whisperer — November 7, 2007 @ 12:59 pm

  16. How funny!

    Comment by Sally Lomax — November 7, 2007 @ 1:16 pm

  17. My two were also frequent fliers from a very young age,(now infrequent ferry trips). Before the first flight(aged 2+ and 6mnths respectively) did all the happy flying books and that awful Barney song and eldest was really looking forward to seeing what clouds looked like on top. However, and to my complete surprise, on first seeing the plane from the boarding gate, she stopped dead in her tracks, absolutely petrified. I’ve never seen her so frightened, before or since. Only managed to persuade her to get on by telling her that Yes, darling this plane was broken once but that Daddy had fixed it himself. It was a reminder that little ears pick up a lot more than you give them credit for, and that we’d had guys from the repairs team and incident investigation team round for supper once too often.

    Comment by j — November 7, 2007 @ 1:54 pm

  18. Bonjour PA! I find myself working in your fair city this week. It would surely be easier if I could say any more than good morning and thanks in French, but I can’t.

    ‘Tis lovely though, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the food.

    Comment by It's Just Me — November 7, 2007 @ 2:27 pm

  19. Cheese is a vegetable, isn’t it. I’m sure I read something about that on Little Red Boat.

    Comment by Damian — November 7, 2007 @ 3:12 pm

  20. Oh yes, here it is.

    So you did have one of your servings of fruit and veg.

    Comment by Damian — November 7, 2007 @ 3:12 pm

  21. Yeah, your daughter is cool and smart. Our Zuleikha – who will be three at the end of December – is also starting to explain the world to us. That’s just sooo nice.

    Thanks for sharing,

    Comment by wjl (Wolfgang Lonien) — November 7, 2007 @ 4:35 pm

  22. Chocolate and coffee should also be regarded as vegitables as they are made from beans. 5 a day is much easier under these rules.

    Comment by sandwichfilling — November 7, 2007 @ 4:39 pm

  23. She’s a riot!

    So were you re-reading good or bad text?

    Comment by susie — November 7, 2007 @ 5:47 pm

  24. Now here’s a flight safety card (from Fight Club):

    Comment by xl — November 7, 2007 @ 7:31 pm

  25. I’m just an ignorant bumpkin from the colonies. What the heck is a “Moleskines”. Here the only thing close I can think of is moleskin: a sticky patch to put over blisters.
    Fess up, what was in the text message?!

    Comment by Voyager — November 7, 2007 @ 7:47 pm

  26. Reading your blog is like looking through a hole in the fence which offers warm and humorous Normal Rockwell-ian scenes – which never fail to make me smile.

    Comment by blueseaurchin — November 7, 2007 @ 8:57 pm

  27. Afterthoughts:

    I enjoyed the “chortling”

    I wish I had recorded these moments; I have forgotten so much. Because I have it on videocam I’ll always recall my son, aged about 3, looking at a plane in the sky and saying


    We lived in Holland, so after windmills things either were GOING or NOT GOING.

    Really? I asked.

    Yes, he replied. IT’S JUST PARKED.

    Parked. In the sky. On tape.

    A cousin didn’t want to go in a plane because he’d “too squished when it went up in the sky.”

    I got this in the mail but I haven’t eaten it yet

    “In teh beginnin Invisible Man was invisible, and he maded the skiez
    and da earths, but he did not eated it.” — Genesis 1:1,

    Comment by Eats Wombats — November 7, 2007 @ 10:46 pm

  28. #25: Moleskines are fancy notebooks. Google the word and you’ll get links that show you pictures.

    Comment by Passante — November 7, 2007 @ 11:42 pm

  29. While helping our friend’s little boy to the top of a slide the other day, he stopped at the top, turned to me and said “so Jonathan, I hear you’re adopting children?”

    I paused for a moment, completely lost for an answer.

    “Will they be like Tracey Beaker?”

    I have so much to learn about television, and the lightning quick sponge minds of children…

    Comment by Jonathan — November 7, 2007 @ 11:45 pm

  30. Hi Petite! This is a little random, but i read in a past post that you taught english when first moving to paris. I am coming to paris in may (in the hope of being accepted into a uni) and would like to teach english (to feed myself/pay rent). I was thinking about doing a cambridge CELTA eng as a second language course, or a TELF course- do you know if these would be helpful/ if there is ANY hope in getting a teaching job?? Any advise would be warmly welcomed! thanks (love your blog!)

    Comment by marie — November 8, 2007 @ 11:30 am

  31. I have a dog his name is Rover

    Comment by nobby — November 8, 2007 @ 11:55 am

  32. I too only had a vague notion of what a moleskine was. I THOUGHT it was some kind of intellectual notebook, but also I had images of Boden trousers in my head, and it also makes me think of the word ‘foreskin’ – so THAT’S what they use to make those soft covers.
    Anyway, I googled it as advised by a commenter, and this is what I got:




    Comment by Mancunian Lass — November 8, 2007 @ 12:39 pm

  33. I was on the Paris-Leeds flight on Weds and had to explain exactly the same things on the safety card to my 3yr old. I didn’t really want to explain why we might need life-jackets, so I just told him that in Leeds you could buy nice yellow jumpers and that this is how you put them on…

    Comment by Sophie — November 8, 2007 @ 3:15 pm

  34. what a *perfect* tadpolism.

    count your blessings, too — in an alternate universe, she could have said “no hooker shoes”!!

    Comment by franko — November 8, 2007 @ 4:13 pm

  35. I think you mean ‘notebook’ and pencil.

    Comment by backroads — November 8, 2007 @ 5:17 pm

  36. The word ‘chortle’ was invented by Edward Lear.

    Comment by nobby — November 8, 2007 @ 6:23 pm

  37. #30. Marie:

    I would say absolutely do the CELTA. It will help you enormously as a teacher (especially if you’ve never taught before), and it is the most respected TESOL certificate. If you check out the various ESL job Web sites, you’ll find that the better schools all over the world require it with a Grade B minimum. Around 90 percent of those taking it pass, about 25% get a Grade B, and about 4% get an A. I did the one-month intensive full-time course, and you do absolutely nothing else for that month, especially if you are aiming for a B. I think there are a few centres that offer it part-time over a longer period.

    Comment by Passante — November 8, 2007 @ 7:13 pm

  38. I’m afraid you’re behind the times – as of today, it’s SIX servings of fruit or vegetables each day! And only one glass of wine for a woman (two for a man!)

    Comment by Barry — November 8, 2007 @ 7:23 pm

  39. N° 31 | nobody | “I have a dog his name is Rover”

    Oh I think we have a lovely little troll over here

    Don’t scare him … it’s always à lot of fun to have a troll around


    Comment by rose selavy — November 8, 2007 @ 7:38 pm

  40. Faaantastic, I LOVE the Princess shoes quote! Kids really are priceless. We went to visit some friends recently and their 6 year old was writing her letter to Father Christmas. There seemed to be an awful lot of stuff on there so I asked her whether she really thought Santa would be able to carry all of that stuff. She said “No, that bit is for 2008” Then pointing at some other items, “and this is for 2009! I only want this doll and this game for this year”. Now that’s what I call organised!

    Comment by Nix — November 8, 2007 @ 8:36 pm

  41. She sounds just like her mum.

    Comment by Lisa — November 9, 2007 @ 12:58 am

  42. Too funny ,however if I’m going down.. I’m wearing my ‘princess shoes’

    Comment by gwenn — November 9, 2007 @ 1:21 am

  43. @22..

    If we’re allowed coffee and chocolate as vegetables, I will claim beer, wine and whiskey as vegetables too :P

    Comment by oxo — November 9, 2007 @ 4:44 pm

  44. #32 Boden trousers are not so far off the mark tho’I think Moleskin goes back well before that.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    • Ten things you may not know about Wikipedia •
    Jump to: navigation, search

    This article is about the fabric and movie prop. For the notebook, see Moleskine.

    Moleskin, originally referring to the short, silky fur of a mole, is heavy cotton fabric, woven and then sheared to create a short soft pile on one side. The word is also used for clothing made from this fabric. It is also used in adhesive pads stuck to the feet to prevent blisters.

    Clothing made from moleskin is noted for its softness and durability. Some variants of the cloth are so densely woven as to be windproof. Most manufacture of this cloth takes place in British mills. Noted clothiers who use a great deal of moleskin in their garments are Barbour and Lambourne.

    A moleskin is also a skin coloured piece of covering for the genital area of a female. The name derives from the shape of the covering. Such were often used by moviemakers in Hollywood. The most famous incident involving a moleskin, was when Janet Leigh lost hers during the shower scene of Psycho. Unfazed, she remarked that no-one (meaning the staff present) was seeing anything they had not seen before.

    Moleskin is also used to darn pointe shoes.
    This article about textiles is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.

    Perhaps you weren’t so far wrong about”foreskin” too!

    Comment by Grannie D — November 9, 2007 @ 9:43 pm

  45. Brilliant observations! How lucky you are.

    Comment by ~Tim — November 10, 2007 @ 3:08 am

  46. Princess shoes, eh? Well, now that we are back in Europe I can teeter around Paris in my princess shoes to my hearts content (although possibly my flat boots are a bit kinder to my feet where cobbles are concerned…). And my husband introduced me to Moleskines when we met – I bought the Paris one before we got here and can’t wait to fill it in!

    Comment by Passementerie (was Sarah in Marrakech) — November 10, 2007 @ 7:26 pm

  47. I hope next flight I get to sit next to people like you*

    Comment by Alix — November 11, 2007 @ 3:12 pm

  48. @ 39, would that little troll happen to have a name that starts with a “T”, and, possibly, ends with an “R”? Because if so, said troll is hilarious and we miss said troll’s funny comments in the comment box.

    @36, Nobby, I often use “chort” and guff” in my IM window instead of “lol”.

    Short for “chortle” and “guffaw”. Only my cousin is willing to play along with this. :ol

    Comment by Eclat in Paris — November 11, 2007 @ 8:23 pm

  49. I would concur. Chocolate and coffee can both easily be argued as vegetables. Alas, not five servings, though.

    Tadpole’s noticing of the flexible “x” mark reminded me of a conversation back in my early high school years. Not only is it short for “no, you can’t do that” as well as “kisses”, but also makes appearances in shorthand:
    Xmas = Christmas (X = Christ? must have something to do with the greek character, chi)
    xaction = Transaction (transcontinental, too?)
    Then there’s all those places we are taught to use X as a variable in math…

    I think she’s on to something here! Might be due to the fact that the letter x is highly underused in regular English, it stands in a lot. It’s nice to have the option of moonlighting now and then, I suppose.

    I really like the bit about the toboggan. Maybe next trip, she will ask the attendant to use the slide when the flight is over!

    Comment by Gruntled — November 11, 2007 @ 10:44 pm

  50. Every week I take at least two flights with Air France.

    And on every last one of them I’ve been wearing princess shoes.

    But only in my mind.

    Hey, we all need something to get us through the day…

    Comment by travelling but not in love — November 12, 2007 @ 1:47 am

  51. Princess shoes? I’ll never look at those ladies of the night precariously perched atop vertiginously high heels the same way again. I wonder what your kid would make of Birkenstocks or Crocs…

    Comment by Ariel — November 12, 2007 @ 3:29 pm

  52. Sorry, I was having an Ivor Biggun moment.

    Comment by nobby — November 12, 2007 @ 6:43 pm

  53. hahaa. Votre blog est tres drole. I just started a blog with my friend recently — please check it out and comment if you’d like. Merci!

    Comment by Denise — November 12, 2007 @ 11:41 pm

  54. #43:

    If we’re allowed coffee and chocolate as vegetables, I will claim beer, wine and whiskey as vegetables too

    You’re absolutely right. Coffee? Made from beans, a vegetable. Wine? Grapes, a fruit. Whiskey? Made from grain, and everyone needs some carbs.

    I shall go and pour myself a glass of wine — oops, fruit juice.

    Comment by Passante — November 14, 2007 @ 3:49 am

  55. To successfully read this blog, guys and girls, open a page with AltaVista-Babel Fish Translator next to Petite Anglaise page. When you come across a French word, or a post, cut and paste into it into Babel Fish to stay in touch with the stream.
    For the odd foreign word, or trade name, such as Moleskine, you should have a third page open at your favourite search engine.
    Simple, really. I discovered that Moleskine had recently been out of production, had been produced from the nineteenth century, and is back in production by the Italians.
    You have to use all the tools, all of the time.

    Comment by PeterG — November 14, 2007 @ 12:47 pm

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