Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Strike Me Down

I feel like an abused child. The children are being so horrible and today I found myself hiding in the kitchen, in the dark, eating the end of a salami. It's shit working as 'the help'. I want to be the rich person hiring servants instead of being the servant, forced to cower in the dark eating sausage because the kids I am supposed to be showering and cooking dinner for are ignoring me and eating biscuits.

Things have been going so well and all of a sudden BAM everything is shit. I'm in a bad mood now and I haven't been in a bad mood since I left Family Thrift. Actually I'm in a FOUL mood, the type of mood where you want to kill everyone then go to bed and never wake up.

The problem is I am not grown up enough to look after children. When they ignore me, I don't know what to do. A proper grown up would not get ignored but in my head I am the same age as them so when they exclude me I just sit in the corner playing with the Littlest Pet Shop by myself, waiting for them to invite me to play. I have tried everything but they just tell me to go away. I'm sure Super Fucking Au Pair would have jumped up and started juggling flaming torches, whilst simultaneously whipping up a kangaroo casserole and downloading the latest Katy Perry song for them. (They wanted to see my music so I brought my laptop and got up ITunes, saying 'Look, I've got over 15,000 songs!' thinking they'd be impressed. All they said was, after browsing through sixty three Kate Bush songs, 'You no have Katy Perry!?')

Oh no, I can feel the Bad Mood filtering through my very being like hot custard soaking into a sponge. Doom awaits me, I'm sure of it. I should get off Facebook, but all I can see is friends making plans without me. I should email my mum but all I can think is 'she hasn't emailed me'. The paranoia is coming, it's coming...

Maybe I need a new religion in my life. On Sunday I went to the oldest mosque in Paris, Mosque de Paris. When we were there we heard the call to prayer and wandered over to the prayer room, but I'd read that non-Muslims weren't allowed in the prayer room, so I hovered around about ten metres away, just to make sure I wasn't being offensive. Meanwhile my friends went closer and closer and I got more and more panicky. I didn't tell them but I was worried that if I took one step closer to the sacred prayer room, Allah would strike me down with lightening for being such an outrageous whore. Kay and Amy spoke to a woman who was sat on a chair outside and then they beckoned me over from my shirking place. The woman said we could go in as long as we covered our hair so we put our scarves on like hijabs, took off our shoes and crept inside.

You couldn't see anything from inside because the woman's section was blocked off from the rest of the prayer room by a curtain. We knelt down and listened to the service quietly but I kept thinking Allah was going to Strike Me Down for all my sins. Sometimes I wish I'd spent my teenage years avoiding boys and alcohol instead of dedicating every waking moment desperately seeking them out..

It was nice inside the prayer room, very calming. But after a bit we crept out because we weren't sure how long the service would go on for and we didn't want to get stuck staring at a curtain for three hours.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Cheese Deceiver

Can't be arsed saying anything, just thought I would put some pictures up as I haven't done for ages. The pics are of the Christmas lights on the Champs Elysees and the Christmas market at La Defense.

Tonight the kids pretty much ignored me all night and then I exploded when they demanded to see the cheese packet to see what cheese I had given them, as if I am some sort of Cheese Deceiver. It was mozzarella.

Tomorrow the little boy is going on a picnic with his school, so I can use the time to 'tidy' his room apparently. I'm worried because to me his room looks really tidy and I'm dimly aware that sometimes what will pass as 'reasonably tidy' for me is simply 'a disgusting mess' to others.

Can I just say, even though I don't write anything on my blog, it doesn't mean I've not done anything, I'm a very busy and popular person, honestly. This week I went to the Middle Ages museum, Victor Hugo's house, the Christmas market and I went to the cinema to see Harry Potter TWICE and all I can say is that Ron Weasley. Got. Fit. I went to see Harry Potter the first time with this girl who lives in the same apartment buiding as the family. She's been living here for three years and she said that she met Super Au Pair and she was a gimp, so HA!

And The Award Goes To...

I am the Worst Au Pair in Paris, today has confirmed it for me. Other cities I cannot comment on, but I know quite a few au pairs in Paris now and I am certain that I am The Worst.

First of all, I break and lose things a lot. I've lost a skipping rope and I lost some highlighter pens that the girls were fighting over. They ask me for this bloody skipping rope and those pens nearly every day. Also, the three children all have these hand-made breakfast bowls that have their names on and on Friday I smashed one. It kind of slipped out of my hands and I watched in slow motion as it fell to the floor and smashed into a million pieces. The little boy came running in and I had a horrible feeling it would be his bowl so I quickly gathered it all up in my massive cardigan and pretended nothing was wrong. He was shouting at me in French and there is nothing worse than being told off by a five year old so I shouted back 'It's fine, it's fine! Get out of the kitchen, it’s fine!' and then put all the pieces into a little bag and hid in behind the coffee maker. That was on Friday and I've not told the family yet.

Today was an awful example of how shit I am. It was 11.05 and I was sat on bed in my pyjamas drinking tea and stalking Girls Who Are More Attractive Than Me on Facebook. I have to pick the little boy up for lunch at 11.25 but I always, always leave it to the very last second before I leave. When I was finally ready I left, but then came hurtling back to my room because I realised I didn't have the family's house keys. I looked everywhere and couldn't find them. I looked under my bed, in all my bags, in my kitchen cupboards, in my underwear drawer... I looked absolutely everywhere and couldn't find them. By now it was 11.25 so I threw myself out into the corridor and ran down the street to get the little boy from school, all the while thinking 'shitshitshitshitshitshitshitshit.' I got there ten minutes late and had no idea what to do next. I am supposed to take him back to his house, cook and eat lunch with him and then take him back to school, all within an hour and a half.

At first I thought maybe I could take him back to mine for lunch, but I wasn't sure if this would be 'appropriate' and anyway I only had dry pasta and a satsuma in. Luckily I have the grandparent's phone number and they live on the same street as me so I rang up and asked if I could borrow their key. We went up to their apartment and the grandma gave me the key but she was quizzing me about where I thought the key was and she clearly though I was a scatty twat. I was sure that I'd left the key on the side in the family's apartment when I babysat on Friday night, but the grandma pointed out that surely the family would have seen the key and told me over the weekend?

You know when you have lost something really, really important and you are on your way to the place where you think it is and you are thinking 'What if it's not there, what if it's not there?' and there are those two opposing voices in your head and one is going 'It will be there, it will be there' and the other is going 'It might not be there, you have to be prepared...'? Well I those two little voices were both silenced when I finally got to the family's apartment because it wasn't there. I had lost their key and I had no idea where it could be.

I was panicking, trying to quickly cook something for lunch and think where the fucking key could be. I thought maybe I’d left it my big bag that I took to Lauren’s at the weekend and it had fallen out somehow, but I could only hope it had fallen out in her bedroom and not on the bus or in the street somewhere. While I was panicking about the key I found a note from the mum which was so, so confusing I just wanted to pack up my things and go back to England rather than decipher what ‘give them coru for starters, Wednesday I come form Turkey’ meant. Because this is the other reason I am a shit au pair; the food thing. I have no idea what they think a perfect lunch and dinner is because everything I give them seems to be wrong.

The mum said in her note that she was having a dinner party tonight and that she had bought some special cheese to make a ‘raclette’ which I think is like a fondue. Obviously I didn’t want to use all the ‘raclette cheese’ but I didn’t know what it looked like. The little boy said he wanted cheese on his pasta so I sliced a Babybel cheese because it was the only cheese I knew wouldn’t be the special dinner party cheese. The little boy came to the table and inspected the cheese. The other day he smelt that we were having goat’s cheese as soon as he walked in the door so I know he has a good knowledge of food. I waited, on edge, while he poked it and nibbled it. Then he went SICK. He was crying and yelling in French, telling me that Babybel isn’t cheese and that there was loads of nice cheese in the fridge so why did I give him Babybel which isn’t even a cheese it’s a snack… He got up and was opening the fridge and pointing at cheese and yelling and I just kept yelling ‘I KNOW WHAT CHEESE IS. I KNOW WHAT CHEESE IS. I KNOW WHAT CHEESE IS.’ I hope none of the neighbours can speak English.

After lunch I went straight back to my room to look for the bloody keys. I used the prayer that my nana always tells me to use and honestly, it has never failed me or my nana, never. It goes ‘Blessed Saint Anthony, Blessed Saint Anne, Please help me find my (lost item) as fast as you can.’ I kept saying it over and over again whilst looking all over my room. After a couple of minutes I found those bloody highlighters and my gloves (that I’ve been looking for everywhere) in my little leather rucksack. After five minutes I found- HALLELUJAH- the family’s keys. In my underwear drawer. I have no idea why there were in there but the annoying thing is I did look there this morning, but obviously I didn’t have the Saints on my side then.

Anyway, I’m so glad I found the keys, but I have absolutely no idea what I am supposed to be doing this week, part from feeding the kids ‘coru’ and ‘folding summer clothes well in case’.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Can't Stop Eating

I finished work at quarter past seven. I ate a lot of roasted courgette because two of the kids wouldn't eat theirs. I also drank a panful of carrot-flavoured water. I was so full I could barely walk. And yet somehow I managed to walk out of their apartment and down the stairs and out into the street. That is the last thing I remember. The next thing I knew, I snapped out of my trance and I was handing over money in the corner shop in exchange for a pack of Prince bisuits.

I am going to die a slow, horrible obesity-related death. I am looking at the biscuits as I type. They look not particularly delicious but very addictive and moreish.

Actually, just reading the packet and it says they are 'riches en céréales' and there is only 96 cals a biscuit! Might as well eat the last two I suppose, then I can go back to the shop and get some Milka Dime and then come back to my ghetto hovel where I will probably be found tomorrow, lying face down on my sofa/bed surrounded by chocolate and biscuit wrappers. The post-mortem will identify the cause of death as Lard-Induced Panic Attack.

I remember the days when I used to laugh at this video in a very cruel way, now I'm just Joe Blackburn with nicer hair.

The Sex Money Lives On

Well, nothing I write from now on will be as interesting as my Dubstep DJ Story, so there really is no point in continuing this blog. However, I am addicted to it now so I may as well continue and hope that one of these days someone else pays me one hundred euros for my taxi home so I get straight on to my blog and once again divulge what an outrageous skank I am.

Actually, I'm afear’d there ain't much chance of me shagging another Dubstep DJ in a long time, due to my Incessant Eating. On Sunday I went for a jog with Lauren in my new running trainers (purchased with Sex Money, thank you very much) and even though we were only out for twenty minutes, in my head the jog has given me license to eat whatever I want in massive quantities. I realised the other day that I've been eating so much food since I got to Paris because I went for one jog in JUNE and have subconsciously felt ever since that I deserve a treat after all my hard exercising. I think it is actually healthier for me to never go jogging again.

Since Sunday's jog I have eaten three massive bars of Milka Dime chocolate, one bar on Sunday night and two yesterday. I've always had a big appetite but I know somewhere in my heart of hearts that 300g of chocolate made with delicious dime bar pieces, on top of three meals and regular snacking, is not the key to a well balanced diet. On top of that, I've fallen in love with milk again and have been drinking pints of the stuff since I moved in to my new place and discovered the joy of shirking UHT milk, which most French families seem to love, for the fresh stuff. It's just so creamy and nourishing and delicious, but Lauren pointed out when she came round on Saturday that 'entier' means 'full-fat', not 'skimmed' like I stupidly thought. So I’ve been drinking about two pints of full-fat milk a day, plus three meals, plus macaroons and biscuits, plus giant bars of chocolate… soon I will be the size of a small moon.

But I can't help it! Look at the sort of thing I am forced to walk past every single day:

I'm definitely getting myself one of those fairy-themed cakes for my birthday this year. They are about forty euros but money will be no object to me because I have a terrible feeling I'll be all on my lonesome this year, as most au pairs are going home at the end of June and all the language assistants are going home at the end of April and my family need me until the end of July. And one of my friends has already left!

Maisie, my partner in sleazy-awfulness, packed up her shizzle and bombed it back to Britain on Sunday, because she couldn't face another Monday at work with her horrible family.

Sad times indeed!

If I hadn't had moved families I think I would have gone home at Christmas. I can't imagine my life now without eating out and endless cups of tea and my own place. Speaking of which, I've taken a picture of my hideous kitchen/bathroom hybrid AKA Frankenstein's Alcove:

I want to go to Ikea soon because there is one just outside of Paris and I could buy fairy lights and colourful spoons and shit to make my room look a bit nicer. Actually, I need to do some serious money calculating because I am thinking of heading back to Liverpool for a weekend in December as there is going to be a Drama Reunion Night Out. I rrreeeaaalllyyy would like to go and it will cost me about 150 euros but I feel I should adhere to my own motto 'You Only Regret What You Don't Spend' and in a way, all the shit I bought at the weekend I was going to buy anyway so I could think of my Sex Money as paying for my Liverpool Trip, although I can see the one hundred euros (or, after taxi fare, 84.50 euros to be exact) going the same way as that jog in June- I will use it an excuse to do whatever the hell I want for months to come.

Can I afford the Liverpool weekend? It would be good because I could stock up on high, high shoes and get my eyebrow threaded, but it will cost me the rest of my November wages. However, I will get paid again in December, but I might not get paid until the end of the month so I won't have any money for Christmas and I owe my mum £150. On the other hand, I've still got my credit card and I have suffered low pay and hideousness since September with Family Thrift so don't I deserve some extravagance in my life? And, I decided not to buy that 135 euro skirt and refrained from buying champagne the other day to go with my macaroons so really I've already saved loads of money this month...

To Liverpool then!!!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Fifty Dollars for the Powder Room

I've finally got proper internet, none of that Free Wi-Fi shit that hasn't worked all week. I came back from the toilet before when this guy opened his door and started speaking to me in French. Now, nobody likes being accosted when they have a loo roll in their hand, so I told him curtly I didn't speak French, but then he started speaking to me in English. He asked me if he could copy my toilet key because he had lost his...

At first I was a bit reluctant because I was trying to work out what dodgy angle he could be coming from, for example, what if he isn't supposed to use the toilet and I let him copy my key and he lets loads of scummy tramps in to use it or something? But then I had a brainwave:

"Do you have internet?" I asked brightly.
"Would I... could I have your password?"

Now really this is quite a cheeky thing to ask, it's basically like saying 'Can I steal from you every single day for as long as I live here?'

However he seemed quite willing and asked me for my laptop. For a split-second I thought, what if he just wants to steal my laptop? But I realised that as he lives next door but one, I could probably find him pretty easily if he did steal from me, even with my awful sense of direction. I got my laptop out then shut and locked my door automatically, to which he looked quite surprised, "Oh, I won't take you in- my room is very messy."

I then realised that satan and all his minions couldn't drag me into this strange man's room with my laptop anyway and I regretted locking my door like a fool so I just smiled and propped my computer up in a sort of semi-crouch. While we were waiting for it to start up the lights in the corridor went off because they are on a timer so it was just me and him, stood very close in the pitch black which was, as you can imagine, rather awkward. To get some light quickly he opened his door and then suggested I go in as it would be 'more comfortable'. Hmmm...

Now, my laptop is quite head-smackingly heavy, and I had the vague notion that surely there would be no point in raping someone who lives on the same corridor as you; it kind of takes the mystery out of it. So, I followed him in to his room. I thought my room was ghetto. His room was half the size of mine with paint peeling off the walls and no storage space except for a coat stand and a cupboard under his hotplate. And his bed was L-shaped which must mean he really has to think outside the box when it comes to baby-making.

But, he did have a massive, state of the art computer and a collinder, so at least next time I make pasta I won't have to spoon out each shell individually and dry it with a tea towel. (Needless to say I've only had pasta once since I moved in.)

He did a lot of faffing around; firing up his Live Box and plugging in fire-cables and downloading Firefox and lots of other fire-related shit I didn't understand and the whole time I sat on the edge of his L-shaped bed, looking around his room and wondering why he had a map of Amsterdam gaffa-taped to his wall. He offered me a cup of tea but I politely declined, giving him a look that suggested if it was going to take as long as a cup of tea I'd rather forget the internet and go back to interpretive dancing to Cherie FM.

Finally he got the internet sorted and I felt obliged to say that I would knock on for him with my toilet key in the morning so he could copy it, which I'm not sure is such a good idea but he gave me the gift of Facebook and shoe porn, so who am I to deny him the gift of relieving himself in a toilet rather than out of his window, which is what I assume he's been doing as he said he lost his key at the beginning of the weekend. The only other option is that he had his toilet key separate to his shower key, because the shower has no grid over the drain so you could quite easily squat down and... I don't want to think about it.

In case you are wondering, this nice guy who gave me internet is not fit, even though his network is called 'guitariste' and for the past couple of weeks, every time I've seen it on my list of networks, I've pictured soemthing along the lines of Johnny Depp in Chocolat, minus the stupid accent. (For those of you not familiar, here:)

So it looks like I haven't found a conveniently-located F Buddy, which is unfortunate, but not too bad really because- and I haven't mentioned this before because I made a vow to myself not to make this blog into an extension of my socially-alientating over-sharing that makes me such a hit at parties, but my true nature is rising up inside me like a vomcano and I'm going to cross a line with this post that can never be uncrossed so here it goes- I decided before I came here that my year in Paris would be a Year Without Sex.

Yes, I'm going to confess now, I was so sick of crap sex with crap people that I decided I would be better off without it and would instead be like Amelie, not having sex but finding pleasure in cracking the top of my crème brulée, which I did for the first time on Saturday by the way and let me just say it's not really an adequate subsitute.

So far I've managed to restrain myself from being a whore, but on Friday... well let me tell you about Friday.

Maisie told me that a good dubstep DJ was playing at Social Club, where I've been wanting to go for ages because they have well-known DJs playing and I've not really found a club that I like yet in Paris and I thought there might be a 'good crowd' there, not to sound like a nobhead.

Loads of us met up for drinks at our friend Amy's nice apartment but only me and Maisie ended up going to Social Club. We agreed to stay out all night and get the first metro home which is at half five. I've not done that in Paris yet and it's a fucking pain in the arse trying to get taxis and night buses so we vowed to wait til half five.

The DJ was amazing, we had such a good time and it felt like being in a club back in England. I was rrrather wasted and kept yelling things in English because I was convinced that if the English DJ knew we were English, he would want to chat to us and it would be good for Some Reason.

It was the first time in Paris that I've been able to properly dance like I would at home, it was so fun, but then crazy French skankers started throwing themselves around like we were in the mosh pit so I made Maisie come with to the back of the club, which wasn't very hard core but I am twenty one now and I don't like madheads pushing me to the floor- go and see Slipknot if you like hurting people and dancing at the same time, don't come to a club.

After the dubstep DJ this other guy came on who had a beard and hair down to his elbows and we weren't feeling him quite so much, so we went and sat down. Also I was wearing very high heels which you don't really do in Paris, as you have to walk five miles just to get out of the stupid metro, so my feet were killing. We sat down and had a bit of drama with a Stupid Bitch who put an ice cube down my top and rightly or wrongly, I threw it into her face but luckily she was too drunk to kill me. After that little bit of drama we realised we were bored and we still had two hours to wait until the first metro.

Then Maisie said the DJ was at the bar.

"Let's go and talk to him!" I said but Maisie said it would be 'cringe'. She didn't seem to realise that I am 'cringe'. So we went to talk to the DJ. I'm not going to be (any more) tacky and name names but let's just say we got talking and he was nice, he had a Magnetic personality. Somehow, my friend Masie agreed with him that we would all go back to his hotel with him. He was thinking 'Threesome', we were thinking 'Mini Bar and Bed While We Wait For First Metro'.

We walked back with him to the hotel, which was really quite swanky and we were all chatting and bantering etc and it was really fun, not sleazy in the least. When we went into the hotel, the concierge kicked off and said that the DJ wasn't allowed three people in his room. But the DJ insisted, with a conspirational 'lads together' wink, that we wouldn't be staying the night...

So, in the DJs room, me and Maisie drank all the little bottles of whiskey and gin from his mini fridge and informed him that there would be no threesome at which point he stopped, mid-way through removing his trousers, and expressed alarm and disappoinment. But it was o.k, he was a nice guy and we just chatted for a bit before I decided enough was enough and that the big double bed needed taking advantage of...

Unfortunately, our slumber was disturbed by the bastard hotel receptionist who would not stop banging on the door. The DJ answered the door, unexplicably now with no boxers on, which was slightly worrying as we'd been sharing a bed with him with the understanding there would be no funny business, and the receptionist guy said only two people were allowed in the room. For a joke, Maisie locked the DJ out of the room and we seriously considered leaving him out in the corridor all night in order to get a good rest without any mithering from his mansnake, but we both agreed this was a bit too heartless of us. Eventually we let him in again and tried to resume our sleep, but the receptionist guy knocked again and would not leave until one person left.

Me and Maisie both got up to leave then, thinking that there wasn't much longer to wait until the first metro, but then somehow and erm, this is the bit that's kind of hazy, Maisie ended up walking out of the door muttering 'You owe me' while I stayed on the bed in a not very lady-like state of undress... (Although on a private note, we're even now Maisie and you know exactly what I'm talking about- that thing you begged me to delete off my blog because your mum started reading it.)

At half ten the next day, another hotel worker knocked at the door to announce that the DJ's driver was there to take him to the airport. He was flying straight to Barcelona for another gig. I got up and fished around for my clothes and was so, so hungover that I was shaking and could hardly stand up. I looked in the mirror and wanted to jump out of the window so that nobody else would have to go through the horror of observing my face and hair. Thank Jesus and his lovely friend Mary Magdalene the Whore that I'd taken a pair of flat shoes and a toothbrush out with me because I'd planned on staying at Maisie's.

As the dubstep DJ fished around for his passport etc, I sat on the bed and vaguely mentioned how awful it would be to get the metro. He said "I'll pay for you to get a taxi' and stupidly I went 'Oh no, no it's all right'. Why do we always do that? You can be absolutely starving and yet, when offered a cake at someone's house, before you can stop yourself, you've declined and insisted that you're not hungry in the slightest. Well, I kept doing that until eventually he said 'Last time I'll offer, do you want me to go to the cash machine and get you a taxi?' and I said feebly 'Yes Please.'

We went downstairs and he said my shoes looked like Cinderella shoes. (Was he implying that I was a poor young girl with no nice clothes whilst he was an international dubstep DJ?) While he settled the bill, I sat in the hotel reception vaguely feeling like a hooker and then we walked to the nearest cash machine. He got out a bunch of money and asked me how much it would cost to get back to mine in a taxi. As I haven't got a taxi back to my new place before and it's quite far away I told him I wasn't sure, so he gave me a hundred euros.

We walked back to the hotel where he got in his car and I went into the lobby and asked them to call me a taxi which ended up costing me sixteen euros. I got home, got in the shower, then sat in bed drinking tea and reading 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles'.

Instead of sleeping all day like I wanted to because I was so, so tired, I forced myself to have a quick nap and make the most of the day, so I went to the Christmas market at Tuilieres with Lauren and ate nice food and drank red wine and nearly bought my gran some chocolate gingerbread but I felt weird buying my gran a Christmas present with my Sex Money.

I mean, is it Sex Money or is it Taxi Money? I thought it was just free money but is it? Or am I like Holly Golightly, asking for fifty dollars for the powder room?

Whatever it is, it bought me a pair of running trainers, a sports bra, a crepe, a hot chocolate, this speciality cheese and potato thing that came with red wine at the Christmas market and a delicious fondue with Lauren on Saturday night...

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Champagne! And cockroaches...

Revolutionaries and beheading aside, I want to be Marie Antoinette sooo much. I'd never say that to a French person because they would probably spear me, but watching the (supposedly historically inaccurate but who cares) Sofia Coppola film makes me so jealous. That is my perfect life- parties, cake, spending, champagne and a little country side retreat complete with perfumed lambs grazing in the wild flower meadows. Obviously it wouldn't be very cool to live like that without helping out the peasants, but I reckon I could balance out all the extravagance by buying a Big Issue or two...

Watching Marie Antoinette made me long to surround myself with pyramids of prettily-coloured macaroons, so this morning I went to the bakery. I had to remind myself I'm not actually a queen so I bought four instead of forty but it was hard to restrain myself.

Apparently the best way to enjoy macaroons is with a glass of champagne and as I was eating mine this morning I suddenly realised that the only thing standing between me and this dream is a ten minute walk to the shop...

So there I was, lounging away eating macaroons and making plans for champagne and cake consumption when a knock at the door put an abrupt stop to my fantasy. At first I ignored it but then whoever it was had a key and they started opening the door. I leapt up and opened it myself to find a man standing in the corridor with a long syringe. After establishing that I was English (all I said was 'Bonjour' which just goes to show how awful my accent is) he asked me “Have you seen any cockroaches?”
“No...” I said suspiciously.
“O.k!” he said breezily, “I put this in your kitchen and bathroom.”

(By kitchen and bathroom he meant the alcove containing my wash basin and hot plate- I have neglected to mention that while my new abode is 'shabby chic' the emphasis is very much on the first word of that description. I’m all for shabby-chic but the practice of washing my face and my dishes in the same sink has taken some getting used to. )

While Cockroach Man fanny-ed about with his syringe, I stood there in my mismatched pyjamas eating macaroons out of a brown paper bag. At that point I decided that if the opportunity ever presents itself; I would definitely agree to swap lives with Marie Antoinette. I'd have a few years of running amok in beautiful clothes, watching the sun rise at Versaille whilst drinking champagne (that's my favourite bit of the film) and then when my brutal end would come, as the enraged crowd cheered and I was forced to kneel down on the bloodstained wooden platform, I’d place my neck on the block, close my eyes and think happily of all the cake and champagne I'd consumed.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Let Me Eat Cake

Thursday was Armistice Day and I had the day off. Did I use my spare time to go and watch the soldiers march? Did I buy a bouquet of flowers and attach it to one of the hundreds of commemorative plaques around Paris? Did I visit a war museum and dedicate some quiet time to the horrors of war?

Or did I spend fifteen euros on hot chocolate and a macaroon?

I'm sure I don't need to tell you what I spent the 11th of November doing, but let me assure you that I was wearing a poppy that I bought in England when I went home a week and a half ago. As they don't have them in France, most people assumed I am wearing a really crap brooch but I like to think that the odd secret English person on the metro would have noticed it. I say secret because obviously all English people in Paris pretend to be Parisians, unless they are drunk in which case there is no escaping the fact as it is well known all over Europe that English people Binge Drink. Every au pair family I have come into contact with have asked me about my drinking habits and said 'We ask because we know what English girls are like...'

There's no point arguing because they are right; if you see a girl on the metro whooping and swinging round a pole, while one of her friends take pictures and her other friend lies asleep with her head on a tramp's lap, you can bet your measly au pair's salary that she will be English. Not French, not American, not Austrian, not Australian and definitely, absolutely NOT Parisian.

The other thing that gives English girls away is the leggings. English girls all wear leggings. One of the little girls in my new family was wearing denim shorts over leggings and the mum explained how she copied it off a family friend from England. The mum was kind of shaking her head and laughing until she noticed I was wearing denim shorts over leggings. At least I wasn't chugging down a bottle of mouthwash, trying to sap out the alcohol content whilst also ensuring I have fresh breath so that I can snog old men in bars in exchange for free drinks.

Actually, this job is going quite well, but if it ends badly it will be because I get fired. Now that I'm actually getting paid decent money I feel like I'm the worst au pair in the world. The kids don't really listen to me and I often forget to do things, like shower the kids and do the laundry. Last night I babysat and while the two girls and their friend partied the night away in the next room, I watched Twilight and ate the leftovers from dinner, which was enough to feed eight people because I'd made ridiculously huge portions of everything again. I can't get the portion thing right at all and I can't really cook anything nice because I only know how to cook things using garlic and chilli and kids don't like garlic and chilli. The mum said that the previous au pair left a cook book I could use and that 'she would spend hours in the kitchen'. Well, looks like I've got Super Fucking Au Pair to compete with as well as everything else. The other au pair was from Australia and the mum said I'll have to pronounce everything properly because they're not used to my accent. Hmmmm... maybe the Australian girl should have been made to pronounce everything 'properly' rather than me, then I wouldn't have to do my best Neighbours impression every night in order to make the kids 'Git in the showa.'

Incidentally, I find it very telling that these kids must shower every night while les enfants in the other family only had to shower twice a week...

Speaking of my other family, the other day when I went to get my belongings, I was sat on the metro and thought I recognised the girl opposite me. I realised it was the au pair of a little girl who les enfants used to play with at the park. We both used to sit and watch the kids in silence, never speaking to each other. It got to the stage where we'd gone without speaking for so long that it was impossible to start a conversation. It's always the way that you go months or years without getting to know someone and then on your last day of work/school/whatever you make a passing comment and discover you had the potential to be BFFs. Well this wasn't quite like this, but I just had to find out what Family Thrift were doing for an au pair.

I kept glancing at her on the metro because I wasn't one hundred percent it was her. Then she got off at the same stop as me so I followed her a little until her phone went. She was speaking Spanish and then I knew it was her because I'd always thought she had a funny American accent when she spoke to the little girl she looked after, but clearly she was South American or something. I followed her down the stairs and accosted her near the Exit.

“Excuse me, are you Sophie's au pair?” I asked her.
“Yeah... you're Fredrick's right?” (Obviously I've used fake names, for legal and paranoid reasons.)
“Well, not anymore...” I explained.

I told her about how I had got a new job because they didn't pay me very much and she was really shocked at how much they were paying me. The annoying thing is that she said that the school was still on holiday so she couldn't say how they'd been coping without me. Still, at least I've got my side of the story out there, so if she ever hears at the school gates how 'that English au pair' stole all their money and ran away with the fit workman, she can put them straight. Although part of me hopes she doesn't... When we said goodbye I said “See you- never.” and she went “Yeah, bye!” so perhaps the BFF potential was never going to be there.

That's that then. I've left the family and I've spread a couple of rumours so my work in the 7th arrondissement is done. Although... do you remember that woman who bought me a croissant and said she wanted to pay me 800 a month and lived near the school and park I took les enfants to? Well I had an email off her the other day, saying that it was 'a pleasure to meet me' but that she had decided to give her other nanny another chance because her girls were used to her but that she was leaving in March so could she contact me when she began the search for someone else?

I said how I had a job that I was happy with and she said 'I'm glad, good luck' etc but then two days later she emailed me again saying 'For reasons I can explain better in person, the job is now available. I know it's probably too late but contact me ASAP if you are interested.'

Ha! She missed the boat, baby, this au pair has sailed. Although, it makes me feel better to know that if I hadn't got this job, then at least I would have got the other job. 800 a month! I could save up some serious cash with a wage like that. Although I'm on 600 now, so I technically should be saving now. Actually, I maxed my overdraft out this week so it's a good fucking job I'm getting 600 a month and not 160. I had to ask the new family for some of my wages and they gave it me in cold, hard cash.

Oooooh it's burning a hole in my Secret Hiding Place. There's that skirt waiting for me... and now I know where to get the most expensive hot chocolate in all of Paris, I don't think Satan and all his minions could stop me going back and blowing most of my monthly wage on hot chocolate that was so thick you wear it as a catsuit and those amazing, amazing cakes. They were little works of art. I had a raspberry-flavoured macaroon that had fresh raspberries and violet cream and strawberry jelly inside and it was decorated with sugared violet petals and flakes of edible silver... You simply must go darlings, it's called Angelina and it's near Tuileries metro stop and you'll probably have to queue to get in but it's worth it:

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Origins and Frontiers

Secret Garden Party have announced their theme for next year: Origins and Frontiers. This means I can go ahead and work on my authentic mermaid costume as planned, which obviously comes under 'Origins'.

And for anyone who doesn't think mermaids are 'obviously' origins-related: scientists are always banging on about how, '...somehow, life crawled out of the sea and turned into man, but we have yet to find the missing link...'

Erm, hello? What do you think the missing link is?!

It's mermaids!

I don't mean that one day a random fish grew a torso and long lustrous locks and fahsioned itself a cockle-shell bikini; obviously I know it happened over hundreds of thousands of years. My (100% accurate) guess is that fish developed arm type things to pull themselves out of the water which eventually created the mermaid. By some mutation, legs evolved and thus man began to bounce around the earth wearing sexy trousers and boots. The only slightly questionable thing about my excellent theory is that, if legs were a mutation, then does that mean that while Homo Sapiens walked the earth building Tescos and raping each other; mermaids carried on living under the sea and evolved their own society which could still be in existence right now? I think we can all agree the only possible answer is YES.

But the fact that we all descend from mermaids isn't that alarming. Scientists have only just discovered that some of us descend from Neanderthals and when I did Archaeology at A Level(thought I'd slip that in again as it gives my mermaid theory some credability... not that it needs it), we were taught 'Neanderthals all died out, we all descend from African Homo Sapiens.' So what is the point in believing bloody anything? In the end, it all comes down to what I have said many times before: it is o.k to just think of something you would like to have happened and pretend it really happened! Dragons? They happened (until Hitler came along). Faires? Still very much happening! Mermaids? Well, who would you rather be related to:

Fucking Daisy Lowe

This always happens to me- I want something and suddenly someone famous wears it and everyone goes 'Ooh that's a good idea...' and then if I get one I look like I'm jumping on the bandwagon. I need to get myself a cloak NOW before everyone gets cloaked up...

Photo from Second Hand Shopper.

Monday, 8 November 2010


Let me set the scene: I am sat on my sofa (I think I'm just going to have to live with the fact that my bed is a sofa from now on as there is no way I can get it back to the way it was before I went monster-hunting and it Transformed on me). I have a hot brew made with Fresh Milk. I also have squares of Lindt Lindor chocolates. (I bought a pack of fifteen thinking I could have one sqaure a night like a proper non-greedy French person but I have eaten six already and I only saw them on the shop shelf an hour ago.) I have internet. (Just, but facebook is facebook.) I have shit to chat and things to watch and I am warm and alone and I am in Paris.

This is so much better than being with Family Thrift. If I was still there I would be in my damp bed not drinking tea, watching something on my laptop and having to listen to it with my tinny, broken headphones. I didn't realise how damp and musty their house was until I started to unpack my stuff; it absolutely stinks. It's like when I came back from uni after living in Slug Kingdom in second year and I had to throw most of my shoes away because they were mouldy and they stank and I'd been wearing them and hadn't even noticed. That might say more about me than the house though. Speaking of my hygeine; that other family were so lucky they got me as an au pair (apart from me leaving them and everything), because I don't know anyone else who would live in their dirty house and not really mind. Alarm bells started ringing when I realised we were all sharing one broken mug that was filthy and their children were wearing the same, smelly, holey socks nearly everyday, but at first I was oblivious.

Still, that was then and this is now. And now I am happy. The work is harder. The kids I work with now are nice but they don't speak much English and I'm not allowed to speak to them in French (as if I could anyway) so that their English will improve. The two older girls are getting good at miming and describing words using the little English they do know, but the little boy just chatters on at me in French and then starts crying when I go 'Oooooh really? instead of answering his question.

The area I'm in now is definately not the Left Bank, but I really like it. On my first day the family took me round it quickly to show me where the kids' schools were. It was pretty traumatic actually because the mum got all the kids' bikes and scooters out and told me I could use her bike. I can't ride a bike, so I decided to come clean rather than die a horrible death on the roads of Paris and she said 'O.k, don't worry, you can use this scooter, it is nearly adult sized.'

I haven't ridden a scooter since I was ten. It was about six pm, so it was really dark and busy on the streets and the little kids zoomed ahead of me on their bikes and scooters and I was left miles behind, trying to work out how to balance and travel and get past the group of college students without them noticing I was a twenty-one year old struggling to ride a child's scooter.

The area is really nice but there is one hideous problem. There are shops. Lots of shops. And I know there are shops all over Paris but these shops are small and indepenant and so, so near and they are expensive. And there is something else. For a while now I have been envisioning myself in a black tulle skirt. You know when a fantasy item of clothing just pops into your head for no reason and you have to have it, even if you're not sure it exists? (I think this happens to me more than most people, for example I am still looking for the thick, black, hooded travelling cloak that for some reason I know I want but I haven't seen one like it anywhere. I want a cloak that you can just as easily throw over a cocktail dress as you can wear it to jump onto the back of a passing dragon.)

Anyway, I have been having visions of myself in a pretty tulle skirt. In my head it makes me look like a cross between a ballerina dolly and a French maid. Today I glanced in the window of one of the many, many boutiques and there it was. My skirt. It is black and, ok it's not tulle, but it's sheer and light and it has a velvet ribbon on the waist band. I need it. It is 135 euros. But I am a firm believer in the saying 'You only regret what you don't spend.' There is not one penny I regret spending, ever. Sure I've lost money (like my fucking pay cheque from family thrift; I can't find it anywhere) and had to pay bank charges and shizzle and that's annoying, but I can only vaguely remember parting with this money. The money I will always remember clearly and fondly is the money I spent on those boots in French Connection; that pink dress everyone said I couldn't afford (and is now screwed up at the bottom of my washing basket, never to be worn again because I've worn it four times but still, I'll never forget the thrill I got when I handed over my credit card); and the holiday to Ibiza I booked when I was drunk...

As I write this I have the Knowledge. The Knowledge that I am going to buy that skirt.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

I Love This City

I really do! I'm glad to be in Paris- I can't believe I was dreading coming back, it's Paris for goodness sake, it's one of the most amazing cities in the world and I have almost nine whole months to explore every nook and cranny. I really haven’t been making the most of it. Today I was sat in my room drinking a Baxter's Cup A Soup and I thought, 'I'm in the food capital of the world, having a fucking Cup a Soup.' Still, it is a hug in a mug.

Today I was supposed to go to the Holocaust Museum with Lauren and her flat mate and their other chum but I was faffing about and left it too late, but I still met up with them for falafel at that amazing place where we went a few weeks ago. (It's called L'as Du Falafel and it has a green shop front, in case you're wondering.)Lauren is doing her dissertation thingy on something to do with the Holocaust and Paris, so she will be going a lot to the museum which means plenty of opportunities for me to go with her and also plenty of opportunities for more falafel which Lauren pointed out means she will have to fork out five euros every time she wants to do a bit of research because you can't possibly be that close to the Jewish Quarter and not buy falafel.

After the falafel we went and sat in Starbucks which is terribly consumerist and mainstream of us I know and you may be burning to ask me the question: 'Why didn't you find an authentic Parisian coffee place to go to?' My answer is: 'Because it was fucking chilly and there happened to be a Starbucks and if you're so fucking alternative and ethical what are you doing reading a blog on the internet, shouldn't you be out in the dark night sneaking into a laboratory to rescue guinea pigs?'

We chatted for hours in there and then went to the Eiffel Tower to meet some other people for a drink. It was weird but nice being so close to where I used to live and knowing I didn't have to go back to my musty bedroom and not drink tea.

Yesterday me and Lauren walked to La Defense from my new place, it took us about two hours but we stopped on the way to buy bread and ham and because it was chucking it down we went into a little phonebox to make and eat our sandwiches, which I thought was pretty ingenious. La Defense is mental, it's the Canary Wharf of Paris and when you are there it feels like you are in some sort of dystopian future city. There were these hideous apartment blocks there that look like alien slums, by which I mean poor housing for people from out of space.

After La Defense I got my glad rags on and went out with my pal and Her Date which wasn't as awkward as it sounds but I did have to get very, very drunk so that I could chat to strangers while my friend and Her Date hid from me, snogging.

Aside from being the annoying friend who can't get her own date, it was a fun night, although I think everything seemed ‘fun’ because I was swaying from side to side and shouting a lot. And, erm, to put a downer on the night, Maisie informed me in the morning that she tossed her date off while I was asleep in the same bed as them. But still, I'm trying to forget about that...

I'm so, so tired now, I can't wait to go to sleep, although I've accidentally turned my bed into a sofa. I was looking for monsters underneath it and pulled this bar thing and it sprang into a sofa, like a Transformer. I can't get it back to the way it was now. Actually I quite like it as a sofa because it makes my room look bigger and it's not that uncomfortable to sleep on. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Ha! While I've been writing this I've had a jazz station on the radio and all of a sudden it's gone from tinkly piano to this crazy electro beat with someone talking over the top and he just said 'I want to take you home and drink vodka out of your belly button. I want to eat cherries off your nipples.' He's clearly never seen my FHB (Fat Hairy Belly). On that note, I think I'll go to sleep. Hopefully I'll have sexy dreams aboout belly buttons and cherries... or more likely, I'll dream about aliens living in slums with sofas can transform into falafel and eat me.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Stockport, Land of Dreams

I took lots of photographs when I was home, I think I was trying to hold on to the blissful, luxurious comfort of biscuits, puddings and the National Trust. That weird little building that there is so many pictures of is The Cage at Lyme Park, by the way. I'm a bit obsessed with it, much in the same that I went to Disneyland and took more than thirty pictures of the castle. I like things against the sky, I could take photos of the sky all day but they always look shit.