Tuesday, 31 January 2012


Georgie has let me use her computer so I can do a blog post. 

I've calmed down about my laptop, it was faintly ridiculous to get so worked up about a piece of shitty technology. As I was walking back from the internet cafe on saturday, I saw a beggar at Chatelet who was sitting with his right leg stretched out, with his ragged trouser leg pulled back to reveal an uneven stump where his foot should be. He truly belonged in the Land of the Lost and Broken and I felt like a bit of a Dickhead for getting so stressed out about nothing.

Saturday turned out to be quite a good day in the end, I'd accidentally left my freezer open so I had loads of meat to cook before it went off: I had two Marks and Spencer sausages, then I made spaghetti bolognaise (with celery and carrot because nobody else around to say 'euw don't put celery and carrot in it!') and then I made a dish that I can only ever cook for myself because everybody else either doesn't like the idea of it or they think it will make them fat- chicken fried in butter and cream. 

I didn't eat all this on the same day by the way, I've only just finished the chicken now. That's another thing I like about cooking for myself- I don't have to worry about food poisoning, because it's only me eating it and I would never hold it against myself. 

So without my laptop, I mostly cooked and read my book. (Shantaram, if you must know, by Gregory David Roberts, it's not overrated at all and I think everyone should read it, but beware it will make you simultaneously love India and make you terrified of it.) 

Then I went to my friend's house in the evening and we watched the musical Hair. I can't believe I've never seen it before, I love it and when I'm wearing my Afghan coat I feel like I could be in Central Park, leaping around singing about LSD. 

The only snag in the poncho is that now I have the rather tongue-in-cheek number 'Black Boys Are Delicious' stuck in my head, and I'm terrified I'll start singing it on the metro absent-mindedly and everyone will think I'm a pervert and a racist.


Ah I love the seventies. Did I tell you that some kids started singing 'staying alive' as I walked past in my afghan coat? 

Speaking of unusual/hideous outer wear, I still haven't told you about The Cloak!!!

When Amy was here a couple of weeks ago, her, me and Julia went for drinks on Rue d'Argout, a tiny, cobbled street near Sentier metro station, kind of hidden from the main road and dotted with cute little bars. We went in one bar that was as big as someone's living room, and it was decorated with pink and gold facade...  

Anyway, on this night out Amy suddenly remembered that she'd seen a full-length, black hooded cloak in Naf Naf. Now, I have always, always, since forever and ever, dreamt about possessing such an item of clothing.

Imagine, swishing through the misty, night time streets of Paris in a full-length cloak, on your way to the opera, or on a mission to Fight Crime. 

Think how many different fantasies and personas I could live out in my head whilst wearing such a cloak! Everyday would be a magical adventure!

But I'd sort of given up hope of ever finding such a cloak... Until now! 

The next day I rushed to Naf Naf to see the cloak in person. It was everything I'd ever dreamed of more... I reverently took it down from the hangar and swung it over my shoulders, tying the ribbon at the nape of my neck. 

(There's a picture of said cloak on my Twitter.)

Other shoppers stopped and stared. Literally, they did a double-take, stopped dead still in their tracks and gave me a good once over, taking in every majestic detail of me and my cloak. 

It was perfect- I finally had everything I'd ever wanted in life... A cloak and a tan. 

Well, my tan has faded a bit now but I know I'll get it back in the summer. and then my life will be complete. Ah. What do you do when all your dreams have come true? Oh I know they don't sound very grand, but they say the secret to happiness is setting yourself ACHIEVABLE goals. If I set myself impossible tasks- getting a good job, paying my overdraft of, tidying my room etc- then I'll just end up feeling miserable and inadequate.  

To be honest, I was beginning to think that even owning a cloak was an Unacheivable Goal, but then Naf Naf came to my rescue. It's like I had an image of what I wanted in my mind and the universe made it happen for me. 

But before you get too excited, I must tell you, with a heavy heart, that I am not actually the owner of such a beautiful cloak. It was 160 euros reduced to 80, which is a small price to pay for a lifelong dream in my opinion, but I still owe people money. I've got the fucking euros sitting in my french bank account but at the moment I have no way of moving them across the Channel and into the banks of the people that need them; and I really can't justify spending eighty euros on a floor length, hooded black cloak before paying my debts off. 

Also, Kayt and Amy were with me at the time and they BEGGED me not to buy it. They said everyone in the shop was laughing at me and that I couldn't possibly wear it around Paris. Amy even said that she'll whip one up for me on the sewing machine for half the price, if I want one that bad. 

But I'm not worried, friends: even if Naf Naf sell out before I've paid my debts off; I know Amy will make me one, maybe an even more magical one, lined with gold silk or something. And if she doesn't, then another cloak will turn up somewhere, someday.

The universe wants me to have a cloak. It will happen. 

If you believe in your dreams, they will come true. 

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Land of the Lost and Broken

This blog post comes to you from a computer shop that I had to trek halfway across Paris to get to. I'm sure there's internet cafés close to where I live but Google continues to give me nothing, so whenever I need to print something out, Eurostar tickets for example, back I go to the little computer shop opposite where Lauren lived last year. It's sad in a way, looking across the road and knowing Lauren and Drew aren't curled up on the couch, eating chocolate and watching Eastenders on the internet...

The reason I have had to make this miserable journey, which includes a stop off at Châtelet- aka the shittest metro station in the world- and a quick ride of the grimey RER, is because today is the day my laptop finally said 'enough is enough' and resigned itself to a still and silent end.

In a cruel twist of Fate, this morning my laptop was working unusually well, just like the good old days when the sound still worked properly and it could load a Youtube video in less than forty five minutes. As soon as I booted up, the internet connected and I received a Skype call from Claire, although after five minutes of me writing signs on a piece of paper and trying to communicate the sentence 'My microphone mysteriously stopped working a couple of months ago so you won't be able to hear me!' through the art of mime, we gave up and had a quick chat on Facebook instead.

After our chat, I started writing a new blog post and even opened my French online banking, with the intention of finally transferring some money back to England. It was going to be a productive day.

And then.

My online banking disappeared, to be replaced by dozens of evil little boxes that littered my desktop with sinister messages about my hard drive, warning me to do 'system checks'. Before I could act, new boxes appeared telling me that the RAM and the hard drive were damaged. The word 'critical' was flashing at the bottom of each grey box in red letters.

In between furiously clicking 'close' on each ominous grey box that kept reappearing no matter how many times I tried to get rid of them, I managed to open 'My Computer' to discover that every. single. file had disappeared.

Some of those Word documents are stories I've been working on since I was eighteen. Most of them were uncompleted and now I'll never finish them. There was also the full-length play I wrote in my last year of uni, the fairytales I wrote when I did Storytelling at the Secret Garden Party... Gone. Gone like the wind.

There is no Reason for my laptop breaking and there is nothing that can be done.

Oh I know friends will advise me to go to a computer fixing shop or whatever you call them, but I don't have the energy. I fail at every single thing I try and do, no matter how small or simple, I just can't do... stuff.

My laptop started behaving like a loon when my internet protection software ran out in September and at the time I had no money to renew it. But then I started getting paid from the restaurant, so I tried to renew it with my French bank card only, what's this, my French bank card doesn't always work online, for no apparent reason other than it mostly chooses not to work when I'm really desperate to use it.

This whole 'money thing' is starting to keep me awake at night, constricting my chest and making me feel dizzy with the worry of it. I HAVE euros in my French bank account. I TRIED to put the into my English bank account and it DIDN'T work.

Well, I tried to put them in Ricky's bank account a couple of months ago, when we all had to give him our deposit money for Ibiza. It took me a couple of weeks to get hold of my internet banking password, which I thought was hassle enough, and then I had to ask Ricky to ask his bank for his international RIB number, or something like that. I managed to navigate my way through the French website, with some difficulty. Eventually I worked out how to add Ricky as an 'international payee'. I put in his details. I selectd how much money I wanted to put into his account...

And then.

My bank told me I needed an activation code to put money into his account. Did I want the code sent to me in a letter? Or did I want it sent to me in a text message?

Text message, I clicked, obviously.

But then the website told me that, as it was first time transferring money online, I had to receive the code in a letter, which would arrive in twelve days.

I can't remember exactly what I did at that point, but I imagine I probably smashing things up and screaming.

So my point is, don't try and do things. Because it will never work.


So. I'm in a slightly bad mood today. Now I have to write a script for my 'théâtre in anglais' class, with the characters Batman, Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker, for ten years olds who can't speak English and no interest in doing anything I tell them. Talking of those classes, the woman who rund the business left me a message, saying she wants to call a meeting in a couple of weeks and she wants to give me some money for all the 'hard work' I've been doing, so she told me to bring 'all the receipts' I've been keeping. I haven't kept one single receipt so...

So that's fab.

You know when I was younger my mum used to say 'You don't deserve to have things, because you don't look after them' and she was right.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Rather Unpleasant Things

First of all, let me say Thank You Very Much to everyone who has left me lovely comments recently, I have replied to all of them (I think).

Second of all, I have a message for the person who keeps finding my blog by Googling 'magic strippers':

I'm sorry to inform you that you're looking in the wrong place and actually, I'm not sure there are any magic strippers, anywhere in the (this) world. Why do you need 'magic' strippers anyway? Isn't it enough for you that a woman is willing to remove all of her underwear in front of you and dance around a pole for your entertainment? Now she has to possess some sort of magical power as well? What did you have in mind, exactly? Dark hair, double Ds and the ability to levitate? You make me SICK.

Incidentally, how much were you looking to pay? As regular readers will know, I have, at one time or another, thought very seriously about entering the Stripper Profession, and for... let's say... oh, I don't know, about two grand, I could definitely learn some card tricks.


I have two Rather Unpleasant Things to tell you about, and one Marvelous Thing. Let's get the Rather Unpleasant Things over and done with first, shall we?

Ok, so every Wednesday I have to hang around for an hour while the eight year has her ballet class. Her ballet school is, for some reason, on the périphérique which as anyone who has ever lived in Paris will know, usually means the area is a Shit Hole to be avoided at all costs. Normally I buy myself a packet of Haribo gummy bears, find a bench on a quiet street and read my book for an hour. But last week it was too cold to sit outside and I didn't have enough money to order a coffee in any of the decent-looking brasseries, so I went into the nearest McDonald's.

I got a tea and sat down at a quiet table. It was the week when Amy was staying at mine and I'd been too busy to do my blog, so I decided I'd try and write a post on my Blackberry. I'd been typing for about five minutes when I noticed a scruffy-looking boy staring at my phone. I wasn't being paranoid, he was defintely staring at my phone and he looking all fidgety and suspicious. The boy looked about fourteen and seemed to be sat with his mum, a tiny lady with an unfortunate hunchback. When they'd come in they'd been arguing with an old man about something and I assumed it was someone they knew, but now I was beginning to think they'd just randomly picked an argument with him.

I put my phone in my pocket quickly, but I wasn't too bothered because I knew I'd be sat there for a whole hour and I doubted the boy would want to wait that long just to steal a scratched Blackberry Curve.

I read my book and forgot all about the boy and his mum, if she was his mum. But then I heard them arguing heatedly with someone else...

First rule of living in a big city- Don't Stare, even if the person next to you has two heads and glittery pink fire curling out of their noses. Weirdly, Parisiens don't heed this rule. It can be the most infuriating thing in the world when you're at the receiving end of it (everyone on the metro STARING at you for example, because it's only April and you thought it would be ok to go out without tights on); but on the flip side, it means you can sometimes get away with staring unashamedly at people who are wearing/doing something unusual, because chances are everyone around you will be having a good gander as well.

Still, I tried to keep my eyes on my book for as long as possible, because growing up in a big British city teaches you to MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS. As the arguement got more and more heated, curiosity got the better of me and I glanced up quickly, to see that the boy and his tiny mother were arguing with a man on crutches. I couldn't understand most of what they were saying, but the general gist seemed to be that the man on crutches had caught the boy stealing his phone and the boy was saying it was his phone that his dad had got him for his brithday, and his scratty mum was backing him up. The woman and the boy were screaming into the man's face and a McDonald's staff member was stood in the middle of them, asking them to leave.

All of a sudden, the boy and the mum jumped on the man. I couldn't tell what was going on because there were arms and legs flying everywhere, but suddenly I noticed that the man on crutches had shockingly bright red blood all over his face. The McDonald's worker was trying to intervene but the mum and the boy were landing punches over his head.

Everyone was just staring, horrified, but nobody intervened. I put my book away and stayed in my seat, not really knowing what to do, unable to look away. The fight was taking place in front of the door, so there was no way anyone could leave. We were trapped in there, forced to watch the fight unfold, forced to make the decision whether to help or not.

The boy grabbed one of the man's crutches and tried to hit him across the face with it. I knew then that I should get up and help... Let's be honest here, I'm rubbish in fights- I doubt I could overpower a gerbil, but an injured man, being battered with his own crutch? By two people? Plus, the boy was little older than a  child and his mum was a tiny, ill-looking thing...

But the damage they were doing to this poor guy! They were fucking vicious. I hovered nervously in my seat, not knowing if it was sensible not getting involved, or if  I was being a cold, passive observer.

Somehow, the man on crutches suddenly had the mum by the ankles. He was dangling her upside down and she was thrashing around like a fish, trying to twist out of his grip and screaming Blue Murder. Another McDonald's co-worker jumped in at this point and grabbed the boy, who by now also had a face full of blood.

Oh God, would you have jumped in? Is Karma coming to get me? (The answer I'm looking for is 'NO! You did the right thing, just like you always do, you very ethical girl of sound morals and reason.')

The boy and his mum were dragged off into the office to wait for the police and the man on crutches was escorted into the toilets to clean up. As soon as they'd moved away from the door, I darted outside. I spent the rest of the hour sat outside the ballet classroom door.

So. That was kind of unpleasant, but two days later something happened that was a thousand times worse...(Although I guess the man on crutches wouldn't agree.)

Let me set the scene: I'm at my au pair job. I'm running between the bedroom, where the eight year old wants me to watch her practicing her piano and the kitchen, where I'm trying to keep an eye on the dinner. The baby is in his high chair near the kitchen door and the dad is bending down to feed him. He's blocking the doorway, so I say 'excuse me', three times, but he doesn't seem to hear me even though I'm stood an inch away from him.

I need to get to the pasta. Also, I remember that when the dad gave me a 'talking to' a few weeks ago, he said that I 'move around the house like a shadow'. So instead of skulking off and returning when he's finished feeding the baby, I decide to assert myself. I need to get past him, so I'll just squeeze past, like a Normal Person would.

But I have misjudged the space between Wall and Au Pair Dad's Bum. I don't realise until it is too late. I am struck with horror as I find myself scraping my lower body against the back of his lower body. I can't stop midway and I can't go back... there is nothing for it but to see the thing through and so I close my eyes in painful embarrassment as I slide, no grind, past him, in a Silent and Sinister manner.

Oh Fucking HELL.

Why did I squeeze past? WHY? Why didn't I just wait? Why didn't I say 'excuse me' one more time?

I faffed about with the pasta as if nothing remotely strange or inappropriate had happened. The dad didn't say anything and half an hour later I had almost forgotten about it. I tried to convince myself that I had blown the whole thing out of proportion, that maybe the dad hadn't even noticed me squeezing past him...

Later on, I saw the mum and dad huddled together in the dining room, when they thought I was in the eight year old's bedroom. I'd nipped into the living room to get her pencil case and I heard the parents whispering. The living room is separated from the dining room by a staircase, and through the banisters I could see the dad bending over, miming turning around and being surprised. He was clearly renacting the whole thing to the mum, who was pissing herself.

Oh, the shame, the shame.

I wanted to die.

It is one of those things that cannot be undone and it cannot be rectified. If I try and say something to the dad about it, no doubt it will look even weirder. Julia suggested I do the same thing to the mum just so they think I do it to everyone and was not trying to come on to the dad in a sinister The Hand That Rocks The Cradle kind of way, but I think my hips have been rubbed against enough employers for the moment. There is nothing to be done except close my eyes and sing very loudly whenever the incident pops into my head, as if my tuneless voice alone will scare away the memory forever.

So there you have it, two Rather Unpleasant Things that have happened to me lately. Now I don't have time to tell you about the Marvellous Thing, as I have to go to my au pair job. I've felt really awkward ever since. The eight year old is obssessed with 'Someone Like You' by Adele and for some reason she has the instrumental recorded on her keyboard, so I basically have to sing it with her constantly, whenever I am in the house. No doubt the mum and dad will think I am a Mental who is trying to seduce them with my singing voice and by rubbing against them in the kitchen.

Oh God.

What is wrong with me??

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Paris Reunion

Put your hand up if you've been a bit of a Slack Alice recently.

I know you can't see, but believe me when I say that my hand is stretched high into the air*, because I know I haven't been blogging enough of late. I used to think I was a Massive Gimp for writing a new blog post almost every day, but in the past few weeks I've learnt that if I don't write about things as soon as they happen, then I completely forget what happened. I have the memory of a very senile goldfish who, as a young and happening goldfish, was hit on the head with a stool in a bar fight and his brain was never the same after that.

So, I'm struggling to remember what it is I wanted to tell you about. I guess I never told you how the 'Paris Reunion' went, so I'll start with that.

(I should mention, for people who have just started my blog, that the 'reunion' consisted of girls I was friends with last year, when I rolled ten au pairs deep and there was always someone to go and eat cake with... Most of us met in the local park where we took 'our' kids after school and for at least an hour every day, we got to shoo the kids away, sit on a bench eating their after-school snacks whilst discussing someone's latest sexual encounter in salicious detail. Ah, the glory days of yore! But being an expat means you often make friends with gypsy-hearted, flighty types and after one year, our little gang dispersed to Madrid, Germany, North France, Liverpool and London. Still, we'll always have Paris...)

It was brilliant, of course, but for me the entire weekend was slightly overshadowed by the dark presence of Work- I had to work Saturday night and Sunday night. On Saturday night I finished at 1am, so I thought the girls could come and meet me and then we could all go to Favela Chic. The girls came about eleven and then left because it was so busy and because they wanted to get to Favela Chic early. It was a horrible night at work and I was really pissed off when I found out everyone had left. By the time I finished, I was ready to storm home, but Julia, who showed up on her own just after everyone had left, had been waiting for me at the bar for an hour.

I frantically slapped some my make-up on and tried to sort my hair out in the Staff Toilets and then me and Julia went to meet everyone else. They had arrived at Favela Chic to discover it was closed. (Apparently a few Parisien clubs close in January, because they stay open in August... What's so difficult about staying open all year-round?)

"HA!" I said, when I found out.

I was really sulky, for no real reason other than a customer at work had suddenly switched to English- after I'd been struggling to speak to him and his party of THIRTY FIVE rowdy people in French all night- and said:

"Ok, I have no idea what you're saying. In English please?"

Everytime someone fails to understand my French, it feels like they've kicked me in the face with a steel-capped boot on. I feel really, really terrible about the whole 'language thing' at the moment. Like really terrible. It's like a weight pulling at my stomach, dragging me down constantly.

Anyway, by the time me and Julia got to Le Truskel and met up with everyone else, I'd cheered up a bit. We drank a lot of alcohol and shouted quite a lot. I think we may have even sung a rendition of 'Someone Like You' but I can't remember. Clare spent all night chatting to a very attractive Frenchman, only for him to tell her as they were about to leave together: "I have a girlfriend, but it's ok, I have cheated on her five times in the past three years." Needless to say, they didn't end up leaving together after that.

When Le Truskel closed at 4am, me and Amy concocted a Cunning Plan- we weren't ready to go home yet, so we got a taxi back to mine and tried to get into one of those suspicious, exclusive-looking clubs on my street.

We gave ourselves a pep talk as we walked up to the club next door to my building. 'We look GREAT, we've got our I.D, we're managing to walk SOBER... Why wouldn't they let us in!?"

Soon we were stood in front of the grim-faced bouncer, looking up at his huge, suited chest. He looked straight ahead as if we weren't even there. A woman stumbled out of the club and started saying something to him in French, scowling and grimacing the whole time. I'm not being bitter, but I thought she was a man in a dress, because her face was so broad and square, and her make-up was so badly applied, but Amy swears it was a woman. As the woman/man in a dress swayed around the doorway, I heard music from inside the club for the first time ever- they have got the most effectively soundproofed doors in existence. The music was shit, like someone had pressed the 'House Music Demo' button on a child's keyboard.

When the horrid woman/man in a dress finally tottered back inside, I cleared my throat and said 'Bonsoir' to the bouncer. He looked down, as if noticing us for the first time. He was silent, so I asked him if we could go inside.

"Who invited you?" he asked.

(The conversation was in French, but like always, once I'm sober I can only remember the English meaning of what was said.)

"Oh... we have to be invited?" I said, "I didn't know... I live next door, can't we just come in?"

"Non." he said.

Oh, it was awful! There's nothing like the hot shame of being refused entry into a club. I don't know why we bothered, I knew it would be a private members club, and now I'll have to stumble past that bastard every time I come home from a night out.

Luckily, Amy spotted that the kebab shop at the end of my street was open. It's never open when I walk past- it was an Early Morning Miracle!

But then the man in the kebab shop was a nobhead as well! He kept saying that he'd run out of everything, I reckon because he didn't want to serve us for Some Reason. When we made it clear that we weren't leaving without something hot and meaty wrapped in pitta bread, he made us a really weird lamb kofta thing with potatoes and spinach. I would like to say that I will never patron his shitty kebab shop ever again, but if I'm drunk and it's open, I know I'll be back in there, pleading with him for the privilege of giving him my money in exchange for something loosely translated as 'Mystery Meat'...

Why are people such Massive Dickheads?

Anyway, in hindsight it was a good job the night didn't end with an over-priced champagne binge, in a Private-Members club frequented by masculine women who like Shit Music. It's funny because unbeknownst to us, Laura and Olivia had exactly the same idea- after Le Truskel, they stayed out until 9am, drinking in 'wee little bars' around where Olivia lives. If only we had known!

The next day we went for brunch at the Open Cafe, which is a famous gay bar in the Marais. The food was really nice, but Kayt found a long, dark hair in hers, so it's up to you if you want to take my recommendation or not.

After brunch we went for cake and tea at 'The Doormouse In The Teapot', or:

The cake looked delicious, but I didn't actually have any myself- by the time we'd queued up to get a table, I had to go to work. I had a little sob before I left, because I knew it would be the last time I saw Mairi and Clare for a long time. Mairi flew back to Madrid that night and Clare went home the next day.I can't imagine Mairi in Madrid, skipping around eating tapas and teaching tiny Spanish children how to paint... I'm hoping our next reunion will be in Madrid.

As for Clare, she really didn't want to leave Paris. Her and Amy make me wonder if I'm doing the right thing leaving Paris, because they miss it so much... Clare skyped me and Amy as soon as she got back to England. She was hammered and she was crying her eyes out. She had just got out of the bath and she kept flashing her boobs at us, on purpose. As my laptop microphone is broken for Some Reason, Clare couldn't hear us, but we could hear her. We could hear a simultaneous Skype conversation she was having and she was wailing:

"I'm up-upset... because... all my fr-fr-friends... live in Paaaaariiiis!!"

Oh Clare! I miss you and your Special Ways.

Clare is rather difficult to explain to people, but I'll try... You know that Posh Person Confidence some people have? Well Clare has it in ridiculous abundance: she came to Paris in a Real Fur Coat she's recently acquired and wherever we went people would stare and gasp. Clare was oblivious, refusing to believe that anyone would look twice at her Real Fur Coat. It got to the point where a man at Place de Clichy starting pointing and running after us, hollering like Tarzan as he mimed swinging from branch to branch. I'm not quite sure what Tarzan has to do with fur coats, but at first I thought he was taking the mick out of my Horrible Coat because it makes me look slightly like a gorilla. Kayt and Amy assured me that he was chasing after Clare, because she had a Real Fur Coat on, but Clare shook her head.

"Don't be silly, darlings." she said, striding on oblivious as a grown man danced about like a gorilla behind her.

That is what I mean by her Special Ways.

Ooh, talking of my Horrible Coat, now that all the girls have seen it, I can finally post a picture for you (Crystal)!

Ok, here it is....

Drum roll please...


Feel free to leave nasty comments. I don't care a jot, darling- I'm above all insults and jokes. I've been swanning around in it for almost an entire month now and I LOVE it. It's so warm and in my head I can tell myself I'm Kate Hudson in 'Almost Famous'. I don't care if from afar it gives me the silhouette of a shaggy bear. Amy says I look like a Seventies Superstar in it, so take THAT all you Afghan-haters.

Oh my god. If you think my Horrible Coat is bad, wait until you see what I have lined up for my purchase... Do you remember when I wrote a post about how I wanted a full-length, hooded, cloak?


Stay tuned is all I'm saying.

*Don't believe a word I say, I'm actually using both hands to type. I suppose I could take a break from typing and stretch my hand into the air, just for the sake of Legitimacy, but frankly I can't be arsed. If my hands leave the keyboard at all during the writing of this post, it will be to reach out for my cup of tea or another coconut macaroon.  But you know the sentiments are there.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Universe

It's been a long time since my last post. I told you I was going to be busy this week and I have been, not only with the Paris Reunion but also dealing with every fucking little fuckery that keeps occurring in my Cinderella Room- things exploding/breaking/emmitting blue sparks. The Universe is trying to tell me that I'm not meant to live in a Parisian apartment building, with water and electricity and gas- The Universe seems to be telling me that I belong under a bush, on the edge of a muddy field, in Wales.

I suppose it all started five weeks ago when my lightbulb went. As I had already broken my beside table lamp, I thought I was doomed to live in darkness forever, but then I was struck by a bolt of Genius and invented the Collander Light. My space age kitchen appliance-come-lighting apparatus served me well for a couple of weeks, until that bulb blew as well... I don't know why I have such an aversion to buying lightbulbs, but I'd rather live my life in the flickering shadow of two tealights than spend an hour in a hardware shop, agonizing over which is the right bulb to buy. Luckily, I found a spare bulb for my Collander Light in the Magic Cupboard next to my wardbrobe. I only discovered the Magic Cupboard about a month ago, before that I thought it was just a fusebox, but it's so much more- it sometimes provides me with Useful Items, such as matches, Fabreeze and pens, at the exact moment I need them, conjuring them out of thin air when I'm not looking!

Anyway, I had my Collander Light and All Was Well. Until one day I looked up from my book to see grey smoke curling slowly towards the ceiling... the collander had slipped off the special Collander Supporter I had fashioned from a metal tealight holder and it was touching the hot light bulb. There was an ugly, oozing hole in my collander and there were lumps of burning plastic glued to the lightbulb. I manged to salvage the collander and luckily the lightbulb still worked, but now it meant that whenever I fancied a bit of light, I had to suffer the smell of burning plastic in my nostrils and also, without the plastic collander acting as lampshade, the Collander Light was literally just a very bright, bare lightbulb positioned at eye level... There were times when I couldn't read my book because of all the white spots dancing about in front of my eyes.

Then I had a Horrible Nightmare with my shower. It's been draining really slowly recently, but I just kind of ignored it... Until last Friday, when I was running late to meet the girls, I got out of the shower and saw that the soapy water sloshing around my feet had finally gone and done what it has been threatening to do for weeks- it had overspilled into my bedroom. I had to rush around picking up shoes and books and extension plugs whilst struggling to hold my towel in place.* My shower drain had decided that it wasn't going to Swallow anymore, so I spent the evening scooping big panfuls of water out of my shallow showerbase.

But although I had no shower, everything else in my room was ok. Although... there was a Horrible Moment when I stood on my phone charger one night, which was plugged into an extension, and all the electricity went off in my room. Thankfully the fuse had just blown, and when I pressed the big green button in my fusebox, everything came back on again, apart from one plug socket which is now fucked forever, it would seem.

So, shower fucked, electricity fucked (whenever I plug something in, white or blue sparks spit at me) and then...

...drum roll please...

...my Collander(less) Light decided to stage-dive to it's untimely death. The lightbulb and it's weird, red plastic holder (don't ask me how it works or what it was originally for, I just found it in the Magic Cupboard one day) literally leapt off the shelf and into the air for No Reason. It landed a few metres away, in the annoying gap between my bed and the wall, and everything went dark. That bulb was dead before it hit the ground.

I decided to stay at Kayt's for a while...

Last weekend I was really busy working at the restaurant and trying to fit in seeing the Paris Reunion Girls, so there was no time for me to sort out my shower or light problem. I took to putting my make-up on by candlelight and not washing very often, two things that actually complement each other rather well. But on Sunday night I knew I couldn't face another week living like a squatter, plus Amy would be staying at mine every night this week, as she is filling in for Emma's nanny job while she's on holiday.

It was time to be a Grown Up and sort out my Household Issues.

I went to the supermarket. I bought two bulbs. I bought a bottle of drain cleaner. I took them home. Miraculously, the bulbs fitted in my light (the Big Light- no more melting, blinding Collander Lamps for me), then I poured the drain cleaner down my drain, opened the window and left my Cinderella Room for the night.

The next day I went home to discover that the drain cleaner hadn't worked. Everyone told me to put more down there and leave it for a bit longer, so I did as they advised and finally, on Tuesday morning, I tested the shower to see if the water went down the plug properly and it did! It had worked!! Yey! I had light and a shower!

On Tuesday night, me and Amy had our tea at Kayt's and then came back to mine, because it's closer to where we both work. I turned on the shower to show Amy how well the drain cleaner had worked. She agreed it was a Miraculous Thing. Then I tried to turn the shower off, but no, no- not so fast, bitch.

The hot tap has always been stiff and there's been many a Horrible Moment where I think I can't do it, but then I always manage it in the end. Well not this time. Me and Amy both had a go and it was definitely stuck. We put the shower head in my sink and I climbed in to the shower, putting my full weight behind a massive, tightly-gripped twist. It turned. And then... It just kept on turning.

'Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee' it went, wizzing round and round, with no friction to slow it down, loving it's newly-found freedom as me and Amy stood with our mouths hanging open, not quite ready to believe that it was almost midnight and my shower was broken and we had no idea what to do about it.

"Ring Kayt." Amy said.

Kayt told me to ring the mum of my au pair family.

"Can you explain in French?" she said sleepily, after I had gabbled on at her for about five minutes.

I tried to explain as best I could in French and her response was "Ask your neighbours."

Thanks, goodnight. Cheers.

It was too late to knock on for the gardienne and all my neighbours are old ladies who leave me nasty notes about banging the doors after 8pm...

Me and Amy stood in my room, watching the boiling hot water raining down the sink, a feeling of horror creeping over us like a shadow...

I heard movement in the corridor, so I threw the door open and saw the Barvarian lady from next door carrying a bundle of washing. I explained to her what had happened and asked her if she knew how to turn the water supply off. She came into my room and looked around, but said it was different to her room. Then I spotted a small metal tap next to the boiler and pointed it out to her. She tried to turn it but said it was too stiff. I had a go as well and it was impossible to turn- I was starting to wonder if it was a tap for the gas or something. I tried one last time with a tea towel for extra friction and THANKFULLY it worked. The water stopped coming. Phew.

The next day the au pair mum sent someone round to fix it and he replaced both the taps. I've not actually seen the mum yet, I'm going to work soon so we'll see if she's horrible to me about it or not.

For fuck's sake. I've spent nearly two hours writing this blog post, because my laptop is being sooooo slow. It's on it's last legs. Everything I own is broken or breaking.

Sorry to have ranted on about absolutely nothing, I know I don't have any real problems and I'm not complaining, honestly. I've got lots more to say but must be getting off now, so will write another blog post tomorrow.

Oh, before I go, I have a little story to share...

Kayt went to the swimming pool this week with the kids she works with and she got chatting to a Scottish au pair. Kayt said "Have you seen that blog-" meaning What Parisiens Like, which has now been turned into a book that someone bought for Kayt, so she's raving about it to everyone, but before she could finish her sentence the Scottish au pair said:

"Left Bank Manc?"

Ha! That has really cheered me up. Recently I've been feeling as if my blog is really shit and nobody reads it, but Scottish Au Pair said her and all her friends read it. She even said to Kayt "Are you kayt with a 'y'?"

So thank you Scottish Au Pair, keep reading please.

I promise I won't leave it eight days without a new blog post again!

*There was nobody else in the room, but I couldn't let the towel go, because in a small room full of so many mirrors, I couldn't risk accidentally catching a glimpse of myself as I darted around, panicking and dripping water everywhere... I was so panicked already that the added distress of seeing a naked, fretting wet person, even if that person was myself, would have tipped me over the edge.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Joris and the Gypsies

Fucking hell. Since I got back from London my room has been an explosion of optional outfits and mini Smarties and I've been promising myself I'll tidy it up for 'when the girls come'... Clare arrived last night and Amy is coming in about three hours and it's still a horrendous mess. Luckily, they can both stay at Kayt's for the mean time, but it's so depressing having a messy bedroom. I wish someone would tidy it. But who though?

On the bright side, I have just got back from having my eyebrows threaded. I know I said I was going on Saturday, but I got really hungry and went for lunch instead, it was actually quite eventful- someone Kayt used to have sexual acitivities with was in the same restaurant, so Kayt ran out into the street and left me on my own, looking like a greedy, friendless freak with unkempt eyebrows.... But tonight I've gone from having hairy little caterpillars nestling above my eyes to, erm... well, I can't really think of an appropriate insect to compare them to. What are those very, very thin, black worms called? They are too thin, is the long and short of it. But I still love them. I can't stop stroking them in a Sinister Way. They are so smooth and perfect... shame they are as thin as a spider's thigh.

Anyway, on my way to La Chapelle (note to self: next time take a Male Escort, or at least wear a fake beard to avoid feeling like an alien on a planet full of men), I went into Naf Naf and bought some black ankle boots in the sale. I've only had them for one hour and I don't like them anymore. My idiotic spending habits are RUINING MY LIFE.

In other news, I have tried to finish telling you about New Year's Eve so many times, but every time I try to write a blog post about it I either run out of time before I have to leave for work, or I read back what I've written and it's a load of shit. I feel like I can't write anymore. Asides from my blog, I have quite a few Secret Writing Projects that I've been working on and at the moment I can't do anything with any of them. My inspiration has evaporated. But as any good doctor will tell you, waitressing really is the most common cause of Writer's Block. The only problem is, I have a Funny Feeling that I'll be waitressing for a good few  years yet...

Still. It's always satisfying to finish what you started, so I'll give New Year's Eve another bash just for continuity's sake: I think I got up to the part where the Eastender's couple went home? After that we all went back to Sophie's flat and carried on the party. From Eastender's we briefly tuned into Coronation Street... Erm, someone may have ever so slightly Kicked Off with my cousin's boyfriend... but after I eventually calmed down (oh come on, obviously the someone was me) and it was all ok in the end. Apart from there was a huge, hairy man called Jamie at the party who nobody would admit to bringing. He had a bandage on his finger and kept telling everyone it had been bleeding for three weeks.

"Do you think I should go the hospital?" he was asking everyone.
"YES, you freak." was the resounding answer.

Jamie also claimed he was born in 1974, even though he looked about twenty five, and he kept trying to take over the music and put Bucks Fizz on. I asked him how he had gotten into the party and he said "Oh I was at another party a few doors down, but it got a bit weird, everyone kept taking their clothes off."

It eventually transpired that my cousin's boyfriend Dan had brought him along, after seeing him dancing in someone's window dressed only in a pair of Speedos. Everybody else at the party had been fully-clothed. Dan invited Speedos Man, or Jamie, to our party but soon regretted it when Jamie pushed Dan into an empty bedroom and demanded a blow job.

You live and learn!

The next day I felt terrrible and couldn't face another night out. Rather unwillingly, I left Sophie and her flatmates watching films and ordering Thai take-away and got the tube to Clapham. And GUESS WHO I SAW ON THE TUBE?!

Actual real people from 'My Big Fat Gypsy Weddings'!

There were four young girls, all wearing teeny tiny dresses and holding their stripper-esque high heels in their hands. They all had very long hair and ballroom dancer-style make-up on. At first I thought they were tiny ladies but a closer inspection revealed that they were about thirteen years old. They were discussing loudly the events of the night before.

"I'm going to tell Mammy what he wa' doing to her."- There was no mistaking their Irish Traveller accents.

There was one lad with them who looked about sixteen and it was him that I recognised from the programme. When he got on the tube, I kid you not, he said:

"No, no, listen, he wasn't trynna grab her, he just wanted to talk wi' her!"

Everyone on the tube was listening intently, looking incredulously at these Real Life Specimens from 'My Big Fat Gypsy Weddings'. I genuinely love that programme, I don't watch it because I want to laugh at Irish Travellers and I was really surpised to see loads of people openly laughing at them. I looked at the people laughing on the tube and I thought 'Why do you think it's ok to laugh? Don't you respect other people's  cultures? Don't you know what Bare Knuckle Fighting is? If he sees you laughing you might find out.'

That Gypsy Weddings encounter MADE MY YEAR.

By the time I got to Ricky's (where all the girls were getting ready, maybe we should start calling it Ricky's Pop Up Make-Over Shop) I'd almost forgotten that the last time I saw Kat was in the foyer of our hotel in Ibiza, FOUR MONTHS ago! Ah. I feel like my fleeting visits to London are never long enough.

I can't describe how good the night was. No, I'm really not going to, I'm too tired to write and I need to tidy my room and get ready to go out. But you don't need me to sum it up for you with words, click here and you can listen to Simian Mobile Disco's live set from the night...

I had such a good night. My hangover miraculously disappeared as the music got better and better. I felt all Confident and Happy- I don't know what came over me. In fact, I'm afraid that I might have acted a lot like a  Dickhead all night. Although I remember saying to someone that I felt 'like a Disney princess' so perhaps my paranoia isn't completely unfounded...

But if I was being a Proper Nobhead all night- wrapped up in my own little fantasy world, where everyone liked me and my eyeliner hadn't smudged halfway down my face- then one can only hope that everyone else was in pretty much the same way and they didn't notice.

I have made up my mind to definitely move to London. But the main reason I want to move there is so I can go out every weekend and listen to good music. Is that a bad reason? Will it all end in disaster? I know so many people who have tried to 'do London' but they've lost themselves in the fabled smog and sprawl of the city...

Right, I have to go out drinking now, hold that thought.

Monday, 9 January 2012

The Staircase Mystery

Hello? Is anybody reading this? Is anybody out there? I'm not being needy- I am just panicking because there is a very strong possibility that I am a ghost...

I've just got back from my 'théâtre en Anglais' lesson (it was fucking terrible, the kids were even more Mental than usual and I found out that next week I have to teach them all on my own). On the way home I bought a baguette and a croissant. I was feeling very French and productive: I decided I would eat the croissant; do some blogging; tidy my room for when the girls come this week; and even go to H&M and return those Clown Pants that are still hanging in my wardrobe, taunting me with their seductively silky, ill-fitting waistband...

Oh! But what fresh hell is this? I got back to my building and the lift was broken. I've never taken the stairs, not just because I live on the sixth floor and I am quite lazy, but for another reason- a reason so strange and disturbing that I don't like to talk about it because it freaks me the fuck out. But I'm going to tell you because you're a good listener and I don't think you'll judge me...

(When I say 'you' I mean 'me' as I'm the only person reading this as I type. That's kind of weird when you- I- think about it. Have I gone mad? Have I finally snapped? Have I?)

(I'm pretty sure I have.)

The staircase in my building is one of those sweeping, typically Parisien affairs, with banisters of dark, polished wood and a strip of royal blue carpet running down the middle.

But the staircase that leads from my floor looks like this:

They are clearly not the same stairs!

And I'm not just being an idiot; they didn't run out of carpet or anything. One day, when I was feeling energetic, I tried to walk down the stairs and they stop after two flights... I live on the sixth floor! I crept back up the stairs and vowed NEVER to think about it again but then when Amy came to stay, she tried to go down the stairs as well and she had to come back up again, confused and freaked out. When she told me, in a horrified whisper, that my stairs didn't lead anywhere, I told her that she wasn't going mad, but that perhaps we shouldn't mention the 'stair thing' to anyone else. And up until today that can of rotting worms has stayed firmly shut and hidden in the back of my cupboard...

But when I saw today that the lift was broken, I knew I would finally discover the Terrible Truth that lay at the heart of the Staircase Mystery...

I decided to walk up the nice, carpeted stairs Just To See. There are definitely no Nice Stairs anywhere on my floor, but I still couldn't quite believe that my floor could only be reached by lift... After all, it is a very old building, what did all the servants used to do who lived in the little chambres de bonnes? Scale the outside walls? Climb down the chimneys? No, they took the stairs, obviously. Just I like I would do, once I had located them...

I walked up the Nice Stairs to the fifth floor and could get no further. I was now 100% certain that the Nice Staircase stopped one floor below mine. I thought that maybe there would a secret door Or Something, but all the doors had labels and doorbells. I didn't want to try rattling any of the doors in case they thought I was a burgular.

Suddenly, all the blood drained from my face. I knew what was happening! It was that moment in a scary film where the protagonist discovers he is a ghost. He tries to get into his apartment and it's locked, so the breaks down the door to find a dusty ruin that has clearly not been lived in for years. He looks around, confused and then he hears two people in the corridor behind him:

"Has that place sold yet?" a sporty, tanned girl asks her boyfriend, wrinkling her nose.
"No, it's been empty for years. Ever since that guy went mad and killed himself by accident."
"What did he do?" the girl asks, a macarbe glint in her eye.
"He was fixing Christmas lights to the roof."

And the main character widens his eyes in comprehension and shock, because at the beginning of the film he fell off the roof whilst fannying about with Chrismas lights and he was amazed he survived and that's when weird things started happening and now it all makes sense!

Yes, it was exactly like that, except without the Christmas lights or the falling off the roof thing or the couple. (I'm glad because they sound like Smug Dickheads, don't they?)

I went back down the stairs. There was an old lady in the entrance. She walked straight past me without seeing me. Honestly, she did. And I was carrying a bottle of milk and a large baguette- Parisien people normally stare at things like that.

"Madame!" I yelled, hoping that if I was a ghost I was at least a poltergeist.

She turned round and looked confused. She couldn't see me.

"Madame!" I yelled again, running towards her.

She put her glasses on and frowned at me.


Ah. I wasn't a ghost, I was just a Randomer holding a bottle of milk and shouting.

I asked her if she knew how to get to the sixth floor, because the lift was broken. She told me to walk up the Nice Stairs. I explained that they only went up to the fifth floor. She smirked.

"Donc, vous avez besoin d'escalier du service."

For those of you who don't speak French (and for the people who do speak French, because what I wrote above probably doesn't make any sense at all), she told me I needed the 'Servants' Stairs' and that she didn't know where they were. She didn't seem to realise we no longer live in the 18th century. 'Just you wait for the revolution,' I thought.

I knocked on for the gardienne but she wasn't there. I went and looked in the Bin Room in the courtyard, in case there was a secret door hidden in there, but there was nothing in there. (Except for bins, obviously.) I found a door behind the lift, but when I managed to pull it open, all I saw was a staircase leading down- turns out there must be more than one Staircase Mystery in my building.

I was getting worked up now. Why is everything so... difficult? Why can't I have a staircase that leads to my room? Why do I have to live on a floating floor, that can only be reached by Father Christmas or fairies? (Actually, that sounds like my Dream Home!!)

I marched up the Nice Stairs again. I saw I had left a trail of croissant crumbs all the way down. Good. Let the Posh Bastards have messy stairs. At least their stairs don't lead to the Twilight Zone.

No, there was definitely no secret door.

On my way down I met two gentlemen, so I asked them for help. They suggested everywhere I'd already looked and then shrugged their shoulders. They gave me a look that said 'You are a silly idiot' and then they left me dithering about in the courtyard. I wanted to eat my croissant. I wanted a cup of tea. I wanted the world to make sense and I wanted to live in a building where all the stairs led from the ground floor to the top floor.

I knocked on the gardienne's door again, just because I couldn't think of what else to do. The door opened. She had clearly been in there the whole time, watching the television whilst giving herself a pedicure, or whatever it is that caretakers do when they are not taking care of me!

"Oui?" she asked.

I explained my problem for the third time. In fairytales, everything comes in threes. The third brother fights three dragons to get to three eggs, the third of which has a magical golden ring inside, that kind of thing... I really hoped that something out of the ordinary would happen, that it would be Third Time Lucky, that the gardienne would produce a tiny emerald key that opened up a hole in the wall, revealing a sparkling, glass staircase that led directly into my fireplace... or something.

She told me to take the Nice Stairs up the fifth floor. She said there was a door there that led to the escalier du service. Oh fuck. I'd already looked up there! I asked her is she was sure it was open, she said yes, it's the only open door. Right, so all I had to do was rattle everyone's doors shall until one of them opened.

I trekked all the way to the fifth floor. By this time I'd eaten most of my croissant and had started to nibble away at my baguette, adding more crumbs to my Hansel and Gretel trail along the royal blue stair runner.

I reached the fifth floor just in time to see the Bolivian Lady who lives next door to me closing a door behind her. It was quite a big door, with a doorbell and a label next to it that made it look as though it was somebody's apartment. What a fucking stupid idea.

ANYWAY. The door leads to my horrible, skanky stairs. The servants' stairs. Mystery solved. I'm back in my Cinderella room. Phew, I'm going to have a nap now.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

New Year's Eve: Part 2

I need to blog and clear my head a bit. I've started confusing my blog with my mind. I keep thinking 'Oh, I need to write that on my blog' about every thought that wanders into my head... but I don't need to do anything- thoughts are fleeting, I wish I didn't feel like I have to pin them down all the time, type them up, share with them everyone. Who cares? Why can't I just think things once and then forget them, rather than re-think and re-think, and edit them in my mind. By the time I get round to writing my blog I don't even write anything I've been thinking about because I feel as though I've already written it once.

Anyway. I had a weird night at work. I found out two of the staff are 'sex friends' which is quite funny. I've come home all jacked up on coca cola and shit chart music, and I fancied doing a bit of blogging...

I never finished telling you about New Year's Eve. I can't believe it was a whole week ago. I'll tell you what, thoughts are fleeting and so is fucking time. It's always running away from me, skipping about like a smug idiot because it knows I can't keep up.


This time last week, I was sat outside a pub in Soho, dressed as Pohcahontas and watching an Eastenders-style couple's fight unfolding before my eyes...

My cousin was having a fancy dress party. I wasn't bothered about having a Big Night because I knew I was going to Ministry of Sound the next day, I just wanted to dress up and spend some time with my cuz. (Not that I ever say 'cuz' in real life, but there's only so many times you can say the word 'cousin' in one paragraph.) There wouldn't be too many people- just me, my cousin Sophie, her friends Emily and Becky and her flatmate Roz to begin with. Then some of her friends were coming and we were all going to Sophie's boyfriend's pub so she could be there when the clocks chimed midnight.

Only things never work out like you plan, do they? Her friends were coming from Peckham, which I only knew from driving through it earlier on in the day, was a very long way away from where we were at Turnpike Lane.

We got more and more drunk, waiting for them, and then Becky pointed out that if we didn't leave soon we would end up seeing in the New Year on the tube. Our plan was to go to Sophie's boyfriend's pub for just before midnight, then go to a drag queen pub called Mollie Mag's or something. Sophie and Becky love drag queens. But. We all had quite a lot of make-up on. Becky was dressed as Boy George. We started to worry that we could mistaken for drag queens ourselves and no girl wants to see in the New Year feeling like a big ugly man.

So the new plan was: go to Sophie's boyfriend's pub for about half eleven, wait for him to finish work at midnight, then go back to the party and get disgustingly drunk. Only these pesky Peckham kids were taking their loooong ass time to get to Turnpike Lane. They also rang up Sophie and said they didn't want to go to the pub because they couldn't afford it, so by the time they actually turned up, Sophie just threw them her keys and said we'd be back in an hour.

The tube journey was quite fun. Everyone was very merry and yelling Happy New Year to each other. When I say 'everyone' I mean Sophie was yelling it at everyone else on the tube, around the tube stations and in the street- policemen, bouncers, other drunk people...

We got to her boyfriend's pub just before midnight. We burst in through the doors to a completely empty pub. There was one man at the bar, desperately waving his tenner about and asking for a Guinness as if he was stood at the most crowded bar in London, and then two tables of quiet people at the back and that was it.

We got some champagne and toasted to the New Year. Then Emily, who is Scottish, whipped out a page of handwritten lyrics to Auld Lang Syne and made us sing it with her. We all joined in for one verse, but then we were distracted by the fireworks on the television and gave up. Emily, however, was not best pleased with this.


She was Angry. She went to the toilets in a huff and came back with a very dodgy, one-eyed man who looked about sixty five.

"THIS IS MA MAN FRUM FIFE!" she told us.

Emily went over and sat with her new Scottish buddy in the corner. I'm not one to judge on appearances (all right maybe I do sometimes...) but this guy looked like he'd carved out a few Glasgow Grins in his time.

Sophie and her boyfriend were chatting outside which left me, Becky and Roz stood at the empty bar, watching the London fireworks on T.V.

"It would be amazing to be there." I said.

There was a pause while we all sipped our champagne and looked around the half-empty pub.

"Next year, I'm going to see the fireworks." Becky said.

Just for a change of scenery we went to sit outside the pub and have a fag. Sophie and Emily (without the One-Eyed Wonder from Fife, thankfully) joined us and started bellowing HAPPY NEW YEAR at everyone. By this point I was feeling quite merry myself, so I joined in the general Cheering and Merry-Making. A couple walked past us and we bombarded them with New Year's greetings. The man was happy to walk by but the woman, who was so drunk she could barely walk in a straight line, took an instant liking to us.

"You're all Northerners!" she shrieked, "'Appy New year darlings!"

We were so thrilled to find someone as drunk as us that we begged her to stay and have a drink. Her boyfriend was trying to drag her away but she was quite forceful. She sat on Becky's lap and we all cheered, so her boyfriend rolled his eyes and went in to get them both a drink.

Me and Sophie went in to buy everyone drinks as well, but when we got to the bar The Boyfriend told us he had bought ten sambuca shots.

"Aww you're sooo nice!" Sophie cooed, "You're such a niiiice couple, how long have you been going out for?"
"Too facking long." he muttered.

We should have know then, that something was awry...

I left Sophie to help him with the shots and bounced back outside.

"I dunno where my boyfriend's gone." Our New Mate slurred.
"He's at the bar! He's buying us all shots!" I said.
"WHAT? He better not be facking buying... are you joking? Are you telling me my boyfriend's in there now, buying you all shots?"

I could sense that Something Bad was about to happen. Luckily, Our New Mate was distracted by Becky's face. She peered into it.

"YOU. Are so facking HOT."

Becky smiled. But then Our New Mate narrowed her eyes.

"You are so facking pretty..."

There was something in her tone of voice that implied she was about to do something to make Becky less pretty. Like shove a razor blade into her eye, for example.

At that moment The Boyfriend came back, with his ten sambucas. There was a chorus of 'Waheeys' and 'Thank yous' as we did the shots. Even Our New Mate said 'Thanks babe' as she did her shot. In all the commotion, I almost didn't hear what The Boyfriend said:

"Don't thank me, you facking paid for them."

But she definitely didn't miss what he said:

"Why you buying all these girls drinks with MY money?"

Ooh it was just like being in Eastenders! We sat there awkwardly while they argued and then, somehow, I have no idea how, their arguement dissolved into plans of getting home and all of a sudden they were leaving and we were calling goodbye:

"So nice to have met you babe! Happy New Year's!"

She called back "Facking love you girls!" as she left, dragging three chairs and a table along with her.

Right I'm tired, so I'll leave it there. I've not even told you about the fat man in Speedos yet!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Au Pair Life and Eyebrows

Yesterday I had one of those moments where I have to seriously consider if I should be trusted to look after other people's children. If you've ever wondered what it's like to be an au pair, here's a little extract from my 'working life'...

We were walking to the bus stop from the park. It was dark. Suddenly the eleven year old disappeared down a corner with her friend Florence*.

"Where's she going?" I asked the eight year old.
"Shh... it doesn't matter." she replied, helpfully.

"WHERE ARE YOU GOING!" I yelled into the darkness.
"FLORENCE'S!" she yelled back.

Florence lives just around the corner and the eleven year old often stays at her house on a Friday night. The eight year old was acting as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening, so I assumed the mum had forgotten to tell me. Still, the mum does normally tell me things like that...

"The bus! The bus!" the eight year old screamed.

The bus drove past us and the eight year old started running after it, so obviously I followed suite and we got to the bus stop just before he closed the doors. We sat down at the back of the bus, laughing and my thoughts turned to what I was going to cook for the dinner. About five minutes later, when we were about two stops away from home, I heard my phone bing. The eleven year old had BBM'd me (who gets a Blackberry at the age of eleven?):

Vous êtes ou?

My stomach lurched. Instantly I knew I'd Fucked Up.

We are on the bus!! 
I thought you were staying with Florence tonight??!
Go back to Florence's house and I will come and get you.

No reply. Shit shit shit. I sent her the same messages in French, in case she didn't understand.

Still no reply. As we got off the bus my phone started to ring, it was the mum.

"What you do? She go to get her bags from Florence's house and you leave her all alone! What are you thinking? You not listen! You can't listen! Are you crazy? Now I must go and get her! I am far away!"

Etc. etc.

I tried to argue back with her:

"I thought she was staying at Florence's house! She didn't tell me she was just going to get her bags! I told her to go back to Florence's house and I'll go and get her."

But the mum wasn't listening to me, she just kept saying the same things over and over again until I stopped trying to argue with her. Eventually I sighed and said "O.k." and she put the phone down.

The eight year old was running around me, wanting to know what was happening, so I tried to explain to her without making it sound as if me and her mum had had an arguement.

"Your sister went to get her bags from Florence's house, but I thought she was staying there, so now your mum has to go and get her."

"But she not say this!" cried the eight year old, indignant, "She say she go to Florence house! It's not you who do this! I go call my mum and I say!"

As soon as we got into the house, the eight year grabbed the phone and rang her mum. I heard her yelling down the phone and she slammed it down.

"My mum say it not real what we say! She say my sister say is real and you not listen you! She say it's not real what you and me say!"

"Oh well..." I said, trying to pretend everything was normal.

The eight year old went off to play with her baby brother and I ran the bath, staring into the water, trying to get a little plan together. What if she fired me? I already know she thinks 'my head is not on my shoulders' because the dad told me... Should I apologise? Or is this my chance to get out? I could stay at Kayt's for a few days and work at the restaurant, or I could go straight to London and stay with my cousin for a few days, I know that her friend Becky would get a flat with me...

I really thought that this could be it. I could be leaving Paris forever.

The doorbell rang and I jumped up, ready to face My Destiny.

It was the dad, sat on his motorbike with the engine still running.

"Give me the other helmet please, I need to go and get her. What happened?"

"I don't know." I said.

I kept thinking about the eleven year old, wandering round in the dark on her own. I felt really bad. Whne I was eleven I used to go to school on my own, but I suppose it's different in Paris. It's not as safe as Manchester. Oh god, what if she wasn't safe? What if she was wandering around crying?

Ten minutes later the doorbell rang again and it was the eleven year old.

"Sorry!" I said when I opened the door. "I thought you said you were staying at Florence's."
"C'est pas grave!" she said cheerfully.

And that was that. She clearly wasn't arsed in the slightest. By the time the mum got home I'd calmed down and forgotten all about it. I couldn't believe I hadn't made absolutely clear where the eleven year old was going. I should have called the mum to double-check before we jumped on the bus. I heard the mum feeding the baby in the kitchen so I went in, wandering what sort of mood she'd be in. She had sounded furious on the phone.

"I'm sorry about what happened."
"It's ok, I just want to ask you both what happened, because I don't want it to happen again!"
"Yeah, of course." I said.

We all sat down in the living room.

"I was surprised because I ring her and she say 'I go to get my bags from Florence's house' and I say 'O.k, tell LBM** and she say 'I have, I have' and the next thing she say 'They are on the bus, they have left me.'"
"Well, she didn't tell me, but I suppose... I should have made absolutely sure."
"I tell my sister to tell her." the eleven year old said.

Then the mum started yelling at her in French and I just sat there, patiently, while the two of them argued it out. After a time the mum said "O.k, good then."

And that was that. I ate dinner with the girls (turns out the baby's nanny had made a potato gratin so I didn't have to cook) and then the mum said I could go a bit early.

I was planning on going out and getting very drunk as I'm working in the restaurant tonight and tomorrow night, but I had an unexpected visitor. Do you remember Ali, my 'jogging partner' (we went four times) last year who left Paris to go and live on a Spanish mountain? Well she was coming to Paris to meet up with an ex-boyfriend (wink wink) and she needed somewhere to stay for one night. As she had been up since 5am she didn't fancy going out, so she just sat on my bed and watched me tidy my room instead.

Now I'm off to get my eyebrows threaded because they look horrrrendous at the moment. If you took a picture of them and showed them to three hundred people and asked them 'Whose eyebrows are these?' I bet two hundred and eighty of them would say 'Madonna- circa 1989'. The rest would say 'This must be a trick question, because they are not eyebrows at all, they are clearly two moustaches that you have photoshopped onto someone's forehead.'

*Obviously I haven't used her real name for Paranoid Reasons...
*...just as nobody actually calls me LBM.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

New Year's Eve

So. New Year’s Eve. 

I’ll try not to bore you too much with the details of my eight hour coach journey, but it needs to be mentioned as it was the longest bit of my whole fucking weekend.

It wasn’t actually that bad, getting the coach. I mostly snoozed and looked out of the window. (Luckily I managed to get a window seat and I made sure that nobody sat in the empty seat next to me by putting my bag on it and looking stern.)

The coach stopped a couple of times at French motorway service stations, but I refused to get off, in case Something Happened and I was left stranded in the middle of the French countryside. As a result I had to ration my little bottle water to one sip every thirty minutes and I was in that horrible position of being desperately thirsty and desperate to have a wee at the same time, for the entire jounrey. But I held fast people- I think it is all good practice for when I inevitably get stranded in the desert one day. I am sure it is just like being sat on an air-conditioned coach for eight hours…

However I did have to get off  a couple of times for Border Control, which was so relaxed I wish I’d brought three kilos of heroin with me, just for the sake of it. I can’t remember if we had to go through the whole thing again once we reached England, but at some point in the journey, whether it was Calais or Dover I can't remember, we had to go through British Border Control and I felt so snide on everyone who wasn’t British, which was everyone apart from me.

All the Chinese students got questioned about what they were doing in France, what they were studying, why they were coming to England, how long for etc. Then there was a Mexican girl in front of me in the queue- I wanted to jump in and save her when she was asked who she was staying with in London:

“Erm, a guy.”
“Is he a friend?” the woman behind the booth asked her.
“Erm… kinda… I met him on Facebook and he, erm, he asked me to stay for New Year’s…”

I wanted to shout at the woman behind the booth:

“Can’t you see she has met a man on the internet and now she is going to have sex with him?! Stop asking her about it!!”

Somehow I managed to hold my tongue and soon we were all back on the coach, driving towards the next stage of our journey which was a complete Mystery- I had no idea how we were going to get across the Channel.

‘Over, or under? Over, or under?’ I kept muttering to myself.

I couldn’t see the sea, but I assumed we must be near it as we had gone through Border Control. At the very last second, I saw a big metal tube thing, just before the coach swung into it and everything went dark. It was like being inside a tin of sardines, except instead of sardines there were coaches and cars, parked in single file, with no room to even open their doors.

It was a bit claustrophobic, but it only took forty minutes and then... we were in Enlgand!! 

It was so exciting. My face was glued to the window, seeing England through fresh eyes. I tried to imagine how I’d feel about England if I was seeing it for the first time, arriving on a coach. There were a lot of old people stood on corners, looking at things. Looking at pub menus, looking at bus maps, looking at other old people also stood on corners, looking at them from across the road. There were lots of stone walls and green fields and posh people gallivanting about on horses.

After what seemed like an AGE (in actual fact I think it was about two hours) I saw a sign for Lewisham.

“Lewisham!” I thought, “That’s in London! I know it is!”

I gathered all my stuff up and prepared to jump out of my seat ahead of everyone else. We drove through Lewisham... 

Then, we continued to drive through Lewisham.... 

We just kept driving and driving through fucking Lewisham.

Then I saw a sign for Peckham and I got all excited again but it took us AN HOUR to get from Peckam to London Victoria. London is so bloody big! 

It’s weird that I had to trek all the way to Gallieni to get the coach in Paris and I was grumbling because Gallieni it's the furthest east you can go and still technically be in Paris (I live in West Paris) and yet it only took thirty five minutes to get there. Paris is so tiddy compared to London.

Shit, I’ve just realised I didn’t want to go on and on about my coach journey and yet I have… oops.

Oh well, that part of the story is over now, on to the actual New Year’s antics! It gets a lot more exciting, honestly, there was a fat man in Speedos and everything!

Anyway, I better leave it there, because I need to go to my au pair job soon. On Tuesday the eight year old was really pleased to see me. I don't know why, I was a bit suspicious actually. I think the girls were pleased with their Christmas presents, even though they thought the Lush bathbombs were sweets. Thank God they didn't try and eat them. I showed the eight year old how to use it on Tuesday night but it didn't fizz as much I remembered. It just kind of bobbed about in the bath and then it melted. Still, she liked it, I think.

I don't think they expected any presents from me. When I left for Christmas I said to the mum "Oh there's some presents under the tree for the girls" and as I said it she handed me two massive bin bags of rubbish. She had just asked me to take them to the bottom of the street for her and she looked a bit regretful that at the exact moment I told her that I'd given them Christmas presents; she'd given me their rubbish to take out.

Anyway, on Tuesday the eight year old kept asking me if I'd bought a new handbag yet and I told her I was still looking for one. 

"Do you like pink and brown?"

When I didn't answer very enthusiastically, she looked so upset that I quickly changed my answer.

"Yes! I really want like pink and brown actually! Why, have you seen one in a shop or something?"

"Yes. I show you." she said.

Then when I was just about to leave, the mum appeared in front of me holding a paper bag.

"We got you something!" she said. 

I opened it in front of them, because for some reason French people love watching you open presents. It was a little handbag. I was so surprised and pleased but I also feel a bit embarrassed because they had clearly only given it to me because I got the girls presents and that's not why I did it at all.

But still, I needed a new handbag and it's a really nice one! It's a really small clutch bag and it's not 'pink and brown', thank fuck, but it's made out of pinky brown leather, almost like a lilac colour.

When I got it home I had a proper look at it and it's from Zadig et Voltaire.  

Pas mal. Pas mal du tout.

I took it out last night but the little girl is really disappointed that I'm not using it for work. I tried to explain that it's more of a 'going out bag' but I might have to give in and start taking it to their house. I don't know if the mum expected me to take it to work as well though, because she said something about me 'not having to take a big bag everywhere.' Normally I either take my massive black bag and fill it with stuff I don't need just so it doesn't look empty, or I don't take a bag at all- I wear my coat with the Massive Pockets. (Seriously, they are so big that I can fit the after-school snack in one and a bottle of wine in the other.)

Actually, now that I think about it, this is what I did last year as well and that au pair family bought me a handbag for Christmas and a handbag for my birthday. Maybe I look like a person in need of handbags.

Hmmm, what else can I say quickly before I have to go? I feel like I have a lot of things to say...

Oh. I know. 

Let me have a quick moan...

I am working an unbelievable amount of hours at the restaurant. I don't know how long I can keep both jobs up for. Don't even mention the fucking teaching job as well. I might have to jack the teaching in because it's just too much. Even with just my restaurant job and my au pair job, I'm not going to have one day off for the next three weeks.

It's Extra Shit because Amy, Clare, Mairi and Laura are coming to Paris next week for our mini-Paris reunion and I don't know if I'll be able to spend any time with them!

Think of the money, think of the money.

The only problem is, I am thinking of the money and all I can think is, how can I get my money from France to England?? Every time I try and do it something goes wrong and as a result I am spending more and more money on cocktails and shoes in Paris while back in England my credit card and overdraft and holiday go unpaid and my debts are getting steadily and steadily more out of control...

Still. You can't let yourself worry about these things, can you? Best to just push them to the back of your mind and go out for cocktails, in your new shoes.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Best and Worst Moments of 2011

I've got really bad writer's block. Normally I will just start writing any old shit and as I write, something half- readable will develop, but every time I try to write about my weekend, I read back what I have written and I realise I have spent about ten paragraphs describing my very long and tedious coach trip to London.

I think if I were to post the shit I have written so far, it would leave the reader feeling as if they themselves have just completed an eight hour coach journey- bored, drained and wondering why they fucking did it in the first place.

The worst thing is, on the coach journey back, I was snoozing but not really sleeping and in my head I was mentally blogging over and over again, so I feel as if I have already written about the weekend a thousand times already and I can't be arsed to do it again.

But I promise I will write about it properly tomorrow.

Oh God. I have just had the longest nap ever but it was too long, and now I feel sick. I have woken up to absolute carnage. My room is so messy that I am going to have to stay at Kayt's for a few days. Hopefully when I come back it will have tidied itself up.

Oh shit. Just realised this is my first blog post of 2011. I'm not exactly starting as I mean to go on am I?

I feel like I should be writing some sort of intelligent, reflective piece about 2011.

As it happens I'm not particularly intelligent or reflective, so I won't.

But I do feel that looking back at 2011 might be quite fun. Maybe I should bash out a few of my Best Moments of 2011 or something? (I have linked some of the 'moments' back to the original blog post, so if you are really bored you can read some of my past posts. I feel my past posts were a lot better than the shit I have been feeding you with lately, sorry.)

Best Things About 2011

  • The new friends I made...
(I'm too paranoid to mention these people by name in case they say 'We're not your friends, you dickhead.')

  • The old friends that came to visit me in Paris...
(Kat and Mikee, Rachel, Jen and Rosie, Abi, Claire, Jess, Lauren and Beth.)

  • Finally finding my rave around Paris...
(Mr Scruff, Foreign Beggars, Magnetic Man, Deadmau5, Bambounou, Mikix the Cat, Loefah, Mala, Damien Lazarus, Jamie Jones, Seth Troxler... too many considering when I first arrived in Paris I thought I would never find a club that played anything other than the Black Eyed Peas.)

  • Sunny holidays in Monaco, Ibiza and (not so sunny) Manchester.

Even though there were some Sad Times last year, I did have a lot of Good Times last year, didn't I?

Saying that, I know everyone prefers my blog when I'm having a Shit Time (I know from the amount of comments I get saying 'Hey, love your blog, you make me feel better about my shit life!') So, just to stop you worrying that I had too much of a good year, here are some of my:

Worst Moments of 2011

  • Throwing up on the dancefloor in Ibiza...

  • Throwing up on the streets of Paris after dancing to drum and bass with food poisoning...

  • A man saying to me half-way through sex "Is your daddy hariy like me?"

In fact last year was generally a Bad Year for Men. If you don't believe me, click here.

(I think every girl should read it, because you need to know the truth! Here is an excerpt if you don't believe it will be worth your while:

"Half through the hanky panky, the man started laughing. He said he was thinking of a funny song. He got up and went to put on said song. The lyrics of the song were this:

'Big, fat, wet fannies that smell like dead fish.' ")

Biggest Acheivement of 2011?

Unfortunately it wasn't learning how to speak French, abstaining from being a whore* or paying off my credit card, because I did none of these things. I would have to say my biggest acheivment of 2011 was getting a tan. I worked really hard on it and it lasted for agessss, in fact I still have some very faint white bits. So there you go. Not a complete waste of a year.

*Sorry readers, the Vow of Celibacy didn't work out, but I had to keep it up because somebody warned me that my mum had started reading my blog. Oh the things I wanted to tell you! There was one man who actually got out his accordian and played me some French folk songs on it, honestly. It was awful.