petite anglaise

July 23, 2008


Filed under: misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 10:06 am

I fully intended for this post to be a witty open letter to the person who stole my identity and used my bank card for an extravagant online shopping spree (total cost: €3.285,17). Or perhaps a song, in the style of Brassens, who in Stances à un Cambrioleur so eloquently thanked the burglar who had the good taste to pay his house a visit.

It would have described my joy at receiving a letter from the Caisse d’Epargne, heavy with menace, which informed me, in typically verbose (but not particularly comprehensible) French, that having noticed repeated dysfonctionnements consécutifs à l’utilisation de ma carte bleue, I was invited to “regularise” the resulting overdraft. If not my card would be cancelled, my bank account immobilised, the Banque de France notified, and helicopters would be dispatched to hover outside my apartment window so that men in uniforms could shout at me over their loud hailers and/or airbourne snipers could get me in their sights.

Imagine my discomfiture when I took a peek at my bank statements online and noticed that I was overdrawn to the tune of a little more than € 3.285,17. Had I been sleepshopping at Brandalley, MisterGoodDeal and CarrefourMobile in Courcourrones for the past couple of weeks, or could there be some other explanation?

Cue a call to the emergency number to halt all spending on the offending card, a visit to the commissariat de police (just behind the town hall where we got married) to make a lengthy statement to a friendly, businesslike lady wearing impressively sturdy boots and, last but not least, a trip to my bank to hand in a letter explaining my woes (they don’t do oral) and attaching a list of the opérations frauduleuses they had failed to spot.

The good news is that apparently I have some sort of insurance against such eventualities and, even if my overdraft does not appear to have miraculously disappeared as yet, I am assured that all will be set right dans les meilleurs délais.

In the meantime I trust the men in helicopters have been dispatched to the delivery address provided for whatever item (a flat screen TV?) was purchased on MisterGoodDeal for the tidy sum of € 1.827,48 by my impersonator, in order to intercept the guilty party.

As for my sense of humour, it remained intact until approximately 5 p.m. yesterday, when water began to pour down my kitchen walls in a repeat performance of last year’s dégât des eaux and I began searching for contact details for the absent, brand-new owner of the apartment using google.

It reached an all time low at 4.53 a.m. when I could be found atop a ladder in my négligé and rubber soled shoes, brandishing a screwdriver, intent on removing the water-filled bathroom ceiling light.

So there will be no witty, carefully-crafted post today as morale is at rock bottom.

Move along folks, nothing to see here.

July 16, 2008

shakespeare & co

Filed under: misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 10:42 am

It’s such a long time since I pencilled into my diary my reading at the famous Shakespeare & Company bookshop that I almost forgot about it, to be honest. But it’s crept up on me, and I’ve just realised it is going ahead on the very day upon which Manuel and I will be signing for our new place (there goes my plan to ‘christen’ every corner of the new apartment on signing day…)

So, if you happen to be in Paris on Monday 28 July and free from 7-9pm, do come along and say hello. I’ll be reading from ‘petite’, answering questions, signing books, giving away a few goodies and who knows, maybe we can retire to a nearby café afterwards for a drink or two…

Now, back to my furniture porn.

July 8, 2008

chez nous

Filed under: misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 9:55 am

My writing studio, at the moment, looks like someone (semi-skilled) has tried to play a game of tetris around its edges.

To get to my desk I have to step over Tadpole’s first bicycle (the very same bicycle Mr Frog and I bought for her second birthday, just prior to him moving out). Around the sofa bed are piled boxes (of books and BD‘s, mostly) from Manuel’s flat – which he relinquished last month – teetering alongside the scant few pieces of furniture he wanted to hang on to. On top of these are stacked the contents of Mr Frog’s cellar, emptied during his recent move, basically constituting everything Tadpole has ever worn or played with, 2003-2008.

Every time I open the door and see the sheer volume of stuff piled up there, leering at me, I feel a mixture of wistfulness and excitement. The tiny room is a repository of memories: Tadpole’s life to date; Manuel’s life before we met. But it also represents the imminence of our new beginnings. The prospect of re-using some of Tadpole’s old things in the not too distant future (or so we hope). The prospect of transferring all our possessions – his, mine, hers – under one, jointly-owned roof.

We are moving into our new, bigger place at the end of this month. We’ll have a living room, at long last. A room into which the whole of my current flat would fit comfortably, with space to spare. It will be ours instead of mine: bookshelves will house both our book collections, cupboards will be filled with our intermingled clothes. We’ll be able to invite folks over for dinner.

We signed the first papers back in April, but something, superstition perhaps, prevented me from writing about it here until we had a signature date set in stone and I could be 100% sure our dream was really set to become reality. In the meantime (alongside the wedding preparations) there were loans to be obtained (and to say French banks are suspicious of people like me who do not have a nice, stable office job would be the understatement of the year), and various hoops to be jumped through, but now, finally, our prize is (almost) within our grasp.

Which is why when I’m not working or hijacking moving cars, I can mostly be found surfing the internet for furniture p0rn and making appropriate ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ noises when I find something sexy.

The month of August can’t come quickly enough for me.

FYI: Manuel is pronounced Man-U-el (think football team, not Fawlty Towers).

July 2, 2008


Filed under: misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 9:57 am

If there’s one thing I hate more than any other, it’s going to bed after a fight still seething with anger.

All those hateful, half-meant words are left hanging in the air, drawing an invisible barrier down the middle of the bed which neither of us will cross, mired as we are in stubborn self-righteousness. The unresolved tension in the room is palpable: I can feel it, smell it, taste it. I lie, every muscle locked, jaw clenched, breathing in, breathing out, knowing that sleep will elude me for hours, knowing that the next morning I’ll feel battered, bruised and melancholy. Sometimes I get up, creep into Tadpole’s room and lay beside her for a while, drawing a basic, animal comfort from her sleeping presence. Short of sitting on the toilet or standing in the kitchen there’s actually nowhere else to go. But any reprieve is only temporary: I’ll have to return to the living room-cum-bedroom sometime. I’ll have to return to our bed, stretch out beside him, my husband, wondering whether he’s seething too, or has fallen asleep, leaving me to seethe alone.

Getting married – lovely in countless ways – hasn’t miraculously transformed the dynamic of our relationship. We alternate periods of blissful happiness and intense physical complicity with short bursts of conflict, just like we always have. I know the latter are temporary. At best, he’ll come home from work and act as though nothing happened and I’ll follow suit, play acting woodenly at first, then slowly relaxing until the farce becomes reality. At worst we’ll have a post-mortem, during which the animosity may flare up again, briefly, before it’s laid to rest.

What worries me is that the underlying cause is never actually resolved. The triggers vary, but the subject at its core is constant, rearing its ugly head time and time again. In a nutshell, and without actually raking through our dirty laundry, it’s about where the right to individual freedom blurs into selfishness. Every fight gives us extra ammunition; the evidence for our respective cases stacks up. He treats me to a retrospective, pulling out every notable example from the past six months, demonstrating by A+B+C that I’m fundamentally flawed. My line of attack is different, but no less destructive: I project present behaviour into future situations, anticipating problems ahead.

When I’m calm, no longer seething, I can see his point of view. I’m not blind to my own flaws – a dash of possessiveness, a hint of insecurity, a sprinkling of irrationality, among others – and he’s not the first person to have pointed them out to me. I may be able to alter certain behavioural patterns, over time, and I can certainly admit that a particular thing I said, or a way in which I reacted was clumsy, aggressive, or just plain wrong. I can apologise for A or B or C.

But I can’t help thinking that as long as the core subject remains unresolved, the rest is just window dressing. And I fear this means that, nestling between the periods of blissful happiness and intense physical complicity, there may be many more nights of seething up ahead until we find a way to figure this out.

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