petite anglaise

April 14, 2008


Filed under: city of light, misc, Tadpole sings — petiteanglaiseparis @ 10:07 am

‘Look at my big nichons mummy,’ Tadpole shrieks, fingering her (papier mâché) breasts.

It is 10.30 am on Saturday morning and Mr Frog and I have come to watch Tadpole’s annual school carnival, while The Boy, not wishing to step over any invisible lines, remains at home. This year the children are all dressed up as works of art and the overall effect is a joyous riot of colour. The costumes, made out of stiff paper, are worn like pinafores, covering the children’s clothes and turning them into walking sandwich boards. As we stand at the edge of the school playground, behind improvised police-tape style barriers, rubbing sleep from our eyes, the children file past hand in hand.

Tadpole, unable to keep a secret, had whispered to me weeks earlier that the costume she was making was a Niki de Saint Phalle sculpture. I’d recognised most of the names she’d been bandying about over the past few weeks – ‘we did a painting just like Pollock mummy, we put the paint on the paintbrush and then did throw it in splodges onto the paper’ or ‘I did a picture of a lady with a very wide face, just like Fernando Bottero’ – but Saint Phalle was not a name I was familiar with. ‘I’m going to be a sculpture,’ explained Tadpole helpfully, as I waited for the relevant page to power up on Wikipedia. ‘A sculpture of a lady with great big nipples and a big fat bottom wearing a swimming costume.’

It was The Boy who, at the mention of Niki de Saint Phalle, pointed out that the fountains in place Igor Stravinsky, in the shadow of the Centre Pompidou are Saint Phalle sculptures. I knew them well, but never would have put two and two together.

‘Shall we go on the métro on an adventure?’ I suggest to Tadpole on Sunday afternoon.

‘Ooh yes, I love the métro,’ she replies, darting across the room to fetch her shoes. If only everyone were so easy to please.

When we reach our destination, Tadpole shrieks with delight and I catch The Boy’s eye, silently thanking him for coming up with the idea. We make several tours of the huge rectangular bassin, Tadpole racing on ahead, examining each sculpture in turn, trying to decide which one she likes best. My personal favourite is the reclining mermaid with water squirting out of one huge, multicoloured breast, but Tadpole is just as amused by the huge pair of lips, the spinning bowler hat, the Elmer-like Elephant and the majestic crowned bird, wings spread, reminiscent of a Mayan condor god. We take a few snaps of Tadpole, posing by the sculptures, squinting into the sun and grinning like the Cheshire cat.

When the skies darken and the first raindrops fall, we hurry into the Marais to find a restaurant where we can grab a bite to eat. Tadpole doodles on the back of a napkin with a biro unearthed from the bottom of my handbag.

Elbows on the table, chin cupped in my hands, I look from The Boy to Tadpole and back again, marvelling at how simple and how right everything feels.


For Gonzales (aka fella?).

January 26, 2008


Filed under: Tadpole sings — petiteanglaiseparis @ 10:18 am

Tadpole has a Chinese classmate called Evelyne. Evelyne didn’t start the moyenne section in September with the rest of the class. Her name was on the register from day one, but she only arrived shortly after the Christmas holidays.

Every schoolday, when I stumble down the hill to drop off Tadpole, jeans and a jumper hastily thrown on over my silk nuisette, bed hair crying out for a comb, we are greeted by the same sorry sight. Evelyne, crying inconsolably in the arms of Tadpole’s teacher, her eyes tightly closed as though she wants to make the world, or herself, disappear.

“Why is Evelyne so sad?” I ask Tadpole.

“Well,” Tadpole replies. “La Maîtresse says that she was nice in China and she doesn’t want to visit Paris. She doesn’t know how to speak French. She speaks always Chinese and she doesn’t understand us.”

“Perhaps you could try saying some words to her in Chinese,” I suggest. “It might make her feel better if she sees you are being friendly…”

Tadpole has been attending a Chinese class after school once a week since September. It’s a very informal affair, where she seems to eat more Chinese sweets than anything else, but that’s fine by me, because it’s just supposed to be a fun activity, and a way of helping her to understand the culture of many of the children in her class. Aside from being able to say “hello”, “goodbye” or “thank you”, she doesn’t seem to have retained a great deal, so far. I’m grateful for those few words, however, when we take a seat in one of our favourite Belleville haunts and Tadpole mounts a charm offensive on our unsuspecting Chinese waiter. Speedy, attentive service is guaranteed once Tadpole has wrapped the staff around her little finger.

Her repertoire of songs in Mandarin, on the other hand, is pretty impressive, even if she can be somewhat vague about the meaning of what she is singing. In the Tadpolecast which follows, there are three songs, and here is what I was able to glean:

1) “It talks about two tigers. One of the tigers has only one eye. The other has no tail. Or maybe it’s one tiger with one eye and no tail. I can’t remember, mummy.”

2) “It’s about a pair of ducks. The fisherman is fishing for them.” (No doubt they end up crispy? Yum.)

3) The first bit means “I dance, I dance” and the second bit means “I sing, I sing.”


December 4, 2007

poupée de cire

Filed under: Tadpole sings — petiteanglaiseparis @ 10:42 pm

Tadpole came back from “daddy’s house” this weekend singing an unfamiliar song, over and over again. The tune sounded consistent, but the lyrics a little approximative in places (including a reference to ketchup which I strongly suspected had no business being there whatsoever).

By way of explanation, Mr Frog emailed me a link to a youtube video of France Gall singing her 1965 Eurovision winning, Gainsbourg-penned Poupée de cire, poupée de son.

I couldn’t possibly have felt more like a stage mum last night in my bathroom recording studio, my MacBook balanced on my knees. Tadpole squinted at the lyric sheet I’d pulled off the internet and sang her heart out, occasionally adding a little splash for dramatic effect. Once she’d gone to bed, I began the editing process and shuddered to hear how very bossy I sounded as I attempted to squeeze the very best performance out of my very own singing doll. Move over Lynne Spears…

So fascinated is Tadpole by Miss Gall (a teen star/singing puppet when ‘Poupée’ was recorded) that she clicked on several of the links on the Youtube page (under my strict supervision, of course, as I’m sure you could get from “princess” to “porn” in under five lateral clicks) and unearthed the controversial Les Sucettes.

Now, I’m aware of the fact that, at the time of its release, children sang this hit song in playgrounds all over France, oblivious to Gainsbourg’s blindingly obvious double entendres. France Gall herself claimed to have no idea whatsover that she was singing about fellatio.

But when Tadpole began singing along with Miss Gall I must admit that I clicked away, long before we got to the part about barley sugar running down her throat and sending her to seventh heaven.

“Let’s sing Poupée de Cire” again,” I said hastily. “Mummy likes that one better.”

May 3, 2007

lips inc

Filed under: Tadpole sings — petiteanglaiseparis @ 6:25 pm

Tadpole's own composition/improvisation – and no, I don't understand all the lyrics either.

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