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:


  1. "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." Or Canadian... Very likely they are Canadian.

    I'm Au Pairing in the Netherlands next month and I'm reading you blog and absolutely dying. While reading at work I turned to someone and laughed in their face while thinking of something you wrote. They were not impressed at all. AT ALL.

  2. Ha! Who cares what they think Brittany, thanks so much for commenting, I'm glad you enjoy my blog. Good luck in the Netherlands! :)