Thursday, 30 September 2010

Dreary Times




This morning when I walked les enfants to school, I looked up and saw half the Eiffel Tower was missing. It was so foggy that it had halfway disappeared.

I wish I wasn't so superstitious but I have to take everything as a Sign and I read the tower as signifying an uncertain future for me and Paris. On my way back home the mist had cleared and the whole tower was as it should be but this only made me more worried as surely this was a Sign too? But I couldn't think what had changed to make the Eiffel Tower (the symbol of my Parisienne dream) whole again. Normally I will find some small gesture or slight change of mind and then I'll hold this up as a Great Sign to help me choose my next steps in life, but I couldn't think of one thing that might have made the Eiffel Tower whole again.

I'm putting some dreary, horrible photos up because this is how I feel. They're from the massive trek to horse riding we have to do every Wednesday (of Doom). It goes to show that wherever you are and whatever you're doing, there will always be depressing architecture. I'm trying to decide whether this revelation is a Sign that I should go home because Paris isn't as exciting as I imagined, it's just like home; or whether it is a Sign that I should stay here because no matter how bad things get they will be just as bad at home.

Tomorrow I think I will do some magical ceremony-type thing because it may seem mental, but last summer when I worked in a bakery-cum-cafe (oh how my food fortunes have changed!) and we needed to get more customers in, I did a magical ceremony-type thing in the doorway on a particularly painfully slow day and two minutes later, I am not even kidding, three youth leaders and twenty five troubled South London youths came round the corner and they all wanted iced buns.

If you believe in magic it starts to work, honest!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

ZEN

What do you call an au pair who isn't allowed out past midnight?
GONE, baby!

O.k o.k, I need to regain my inner-zen and calmness. A midnight flit is not the answer, nor is behaving like a dirty scoundral in order to get fired and thus avoiding the whole 'I Quit' nightmare (worked in Corfu, not appropriate in Paris).

Hmmmmmm... breathe...

Tonight my long lost pal Lauren arrived in Paris, she is here for the year too and is the person I planned this whole adventure with last summer. I have been awaiting her arrival for weeks (well, almost three) and tonight I got the call that she was at the airport. It was half eight. I had told the family that she would be arriving at this time and although I did not make my plans concrete, there was obviously going to be some rendez-vousing.

I bounce up the mum and dad's room where they are both working with the door open, and casually let them know I will be going to meet Lauren. I apologise for the lateness even though in side I am screaming: 'It's not even late you madheads, in Liverpool there were nights when we wouldn't leave the house 'til 2am!!!'

The mum seems o.k. with it but the dad looks like I shat in his glasses and repositioned them on his face. He first tries to tell me I can't go out to meet her, which makes me so angry that I can't form words, a buzzing fills my head and the most I can comprehend is that my answer to his comment is negative, so I say NO over and over again like a loon.

He asks me what time I will be back. I say midnight and then he turns into Adamant Man, saying he has a responsibility to his children and that he will be letting them down by letting me look after them in such a tired state. I'm sorry, but EIGHT HOURS SLEEP is pretty fucking adequate when all I have to do is walk them to school and then I can sleep for six hours if need be before it is time to go and pick them up again.

I was in such a buzz fuzz of ardrenaline but I really needed a wee so I went to the loo and weeed as loudly as I could knowing they could hear me.

I was at the edge of Arguement Canyon. I could see the precipice before me; the angry ranting that would ensue, the tears that would come, the shaking of my hands, the ridiculous exaggerations I would spurt out in order to make my points...

Whilst I wiped, I decided to step back from the edge of Fightchester and teeter into Stony Silence Ville.

I walked to my bedroom and texted Lauren who told me to get on the web and look for a new family pronto.

This is the catalyst I've been waiting for, not wanting to change families merely for financial gain and an apartment of my own in case karma came a knocking. But now that I have decided it is definitely time to move on, is there anywhere to move on to? Will everything seem different in the morning and will I be undecided again? Will I be able to sleep tonight, knowing that in a parallel universe another me stealthily packs her backs and sneaks out into the dark hallway, suddenly making a run for it down the stairs as she hears a floorboard creak... I can imagine how hard my heart would be beating if that's what I was doing right now...

Instead of living out a daring escape I'm writing about what it might feel like on my blog, which makes me feel so depressed there's almost no point in getting another family, I may as well just stay here and never go out and get my thrills from sneaking secret chocolate from my knicker drawer... which reminds me!!

I think I'll go and eat some chocolate and pace about a bit. Then we shall see what tomorrow brings...

midnight flittin'

i'm physically shaking. i cant go out and come back at midnight??? i think it's time for a midnight flit, as soon as I find my fucking bronzer.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Sexy Homeless Man




















I've written a poem about this homeless man who lives near me. The other day I noticed him because I thought he was really fit and then I realised he was homeless. I see him about twice a day with his mates, for some reason they have amassed loads of furniture and they just sit off in the same spot every day. As it's the 7th arrondissement 'the most exclusive neighbourhood in Paris' I don't know how they haven't been moved on yet.
I was Googling 'Sexy Homeless Man' just to see what came up and I found a story about this homeless guy in China who has become an internet sensation because he dresses quite cool and is pretty sexy:

Apparently though he is really disturbed and people scare him when they approach him. People don't realise that a lot of homeless people have severe learning difficulties and have slipped through the net. This is why they are homeless. It's not because they are lazy or on drugs. And even if a homeless person does spend all their pennies on drugs, can you blame them? What else are they going to do? I'd rather be sat on the streets all day and night smacked off my tits than sober, wouldn't you?
Anyway, here's my poem!


Sexy Homeless Man

She’s rushing, so she has to pound
her feet down heavily as she turns around
the corner, where fellers with matted hair
sit on their furniture and stare
from inside of their outside home,
so she slows down and begins to roam
past the hobo crew, and she tries to look gracious
and honestly, she’s not being salacious
but one of them is quite fit.
She thinks ‘If I was dead rich,
I would definitely
his sugar mammy be
and I’d buy him a real house
where I would obviously de-louse
him first, but then I could pay
him a visit any time of the day
for sexy time.’ But alas and alack,
he’s probably hooked on crack.
He’s just a dirty tramp
who lives in a camp
on the corner of Avenue de Suffren
And then she thinks ‘Oh, stuff them.’
As they throw bottles at her, because they think
It’s funny, but then he winks…
Oh honey…
How bad would it be, really,
to date a homeless person? Clearly
she is quite desperate, but still
where there’s a sexy man, there’s a will.

Suddenly, she looks at her watch face
and it’s time to quicken the pace
so she gathers speed
and takes no heed
of the homeless crew as they yell in French
from their prime position on a broken bench.
But as she crosses over
she looks over her shoulder
and wonders why he lives on the street
and she wishes that she could meet
him in another life
where he has no strife
and instead he had
a rich mum and dad
and a big trust fund
because then if he bummed
round Paris, nobody would care
and his look would be cool, as would his hair.
But as it is, he sleeps on the streets
of the City of Light
And he keeps all the feats
Of his shitty ol' life
To himself.
And you might think it’s strange
That I fancy a man who asks for spare change
But maybe you would see something too
If you took a good look at the man sur les rues
Ha, on second thoughts, I'm sure all you'll see
Is a dirty tramp man who smells like wee.

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now...

Hmm... I hate decision making. Last night I was convinced I was going to leave the family and get a new job with better pay and my own apartment, which a lot of au pairs have. Imgine, I could give people a free place to stay when they come over and visit me, I could start to pay my overdraft off instead of eating into it...

On the other hand, the family is really nice. Even when they say things like 'No tea in your room' and 'Don't use the bathroom when you come in late' they don't say it in a horrible way. I'd feel so bad leaving because I have their trust now and I can't just fuck off and leave them. They live in an amazing part of Paris and the dad is giving me one on one French tutoring which I need.

But then they are paying me pittance and I am slowly rotting away my finances like a cake-consuming monster.

Argh what to do, what to do? I feel that karma would come and get me if I swapped families for more money and I would end up with a horrible family or it wouldn't work out for Some Reason.

But I need more money!!! I need to drink tea in my room!!! I need to go out and not worry about when I come home!!! I need to choose and cook my own meals!!!

I've thought about trying to get a weekend job to solve my money problems, but then why should I get another job when most au pairs do the same hours as me for almost triple the pay, plus their own place, plus travel costs and French lessons?

We did say before I came over here that I could discuss the pay after I have been here a few weeks, but in reality that is going to be so awkward and I know they don't really have any money to spare, that's why they are paying me so little.

Damn damn damn. I can't wait til my chum Lauren arrives on Wednesday to work as a teaching assistant. Hopefully she will tell me what to do, but I know she will tell me to get a new family and I'm not sure if that's what I want. Surely that should tell me that I want to stay where I am? I want to try and learn to live without haemorraghing money every day but it's so haaaaard. I want things and food and I want to go out on the town every weekend.

I know my problems are laughable really; I have a job and somewhere to live and I'm getting three meals a day and I'm living in Paris, baby, and I have all my limbs in tact (touch wood)... But I don't have that new pair of boots I want.

I'm just a slave to consumerism...

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Vivre la révolution!

I didn't set out to be a gimp and write on my blog almost every day but it has become addictive; I often find myself mentally blogging as I go about my business. It's like when I got addicted to Tetris and every time I closed my eyes I used to see little Tetris blocks slotting into perfect lines.

But I must write about my weeked, it turns out my mum's warning about my La Haine fantasy wasn't as unfounded as I thought!

Yesterday was the Techno Parade which was a parade of floats with DJs on that went all round Paris and I was going to go to it with a few of my New Possible* Au Pair Friends.

(*I've put 'possible' in case they're reading this, because we've only met twice so they might be shrieking 'WE'RE NOT YOUR FRIENDS, FREAK. WE'VE READ YOUR BLOG, WE KNOW YOU ARE MENTAL).

However, we went out on Friday night- my first night out in Paris (!) which I will describe in detail later- and only got four hours sleep and as the parade started at noon there were no Eager Beavers or Keen Jeans to be found among us when it came to going to the Techno Parade the next day.

But seeing as the Techno Parade had been hyped up to be a big event, with loads of people even travelling from England to see it, I felt a bit stupid not going and we eventually went to see the end of it at about half five.

Me and three other girls arranged to meet at the metro station at Bastille which is the trendy studenty area of Paris where I went the other day and went shopping. I got to Bastille and as I walked up the steps to get out of the metro station three armed police came running down in full riot gear. My first thought was obviously 'Phwoar' but my second thought was that something was Going Down.

When I got outside there were crowds and crowds of people stood on and around this big monument thing and there was a charged atmosphere in the air. Stupidly I didn't take my camera so I don't have any photos! Anyway, I noticed that the bit of the crowd nearest to me was made up of hoodlum-type teenagers and Young Males and opposite them was a line of about forty riot police. It was La Haine in colour.

It was also, looking at the mental futuristic police uniforms, like I had stepped inside an XBox game. (I wish I could name the actual game I'm thinking of but alas I moved on from video games when I was about sixteen when I discovered the joy of social networking sites and decided to spend all my time looking through phototgraphs of myself instead of shooting aliens, or if I'm brutally honest, breathing fire on sheep until they die in order to get butterflies for my dragonfly's health. If you don't know what game I'm talking about, trust me, you won't care.)

As I observed the lines of riot police (stood with their sheilds connected and everything), many emotions flew through me: terror, excitement, arousal... Then when I was on the phone to one of my Possible Au Pair Pals someone threw something made of glass at the police that smashed on the road in front of them. Let's just say a very well known Kaiser Cheifs song ran through my head...

People started running away from the scene as the police advanced on the crowd so I turned and ran as well, knowing that if any innocent bystander was going to get bottled or battered by the police it would me.

But amazingly, even though the crowd seemed really revved up, the whole thing subsided pretty quickly. I could hear drums getting louder and louder and I realised that the majority of the crowd were here to wait for the Techno Parade, not to start a riot.

A few minutes later there was another scare when there was suddenly loads of smoke and people really did start running and screaming. For a second it seemed as though something terrible was unfolding and I thought of the Love Parade.

Thankfully it was just a food vendor being over zealous with his kebabs and all was calm once more. It was very lucky. I actually thought there was going to be some serious rioting going on but instead there was just the energy of a riot. It was quite good actually, you could package it to tourists: 'All the fun of an inner-city riot without all the inconvience of police kicking and maiming you.'

When I met up with the other girls we walked further up to see the actual parade and that was even more chaotic. I CAN NOT believe I didn't take my camera with me. There were people dancing on top of every bus stop and set of traffic lights. There were three huge floats filled with people dancing and each float had a DJ on the back. In between each float there were loads of people raving as they walked along with the parade.


Most people were bladdered, some people seemed to be sober and simply full of joie de vivre and some people were full of Class A drugs, but everyone was having a rave old time of it. I felt sad watching it because I could imagine me being a part of it with some of my friends from Angleterre who would have loved it.

The girls I was with weren't feeling the Techno Parade it has to be said, so we left pretty quickly and I was home in time for tea which was 'mixed cereals'. Believe it or not 'mixed cereals' is now one of my faves, as is the Mysterious White Matter we have with tinned tomatoes and cous cous. I've had it twice now so it's a bit too late to ask what it is, but it shrinks when the mum takes the lid off the pan.

Lunch today was sausages and potatoes, how very British! Although for some reason I wasn't allowed to eat the skin so I had to scrape it off with a knife while I was eating it. Still, sausages and potato!!!

Last night was also a bit of a Food Moment, albeit a humble one. I was so very, very tired after only having four hours sleep and I had the genius plan of watching a film on my laptop in bed with a brew and some sneaky biscuits I bought and hid in my knicker drawer. The only problem is, tea in my bedroom is FORBIDDEN so I took a deep breath and asked very politely if I could have a cup of tea in my room whilst I watched a film. My request was met with more hostility than it warranted to be honest, but no matter, the final answer was yes, even though I had to promise not to spill it anywhere. (I thought about lashing it all over the walls and ceiling for a laugh, but decided that would be a lot of hassle.)

So, I got my pyjamas on and selected the film. I brought loads of films with me because I foresaw that I might be spending a lot of time on my lonsome in my room, but I haven't actually managed to watch a film yet. I bought a few random ones I haven't seen on Amazon, one of which was a BBC adaptation of Lorna Doone by R.D.Blackmore. The information included the words 'Epic, Romance, Countryside and Danger' so I was sold. There is NOTHING better than a historical drama that manages to squeeze in romance, aggressive men and of course some nice landscapes to gaze at.

The plot of Lorna Doone was fucking perfect. It was the sort of thing you'd find on http://www.literotica.com/ (ladies get on there if you don't know what I'm talking about). Basically, it's the wild west of England in the 17th Century and a family called the Doones runs riot on the local people, killing them and stealing from them etc. There's this farmer's son who watches his dad murdered and swears vengeance on the Doones, but his mother persuades him not to persue such a violent path. Of course it's not long before he somehow bumps into Lorna Doone and a Romeo and Juliet style love affair ensues years later.

Lorna Doone is supposed to marry her cousin who is a horrible bastard and naturally as an audience member, you want her to escape and marry the good farmer's boy, but there's a tiny throbbing part of you that would also quite like to see what happens when she is forced to succumb to her evil cousin. (Or is that just me?)

I've only seen the first part but I loved it. Lots of diddly-diddly folk music in the background, plus multiple shots of wild English countryside, PLUS lots of attractive male cast members in dirty tartan and leather, so it ticked all the boxes.

I was so happy last night, sat in bed with a brew and my secret stash of chocolate biscuits, watching a classic English drama on my laptop which I FIXED ALL MYSELF!

I forgot to say, I fixed it using a geek forum on the internet, I was so proud and full of love for the mysterious 'Roi' who told me what to do on Microsoft Answers.

Life is good!!! And I haven't even talked about my night out yet! I forgot my camera so I might wait until somebody else puts photos up on Facebook so I can illustrate my tale, because surely it is very boring reading all my whitter with no pictures?

Tonight I'm going to one of my Possible Au Pair Pal's house for some 'Hanging Out' and I think somebody might be bringing tweezers so the weekend just gets better and better!!!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Money CAN Buy You Happiness

La la la... bought myself a huge slice of cheesecake and had a cup of tea, then bought a little leather rucksack from a vintage shop in the Bastille. Can't even remember why I was so pissed off this morning.

I Will Smash Your Fucking Face In

Argh! So consumed with anger and violence.

I am worried I am a danger to myself and others. Sometimes I walk around and I'm so angry that I can't hear properly because my ears are buzzing and full of pressure from my brain. I walk around having violent fantasies which normally involve someone trying to mug me and me ending up stamping on their head, or more often than not the line (said by me of course) 'I will smash your fucking face in' comes into the equation.

Obviously if I ever did try to smash somebody's face in I wouldn't be here to tell the tale but I enjoy thinking about it. I also like to think of different ways of killing scary dogs when somebody walks past with a massive scary one and they do that growling thing at the back of their throat, which means they want to shred your face up with their disgusting doggy fangs. I read an interview somewhere (I think it was the Zoo magazine that Hollie bought at the airport just for a Laugh and Joke) with Bruce Willis and he said the best way to kill a wolf is to give it your arm when it is attacking you and then shove your arm down its throat so it can't swallow and then grab hold of anything you can once your hand is inside it and pull it out of its mouth and hopefully you will have got its intestines or something.

I think this is the best option for many people, but my brother argued that you should let it bite you on the forearm and then twist your arm this way and that, knocking it into the ground and eventually unconcious. I pointed out that if you try twisting your arm with a fucking massive wolf attached to it you will probably break your arm. Then he argued that it would be difficult to get your arm down the wolf's throat if it didn't bite the right bit. Then my mum who was with us at the time said that if a wolf came along why didn't we both try out our different methods and she would run up the nearest tree and hide from it.

But I think the intestine-method would work. And whenever anybody walks past with a fucking scary dog or one of those illegal bastard dogs that eat children, all I'm thinking is 'I'm going to pull your intestines out.'

Am I mental?

My mum says this is how my dad started out being aan angry paranoid man; stomping around thinking Angry Thoughts all the time for no reason. The other day when I couldn't meet up with the au pairs I was so pissed off at the world that I was suddenly furious for no reason and when I got home I looked in the mirror and saw the face I had been pulling all day and it was so disgusting that I had to sit down and take deep breaths.

Seriously, it was such a terrifyingly ugly face and I realised I pull that expression 80% of the time. So now I know that when someone is staring at me in the street, they are not thinking nice thoughts, they are thinking 'That girl looks like she is planning to pull my dog's intestines out.'

ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I am so fucking pissed off. I'm writing this from the tiniest laptop in the world because my fucking laptop that I've had for two months is broken. It switches on fine but then it won't let me log in so it is completely fucking useless.

The dad came in my room in his boxers with some stickers and suggested I don't take the kids to the park after school today, instead why I don't I bring them straight home and we can play with the stickers? I know what they will say to that. They will say 'Waaaaaaaaaaaa' and I will have to drag them through the busy streets of Paris, across crossings where nobody respects the Green Man, whilst they mutter at me in French, until we finally arrive home where they will fight and not play Dominoes properly and then we will be served mixed cereals for tea and I won't even be able to go out because I've got no friends and no money and the family don't like me coming in late.

This morning the mum took the kids to school because I babysat on Tuesday night and I had a lie-in 'til 9am and the dad said 'Good Evening' to me when I got up.

I just looked at him, inside racing ahead to the part of my fantasy where I say (calmly but dangerously, like an action hero) 'I will smash your fucking face in...'

Thursday, 23 September 2010

I live for long sentences!

This morning I went to meet some other au pairs for a chat on the grass in front of the Eiffel Tower. As not everybody has reliable French phones the trend is to meet at a certain time in front of a famous landmark, although as I found out on Tuesday this doesn't always work. I waited in front of the Notre Dame for about fifteen minutes then had to leave as I was accosted by a man who was either trying to sell me Lessons in Sodomy or Lessons in Sardonnia (I'm not sure which as I wasn't looking for lessons of any kind, sexual or geographical, I thought it best to politely decline and run away).

Today I finally managed to be at the right place at the right time and I met up with three English girls and we had a nice chat. One thing that came out of the chat is that I am being paid a ridiculously low wage; most au pairs get about 80 euros a week, plus their own apartment and food and Metro pass. I am getting 40 a week, plus grated carrot and 'mixed grain', so I will have to get my thinking cap on.

Before I came here I was like 'Oh it will be fiiiine, I won't be a slave to consumerism anymore and I will get by on not very much lalala...'

Now I am here I want cocktails, make-up and some freshly baked macaroons in pretty colours.

After lunch (balls of potato), the dad went over my latest essay with me. He didn't understand it really beacause my grammar is awful and for a lot of words, if I don't know the French for them and they sound kind of French, I just use the English and add an accent over the 'e'. Sometimes it works but most of the time it doesn't.

But look at all these words that don't mean the same in French as they do in English, even they are real French words. They're called false friends and they really aren't my friends as they keep ruining my essays:

- sentence
- audience
- caractere
- arguements
- memoires

I like writing essays normally and it's very frustrating writing them in French because I'm so bad. The dad keeps saying that things wouldn't be correct in English either which is annoying because I know how to write in English. I was trying to say how sometimes in English I will use odd sentence- structures for effect but he wasn't having any of it.

Look at these two sentences for example (can I just say they are both bad sentences but I was translating them into French and obviously I am not very good at translating so I have to use simple sentences):
'Plays must contain drama, or tragedy, or comedy, or all three.' and
'Plays must have drama, tragedy, comedy or all three.'

I know the first sentence is grammatically incorrect but I can't explain in French why it reads better than the second. The second sentence is a statement of facts whereas the first sentence sounds like somebody pouring their heart out.

The dad said that my sentences are too long and that I need to learn how to let my essays 'flow'. I felt like muttering 'I've got flow mister, I've got flow all right, just you wait and see...' but I didn't because it doesn't really make any sense.

I've always been a fan of long sentences though, I live for long sentences! I've been reading my dissertation to make myself feel better, lingering over the long sentences. Stop reading now if you get bored easily but here is my one of favourite long sentences from my dissertation:

Having considered Barea’s view of Lorca’s gypsy poems it could be asserted that a modern, enlightened reading of The Gypsy Ballads wrongly ascribes to Lorca a more altruistic view of the Romany people and that perhaps Barea, a product of the same time and country, assumed correctly that Lorca simply used them as a poetic device.

Ah... I never thought I would get sentimental over grammar or vocab but it is hard when people assume you are Very Stupid when in fact you are Reasonably Intelligent. But can you blame people? If someone came up to me in England and said 'I go use the kettle?' or 'He say it to be good?' I would think they were a fucking idiot as well.

The silver lining my friends is that now I can't articulate myself properly I am probably coming across as quite normal!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Getting Cultured.

Even though it's Wednesday, I'll tell you about Sunday when I had the house to myself!!! It was fantastic. I put on body lotion and drank tea in my room. You see with a glass door you can't really stand naked with one leg on the bed as you slather Cocoa Butter onto your thighs. Not unless you are a Thrill Seeker and although I do like a thrill, I never seek them out. As for the tea, I'm not allowed to drink it my room which is a bit devastating as I like to drink tea in bed whilst I look at nose job before and after shots on Google. That's why Sunday was so enjoyable; I think it makes life nicer when you can't do everything you want to do because then even the simplest things become a joy, simple pleasures like tea drinking and moisturising.

The French family were off to the Louvre and as they went they gave me leaflets about a photography exhibition that they thought I might be interested in... It seems like Sunday is Paris's National Culture Day as all the museums are free, so I would have felt like a fool had I not gone off to this exhibition. I was very proud of myself, I had to get two metros to the museum and I managed it all by myself! Once I got off the metro at Monceau however, I followed signs for the musuem but they only led back to each other. I am discovering that the signs and metros in France like to ensnare people for eternity, just for a Laugh and a Jolly.

In the end, I found an interesting park and went in there instead. It had all pillars and archaeological-style things in there. And then after about ten minutes of dawdling through the park wishing I had an ice cream, I looked up and the musuem was just there!





















Honestly, whenever you Accept Things and Let Go, karma turns round and hands you what you want on a plate. In this case, what I wanted happened to be a very long maze of black and white photographs of Angkhor Wat in Cambodia. Next to each photo was a detailed description and then every so often there would be a big board with information on. It was all French but I didn't want anyone to know I wasn't French so I stood and read every single word of the whole exhibition. At one point I got the giggles imagining if someobody asked me something about the text and I said 'I don't know, I don't speak French.' And then they'd say (in English for some reason, but that's the way the imagination works) 'How come you are reading it then?' and then I'd say 'I'm just pretending' and then I'd walk off.

And then I imagined writing that thought down in a blog like I just did. And then I imagined writing down what I just wrote. And that. And that. I can't believe I'm actually writing it now. I write things out in my head so often that I think it's the reason I never actually write anything, because by the time I've re-thought it and edited it in my head I can't be bothered to actually write it down. As far as you know, I could have written Booker Prize Novel in my head but I just don't have the energy to type it up. (I haven't, but maybe I have and I forgot!)

Anyhoo... the exhibition was good, I bought myself a postcard to prove to myself that sometimes I'm not an idiot and I can do Cultural Stuff and then I took a photo of it to put on here. Et voila:



















Sunday got even more cultural because then I went to see a play reading at Shakespeare and Company, which is a famous English bookshop that has over the years provided free accomodation and such for famous writers and poets. They do writers' workshops and stuff too that I'd really like to go but I think that may be something for After Christmas. I will definately be spending more time there though, they do performance poetry nights there and other intellectual arty things and even though I am not an Intellectual or Arty Person I like to pretend to be much in the same way I enjoy pretending to be French in musuems and on park benches.





















http://www.shakespeareandcompany.com/index.php?object_id=1000000006

The play, Eva the Chaste by Barbara Hammond, was a monologue about an Irish woman who has lived in Paris for twenty years and has to return home to look after her sick mother. The actress managed to hold the audience, made up of au pairs, literary folk, tourists and drunk passers by, for seventy five minutes which I think is pretty amazing. Everyone was gazing up at her like it was storytime at nursery. My favourite part was when the sirens of a passing fire engine seemed to go on forever and were in danger of spoiling the moment. She said the line 'That's not her now is it?' and gazed into the middle distance. Then a moment later, as the sirens continued to disrupt the atmosphere, she said 'No, it's just the fire brigade.'

It was very, very good and I felt very, very Cultured sat on the pavement in the Latin Quarter of Paris , listening to somebody else's memories as the sun went down...



















In other news, tonight we had grated carrot again for dinner. When asked if I wanted more, I took no chances and filled my boots, only to be then presented with a bowl of cous cous. Oh and for lunch we had polenta. If you're not familiar with polenta, it's what happens when cous cous and jelly fall in love. Meal times, I see, will always be Full of Surprises.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Friday and Saturday- Argh Eee Argh


On Friday I went to stay with Amo at Euro Disney. I was going to use pseudonyms in this blog so that nobody could discover my true identity but I can’t be arsed, so Amo is Amo and if you don’t know who Amo is she’s my chum who has worked at Euro Disney for a year.

To get there I had to get the RER which is the French train, although I have no idea why it’s called that and not le train. Anyway, I set off into the night at about nine pm after I had finished looking after les enfants and getting my shizzle together and I realised it was the first time I had been out and about in Paris of a night time (as Amo would say).

It was most thrilling, until I got lost as a sock, not on the streets of Paris, but inside one of the metro stations. They have been built specifically to entrap human beings so that they are reasonably easy to get into, but impossible to escape. In millennia to come they will find fossilized humans with metro maps and unhappy faces.

I was wandering around getting myself into a State and a Panic when I decided to ask a passer by for help. ‘Excusez-moi, ou est le RER?’ I asked a nice-looking girl who was not a lot older than myself. She looked puzzled and asked to look at my ticket. She said she didn’t know but instead of leaving me to my slow metro-entrapped death like most French people she took me round the station with her asking other people for help and asking to see their maps. I can not believe how nice she was, I kept gazing at her like she was Mother Theresa in Capri pants. Eventually, I tried pronouncing RER a different way.

‘Ergh Ay Ergh?’ I asked.

She understood immediately and I was a bit ashamed that I had been pronouncing it Arr Eee Arr like an ancient Cornish person. Still, even when she knew what I meant it still took us twenty minutes to find the right place and then she sent me on my way with a smile and a nod.

Vous etes tres sympa.’ I said, which I hope means You Are Very Nice.

Once I got on the Ergh Ay Ergh it was clear it was Paris’s answer to the 192. I thought it was underground all the way until some fireworks went off in the far off distance and I realised I was in fact looking out into the night, not at a brick wall, which was a revelation.

Once I got to Euro Disney, I met Amo no probs and enjoyed reading shitty magazines and drinking vodka in her apartment, which she shares with her French Boyfriend which was also a revelation. It felt so good to have a drink and as I drank my vodka and cranberry I said to Amo ‘I’ve not had a drink for months’. Then I remembered it had actually been exactly a week since we went out for Leaving Drinks but I decided not to mention that to Amo because obviously one week is not as dramatic as Months. (Although she will probably be reading this now so really I don’t know why I even bother exaggerating sometimes.)

The next day Amo got me into Euro Disney for free. Which is good news seeing as I am the Lowest Paid Au Pair in Paris. We had a very good day, although it got off to a shaky start when I woke up in the early hours of the morning and thought smugly ‘I now wake up naturally early, how grown up of me.’ Then Amo came in, opened the curtains and announced it was half 12 in the afternoon.

It was so nice being with a friend. I had to be careful not to well up because I am a Nostalgic Person and being with Amo reminded me of being with her and Chaz when I was fifteen and we used to buy Jammy Dodgers and take-away pizzas and ice creams and sweets and cakes and eat them all on the way to the park or the street corner where we used to chill and I can’t think of cake at the moment because it makes me weep with longing.

Anyway, Euro Disney was very surreal. If you were on drugs you would FREAK. OUT.
















As Amo works there, she asked all her pals to come and have their picture taken with her special friend. They kept looking around for a toddler but it was me. People around us kept whispering and I think they thought I was terminally ill or quite disabled because all the characters kept walking over to us in the parade so I could have my picture taken.

I don’t care though, I love Disney and I always have but my day there was bittersweet. On the one hand, I was in the magical land where dreams come true and all the Princesses and Princes I love so much were walking and talking around me. But on the other hand, it was a harsh reminder that instead of three years of breathing out of my chakras and pretending to read the future out of a dustbin, I would have been better off spending the twenty grand I spent on a drama degree on plastic surgery and dentistry work. Then I could be living the dream already as a Disney Princess.















Now I’ll never be a Disney Princess and I’m so envious of them. I don’t even mean the people who act as them in theme parks, I mean I’m actually envious of Cinderella and Mulan. (Actually, Mulan, not so much. She wasn’t so much rescued as she rescued all of China and I don’t think I could be arsed with that.) You have to have a perfect profile to be a Disney Princess and some people have it and some people don’t and it’s not fair. But hey, life’s not fair.

I hate reading Vogue when there’s some Bright Young Thing profiled in there and they look like Aphrodite and they say ‘I just kind of fell into acting, I don’t know how it happened, I don’t even like it…’ I’d like them a lot better if they just told the truth and said ‘I’m beautiful, so I can do whatever I want.’

I wasn’t born with a Disney Princess Face and there’s nothing I can do about it!!!! It makes me want to jump off the tallest tower of Sleeping Beauty’s castle.




















Incidentally, I took over thirty photographs of that castle, I am obsessed. I would give ANYTHING to live in a castle like that. In fact I would give anything to live in a universe where I could live in a castle like that and have dragons and fairies skipping around the grounds whilst I worked on a tapestry and waited for someone sexy to come climbing up the turrets and ideally he would bring croissants.

I asked Amo where the red light district is in Paris because I would sleep with someone for a croissant and she didn’t believe me but I didn’t mean it literally. It would have to be at least seventeen croissants or a box of those little pastry tarts with glazed fruit in.

Last night the dad of the family said I ate like a bird. I have to say I have been eating bird like portions but there’s only so much ‘grain and peas’ one can eat. Ahh I don't mind really, it all makes me feel like I'm starring in my own Cinderella story...

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Thursday- Sausages and Dragons.

You can't have a blog without photographs really, can you? For once I have had better things to do so I'm going to write about the last few days today.

O.k, so on Thursday, after dropping the kids off at school I thought I would go for a wander and a gander so I wandered into the Hotel des Invalides, which is a Historical Place that used to be a hospital for invalids in the... you know, that war. Actually I have never felt so historically-ignorant in all my life: there was an exhibition of photographs up and one of them was a photograph of French and Polynesian soldiers in Libya in 1943... am I the only person who doesn't know about this Random-Parts-of-the-World War? But I'll tell you who is fit: Polynesians. Yes, I had a good old gander at that photograph.

I quite enjoyed wandering around pretending to be French. And actually an amazing thing happened! I saw a plaque that for a second made me think dragons were real:

A la gloire des dragons morts pour la France.

Oh, I know it's just a plaque suggesting that the horses were as strong as dragons or something, but imagine if it actually was a plaque dedicated to all the dragons that died in WWII?

I mean, us young people are quite ignorant, imagine if it was just something we didn't talk about much? Imagine if dragons did exist up until WWII and it's just a part of history you don't hear about much!

Imagine if you were talking to somebody really old and you said 'Hold on, there were dragons in WWII?' and they said 'Oh yes, it was atrocious what Hitler did to the Jewish people and the Romany Travellers, but people forget that he went after the dragons too.'

And you'd say 'Hitler killed dragons?!'

And the Old Person would say:
'Oh yeah! I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think he killed all the dragons.'

I believe in dragons. Just because we don't have any proof doesn't mean they didn't exist! We only have the remains of like, eight people from the Stone Age or something, but we don't just think there were eight people alive in the Stone Age do we?

Imagine if you went into a musuem and the tour guide said:
'During the Neolithic Period, there were eight people alive. We know this because we have their bones and we don't have anybody else's bones. There were two women living in Africa, two small children alive in Europe, one physically fit man in Polynesia and one man living in North America, who we know had a very challenging life because all we found of him was a skull and a tibia, therefore he must have been a head with a bit of leg attached.'

THEY WOULDN'T SAY THAT WOULD THEY?? Because you've got to use your imagination a bit. This is my arguement for dragons. Do you think people all over the world randomly thought one day: 'Imagine if lizards were really, really big and could fly and breathe fire! Let's just pretend for a laugh that there are.' No, I don't think so.

Anyway, I bet there are dragon remains, in caves and hard to reach places, it's just nobody has gone looking for them. I could probably find some if I tried really hard, I just can't be arsed.

Anyway, now we've established that dragons are real, here are some more photographs:




































Thursday was a bit of a sausage fest. After seeing a graffiteed willy at Hotel D'Invalides, I got very, very, very lost and eventually found my way home again, where we had microwaved wheat (?!) and SAUSAGE for lunch!!! Un miracle! Then, saw this fit man in the lift going down, who then came and knocked on the front door and I'm not even kidding, he said (In French obviously) 'I am here to look at the pipes.'
Unfortunately, he really was there to look at the pipes, but I had a good gander at him doing it while I nibbled on my sausage with (what I like to think of as) a real sense of je ne sais quoi.
So, to sum up: Thursday = sausages and dragons.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Wednesday- Day of Death

From hence forth shall Wednesday be known as Lots of Fucking Walking Day and also in some circles, Let Us Have a Breakdown on The Subway Day.

Argh!

On a Wednesday I have to take les enfants to their music lesson, which is o.k except I don't know where it is. Today the dad came with me to show me, but then we walked round in circles and came home a different way, so I may have to Google 'Piano for Kids', roll up my sleeves and sack the whole thing off.

Then there is lunch and 'playing'. 'Playing' is a trap I have got myself into many times before with young children, by which I mean I will one day make the mistake of shouting 'Let's pretend we're on a magic boat!' and do a great mime of somebody catching and struggling to hold a fish (three years of studying drama at univeristy not wasted, thank you very much) and then from that day forth I am expected to behave like one of those furry toys that have a string you pull to make them vibrate, except instead of a long string I have long hair and instead of vibrating I leap and jump and pretend to be looking at faraway islands with my invisible telescope.

The family keeps asking me why I am so tired all the time. I can't really say 'Because in England I spend 80% of my time sleeping' or 'Because I don't know the French for 'Got any coke, mate?''

On Wednesday afternoons after much 'Playing' and lunch (which today was a plate of peas and a piece of turkey ham) I have to then take les enfants to horse riding, which is two subway rides away and a VERY LONG WALK and honestly I am not being mardy it is a massive trek over the Most Dangerous Bridge in France and then a perilious uphill journey through the Forest of Gondor.

The dad also came with me to horse riding today, but there is no way on earth I wiil find it next week.

The Forest of Gondor was to be fair a very nice park, although there were many conkers which meant I had to stifle back the tears as they reminded me of Lyme Park. Lyme Park, the apple of my eye... before I came to Paris I went there One Last Time (everything I did was for the Last Time because I had the weirdest feeling I was never coming back to England and was going to die here. I think it was a pyschic premonition, my mum said it was an idiotic premonition. But actually she also said 'I know you like your Thierry Henry types but... well you have seen La Haine haven't you?' so you decide who is idiotic). (Actually, when my mum said that I was secretly thinking 'Why do you think I'm going? For the peas and turkey-ham!?' but I have already asked the dad where Le Ghetto is and he says it's a fair subway ride away, and even I can't be bothered travelling that far to be roughed up by sexy French hoodlums.)

What was I talking about? Ah yes, I was talking about how I went to Lyme Park One Last Time and how the massive woodland I have to voyage through to get to the horse riding school reminded me of it.

Well, as we walked through this mythical forest, the dad turned to me and said 'You can do your jogging here, it is very nice.' I must have looked like someone threw a bag of Tetley's Tea in the bin because he said 'You know, faire du jogging, you say you go four times a week?'

This is why you must not lie on application forms people!!! Now, as well as doing all this walking and fasting, I must jog four times a week just so they don't think I am a compulsive liar as well as a Lazy Person.

I also didn't mention in my application that I was allergic to horses, as I am allergic to all of God's creations, even cats, although this does not stop me grabbing them and lovingly rubbing them on my face at every available opportunity but that is another story.

So, Wednesdays are now my Day of Doom.

Hey, but guess quoi? The little boy needed the toilet when we were at the horse riding, so I took him to reception and I said 'Excusez-moi, ou est les toilettes?' and she told me and although I didn't understand her, I found them quite quickly! A small victory, my friends, but a victory nonetheless.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The Green Man Has Fallen

The Green Man has no power here in Paris, he is a figure to be ignored, ridiculed, hated even, but never taken seriously. I have always been a strong advocate of the Green Man, choosing to wait at a crossing for thirty minutes even when I am late and there are no cars on the horizon. Once you have decided to wait for the Green Man, it's like you have resigned yourself to fate, you don't have to try and cross in between cars or make any decisions about running in front of slow cars. You don't even feel stupid for waiting at the crossing when there are clearly no cars because you are Waiting For The Green Man. You can relax and feel confident, knowing all your decisions are in the hands of the Green Man.

But it is not so in Paris!! He wields no power on these tree-lined avenues! I have known Green Men who shone proudly, encouraging young children and sometimes baby rabbits to skip across their crossing with confidence, because they knew no car would dare to cross them, 'Not on my watch!' they would say.

Alas, there are no such Green Men in Paris. Motorcycles and cars rev in the face of the Green Man's authority and they roar across in the manner of Mad Max extras. English au pairs are forced to hop on and off the pavement like scolded morris dancers, clutching at the little hands of their two charges, who look at their au pair incredulously and say 'Do not cross! There are cars!'

'Well the cars should show some fucking respect and stop at the fucking Green Man!' I want to scream.

But I don't, I don't.

Apart from the Green Man fiasco, today went o.k. Except I didn't know I had to take the children to school in the morning, but after being woke up at quarter past eight and told that I must, I now know. The children knew the way which was excellent as I had no idea and by some miracle I found my way back home!

I didn't know what to do with myself then. I was faced with a whole day with nothing to do and something told me that as I was in Paris I should not nap like my brain was begging me to, but go forth and explore.

I walked to the Eiffel Tower because I could see it, much in the same way you can see the Radio City Tower in Liverpool from most places, so even if you are lost in Aigberth, Walton or Toxteth, you can find your way back to the centre. Of course the Radio City Tower is slightly more crap than the Eiffel Tower which, after visiting it this morning, I can say is not crap at all.

I didn't go up it though, I thought 'one step at a time, remember what happens when you try to do things? Bad things happen.'

I also had to be back for lunch, which was slices of cucumber. After I'd finished, the dad was like 'You have finished?!' and it turns out the cucumber was only the beginning bit of lunch, but by then it was too late because I had washed up my plate like a FOOL so I had to pretend I wasn't hungry. I may sound like an idiot, but bear in mind last night for dinner we just had shredded carrot with balsamic vinegar and when offered more I said 'No, no', thinking 'Better save something for the main!' and then I went to bed hungry and confused because there was no main.

So, with all this cucumber and carrot and walking I should hopefully be a Thin Person when I come home.

I took some pictures of the Eiffel Tower and also a Bride and Groom, because I saw a a pair. And a building covered in grass because I saw on of those too and it's not often that you do.







Sunday, 12 September 2010

Awkard Times From Paris...

I'm here! Writing from my room in Paris, on the Left Bank. This is so strange, I don't even have anything to say. The family I am staying with and will be working for are really nice, but I have a sense of forboding about this week. My French is a hundred times worse than I thought and so is my sense of direction. I ended up trying to buy a metro ticket from an airline company and then wasted an hour going up and down in various lifts because for some reason not all the lifts go to all the levels at Gare Du Nord: Train Station for Psychics.

In one of my lift adventures, me and this very old man who was chain-smoking got talking because quite frankly, when you are nose to nose with someone for that amount of time and being bounced up and down and laughed at by cruel locals (one of whom I'm sure shouted 'sweaty' at me, he said 'grasse' or maybe 'greasy' with a French accent?) you either strike up a conversation or let the humiliation rise up and drown you in a tsunami of transport-related shame.

I say we got talking, I mean he spoke to me in French and I answered 'non', 'pardon' and 'je sais pas' etc trying to sound as French as possible until he said 'You are English too? For you it must be very confusing.' I think he meant the lift system, not life, although life does confuse English people too, namely this English person. A few questions I have are:

Why am I here? What am I doing? And why did I pack sixty hair bobbles but no travel adapter???

I need the toilet DESPERATELY and I want a brew and I want to brush my teeth (yes, in that order) but I crept out of my room a minute ago and all is quiet, so has everyone gone to bed? My bedroom has a glass door by the way, oh and the bathroom doesn't have a lock on it, but I assume the universe is just making sure I have enough opportunity in life to be stared at by young children whilst showering and/or walk in on an elderly French relative having 'le merde'.

There was a random door shut in the hall, does this mean 'YOU SHALL NOT PASS' or have they shut the door because they think I am sleeping? This is too much uncomfortableness for me to bear, I think I will just go to bed unsatisfied and hope I don't wet the bed or anything. Oh god what if I randomly wet the bed? What if I am like a dog and the change of environment instils a subconcious sense of traumatic anxiety in me and it manifests itself in the form of soaked sheets? Soaked French sheets! Soaked Parisian sheets!

In case you were wondering, Paris is lovely, exceedingly historical and inspiring blah blah blah I HAVE NO IDEA. I came from St Michel to here and I was so sweaty from carrying my world weight champion luggage that I daren't look up in case somebody else yelled 'GRASSE/GROSS/GRASS/GREEZY/' or whatever they yelled.

Did I mention I got lost in London, walked to Camden instead of St Pancras from Euston, so I'm looking forward to taking the kids to school tomorrow! I'm sure I'll find it no probs, and if I can't find it, I'll just ask someone for directions in my impeccable French, non?

On the plus side, I am in Paris!!!!

Just heard the unmistakable clinks of washing up, I'm going to go for it.

As Hysteria Sets In...

Feel a bit better now, packed a coat and some pyjamas, so that's one outfit sorted. Also packed my mum's SATC box set, so that's my evenings sorted, as I clearly won't be able to socialise much in said outfit...

Desperate Times

It is half eleven at night and I am leaving for Paris tomorrow at seven am. I am going to be living there for ten months. So far I have packed a six pack of cotton knickers from M & S, two denim hotpants and a Ped Egg.

I am slowly driving myself insane.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Nightmare Packing

Argh! I'm surrounded by piles and piles of crap as I try to sort my bedroom out, can't even begin to pack for Paris until I work my through this pit of hell. Only three days to go and yet I can not find the motivation, I just spend all day sitting off (both my favourite phrase and activity of the summer) amongst the mess reading magazines and books and opening old letters from the bank and from T Mobile which I really should have dealt with months ago...

Cannot believe there is only three days until I go to Paris, this summer has felt like a runaway train, hurtling me towards this date without giving me time to get off and enjoy the stops along the way, stops like my birthday party and Graduation and the Secret Garden Party and Ibiza. They've all gone so, so fast and all of a sudden Paris has arrived like a slap in the face, or should that be en le visage? (That's not a rhetorical question, I really don't know.)

I'm going to post some pictures of my summer just to give the blog a nice round beginning... (and also to kill time.)

First there was my 21st birthday party, a ludicrously crap affair that was thoroughly enjoyable. Instead of a birthday cake I had a baker's tray of the most delicious carrot cake there has ever been and if you'd like to taste this lovely, moist sponge topped with sweet, creamy frosting (an Americanism I know, but it's not quite cream and it's not quite icing so I don't quite know what else to call it) then make sure you go to the Oak Street Bakery in Windermere if you ever visit the Lake District. (It is onyl 90p a slice, what are you waiting for??)

I think everyone thought I was kidding when I said there would be a slideshow of myself at my party but my seriousness could not doubted when, upon arriving , guests were confronted with a large projection of the slideshow on the back wall on the venue. I don't think it's arrogant, it was my 21st after all, though after much persuasion I did decide against the accompanying soundtrack of 'Isn't She Lovely' by Stevie Wonder.

Just realised if I go into this much detail about everything I will never get to Paris, let alone pack for it, so I will sum up very quickly all the best bits of this summer:

Graduation


Fun, fun, fun. Smiles all round, tipsy all day, four shoe changes and one delicious meal at Alma de Cuba which led to, inexplicably, a Cuban cigar that was passed around my family as we wandered down Hardman Street.




Secret Garden Party



The best fun you will ever have. People always ask what kind of music festival it is but SGP isn't a music festival, it's a four day party. Last year I went by myself and did storytelling inside a tree and I knew that if I had a good time by myself it would be even better this year if I went back with some chums. Over the course of the festival, we were dragged into a tent to be typists for a few hours and forced to work by fast-talking 1940s journalists who all sported clipped RP accents and impeccable tailoring. We danced to a gypsy burlesque band suspended in the trees and then gasped as the cables suspending the piano snapped and the pianist was forced to play what must have been his most precarious set to date. There was one singer accompanied by a massive Bollywood dance troupe who came into the audience and taught us how to dance. We were punted across the lake to jive at a disco built on the bottom of a giant flying machine. When we came back and people asked us to describe it... we could only say 'You have to go next year.'
















Ibiza

All summer people's Facebook statuses have been '... wants to go back to Ibiza' to which my response has been 'Get over it'. Then I came back and was nearly in tears at the thought of not being there. Although it was an amazing holiday, there was one horrible moment on our last night when we were dancing away and somebody noticed it was suddenly half five. I felt like the world was ending because I was having the best. time. of . my. life. And I realised it had to end.

(Just had a thought actually, this time last week we were drunkenly getting ready in our hotel room and the magical night hadn't even begun really. And now it's fucking one week later!!!!! )
But everything has to end, even Paris will end soon. Well, in ten months, but time flies by so fast that these days I can sense the end of something before it has even started. A day feels like a second and a week feels a minute and I've got a horrible feeling that one day I'll feel as though a whole lifetime has gone by in the space of five days, coincidentally the length of our stay in Ibiza...