Saturday, 17 November 2012

Old Lives

Everyone is away and I have no friends. If I died nobody would find out until next week. I have to go to my au pair job ay 4pm for Some Reason, but I bet if I didn't show up the family would just assume I had gone AWOL and wouldn't alert the authorities until they got a new au pair and needed someone to clear out my chambre de bonne. I've just realised that none of my jobs have an emergency contact number for me, so if I missed a lesson or didn't show up for the nursery, my mum wouldn't suspect anything was wrong until I failed to show up for Christmas dinner in five weeks time.

No, stop it. I need a quiet weekend because I need to finish my personal statement and organise my life. Instead of moping around drinking tea and eating cake out of a plastic bag (don't ask), I will practice Shakespeare speeches for my auditions and fill out applications online, otherwise I won't have any auditions to go to, making me a friendless freak who lies in bed reciting Shakespeare out loud for no reason.

Also, I now have my mum's Sex and the City box set here in Paris and it is very addictive, even if the more I watch it, the more I wonder how I never noticed that Carrie is a massive dickhead and egomaniac. If anyone is reading this thinking: 'I hope Left Bank Manc realises the irony of that sentence', all I can say is, yes, I am vaguely aware but I don't think I'm as big a selfish idiot as Carrie, am I? I would never send my boyfriend over to a friend's house when they specifically asked me to go round because they are lying naked and injured on the bathroom floor and can't move.

Anyway, after just saying I am not a selfish idiot, I'm now going to finish blogging about my time in England, because it's my blog and I can write about me me me and NOBODY CAN STOP ME!


Except maybe my Arch-Nemesis, the Rude Waiter from my cousin's wedding, but the last time I heard he was safely tucked away in the Cotswolds, serving drinks in a purpose-built wedding barn, tipping glasses of water over rowdy wedding guests whenever he thought he could get away with it.

Anyway, we got back from the wedding on the Sunday and the following evening Amy came over from Liverpool for the night and took me out for tea. My mum was aghast when she learnt that Amy treated me to dinner, because she hates the thought of people lending me money or anything like that. But one day I will repay the favour a thousand-fold, obviously I will, when I am a famous cloak-wearer and all-round celebrated eccentric. They pay good money for that, right?

We went to Trof in the Northern Quarter and I had the halloumi salad and I can't remember what Amy had but I remember thinking it looked lovely. (I know I describe everything as being 'lovely' but it is the only positive adjective I can use without feeling queasy and embarrassed.) Then Amy's New Boy (who lives in Manchester) joined us and then Kayt came along with her new boyfriend. I didn't know beforehand that I was going to be spending the evening with two couples, but it was fine; the boyfriends sat quietly while me, Amy and Kayt yelled over the top of each other and they bought all the wine.

(I've never seen Kayt in England before. It's funny to think that when I first moved to Paris I didn't expect to make any friends, that's why I accepted that first [horrendous] job for forty euros a week, because I thought 'What will I need money for? I'll just be visiting free museums and writing poetry.')

This summer Kayt is going to leave Paris and she is moving to Manchester and she kept trying to persuade me and Amy to do the same, but if I wasn't moving to London (which I am), I would move back to Liverpool; Manchester just doesn't feel like my city anymore.

That's probably because my mum now lives in Any Northern Mill Town- a thirty five minute train journey away from Manchester city centre. Thirty five minutes! You may as well live in the bracken, in the Scottish Highlands.

Also, most of my friends have now moved to London, or Leeds. The only friends I have left in Manchester now are Beth, Chaz and Lucy and they work every day. I rang all of them, expecting them to say 'You're home! I will jump on the train and come and see you right away!'

Instead, they said in whispered tones: 'I'm in work mate, why didn't you tell me you were coming back? We could have planned something.'

I didn't get to see ANYONE. I mostly sat on the couch, eating biscuits and cheese and watching shit television, or else I went with my mum to see her friends who live nearby, one of whom went to RADA and was giving me advice about drama school. She said she didn't get an agent from her time at RADA, but she said this is because she didn't make any effort to smooze and network. Hmmm 'smoozing' and 'networking'... not exactly two of my strongest skills, are they?

One day me, my mum and my stepdad went to see the new James Bond film. I loved it. When we got off the train in Any Northern Mill Town, me and my stepdad were pretending to be spies and we saw a red bag lying suspiciously on the pavement. Then we saw an old lady at the top of the hill, asking cars to stop and talk to her.

She couldn't really speak English, but she managed to tell us that she had had her passport and purse stolen, she was dressed like she might be on a walking holiday and had some suitcases with her on a metal trolley. We kept asking her if perhaps she'd lost a red bag, but she didn't understand, so I ran down to the red bag and dragged it back up the hill for her.

At first she thought I had stolen her bag and had hidden it. Then she understood that we were trying to help her, but she still had a problem and we couldn't understand what she was trying to tell us. We called the police because we were really worried for her, but they didn't come for about twenty minutes. While we waited, we discovered that the lady was trying to get a train somewhere, where she was going to stay with a bus driver she had met who said she could stay with him

My stepdad rang his dad who speaks German and put him on the phone to the lost lady, then he spoke to his dad who said that the lady wouldn't tell him her second name or the name of the bus driver- she only wanted to speak to the Police.

When the police came they parked really far away, so my mum ran up to the car in case they couldn't see us in the dark. As they walked from the car, my mum explained the situation and the policewoman said of the old lady: "I think she's known to us."

The plot thickens...

We left the lost lady with the policewoman, but I would love to know what was really going on. Me and my mum think that maybe she had escaped from an old people's home and couldn't remember that she could speak English. Perhaps she did that journey once, years and years ago, and stayed with a bus driver she had met on holiday who became her husband.

Then, years passed, and a whole lifetime was lived...

Perhaps there were no children, so when the husband died and she developed Alzheimer's, there was nowhere else to go but into an old people's home.

As the illness gets worse, she forgets that she can speak English and some days she wakes up, forgetting where she is. She packs her bags, today is the day she is going to see that bus driver she met. She likes England, everyone is so friendly, she only meant to come here for the summer, for a long walking holiday. Maybe she will stay for longer.

I don't know- she could have been a genuine tourist, lost in the dark and the bus driver could have been a German friend who would be waiting for her at the train station and she just didn't want to tell us his name because she didn't trust us.

But I got a glimpse inside that red bag- the bag which she said had her passport and all her bank cards in- and it was stuffed with empty plastic bags.


  1. Hey! I started reading your blog a couple of months ago and I really enjoy it! Right now my plan is to become an au pair next year (in Paris). I'm doing it through the danish church in Paris and they guarantee 320 euros a month and la Carte Navigo. Is that enough money for a month (if you for example also want to take french lessons, sometimes go to the movies and go out?)

    1. That is the normal pay for au pairs in Paris, although it depends on what your hours are like, do you know how many hours a day you will be doing?

  2. On the webside it says that you're working around 30 hours a week, about 5-6 hours a day. But the thing I was wondering about was if I needed to have some money with me from home? - I know that it would probably be nice, but is it needed?
    (thank you for answering:)

    1. 30 hours a week is quite a lot! Whether you have some money from home is entirely up to you- the big things you will need money for are French lessons, because normally you pay for these every term in one big amount, and flights home if you are going home for Christmas. If you can save money it's always better to have it there for an emergency, if not, you will have to save a little bit each week!

      Whether you can live on 80 euros a week depends on whether you plan on eating out a lot and buying clothes really! Hope this helps x

    2. Okay, thanks a lot!! And it did help!