Thursday, 9 June 2011

A Stormy Weekend: Part 2

Tunisian Man is being very coy with his internet, maybe because he knocked on for me a couple of weeks ago and told me that everyone in the building was stood in the courtyard having a party for Some Reason.

"Come, get to know the neighbours" he said.

I was getting ready to go out and I didn't fancy standing outside with half a face of make-up on, with a load of people who would ignore me or, worse, try and strike up a conversation and then ignore me once it became apparent that I Don't Speak French. I couldn't be bothered to explain all this to Tunisian Man- The Giver and Cruel Taker Of Free Internet- so I just said:

"Erm, no."

Tunisian Man shrugged and said "As you like."

Since then he has been taunting me with his internet, sometimes letting me connect and most of the time, not. I'm using this small window of sweet, stolen internet to finish off writing about my weekend in The Countryside.

So, it was chucking it down outside and Amy was pacing up and down the room.

"It was horrible," she wailed, "I just wasn't expecting them!"

She said that her and Clare had been sunbathing, when they heard French voices approaching across the lawn, so wisely they pretended to be asleep. Unfortunately the French people sat down at the table outside, right next to them, so they had to lie there pretending to be alseep for ages and then it started raining so they stood up and walked into the house, on their way in they passed the French people and, rather than introduce herself to the people she would be sharing a house with over the weekend, Amy panicked and pretended they weren't even there.

"I don't know why I did it!" she said.

I didn't know what to do either. Amy's panic made me panic and then Clare came up to laugh at both of us. She didn't understand why we were so anxious about meeting the French People, but then I think Clare has Posh Girl Confidence; you know, when you meet someone and they are really Posh and they are really Confident. For example, when we first went into the house, me, Kayt and Amy dithered about in the hallway, not sure what to do with ourselves; Clare went into the kitchen, poked around a bit and came back holding a peach and said: "Ooh! Doughnut peaches! Can I have one after lunch please?"

Eventually Amy went downstairs to get away from Clare, and Clare followed in the hope that Amy would do something embarrassing. I stayed upstairs waiting for Kayt to get ready, because Kayt can actually speak French and I was planning on using her as a human shield. If anyone tried to speak French to me, I could just pick up Kayt and deflect it back at them.

We went downstairs and I was terrified. There was a sunny spell a few weeks ago when I thought I was finally grasping the French Language, but since then my brain has clouded over again and I feel like I'm right back where I started. I just don't understand what people are saying to me and they don't understand what I am saying to them and it's HORRIBLE.

As it turns out though, I needn't have worried, because the French People didn't want to speak to us. We stood in the kitchen, leaning against the sideboards, not talking, whilst they sat at the kitchen table and chatted. It was Fucking Awkward.

When the 'guys' went to the supermarket to get food for dinner, we did have a bit of a chat with the two girls who were actually really nice, although I say 'we'- Clare and Kayt chatted to them and every so often I repeated what they said.

There was a terrible moment when another French person arrived, one of Emma's friends who I have met before, and we all had to kiss him. I think I have been doing quite well lately with the whole Touching Other People Thing, but he came at me from a weird angle and as a result he got my bun (as in my hair bun, on top of my head) and all the French people looked shocked and asked what the matter was and I curled up in my chair like a snail that's been poked in the face, except I wasn't poked, I was kissed in greeting, and that is so much worse.

I vowed never to kiss another person again (unless I'm doing that business, obviously). Unfortunately for me, at about eight o'clock more French people arrived and by more I mean about twenty five. They actually queued up outside the kitchen to come in and kiss us all. I hate Touching Other People the most when I know it's coming and I have to wait in line thinking shit shit shit which way do I go is it a kiss or a hug do I touch their arm do I make a 'mwah' noise shit shit shit.

Somehow I made it through.

As the evening wore on, about twenty more French people showed up but by that point there was so many people there that kissing went out of the window, thank god. Our friend Anne also showed up, who speaks really good French, which isn't fair because she is German and speaks fluent English. Not everyone was eating, only those of us who bought the food, so while we ate at the garden table the party went on around us. We had roast chicken which had been cooked in a whole packet of butter (They cook everything in butter here, maybe that is why the eight year old patted my stomach today and said 'Hello baby!') and ratatouille, followed by rhubarb, praline and banana ice cream, although not together, that sounds kind of disgusting.

When the food had gone there was nothing to hide behind. Everyone was a lot drunker, there was music playing, spliffs being passed round, gin and tonics being mixed... it was time to get involved and speak some French. We looked at each other as if to say we can do this.

Twenty minutes later, me, Kayt, Clare and Amy were in the basement, putting sheets on the air beds and trying to convince ourselves that we weren't being rude, we'd just been up early and had a 'big day' ahead of us tomorrow.

Amy had a bit of a horrible time, because me Clare and Kayt decided to all listen to Adele's Someone Like You on our Ipods, at exactly the same time, singing along at the tops of our voices. Amy begged and begged for us to stop but after a minute she went silent and I knew it was because she was in awe of our beautiful voices. When we'd finished nobody said anything, we just basked in our shared moment, until Amy said:

"You'se have all got horrible voices."

In the night I had a nightmare that I was Fry and Bender from Futurama and a big spider had caught us/me and was going to digest me over a period of two weeks. I tried to call out 'No, no' but whenever I try and talk in my sleep it comes out as strangled mews and moans, but for once this turned out to be a good thing...

It just so happened that while I was alseep a very drunk and stoned Frenchman stumbled into the basement and put his sleeping bag next to me. Kayt woke up and told him that maybe there wasn't enough room but he was so drunk that he just lay down anyway. When we woke up he'd gone but Kayt told me what happened and laughed but I didn't laugh. I don't like to touch people. I can not imagine the horror of waking up to the shock of lying next to someone random (that I haven't slept with, obviously).

We made a joke about it with him over breakfast the next day and he said that he got up and left because somebody was making really weird, disturbing noises.

After breakfast (English muffins and scrambled eggs) we got the bus to Giverny and we went to look at Monet's gardens, the place where he painted all his waterlillies. We met up with Laura and Marie who got the train from Paris for the day and spent a long time getting heckled on the bridge as we posed for photographs and stopped anyone else from getting a look. The gardens are very, very beautiful and I think you should definitely go if you like flowers and shit.

It rained a lot and because we were wandering around gardens we got soaked, but we dried off in a cafe with a hot chocolate. The whole day, gardens and rain and hot drinks, reminded me of the National Trust and it made me sad and homesick, actually. Here are some photos I stole from Laura, Kayt and Clare (still not fixed my camera):

So that's what happened when we went to The Countryside.

By the way, Deadmau5 was AMAZING last night, the best I have ever seen him, the Parisien crowd was actually, for once, really, really good, loving every second of everything, although strangely, not one person was on drugs. Weird. You wouldn't get that in England. Also, if I would have been in England, I wouldn't have ended the night at 5am in a restaurant, having a sit-down meal. I shouldn't be eating two dinners every night considering I'm going to Ibiza in three months (EEEEEEEEEE!) but as we walked out of the venue Anna said "Come on, let's go to a restaurant and I'll pay..." and who can say no to a free meal?

In the end I didn't get all emotional and moony like I thought I would, it was too good not to dance to and enjoy, but when he slipped in a few minutes of
Raise Your Weapon I did think Ahhhhhh this reminds me of good times and they are so far away from me now. But maybe if there wasn't that distance I wouldn't have such good times. I'm thinking: Paris, for one more year; and then it will be back to England for me and I will really, really appreciate being home... but one more year first, I can do that.


  1. Hey, I just started as an au pair and found your blog! It's so funny. I just wanted to let you know I hate the kissing too. It makes me feel so awkward! It also makes me feel really english x

    1. I'm almost used to it now, but I think it's more awkward with other English people in Paris- some of them go in for a kiss when you've gone in for a hug... argh. Thanks for commenting and keep reading x