Monday, 31 October 2011

We Love Art

Mmm I've just eaten a lot of creamy pork and I'm not using any disgusting euphemisms. Before I came to France I never would have thought of frying meat in butter and cream, but it's so nice. I'm worried though that the things I eat most often in Paris consist of cream and some sort of fatty meat: chicken cooked in cream and butter, pork cooked in cream and butter, lardons cooked in cream and parmesan cheese... why does fat taste so nice?

Anyhoo, on Saturday night I went raving with Julia and her sister (Julia is Abby's friend, Abby is my French friend who I met through Lauren, who met her when they both worked in Oxfam in Manchester about four years ago) and now, because of the magic of my new Blackberry, I can show you some photos, finally, after months of having no camera!! The night was a 'We Love Art' night called Boombox and I'm going to tell you all about it...

I didn't get home from work until about half seven and I was absolutely shattered. My body ached and I needed a shower and a Sit Down. I was supposed to go to Julia's flat to get ready and for pre-drinks, but she lives in one of the banlieus and I didn't know if, once I'd had a cup of tea and got all my stuff together, it would be worth travelling to where she lives. But Julia texted me saying they had made pasta and I realised I'd barely eaten all day. I'd had been given an 'English Breakfast' at work at half eleven, but it had been covered in baked beans and I don't eat baked beans (unless someone's mum cooks them for me, then I'll eat them to be polite), so I just picked at it.

It didn't actually take that long to get to Julia's and it wasn't a scary banlieu, although I took the wrong exit off the RER and had to wait in a deserted carpark while Julia and her flatmate tried to locate me. (When they finally found me, me and Julia didn't recognise each other at first because we have actually only met three times before and I had no make-up on, so obviously I looked like a Scary Mess and not like my usual self. She stared at me as she walked past and I just stared back at her in a rude way and then after she'd gone past we both went 'Ohhh!') From the RER station Julia drove us to her flat which was a bit exciting for me because nobody else I know has a car in Paris!

Her flat is really cute, she has two pet rats which she lets run around the place and she said she was nervous I would freak out, because she read on my blog how I hate animals. But I don't hate all animals! Just ones that want to eat my face with their huge, strong jaws. Her rats are actually really sweet, but I kept thinking how weird it would be if she hadn't told me she had pet rats, because they snuck about in the cupboards and hid in our coats. Imagine if you didn't know she had pet rats and then this guy ran across your feet:




We ate pasta and we drank quite a lot of vodka and then rather misguidedly we decided to get ready after all the drinking. I remember trying to focus on the mirror and pulling on my pony tail to make it really high and bushy which is never a good look, no matter how drunk you are.

As it turns out, it was a Good Job I went to Julia's to get ready, because I ended up borrowing a dress from her and some really nice shoes that she bought from Topshop. She buys Topshop things online and gets them delivered to Paris, which must be soo expensive, but it's kind of made me want to do it as well...

In my rather drunk state I took a picture of her toilet, because people have written on the walls, as though her flat is a bar or a club. I'm going to share it with you to prove that I do finally have Real French Friends:



Eventually, we made it out of the flat about half eleven. Her flatmate was a bit annoyed because, when we told him we'd be 'ten minutes', he believed us and made plans to meet his friends in town. Obviously when we said 'ten minutes' we meant 'an hour' so he was very, very late to meet his friends, but girls always take longer than boys to get ready, especially when you factor in the alcohol. We got the bus to the RER station and none of us paid. I was quite shocked but Julia said "Nobody pays the bus here!" We jumped the RER barriers as well, because my Navigo doesn't work outside of Zones 1 and 2 and Julia and her sister said they never pay for the metro.

"You never get caught when you expect to get caught!" they said and it seemeed like Good Logic to me.

When we got off the RER to change on to the metro (I can't remember where we changed) I swiped us through the barriers with my Navigo. In our drunken haze we hadn't seen the swarm of Transport Police waiting for us on the other side.

The pulled us up straight away and said Julia and her sister had to pay fifty euros each there and then. They had loads of people against the wall and some rough looking guys were arguing with the police, being really confrontational. The guy who pulled us up kept flitting between us and the agressive guys and when he wasn't there a little light bulb flickered on in the back of my foggy brain- I remembered an au pair last year who got caught out and the Metro Guy said it was fifty euros or he'd call the police. She told him to call the police and he said "Ok, it's twenty five euros."

Also, when I got caught last year, it was twenty five euros, so this policeman or whatever he was just Trying It On. I told Julia and her sister and they were like "Are you sure? Are you sure?"

"Yes! It's twenty five euros, he's lying! It's twenty five euros!"

Julia went up to the guy and asked him why it was fifty euros, when it was normally twenty five. He told her that it was twenty five euros when you can produce a ticket that isn't valid, but it's fifty euros when you are caught 'jumping' (literally jumping over the barriers, like most people do, or sneaking in behind someone else). Hmm. It still seemed a bit dodgy but there wasn't much we could do about it. The guy who had pulled us up seemed really irritated and he kept glancing over at the aggressive guys against the wall, one of whom was being pushed back by a lady police officer because he was trying to get all up in her grill, y'all.

Luckily, the guy who had been dealing with us couldn't cope with our annoying questions anymore, so he passed us onto someone else who was really, really nice. It was so weird- he was really polite with us and he said to Julia "Ok, you are sisters, twenty five euros for the both of you." Julia paid it before he could change his mind and he gave her a ticket for the rest of our journey. Twenty five euros instead of one hundred- it just proves they make it up as they go along and will try and get whatever they can from you, so be careful. (Or buy a ticket and don't jump the metro, I suppose.)

The venue was le Grand Halle at Parc de la Villette, which by now has become one of my favourite places in Paris. As well as looking really modern and interesting, with strange architecture and landscaping, they always have good events on and it is home to the music venue Cabaret Sauvage. This weekend at the park there was a festival on called Pitchfork and I found out tonight that on Saturday, while I was raving, Georgie was working at the festival, just behind the Grand Halle, taking photographs backstage.

The only problem with Parc de la Villette is that it's a bit ghetto and when you get off the metro, you find yourself in an empty building site. You have to walk in the dark for quite a bit until you get to Cabaret Sauvage. As I have been before, I managed to get us there from the metro, but we weren't going to Cabaret Sauvage were we? None of us could remember where the venue for We Love Art was.

On the canal opposite Cabaret Sauvage, there is a random club on a boat that is always open, but always empty. We asked the bouncers if they knew where the 'big party with DJs' was and they pointed us in the right direction. Literally, they pointed in a direction and told us to walk as far as we could. Look how bloody far we had to walk:



We walked along the canal, following the bright lights, for ages and ages. It was cool though. At one point someone was yelling at us from across the canal and the lights were so bright we couldn't see who it was. We had a conversation with the Mystery Person over the glittering water for about a mile and I started to think maybe something weird was going on, like we were talking to a ghost or maybe we were so drunk we were conversing with our own echoes... But eventually we got to a bridge and we crossed paths with the Mystery Person. He wasn't a ghost, he was just a weird guy. He said he hangs out by the canal 'just on the off chance' he'll meet a girl there. To rape, he probably meant.

I started to think we'd never get to the rave and we'd just follow the bright lights forever. But then we got to the rave, finally! And it was really good. (It made up a little bit for the fact that I couldn't make it to Mulletover.) The venue was huuuuuge, normally it's an exhibition space. The DJ booth was really high up and surrounded by projection screens:


I didn't really know any of the DJs, but the music was quite good. I haven't been to a rave for ages and ages so I was just enjoying bopping about and being Generally Fucked. But at one point, things got a bit weird...
We were chatting to this guy and he went off to get a drink. When he'd walked off I thought 'Shit! What table number is he?' and I couldn't remember it. I decided that he was probably sat at table 16, but then where was everyone else sat? There were too many people and where were all the tables? Then the guy came back with his drink and I couldn't figure out where he'd got his drink from. Where had everyone got their drinks from? They weren't allowed to bring their drinks this far from the restaurant, surely?

I have definitely been working at the restaurant too much this past week.

After a while I realised I wasn't waitressing, I was raving! I had a Good Time. We were just dancing and dancing. There were no nobheads there and the light effects were amazing:



We finally left about six am. It took us a VERY LONG time to get back to Julia's, it was about half seven when we got back I think. The next day when I woke up, it felt a bit surreal because I was half-asleep and Julia and her sister were talking to each other in French. I've never actually stayed over at a French Friend's place before. There was no language needed really; we mostly sat in silence and stared at the wall, feeling really Terrible and Ill. At about five pm, Julia drove me back to mine because she had a family meal in Paris. I'm so glad I got a lift home, I couldn't have faced the bus, then the RER and then the metro.

Driving through the outskirts of Paris was weird because I never see that part of the city, ever. It went from being industrial and a bit grimy to being really modern and futuristic and then suddenly we were back in the grand boulevards of Paris. We had to drive around the Arc de Triomphe which  was crazy. There really are no lanes, you just have to try and get across any way you can without smashing into the other cars.

Julia dropped me off at the top of my street. I said goodbye and walked up to my building, looking forward to a cup of tea and then cooking myself something nice to eat. I was Starving, Freezing and Tired. I went into my building, passing Homeless Man who sits on the step all night and all day. I put in my code and got in the lift. I slumped against the wall in the lift, nearly there, nearly there... The lift stopped and I got out. Nearly home, nearly in reach of a kettle and teabags... I put my key in my door, walked in and switched on the light.

Nothing.

I plugged in my lamp, nothing. I tried all the switches and nothing was working. I had no light, no cooker and my fridge and my little freezer were off. I tried to text my au pair family to ask them for the Gardienne's number, because I couldn't remember where she lived, but my phone wouldn't let me text or ring anyone. I went downstairs and hovered around where I thought the Gardienne lived, but I wasn't sure and I didn't know what to do.

I was in no state to deal with Electricity Problems. I went back upstairs and sat in the dark, crying.

It was very cold and I was hungry and I could barely see my own hand in front of my face. I thought about going to Georgie's, but I didn't know her code and if I couldn't use my phone, it might be more upsetting waiting outside her building in the dark with no way of contacting her.

I opened my door and used the light from the corridor to find where my electricity box thing was. I messed about with all the switches. Nothing. Then, just as I was about to give up, I noticed there was a little square that said 'OFF' on it. There was a sticky-out thing next to it so I pulled on it and the square said 'ON'. The lights came on. My fridge hummed back to life. I was saved.

I have no idea why that switch had been turned off and furthermore, I wonder why it was in English? Anyway, I'm just glad I got my electricity back.

Wow. I don't think anyone has ever written so much about one night before. I think it's time for bed. I worked at the restaurant today and I'm working again tomorrow. Today went really, really badly- I had the dreaded Front Section. How long am I going to keep this up until I quit??

Ha ha! Just chatting to Lauren on Whats App and she said that at the weekend, she made friends with a Randomer in Bumper (a club in Liverpool that has a tendency to be a bit pretentious) and they both pretended to be wearing Subconcious Hats. Then somebody I went to uni with, who Lauren doesn't know that well, ended up going home with her and her flatmate to eat Yorkshire puddings at 5am in the morning.

I am really missing England at the moment.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

I wonder if anyone reading this blog saw what was coming? I used to read a very good blog called Notes From The Intern (she's gone travelling now) and she kept mentioning how money was going missing from her company. I had a horrible feeling she was going to get blamed and then one day she wrote how the company had suspended her and called the police in to investigate and she was the main suspect! It was all ok in the end- her horrible boss got caught stealing the money and The Intern received three grand in compensation, hence the reason she is now too busy travelling the globe to blog.

My point is, sometimes an outsider can see all too clearly what is going to happen, as if they are reading a book and they can guess the ending. I wonder, did any of you readers guess what was going to happen with the Halloween costume?

'FANCY DRESS OBLIGATORY.'
'Everyone is really going to go for it.'
'I'll be more miserable if I'm the only one who isn't properly dressed up.'

When you were reading all of this, when you were reading about how I ran around Paris and spent thirty euros on a shit scarf, a lacy top and little hairclips with black flowers on them, could you guess what was going to happen?

Did you guess that I would get to work and NOBODY ELSE WAS DRESSED UP?????

Because I sure as fuck didn't see that one coming.

I got up early on Saturday and curled my hair, then I got to work fifteen minutes early so I'd have time to do my make-up. When I walked in I saw that the shift manager wasn't dressed up and the other English girl working (who is now training to be a shift manager by the way, which makes 50% of the staff shift managers- what is the point of having so many managers?!) was wearing a polka-dot shirt. I wondered if this was her 'costume', because she said she was going to dress up as a Dead Minnie Mouse...

I couldn't decide whether she would be offended if I asked her if she was wearing a costume or not.

"Is everyone wearing their costumes all day today?" I asked casually.

"Oh shit! I've forgotten my costume!" she said.

I asked her if I should put my costume or not and I showed her what I'd brought. She said that maybe I should just put the veil on and do my make-up, so off I popped into the toilets.

I couldn't get the veil to look like it had done the night before, when I'd been messing about with it in my room and managed to make it look half-decent. The shift manager told me it was time for the Briefing and to eat our lunch.

"It looks cute, but you can't have your hair like that, it must be up." she told me.

I thought they might say something like that, but I was hoping because I'd pinned some of it back they'd let it slide as it was 'part of a costume'. No such luck, but as I walked off the manager said to the other English girl: "She has gorgeous hair." If someone who hates me so much can say that about my hair, when she thinks I'm not listening, then I'm not being a Big Headed Twat but it must have looked nice. I'm going to start curling my hair more often because when my hair is straight I look like a raggedy pagan, or like I belong to an obscure sect of Christianity (you know, the ones that don't believe in taking antibiotics, or the ones who will only live on corners*).

Anyway, I bounced off to pin up my 'gorgeous hair' (I'm not letting go of that compliment, am I?) and to do my make-up. The make-up looked kind of shit, because I was in a rush and the lighting was weird, plus I felt a bit self-concious because nobody else was dressed up, so I didn't put as much on as I should have done...

The prediction I made in my last post was an accurate one- I ended up walking around the restaurant with a lacy vest top hanging off the back of my head, with 'scary make-up on', only my make-up wasn't even that scary.

When the chefs changed over after lunch, one of them asked me why I had 'dark stuff' on my face and then he translated it for the other one, so they had clearly been discussing why I had weird make-up on.

"C'est 'alloween!" I said, "It is not my normal make-up, it's for my costume."

But by that point, my veil was an absolute mess and my make-up had rubbed off a bit, so I just looked like a strange, strange idiot.

Some of the chefs in the kitchen really don't like me, because I don't speak French and because I always look miserable when I go in to get plates. Two of them are my mates now because they asked me why I was so rude and I said I wasn't, I was just nervous and worried and I hate my job and I started smiling at them more and now they love me. One of them is an little old man from India and whenever I go into the kitchen he goes "Hello darrrrlink! I am very happy to see you! Let me see your smile, darrrlink it is very very beautiful!' so then I always smile, and I go out of the kitchen feeling all nice and happy.

See! I can be a happy waitress, that is where the other staff are going wrong. Instead of swearing at me all day and tutting at me, they should be showering me with compliments. I might bring this up with the manager...

"So why are you such a shit waitress?"
"It's not me you see, I need to bathe in the golden glow of compliments. If you could let the other staff know, that would be great. Nothing too indulgent, you know, just simple things like 'Nice smile' 'Great legs' 'What pretty eyes you have'... That sort of thing will be fine."

Anyway, when the Indian man is working it really makes a difference, because I love going down to the kitchen and saying hello to him, but on Saturday it was this new guy from Australia who is really aggressive and rude. In a way it was quite good because I was able to snap back at him without feeling unjustified and it relieved some of my tension. He said things like "Oi! I just caught you putting a dirty plate there and not scraping it into the bin!" and I marched up to him and said "Look! There's no bin bag!" (Not the most inspiring or rebellious revolt in the history of the world, but it made me feel a little bit better.)

So, Aggressive Australian Chef went home at lunchtime and was replaced by a French guy who can't speak English and gets annoyed when I try and explain things to him in shitty French, and a chef who I think is Bangladeshi. They were both being a bit rude to me, but I wasn't really arsed, until I went downstairs and he started singing a song a song at me in Bangladeshi, singing my name as well so I knew he was singing about me. I wasn't sure why, but I had a feeling he was singing something a bit rude or insulting.

"What language is that?" I asked him.
"Bangladeshi."
"Do you know any songs in Hindi?"
"...Yes."

He looked confused. Ha... When I was a teenager I was obsessed with Bollywood films and I used to listen to the songs on my Ipod. I always knew it would come in handy... I sang to him:

"Khabi khushi, khabi gham, khabi khushi, khabi gham..."
(Tears of sadness, tears of joy, tears of sadness, tears of joy.)


He didn't say anything, but he was kind of smiling and he looked a bit taken aback. The next time I went down into the kitchen he was singing the song I'd just sung and now he proper loves me. Yes. Now I have the Indian and the Bangladeshi chefs on my side, I can... erm... I'll think of a purpose to this plan later. The point is, I have acheived it. Bon.

When I finished work at 6.30pm, the girls who came in to cover my shift were dressed up in really good costumes, with fake blood and everything. I told them their costumes were good and then I left them to their little 'Halloween Party'. I had a party of my own to go to, but I will talk about that later because right now I am going to Georgie's and we're going to cook some pork.

*Seriously, this is a Real Thing, something to do with the direction the sewage runs in, I think. I can't remember the name of the religion but there are a few of them living in Stockport- they all live on corners and love God.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Later...


Work wasn't too bad... because I ran out crying after twenty minutes of working on the Front Section, so they put me on the Back Section which is a bit smaller and it was really quiet all evening, plus everyone was extra careful not to push me in case I started crying again.

It wasn't even that awful, I don't know why I started crying really. I was stood on the Front Section and things were just beginning to get busy and somebody asked me something in French and I didn't really understand and they were being a bit snooty and then the shift manager, an English girl who I haven't worked with before, came over and said:

"Look happy! You look really unhappy, are you ok?"

And you know when you feel a bit like crying and then somebody asks you if you are ok and before you know it you've run away with your emotions and before you know it you're on the border of Crying County and you didn't even realise the car had started?

Worst Analogy Ever.

But you know what I mean. I said "I am really unhappy."

It occurred to me that maybe they think I enjoy the job and I just look sad because I'm a miserable bitch no matter what?

Then I started to say "I'm finding it really difficu-" but I had to close my mouth because I could feel the wails of despair welling up and I didn't want to do that embarrassing choking, gulping thing I do when I don't want to cry but I can't help it.

The shift manager looked really shocked but she was actually really nice. The Ridiculous Thing is that I found out she is TWO YEARS YOUNGER than me, as are a few of the other people who work there. I know two years isn't a lot, but it's weird because I've been feeling like everyone has been treating me like the baby of the workplace, whereas clearly they all know I'm not a baby; they have just been treating me like an idiot.

Anyway, I had a little hysterical cry behind the bins and then a more senior manager, who happened to have dropped by for Some Reason, walked past and saw me huddled over, weeping. I told her that I was finding the whole 'speaking French thing' really difficult and that it had all got on top of me. She told me to just speak English to people if I'm struggling, because it is an English-themed pub after all and a lot of the customers are either tourists or business people, so they probably speak English.

It wasn't really the French thing though. I started the shift feeling miserable because when I arrived people were milling around downstairs waiting for the 'briefing' to start and I just stood there wondering what was going on. The more I stood there, the more everyone else ignored me.

I guess that maybe, to the other people who work there, it seems like I'm always ignoring them and so they ignore me out of principle, but I just can't force myself to be a People Person. I feel awkward and confused and because I'm so paranoid I second-guess everyone all the time, assuming they don't like me or they're busy when maybe they're just wondering why I've worked there for two weeks and I haven't bothered to find out their name.

Or maybe they are just a bunch of bastards who hate me for no reason, who knows?

After my little cry I went back out there to discover that they had changed me onto the Back Section. It really is a lot easier to work, because there's no bloody outside terrace that you have to keep running back and forwards between and the tables are all within eyesight. Luckily for me, it was a quite night tonight, so nothing went catastrophically wrong and I was allowed to leave half an hour early, meaning I got the last metro.

But as soon as I got home I had another problem to worry about... my Stupid Fucking Costume for tomorrow.

Earlier today I said I was going to look for a 'Corpse Bride' type of thing. As I'm sure you've guessed, my Mad Shopping Dash was an absolute disaster. I went to the Marais with the intention of finding a vintage white, lacy dress or at least something lacy I could rip up and improvise with. Coiffeurs, the cheap vintage shop next to L'as du Falafal, had nothing in it. Except for annoying English and American tourists who don't understand it is a tiny shop you need to be spacially aware and not stand there dithering about when some people are in a rush trying to look for a Halloween costume thank you very much fucking move out of my way...

After Coiffeurs, I marched as fast as I could to Hotel de Ville, because I remembered there were some good vintage shops along the way. Unfortunately, they were too good and everything in them was about seventy euros. In a blind panic, I ran back to the metro, thinking I could go in H&M and look for something highstreet that could be somehow turned into a 'scary costume'. On my way back to the metro I stumbled across a little stall selling hideous scarves,, but one of them was kind of lacy and veily, so I bought it. It was ten euros. Don't say anything.

I bought a black scarf, because Kayt gave me the idea that I could wear this nice, black dress I already have and go as a bride who wears all black. It's quite long, with lace on the bottom and a mirrored bodice. Erm, it sounds disgusting but it is actually really nice, I promise. Oh my god, I have just realised, now I've got a Blackberry, I can take photos for my blog again! Ok, I'm going to take a photo of the dress so you can see what I'm talking about!



















I keep those two dresses hung on the wall as a 'decorative feature', but I completely forgot that they'll probably absorb all the cooking smells and will forever carry a faint whiff of spaghetti carbonara. Anyway, it's one of those dresses that looks nicer on than it does on the hangar... Goodness Gracious, how do you spell hangar? Is it hanger? My brain has melted.
I'm rambling now. Where was I?

Oh yes so I panic-bought a shit scarf, then in H&M I bought a black lacy top that I thought I could wear with the dress or wear as a veil, then I bought about six black flower hairgrips to pin it into place and make it look more 'veil-like'. Overall I spent thirty euros, which is so stupid, but I just go mental when I've got a bit of money in my pocket, it's part of the reason why I try to never have any, because money makes me Insane.

As soon as I got in from work I tried out the veil and some quick make-up ideas. I managed to make a veil by pinning the lacy top to the back of my hair, it looked all right after a lot of tweaking but I doubt if I'll remember exactly how I did it when it comes to recreating it at work tomorrow... The make-up looked dreadful, but I'm planning on buying some very pale face powder tomorrow morning before work, so that might improve matters slightly... As for the dress, I like it a lot, but that's because it's one of my favourite dresses and  think I look nice in it, it doesn't look spooky or anything. I tied the shitty scarf around my waist so that it looked a bit more unusual and decadent but in all honesty, it makes my waist look smaller and that's the only reason I did it. (Also I need to justify the ten euros I spent on it.)

So. In conclusion, I've spent thirty euros on some shit I will never wear again and tomorrow I'm going to have to get up Super Early so I can curl my hair and get to work with enough time to faff about in the toilets with black eyeshadow and some flowery hair grips. I'm basically dressing up as 'girl in nice black dress with lots of eye make-up and a t-shirt hanging off the back of her head.'


Oh, one last ramble (not a rant, not quite a rambling), there was a New Guy who started work tonight and he started doing all my jobs for me and he was really On The Ball and Competent. The bastard.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Corpse

Later I am doing my Stupid Fucking Waitressing Job from 6pm until 2am. I don't even know how I'm going to get home afterwards, because I think the metro will have stopped... I can't remember if the metro runs until 2.30am on the weekend, or 1.30am.

I'm also working tomorrow at 10am which means I have the next two hours to get myself a Halloween costume for tomorrow. I was originally thinking something along the lines of 'slaggy cat' but as I'm working in the daytime, I guess it's not really appropriate. Also, it appears as if everyone else at work is going to really 'go for it' on the costume-front and while part of me wants to be miserable and not join in, another part of me really, really loves dressing up and I think I'll be more miserable if I'm the only one who isn't properly dressed up.

I had a really good idea for a costume last night- a Corpse Bride although to be honest, I just want to wear a flattering dress and do nice hair and make-up... I hate looking 'scary', whenever I've had to dress up for Halloween I've managed to choose a costume that doesn't require me to shade in horrible, grey bags under my eyes or rub dried blood everywhere. When I think about it though, I've always looked kind of shit at Halloween... Hmm.

In my head I was picturing this sort of thing:


What a DILLUSIONAL FANTASIST I am.

I hate living on my own, I've realised since leaving uni that if I don't have five other girls to dress me, lend me jewellery, do my hair and put my fake tan on for me; I just look Shit. All the time.

My other problem is that I was supposed to get paid from the Stupid Fucking Waitressing Job today, but my bank card is still blocked, so I can't get any money out anyway. I've got my au pair wages (even though I've hardly done any au pair work at all this week) but I need it for tomorrow night, I'm going to- FUCK! It's half three already!!

Right I've wasted a lot of time for No Reason, I need to get out of the house and look for... erm... what am I even looking for???

Oh fuck fuck fuck. a white dress? Where can I get a veil from? Where does one buy white face paint from in Paris??

Stress stress stress.

Anger anger anger.

I know there are lots of typos and spelling mistakes in this post.

I don't care.




Monday, 24 October 2011

What Did You Do At School Today?

Ooh I am actually really enjoying this cold weather. I love it when I'm cooking in my room and all the mirrors steam up and over the sound of onions sizzling (yep, I fry onion in the same room that I shower and sleep in. And what? AND WHAT???), I can hear the rain on my window. I feel all warm and cosy in my room on dark winter's nights, especially because I actually tidied it up on Saturday night, finally! Having a tidy room really makes a difference to my mood; I feel so much calmer and productive.

Unfortunately the cold weather also makes me want to eat. All the time. I feel like I've turned into a Christmas pudding and it's not even December yet. We've not even had Bonfire Night. Or Halloween. But don't get me started on Halloween this year...

Anyway, I thought I would do a quick blog just because I felt like it.

Nothing to report really, apart from I had an ok shift at the restaurant on Sunday and then Georgie cooked a huuuge amazing dinner (posh people and Southerners read: lunch) on Sunday for me, Kayt and two French guys she'd invited, but not in a weird Mrs Bennet* way: it's just that we don't have any male friends in our little Paris social group and whereas I can take them or leave them, the other girls have been feeling the lack of 'masculine energy'; so Georgie thought it would make a nice change if she invited a couple of guy friends round.

And oh! I'm so glad she invited them, because one of them brought two little cardboard boxes round with him and do you know what was in those little boxes? Cakes. Six little works of art; the kind of cakes I see in the windows of enticing pâtisseries several times a day but can never allow myself to buy because they are at least six euros a pop... They were beautiful, in taste and appearance. I can't remember any of the names but that doesn't matter because I will never forget what they look like.

Actually, I just tried to picture them and I have forgotten what they look like, but I'm sure if I saw them in a pâtisserie the taste would come flooding back to me, filling my mouth with saliva...

Sorry that image was a bit disgusting.

Anyway, before the cakes, we had this amazing smashed/smushed/crushed (roughly mashed, let us say) potato thing with garlic and then this big pot of pork and chorizo and lardons cooked in plum tomatoes and paprika... MMM.

After lunch we even went for a walk around the Bois de Bologne, how very quaint and Austenian of us, taking a turn around the grounds after a long and leisurely lunch! But. We saw a duck with ducklings on the lake. Am I the only person who thinks this is worrying? Ducks are born in the Spring. Seeing tiny, fluffy ducklings in the winter felt like a bad omen, like if a farmer's wife happened to be walking past, she would shake her head and say "Nay good can come from seeing ducklings in the autumn I tell thee, nay good at all."

There was a fucking yappy little dog there, of course, pacing up and down the edge of the water, growling and barking at the fluffy babies.

"He's going to eat them." I said.

The owner just happened to speak English. He translated what I'd said to his wife and she cried:

"C'est pas vrai!!"

Of course it's not true, sorry Dog Owner! He doesn't want to eat those lovely little ducklings, I'm sure he's only trying to snatch them into his jagged, canine jaws so he can let them have a cosy sleep in his warm, stinking dog mouth... Once again I've seen that Dog Owners are completely fucking mental.

The male Dog Owner thought I was having a Laugh and a Joke, but as they walked off the dog went for the baby ducks again. The Dog Owner turned round to share a smile with me but he caught me muttering expletitives under my breath, my face contorted with hatred. I've decided that maybe I need to Chill Out on the whole dog thing.

So, Sunday was about lovely food and then today I went for lunch with Anna. She is leaving Paris in a week! She's moving to Australia for a year, she decided this about two weeks ago and her work visa has just come through, so she's off. Maybe I will do something like that if I can pay my overdraft off this year. Not Australia though I don't think. For some reason Morrocco keeps coming into my head and it won't go away... maybe because there are massive tourism posters for Morrocco in every metro station.

We went for lunch in this Spanish restaurant near Gare de Lyon, it was really nice and not too expensive. It was 13 euros for the formule, I had starter and main and Anna had main and dessert, but we ended up sharing the starter (calamari) and the dessert (some sort of nice cake with fruit). After lunch (I know I said before only posh people call it 'lunch', but when I eat it in a restaurant I call it 'lunch'... I guess because it's posh to eat in a restaurant in the middle of the day) we went for a walk around Jardin des Plantes.

It was so nice having time for Leisurely Persuits today. I wasn't working in the restaurant/pub because I told them I'd be doing my au pair job, but in the end the family didn't need me until 3.30pm.

I had a really nice time at work actually. When I got there the mum told me I would be taking the kids to the park with her grandma, who seems about the same age as my grandma which is weird. I chatted to her a little bit on our way to the park and she said once she went to London and she loved it, but she said that everything was trop cher, like Paris. She doesn't live in Paris anymore, which might explain why she's so nice.

At the park, the great-granny played with the baby in the toddlers' area while (whilst?) I was supposed to be watching the girls, but they kept moaning and saying they were bored. I tried to get them to play an 'imagination game' where we were little people who lived in the woods and we had to sneak out of our tree houses to get nuts and berries and hide from the goblin monsters who wanted to eat us, but they weren't having any of it. I was kind of gutted that they wouldn't play my game, but I put a brave face on and suggested we race each other instead. That got them running around and I really enjoyed it- I haven't been so Fast and Free (like a 1920s jazz floozy) for ages.

The girls said my run is: "So funny! So stupid and funny!"

After the race we did headstands and cartwheels... Well, the girls did cartwheels- I did a roly poly which made me so dizzy that I had to have a Lie Down on the grass.

When we got back to the house we did some drawing and the eight year old kept saying "So good! So great!" and even though I know I am supposed to be a Grown Up and not allow myself to patronised by eight year olds, I was bloody loving it and kept drawing and drawing. My tongue was even sticking out of the side of my mouth, which as everyone between the ages of 6 and 9 knows, helps you concentrate.

That's why I like being around kids- I can do a nice drawing or a bit of dancing and they go "Wow! So good!" because I'm an adult and they are children, so of course I'm better at everything than them. Well. Not cartwheels, admittedly. Or handstands. Or running. Or hoola-hooping. Or skipping. Or swimming. Or riding a bike.

In conclusion:

I ate lots for my dinner it was yummy then I went to a nice park then I went to another park and I did a roly-poly and then I done a good drawing of a girl in a nice dress and then I came home and I ate some pasta for my tea and I ate all of it and then I got ready for bed all by myself and now I'm going to read myself a bedtime story and go to sleep like a Good Girl.

*If you don't get the Mrs Bennet reference, she's a character in 'Pride and Prejudice'. Don't tell me you haven't read 'Pride and Prejudice'?**

**I haven't read it either! I've only seen the film versions, both BBC's famous 'Colin Firth In Wet Shirt' version and the more recent one with Keira Knightley. Don't tell anyone.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Bleak

I had to go to my au pair job today, which makes it three Saturdays in five weeks. Hmmm. Originally we said I'd have to go in on a Saturday about once a month...

I got there at 11am today to find the whole family watching TV together. They were watching a music channel and that song was on that goes 'I love trahhnce' and the dad was bopping his head to it. The kids told me that when they went to Ibiza this summer, their dad went to Pacha one night with his mates and he bought the girls t-shirts and key rings with the Pacha logo on. Imagine if the dad was secretly a massive, pill-taking raver?

Anyway, as soon as I arrived the cosy family gathering was over. The mum made everyone get ready for the park, even though nobody wanted to go because it was frrreezing outside and they were having a nice time with their mum and dad. I feel like the reason the eight year hasn't warmed to me is because everytime I pop up it's to take her away from her parents in order to do something she doesn't want to do.

When we got to the park, the girls ran around a field trying to get warm and I played with the baby in the sandpit. The mum had told me to stay there for an hour, but after half an hour the girls said they wanted to go home and the baby's hands had turned bright red with the cold, so I took them back. The eleven year old girl had a friend staying, so as soon as we got back the three girls ran off to play together, then the mum took the baby into the kicthen for his lunch, so I was left stood in the living room like a lemon.

I asked the mum if I should start the lunch for the girls and she said it was too early, so I went into the girls' bedroom and sat in the corner, trying to read a French book while the girls kept shooting me dark looks. They must have been wondering what the hell I was doing there, on a Saturday, when they clearly didn't need me. I was wondering the same fucking thing. I could have been SLEEPING. I was hung over, tired and I still had red wine stains on my lips from the night before- I should have been in bed.

The mum said to me yesterday that today she would need me from 11am until 1pm. But at 1pm she announced that there was a lasagne in the oven for me, the eleven year old and the eleven year old's friend. Then she put the baby down for his nap and went out for lunch with the eight year old. The eleven year olds obviously didn't need me to be with them and the lasagne was cooking, so I just sat on the couch checking Facebook on my phone. (I am SO glad I went on contract and got a Proper Phone that has internet.)

After we'd eaten our lunch, the baby started crying.

And crying.

And crying and crying and crying.

I rang the mum and she told me to leave him, but to ring her back if it didn't stop after twenty minutes. He did stop eventually, but I could hear him babbling and singing to himself and he was supposed to be sleeping. By now it was past 2pm and I was really pissed off. I don't mind working three hours on a hangover, but four and a half hours is too much, especially with a baby that won't sleep. He was crying maman maman maman papa papa papa papa and I felt like crying for them too, where the fuck were they??

At 2.30pm, the girls went and stood by the front door. "We're going to the cinema." they said. Then the doorbell rang and it was dad, come to take the girls to the cinema. As he left he shouted over his shoulder that the mum would be coming home in half an hour...

I was so bored and tired. I ate about sixteen biscuits from the Gouter Box, plus half a bar of Cadbury's Chocolate I found in there. I don't know where they got it from but I don't feel guilty- I was supposed to finish at 1pm, so by rights any English chocolate I find is mine. The baby started crying again, so I went upstairs and just played with him, resigned to the fact that he wasn't going to sleep. At 3.30pm, the telephone rang. It was the mum.

"Can you stay another hour? I need to take my mum to the pharmacy. Can you heat up some formula and take the baby to the park again?"

I don't know what's wrong with me, but instead of saying "No, come back NOW, you said I would be finished two hours ago and I don't know how to look after your baby!" I said: "If you need me, I can stay."

So I muddled my way through the French formula instructions, hoping I'd got the right thing, because she described it as 'milk in yellow box' but the stuff in the yellow box looked like biscuit-coloured cream, and then I lifted the baby out of his cot. He was so happy to be out of his cot that he stopped crying for his mama and papa. I do love spending time with the baby because he seems to really, really like me; the mum told me he asks to play with me when I'm not there. (Oh yeah, he can talk a little bit- I know I keep calling him 'a baby' but he's sixteen months old, so I guess he's actually more of a toddler.)

I couldn't find his boots anywhere, but I did find some teeny tiny Adidas trainers, so I put them on him because they look sooo cute even though I bet they cost a ridiculous amount. This family don't own anything that doesn't have an expensive label inside.

The afternoon was a bit warmer, which meant the park was quite busy. It was really embarrassing speaking French to the baby, because I can only say really simple things like 'It's not like that, it's like that' and 'Let's go!' Most of the time when I have to look after him, I just make noises like 'Ooooh!' and 'Wow!' and he copies every sound I make. I think he thinks some of the sounds are words (how can you tell the difference when you're only sixteen months old?) because whenever he sees me he points and goes 'Oooooooh!' like Mr Humphries from Are You Being Served?

Unfortunately, there were some English babies with their parents in the sandpit. I didn't want to speak English to the baby infront of them because they might guess that the baby doesn't understand a word of English and think I'm a terrible person for not communicating properly with him or something, so instead I reverted back to our special language of Ooooohs and Wows.

He wouldn't have his formula, but by that point I didn't care. I gave him some chocolate biscuits and then took him back home. It was 4.30pm when I got him back to the house. The mum had just arrived. She didn't seem very happy that he hadn't had his nap or had his formula. She said she'll text me tomorrow about what hours I'm doing next week, because it's the school holidays and all. No 'Thank you for working an extra FOUR HOURS today' or anything.

Pffffft. I'm knackered. I got home and slept for two hours, then Kayt rang me about tonight but I really can't go out. I've got my Stupid Fucking Waitressing Job tomorrow at 9am. Except, they neglected to mention in the job interview, that staff have to turn up half an hour before each shift for 'briefing' and this half an hour also counts as the unpaid break. How fucking ridiculous is that? I really don't know why I haven't quit yet.

On Friday it actually went ok, because I was 'running', which meant I just had to run back and forth between the kitchen, taking food out, taking dirty plates down, plus helping the girls who were waitressing clear tables and stuff when I had a spare minute. I think I was a really helpful runner. The girl working on the bar had hurt her knee too and the coffee machine upstairs was broken, so I even made all the coffees for her and took them to people's tables. The annoying thing is that every time I have waitressed this week, there hasn't been a runner.

That means I had to: greet people and seat them; take their order; check to see when they finish each course so I can tell the kitchen to send the next one up; go down to the kitchen when plates are ready; clear tables and take dirty plates down to the kitchen; wait on people whilst they eat in case they want more drinks/condiments/coffees/desserts; give people the bill and then 'cash' the table, which is fucking difficult when it's a table of about ten work colleagues and they all want to pay separately. I have to do all of the above things for about fifteen tables at a time. In French.

I'm not moaning but I don't want people to think that I'm an idiot and that I'm struggling to do a really easy job, because it's not easy it's HARRRRRRRD.

Anyway. Forget all the language problems and carrying three plates a time- on the rota I'm down to work Halloween and it says 'FANCY DRESS OBLIGATORY' and they ain't talking about the customers... There is no way I am doing a job I HATE whilst wearing a tacky costume and 'scary make-up'.

Sigh. I'm so knackered. I really wanted to go out tonight but I think for once I'm going to be sensible. I'm knackered and I can't go to sleep until I've sorted my room out. Since I've started this Stupid Fucking Waitressing Job I haven't had any time to do my laundry or my washing up and my room has become a sickening pit of slovenliness.

There is so much I need to do and I just don't have any time!!

My bank card has been blocked because I went overdrawn by accident, and I don't know whether I put the money back in there in time or whether they've charged me fifty euros, because I haven't had time to go into the bank. The bank manager has sent me a letter saying:

Vous êtes actuellement en dépassement de vos autorisations sur votre compte de chèques. Je pense que nous pouvons certainement trouver ensemble une solution adaptée à cette situation.

Argh, why did I move to France? I can barely look after myself in England, let alone in a non-English speaking country. I can't believe I am in trouble with my new bank account already, I don't even know how I got overdrawn. I am just waiting until Orange try and take the money out for my phone contract and then I'll really be In Trouble.

I haven't booked to go home for Christmas yet either. My mum said she can lend me the money but then it's just more debt on top of debt, although I guess I'll have to borrow it if it comes down to it- I’m going home for Christmas no matter what.

For FACK’s sake.

Everything seems bleak.

I’m tired.

My room is cold and messy.

I feel sick from how much chocolate I've comfort-eaten today. Plus, I've just made enough spaghetti carbonara for four people and I ate all of it in about ten minutes. I am disgusting. I could have shared that with the homeless man who lives on my street. He sits on the steps a few doors down from my building and no matter what time it is, he's always there, sitting in the cold on his own. Last week after Favela Chic, he was there when I came home at about half four in the morning and then five hours later when I went to work he was in exactly the same position.

It's so cold now. I don't know how people survive on the streets every winter. The Homeless Situation is really getting to me. Last year I kind of didn't care... I mean obviously I cared, but you can't run around crying all the time about the state of the world or you'll never get anything done, so I was able to block it all out. But this year I can't ignore them.

There was a homeless family living at Bastille and they had two very small children. I saw them every time I got off the metro there (to selfishly spend lots of money on cocktails for myself) and then last week I saw the police moving them on. In England the police would not let a toddler and a tiny baby sleep on the streets- they'd take the family to a hostel or something. Even if they called Social Services to sort it out, there's no way you would get homeless children sleeping on a mattress in such a prolific area of London or Manchester. The police were horrible as well; they didn't give a shit because the family were obviously Romany Gypsies.

Did you know that Spain and France are talking about expelling all Romany people? I hate how people think it is ok to be prejudice against Romany Travellers. Oh, they're all pickpockets and thieves are they? So shall we just expel them from Europe? Why don't we just build concentration camps and kill them all? Did not enough of them die in the Holocaust the first time round?

Ooh, check how dark and angry my mood is!! I think it's time for...

A CUP OF TEA.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Short Day Dying

I've just this minute finished reading The Short Day Dying by Peter Hobbs. I borrowed it off my Aunty about two years ago but I misplaced it shortly after beginning the book and so it was lost to me all this time until I returned to England this summer and found it in a cardboard box hidden in the loft.

The sentence style is unique the author uses no commas and the language flows quickly beautiful words and images swell over the edges of each paragraph. It is written in an old fashioned style and dialect appropriate to the time in which the book is set.

It is difficult to digest at first but after a few pages the words come fluidly and it is a beautiful book but sad too. The themes of the book are cheifly the passing of time and how short our time is on this world also the protaganist is searching for meaning in his life he cannot find any.

"The hours desert us while we still have hold on them and though we open our hands to see what it is we grip we find our hands empty."

You see I am actually a very deep and spiritual person. Just going to check the Daily Mail's website 'Showbiz and Gossip Headlines'* and then I will get ready for work although it begs the question how much more of my fleeting time on this earth do I really want to spend in this horrible job?

*I hate the Daily Mail and I would never read it in real life. But. I do like to look at pictures of people I don't know in bikinis and secretly compare myself to them, or else discover which member of TOWIE is thinking of getting bum implants. (No really, that was one of the main 'headlines' this morning.)

Monday, 17 October 2011

Stupid Fucking Waitressing Job

So. The new job...

I am HATING it.

I've been back in Paris now for six weeks and every day up until last Thursday was lovely and light and fun, but since I've started this Stupid Fucking Waitressing Job, everything seems tainted and horrible.

I've had no time or energy to blog and even now I'm struggling to write this post; it's like this job is sucking out my personality, dissolving all my unwritten sentences into nothing and replacing words with table numbers. This job is stealthily killing the fairies and mermaids that normally live inside my head,bludgeoning them to death with ashtrays and plates of food and leaving in their place the faces of Horrible Customers and the Absolute Jobsworths I have found myself working alongside.

Sigh. Do you think I am being a little dramatic? I have only worked there for four days I suppose.

Let me start at the beginning...

The night before my First Shift at the restaurant, I was so worried about speaking French that I didn't have time to fret about the actual waitressing part of the job; all I could focus on was whether I was going to get caught out as a Blatant Non-Francophile, or whether my leather skirt would be deemed appropriate restaurant staff attire.

As it turnes out, the skirt didn't matter because the uniform includes a long black apron that covers most of my bottom-half and makes me look a lot like a butcher. But as for the 'language thing'- when I arrived at the restaurant we had to have a 'staff briefing' and I sat at a table with a Danish girl, a French girl and another English girl. At first we were all speaking English but then the chefs came out of the kitchen and the meeting started properly, in French. The chefs brought plates of food out of the kitchen and the English girl, who is my 'Trainer' for this week, told me that we have to taste the specials everyday so we know how to sell them. Everyone started picking at the food but I couldn't figure out what was going on. Some people had a plate to themselves, whereas others were taking bits from everywhere.

It was one of those horrible, awkward moments where you feel like a Social Freak. I froze up and didn't touch anything. Then the English girl looked at me really strangley and said "Have you already eaten?" so I picked up a fork and tried a few chips but I felt SICK because I was so nervous and confused and everyone was speaking in French and I had no idea what was going on and I wanted to run out into the street, onto the metro and back into my bed.

Throughout the meeting I tried to concentrate on what was being said but my language skills failed me. My 'Trainer' is English, from near Manchester apparently but she's one of those Posh Northerners who could be from anywhere and probably calls her tea her 'dinner'. Anyway, she explained everything to me in English but I can't work with a translator. It was becoming painfully obvious that to work in a restaurant in Paris, you need to speak French.

If you're wondering why that very obvious fact was ever not obvious to me, then remember that I'm working for a chain of English pubs. I thought I'd be working behind the bar, speaking a mixture of English and French like hundreds of American, Canadian, Irish, British and Australian people do all over Paris, but the branch that I have landed a job at is more of a restaurant than a pub and it's not in the sort of area where English tourists and expats would hang out.

As it was my first shift, I mostly had to shadow My Trainer, but the place got so busy that I was left to my own devices after about an hour. I'd learnt a few phrases like 'Vous êtes combien?' (How many are you?), 'Voulez quelque choses a boire?' (Do you want something to drink?) and 'Vous avez choisi?' (Have you chosen?) but it really, really wasn't enough. At one point a lady asked me how long she'd have to wait for her food, so I disappeared into he kitchen and then came back to tell her that in answer to her question, there was plenty of salad left so don't worry.

At the end of my First Shift I had to have a chat with my Trainer about how everything went, what I was worried about etc etc. She said that everything had gone wrong in the kitchen that day, so it wasn't normally that stressful. I was left feeling a bit hopeful that maybe all my shifts wouldn't be as horrible.

On Friday things ran a lot smoother, but I still struggled with the language and it just makes everything so much more stressful. I'm fine taking orders and things like that, but if anybody deviates from My Script, I panic. All I hear is "jeuleubahbeaupahbahleusheuourourayey, quoi." (That would make a lot more sense if you heard me read it out- it sounds like somebody speaking nonsense in a French accent.)

It's not just the language thing- there's loads of Stupid Fucking Waitressing Things that they want me to do and I just CAN'T BLOODY DO THEM. Carrying three plates at once, for example. I know Real Waitresses can probably carry eight or nine, plus a boiling hot cheese fondu on their head, but I'm not a Real Waitress and I don't want to be. I feel like I'm going to drop the plates. Surely it would save time if I ran back and forth, rather than take all the plates only to them drop them all and cause a huge scene?

They have these black trays as well, for carrying drinks on. They are the exact same trays that we used in my Aunty's cafe when me and my cousin worked there for a summer. (When I think back to that summer, it could be a bit stressful when it got really busy, but I never once didn't want to go into work.) We used the exact same trays and we'd carry them to tables with TWO HANDS because they are heavy and you don't want to spill scolding coffee on someone or smash loads of glasses. But at this restaurant we have to carry the tray balanced on one hand because 'it looks better'. Will it look better when I drop pints of beer and stupid little cups of espresso everywhere? Will it look better when I run out of the restaurant, crying and swearing and covered in hot chocolate?

Non.

When I finished my Second Shift on Friday, my Trainer told me that the next day I would be given my own 'section'. Everyone acted as if this was a good thing but I wanted to quit right there and then. I didn't want my own section! I wanted to stay in the back folding napkins. That was the best bit of the whole day: I love being asked to carry out lengthy, monotonous tasks like that; my mind is free to drift into Fairyland and there is a nice satisfaction about seeing the pile of unfolded napkins grow smaller and smaller until you can smile to yourself and think 'Ah, job done.'

But there would be no more napkin-folding for me: "We'll get your till key sorted and you can do the back section tomorrow!"

Then the manager came in and said: "It will be fun tomorrow, I'm bringing my dog in."

I wondered when people would stop expecting me to be thrilled about their hideous, disturbing news.

So, Saturday came and with it, yey, my own section! It was as disastrous as expected. A few times I 'sent tables' down to the kitchen without putting a table number on the order, because I didn't know it could even send without a table number, so I didn't notice that I hadn't pressed on the till hard enough. I was scared to approach customers because I didn't know what to say to them and when I had them in my section there were many awkward moments where I had to guess what people were saying because you can't just keep saying 'Pardon?' forever. After the twelfth time it's easier just to nod and smile and bring them a coffee and then make sure another waitress is near when the shit hits the fan so she can translate the shit for you.

I really did not enjoy Saturday. Everyone kept telling me what to do and I was left running around with no idea what to prioritise, with not a thought in my brain apart from shitshitshit. I don't really like the other staff. I've done that thing where I go into a new situation and because I'm anxious about the job and naturally quite paranoid, I don't speak to anyone so they assume I'm a rude bitch who also happens to be incredibly dull and ditzy. But they all talk French to each other and I can't speak French! There is one English girl who works there who is really nice, but I've only seen her when we've been swapping shifts.

It's not fair. Normally in every job I have a group of people that I secretly call the 'A Team' and it consists of all the 'best people' and obviously I am always right in there. But at this restaurant I am not in any team, never mind the team with the 'best people.' The 'A Team' isn't even good at the restaurant, they all love their job and take it proper seriously and it's WEIRD. Who takes their Stupid Fucking Waitressing Job seriously? It's not that I think I'm above waitressing; I think waitressing is above me and I'm seriously considering quitting.

It didn't help that I went out on Saturday night. Me, Julia, Olivia and Abby finally made it to Favela Chic and Kayt, Georgie and Oliva's friend Cleodie came along too. I had an exellent night and managed to be in bed by four am, but I still felt like shit the next day.

When I got to work, the chef asked me what I wanted for my meal. I looked at my Trainer and I explained how I had been confused by the eating thing. She basically looked at me like I was an idiot, but I've never had a job before where everyone gets sits down for a meal before they start work and now I know that the extra meals they put down on the table where the specials, so everyone is supposed to get a meal each and then try a bit of the specials. But I don't know what the meals look like and what the specials look like! I don't know these things. In this job I feel like I don't know anything about anything and that I'm just a Massive Dickhead Idiot.

Anyway, on Sunday the chef asked me what I wanted to eat and I said a salad because I thought something fresh and green would be good for my hangover. He asked me in French if I wanted anything on it, like cheese or meat, so I said "No, just salad", but I forgot that when you say 'salad' in France people think you mean 'salade vert'... I ended up with a plate of green salad leaves and nothing else.

As I picked at my salade vert, two people I had never seen before sat down at the staff table and started speaking in French. They said 'hello' but then ignored me, so I followed suite and just stared at my food as I ate it in silence. After they left the table, one of the chefs said "That was the manager you know!" and then shook his head at me.

I thought this other woman was the manager- the one who hired me and who frequently snarls friendly advice in my ear as I work like 'We never arrange the forks like that!' and 'Don't ever let me see you carry an ashtray like that again.'

Well. I'm not really arsed because if the manager thinks I'm a Dick and a Weirdo he can fire me and I won't have to work at his stupid restaurant again.

I'm just thinking... is it worth it? If I work twenty hours a week, I'll get paid about €180, but I get taxed 20%, which make it about €148. If I get that job looking after the little baby, which I'll find out about in a couple of weeks, I'll get about €100 a week, but I'll only be doing ten hours and it will be soooo easy. I'll be able to take the baby out for strolls in his pushchair and I might even be able to go with the parents for weekends away to London, Corsica and Cyprus.

If I could wrangle my old ladies back off Kayt as well, I'd be getting
€125 a week. I told Kayt to tell the old ladies that my au pair family had forced me to work afternoons, so now they are all outraged on my behalf and think I am being exploited. I got the loveliest voicemail message from them this week:

"We are sorry to see you go, you will be greatly missed, have a wonderful stay in Paris, we all thought you were very good, if you get the chance to come one day again to see us it would be very nice, enjoy your year here."

Ahh. I feel like they think of me as an intelligent, nice person who has things to teach them.

In contrast, on Sunday I had one family in my section who were the horribliest cunts I have ever met. The dad got more and more infuriated at life as the meal went on. To be fair, they did have to wait a while because I couldn't put their order through at first, but at the end of the meal the dad was paying by card and he said "We've waited for a long time and the food wasn't good. We're not happy."

Then when he was paying on his card I asked him to put it in the machine. His face reddened and he said something like "You want me to put my card in? Have you worked in a restaurant for long?"

It took me while to understand him and his wife said "She can't hear very well, she has a problem with her hearing."

Then she laughed in a really mean way and I wanted to grab hold of her disgusting blonde bob and smash her head repeatedly off the table, all the while telling her not to judge people who can't hear very well. I fucking hate the type of people that live in the area where I work; some of them come in and you can just tell that they spend their weekends lynching homeless people and spitting on wheelchairs-users.

I don't understand Horrible Customers. If I went to a restaurant in England and the waitress could barely speak English, I would speak extra slowly and point to the menu in a nice, helpful way because I'm not a RACIST, HORRIBLE BIGOT. If I went into a restaurant and my pudding didn't arrive and I had to remind the waitress to send down to the kitchen for it, I wouldn't go red in the face and ask her how long she'd been a waitress for. Even if it meant I had to leave without my pudding, I'd just say 'I've actually got to rush, can you cancel the pudding? Thanks.'

Then I'd pay for my meal, I'd thank the waitress, I'd walk out into sunshine and think 'Ooh what shall I do now? Something nice and normal because I'm a nice, normal person who isn't a waitress-abusing bastard.'

Hmm. I am aware I have been ranting for quite a few paragraphs now.

I need to go to bed, I'm working again at the restaurant tomorrow. I just don't know what to do. I'm very unhappy and I don't like being unhappy. However, if I stick at it, it might really help my French. That is the only thing the Stupid Fucking Waitressing Job has over the Nice Baby Job. Oh shit what shall I do??? I might not get the Baby Job anyway. I kind of hope I don't because then I won't have to make any more decisions.

I might get fired tomorrow anyway, because I can't work next week- I have to be available all day and all evening for my au pair job, because it's half-term and the mum doesn't know when she'll need me. Obviously my au pair job comes first, but I don't quite know how to break it to the restaurant...

To end on a nice note, last night after work me and Kayt went to Georgie's for tea and we had Marks and Spencers sausages that Georgie had brought back from London. We had them with sweet potato mash and red onion gravy and it the nicest thing I have eaten for a long, long time and it wasn't just because I had only eaten half a plate of salade verte all day. It was SO NICE and I wish there had been French people there to enjoy it with us because they would have seen that the typical English meal of 'bangers and mash' is not the Richmond sausages and Smash they are imagining. I went to bed smiling and hoping the night would be bring dreams about thick and tasty English sausages.

In other news, today I finally got a contract phone, I got a Blackberry so I can download apps and things which enable me to chat with people back in England for freeee. I don't know how to use it yet, I've always, always had a shit brick phone, it feels weird to have something 'technical' and 'modern.' The only problem is not I'm sure how I am going to pay for it now, as my French bank account has been blocked because I went overdrawn by 24 euros, even though I specifically didn't want an overdraft. Now they are going to charge me 50 euros and my credit card is going to charge me about forty quid this month and so is my English overdraft. I am internationally fucking up my finances, again!

Shit it's nearly 1am. I have to be up at nine, which seems like the middle of the night after six weeks of not starting work until the early evening. Although, I was up at 7am this morning because I had another drama lesson. It went quite well this time so that's Something to be positive about. Also, I have all my limbs, I don't live in a tin shack in a third world slum, my eyebrows are looking quite good at the moment... many, many profound things to be grateful for.

I can't believe that on Monday last week I had my job interview for the restaurant. If I knew then what I know now...

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Waitressing

I haven't written on here for ageeesssssss, have been very busy with my new 'waitressing job'. Hopefully tonight I will sit down and write about it, but not now because I am running very late for 'work' and I feel very hungover. To be honest shouldn't really be on here. Need to get ready. But can't stop typing. Look. Look at me still typing! Get off! Get off here!! Now!! Get ready for work!!

Ok I'm going. But quick news update: I forgot how utterly shit waitressing is.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Immediate Future

I start my restaurant/bar job tomorrow. I know I should have spent the last three days learning restaurant-related French vocab, but somehow... I just... haven't.

I'm not prepared at all.

I'm supposed to wear black shoes with black trousers or a black skirt. Is a black leather skirt appropriate? I don't have anything else black. This evening I withdrew the last of my money in my English bank account so that I could buy some black ballet pumps from this weird catalogue-style shop on my street. I should have kept the money in my account for when the minumum payment on my credit card comes out, but you have to spend money to make money right?

I'm really not sure about the skirt. I panic-bought some black trousers from H&M as well, but they are about three inches too long for me and the only solution I have had so far is to fix them in place with hair grips... it looks great.

I think I'll go for the skirt.

Oh my god, I can't speak French. It's going to be a disaster. Oh shit.

What is wrong with me? Instead of reading all the 'company information' the pub gave me and trying to learn French vocab, I've spent the evening trying to track down my mobile phone which I haven't been able to find since last night. I told Kayt to ring it because I was sure it was hidden in my messy pit of a bedroom somewhere, but Georgie answered it. She heard it ringing from inside her recycling bin. What a curious turn of events.

Anyway. Right. I'm rambling now, I need to calm down. Calm, calm.

I have just cried my heart out watching Children Of Men. I've seen it a few times but this time, for some reason, the nightmarish Near Future portrayed in the film seemed, well, Near. It is so believable and if you haven't seen it you should watch it, or read the book instead.

But never mind the Near Future, I'm terrified of the Immediate Future- tomorrow. Wish me luck. No don't, you'll jinx me.


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Being A Grown Up

Yesterday was the busiest day I have had for a LONG. TIME.

I had to leave the loving embrace of my bed at 7am because I had my first 'drama lesson' at 8.20am. Nobody mentioned that the 'drama lessons' are for kids who have been thrown out of traditional French schools because they are too naughty, sorry, educationally-challenged, to cope with the strict, old-fashioned French teaching methods.

Unfortunately, it would appear as if they find it difficult to function in any kind of lesson, no matter how 'unconventional' or stimulating the lessons are designed to be. I'm glad I wasn't teaching on my own; over the summer the lady who runs the company decided that as I was 'so young' it would be better if I didn't teach lessons on my own to begin with, so she found two French actresses who moonlight as teachers to do the lessons. The idea is that I am going to assist the lessons to start out with and then, in a few weeks when they start rehearsing for plays/going to auditions, I can step in and teach the lessons on my own.

It's a bit depressing actually, chatting with them about their acting careers until they ask me "So, what are you doing with your drama degree?" and then the conversation takes an awkward turn when I say "Well, I mostly play Barbies with other people's children."

Anyway, the actress who was teaching the lesson yesterday really didn't do any drama-type activities with the children; she played games with them that were designed to help them with their English vocabulary, but I don't know how much vocab they learnt from climbing the walls (literally, they are like little hairless monkeys in skinny jeans) and punching each other in the head.

Still, I suppose it will be good experience. For something. Maybe?

After the drama lesson I had my job interview at the English-Themed Pub. I almost didn't make it on time because I got stuck on a bus at Montparnasse. The bus driver tried to squeeze in between two parked trucks, but by the time she realised she couldn't get through, a huge traffic jam had formed behind the bus so she couldn't reverse and she couldn't open the doors to let anyone off. There was a lot of angry French people marching up and down the bus and for some reason, four English tourists. They were clearly two couples on holiday together and even though there was one Cockney amongst them, I reckon he'd lived in Yorkshire for a long time, as all four of them had that very Northern habit of keeping up a constant running commentary:

"By 'eck look a' that! He wants t'go down thurr, then across thurr!"
"Nahhh, he cahn't fit dahn dey-ah, I don't fink!"

(That was my written impression of a Yorkshire and a Cockney accent respectively.)

Their accents were so strong that I was the only person on the bus who could understand their annoying twittering and therefore I suffered alone, gradually losing the will to live as I struggled to drown out the sound of their commentary.

Luckily, after twenty minutes, the two disgraced truck drivers came back to their vehicles and moved the trucks. Everyone on the bus was banging on the windows and yelling French expletives at them.

I arrived for my interview on the dot, but here's the thing... it wasn't really an interview, it was basically a meeting to discuss when I can start. It appears I have a job working in a 'pub'.

It's more of a restaurant really and I start on Thursday lunchtime which means I can't do my old ladies! I'm really sad, because I actually enjoyed our little discussion group last week and I hate saying goodbye to the easiest €25 I'll ever make. I was really worried about letting them down but luckily Kayt can take over for me, so they shouldn't be too put out.

On the bright side, it looks like I have a proper job! Even though it's an English-themed pub, the customers won't be English, so it should be really good for my French. The thing is, I kind of played down my lack of language skills, so the manager might change her mind about me once she sees me in all my stuttering, misunderstanding glory on Thursday. We'll see. If I get fired after a few days there's still the possibility of that morning nanny job (its €10 an hour and might involve weekends to London and Cyprus, just to jog your memory) which I find out about in November, so it won't be such a disaster. In fact, I was hoping there was some way of doing both jobs, but for now I'm going to focus on the pub.

I hardly dare to say it for fear of jinxing myself, but if this pub job works out well, I will be able to pay off my overdraft and credit card within a few months, plus I might finally learn how to speak French!

I'm just a little stressed out worrying about how I'm going to fit it in with my au pair job, because the pub needs me to work weekday lunchtimes which is fine for the moment but I have no idea what's going to happen in the school holidays. My guess is that they'll fire me for being a Bit Fat Evasive Liar and failing to mention that I won't be able to work the same shifts every week, but I will deal with that bridge when I come to it...

The other 'Thing' is that I'll have to work New Year's Eve. My au pair family told me the other day that they need me to work until the 23rd December, so I'll have barely a week back in England. I feel sad about this, but when I was coming home from my interview yesterday I had a bit of An Epiphany...

I was thinking about how NYE was going to be my only chance for a London rave for a while and how maybe I should just stick with the old ladies and not take the bar job, but then I realised that maybe, maybe, for once, I should do something that I don't want to do, because it might pay off in The Future, a time and place I normally try not to think about.

Then I realised that all of my friends and family do things that they don't want to do and perhaps this is why they all have money and I don't.

And then I realised this amazingly surprising thing- that maybe we have to do things we don't want to do sometimes!!!

And then I had a flash of inspiration and I thought 'Maybe we can't always do the things we want to do either!'

I feel like a Very Wise And Knowing Person.

It all makes sense now! Last year if I wanted to go to London for the night, I went. And I had a brilliant time. BUT, as a consequence, I had to sit in my mum's house all summer looking at cows and eating biscuits.


Hold on...

An idea is forming...

Bare with me...

Ok. So maybe, what I need to do is... Do Things That I Don't Want To Do, such as working NYE, In Order To Do Better Things In The Future, for example Kat told me that they are all going out raving on New Year's Day, so maybe I could come back to Paris for NYE, work all night, then go back on the Eurostar for a one-night stop the next day, using the money I've earned from my bar job!!

You see!!! I am really, really learning a lot about life and I feel like this what Being A Grown-Up Is All About.

Sorry, I am so amazed at my revelation that I can't remember what else I was going to tell you about...

Oh yeah, I went to Abby's flat to help her with an English presentation she had to give, but because I had no phone credit, I couldn't tell her I had arrived and I couldn't remember which flat was Abby’s, so I wandered up and down her floor for FORTY MINUTES yelling "Abby! Abby!" and knocking on random people's doors. Only two men answered, both in their underwear (come on, if you live alone and you're not expecting anybody, put clothes on before opening your door!) and neither of them knew who Abby was/could understand my accent.

Eventually Abby rang me to see why I was so late and I had to explain that I was sat on her stairwell, letting the frustration and hate for life slowly eat me up inside. She opened her door and I had been wandering up and down the wrong floor.

Anyway, that is my news. I have become a Grown Up and also a Waitress, let's see for how long...

In other news, a little birdie tells me that someone has been Googling 'left bank manc falafel', so I feel obliged to help you out; if you are trying to find out where the best falafel in Paris is that I always talk about, it's L'as du Falafal on Rue des Rosiers, metro station: Saint Paul. It costs five euros and don't be put off by the queue- it goes down really quickly. As for the person who has found my blog three times by searching 'cavemen having sex'... there can be no helping you.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Five Jobs Janet

I hated leaving my bed this morning. I walked as if I was still alseep, feeling dizzy and with my vision clouded. As I stumbled out of the door my bed called to me: "Why are you leaving me?? You've only just got in!! Wasn't I warm and cosy enough for you?? Come back to me! COME BACK TO MEEEEEE"

But, alas, I had to ignore the pleas of my beloved bed and walk away. As I waited for the lift I had a little snooze standing-up, but then an old lady who I have never seen in my life came out of her room and I was forced to look lively and pretend not be feel nauseous as we crammed ourselves into the teeny tiny lift and rode down to the ground floor in awkward silence, close enough to feel each other's breath.

Work wasn't actually too awful. I just had to take the eight year old and the baby to the park for an hour. It was a bit pointless really, while I was at the park with the kids, the dad was at home watching the rugby. But I'm not complaining, at least it didn't end up being a seven hour day like last Saturday, I really could not have coped with that under the circumstances.

Last was night was brilliant, Kayt and her visiting friend decided to come at the last minute and as luck would have it, Angelique had two spare tickets to sell so it all worked out perfectly. I really like Rex Club, but it is so much smaller than I expected! It seemed as if there was less than a hundred people in there, but that can't be right. Still, for such a 'big' club it was not what I was expecting. I guess it's a bit like Social Club, but without the Nobhead Bouncers and all the Parisien Posers.

Anna is having a party tonight and I really, really do not feel like leaving my bed again, but it is her birthday and also she is leaving to go travelling at the end of this month, so I will force myself to get ready soon. Ergh. I feel ok, when I got back from work I slept for about seven hours and then ate a lot of pasta whilst watching Family Guy, but it's so cold and rainy outside. Summer has gone at last and I'm kind of glad- I was sick of wearing my wrecked ballet pumps that really need to be thrown in the bin, but they were the only suitable shoes I had for the nice weather. Now that autumn is finally here I can wear my boots everyday and big jumpers, and not feel bad about staying in bed all day eating hot food and drinking hot drinks.

Last night for the girls' tea I made Cottage Pie and it made me feel all cosy and happy. I liked it a lot more than they did to be honest, but this week the mum had the 'one month talk' with me and she mentioned how their au pair last year used to make English dishes for them, so I took that as a hint. It's been difficult though, because the mum normally tells me what I can make for the girls and what food I can use, but I think she wants me to take some initiative and be a little more creative. I don't really have any initiative (I'm not even sure if I can spell it properly) but I'm going to try.

So, everything seems to be going ok at work. The eight year old still acts like she doesn't really like me, but I'm hoping she is just warming up to me... I barely spend any time with the eleven year old, but when I do she is nice enough to me. The baby on the other hand, is very sweet and gorgeous. I never really thought I was a baby perosn, but they are so much easier than older children. They don't whisper about you to their mate and give you dirty looks, they just laugh at your funny faces and give you kisses. I really hope I get that other baby job in November. My bank has finally realised I'm not a student anymore and as started charging me interest on my overdraft... bastards.

I was seriously considering stripping, but apparently in the current climate the money isn't even that good, so I may as well go for ajob where I don't have to shake my naked vajayjay in anyone's face. I applied for a job online at an English pub and they rang me back an hour later to arrange an interview, which I'm taking as a sign they are desperate for staff, so fingers crossed. My interview is on Monday. If I get it, and I get the baby job as well, I might change my name to Five Jobs Janet. I bet I'll still be skint though. If life has taught me one thing it's that The More You Earn, The More You Spend...

Shit. I really better get my act together and get ready for this party. I've got a feeling, however, that no matter how much bronzer and blusher I plaster myself with, I'll still end up looking like a crackwhore who really should have stayed in bed watching Family Guy.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Clubby Jubbly

I seem to have triple-booked myself somehow. Last year I complained that there was never any good music on in Paris and now that I know where to look, there is almost too much to choose from. I feel like a flaky bitch as I have agreed to be in three places at once: Favela Chic with Abby, Julia and Olivia, seeing as we didn't make it there last weekend; Nouveau Casino with Georgie and Kayt to see Toddla T; and Rex Club with Anna and Angelique for some house music.

Anna wins because she turns 23 at midnight and also, she announced a couple of days ago that she is leaving Paris for good at the end of this month to go traveling. (Plus, she took the initiative and bought me a ticket for Rex Club which was €12, so there's no way I am letting that ticket go to waste.) It's a Watergate night which, I'm told is a massive club in Berlin.


I've never heard of any of the Djs playing tonight (Lee Jones, Sebo K and Metro) but a quick bit of internet research has revealed that it might be a deep house night. Ooh I'm getting a little bit excited! I've never been to Rex Club before and along with Social Club and Nouveau Casino, it is one of the 'big' clubs in Paris, although I suppose that depends on your definition of 'big'- if you like 'aving it large in bridge clubs then I guess you probably wouldn't agree.

Ah but Toddla T would be really good as well and Nouveau Casino is one of my favourite places in Paris. Maybe I could fit both in somehow? Ha, I love the lyrics in this:



No, I have made a decision. I have a ticket for Rex Club and Anna won't be here to rave with in a few weeks. I have no idea what to wear. All my clothes are disgusting and the only flat shoes I have are in such a horrific state of disrepair that by rights they should be thrown in the bin, but I can't because then I would have to go to work in my bare feet or a pair of very high and very inappropriate platforms. Tonight is not a night for heels, you see. I am planning on getting very, very fucked. Off my tits, you might say. The only snag in the cardigan is that I am working tomorrow at half ten in the morning. Hmmm.




Oh my God. I've just realised something really weird. Ok, I'm going to sound like a lunatic, but for about six months now, I have been seeing this giraffe everywhere. Not a real giraffe, but a cartoon one. Sometimes it is in toy form and I will see it in a child's pram or I will see a photograph of the toy in a poster or a flyer. I have secretly been getting a little bit freaked out, as if this giraffe is a sign or an omen... Then, a few weeks ago, me, Georgie and Kayt were on the metro and our train stopped at Bonne Nouvelle. All of a sudden, I felt like the giraffe was there and I realised I had seen the giraffe in association with this metro station, but I had no idea where or why.

I know I'm sounding like a paranoid freak, BUT, I just looked online to see what metro station is closest to Rex Club and guess what metro stop it is. Bonne Nouvelle. I feel all weird like something strange is going to happen, like Fate is catching up with me and it has something to do with a cartoon giraffe...