Thursday, 28 March 2013

Scripts

I went to the hairdressers today... As always I found the experience traumatic and upsetting, for No Real Reason.

I've not had my hair cut since Olivia's cousin snipped the end of my ponytail off at New Year's Eve and the last time I had a proper haircut was last August, just before I went to Ibiza. Lauren's sister cut it for me in her house, so I didn't have to forgo any awkward head massages or small talk. (Obviously I talked to Lauren's sister, but it wasn't awkward because I know her and Lauren was there as well.)

Anyway, my hair's been disgusting for a long time. My one-time 'fringe' had grown into 90s boy band 'curtains' that I had to pin back everyday, or else suffer them to hang around my face in a limp, square frame. My mum messaged me the other day asking me about my hair, suggesting that I get it cut before my auditions to make me feel 'better' about myself... I assumed she'd seen photos of my outgrowing hair on Facebook and had decided it was so bad that she had to make me get a haircut.

I decided to go to 'Toni and Guy', just because I know the brand and I've been before, although I thought I'd try a different branch this time. I went to the one on Boulevard de Courcelles in the 17th.

I arrived all stressed out and edgy (as in on edge, not wearing leather leggings and a vest with a Hipster Triangle printed on it), sighing all the time and tutting at myself  for No Reason... I was must have seemed like a mad old lady on the bus who wants someone to talk to her, but is still sane enough to realise that she can't just strike up a conversation with a stranger out of the blue; so she makes little noises of annoyance in the hope the person next to her will ask what's wrong and she can reply:
ITCHY LITTLE FINGERPRINTS ALL OVER ME SKIN, WIGGLY LIGHTS IN ME EYES AN' ALL.

My hairdresser was really nice and he mostly stuck to The Script- whenever I have to do something in Paris like go to the dentist or the bank, I like to work out a script in my head so I can learn my lines and it will look like I can speak French. If people go off-script I freak out a bit. That's why I like going to the bank- they always know their lines. People in bars, however, always ad-lib- really darling, they're impossible to work with.

I told him I had an audition coming up and I would be playing Shakespeare characters, so I didn't want anything too modern.

As he snipped away, I realised that he wasn't going to cut me a side fringe because I'd told him not to shorten my out-grown curtains. My hair was parted in the middle and my face looked like a perfect square. I got really worked up and had to stop myself from crying. Then the hairdresser saw my face and asked me what was wrong, so I told him that perhaps I should have a side fringe and he reminded me what I'd said about the auditions- a side fringe isn't very 'classic' and I wouldn't be able to pull it off my face.

He found my natural side parting, so it looks slightly better, but I still look weird. Also there is a square corner missing at the bottom of my hair from my Impromptu NYE haircut. He said he hadn't straightened it out because I'd told him to 'keep the length'. Pfffft.

"Great, it's much better, I love it, thanks." I said, before running out of there, my eyes welling up.

It wasn't the hairdresser's fault, I was just upset about my square face. I think I'm always disappointed when I go to the hairdressers because I expect them to make me look a different person at the end and obviously, they can't.

On the metro, there was a woman with no shoes on crawling around, singing and holding out a paper cup. Her feet and hands were all mangled. I did feel slightly, ahem, shallow, so I gave her a euro, which is kind of sickening when you think how much I've spent on my hair today.

In happier news, Mairi is coming to Paris for the weekend AND my cousin is coming as well, she's getting the train from Geneva tonight.

EXCITING.

Also, Kayt's friend G.Shore has finally found a permanent apartment in Paris and it has an oven.... he's going home this weekend and he's given Kayt his keys! He's given us permission to have an Easter Roast on Sunday and it means my cousin and Mairi get to stay in a lovely apartment for the duration of their visit.

Finally, a couple of nights ago I went to the toilet in the middle of the night and opened the door to find my neighbour stood there, in the dark. She was facing the toilet and didn't seem to be doing anything. I screamed and said in English "You scared me!" and she answered me back in perfect English, "It's always you."

That was definitely not in the script.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

What a Bad Nobhead, thinking she's the Queen of Paris...



I thought some nice daffodils might make me feel better. It feels like Spring this weekend.

I'm trying to figure out what type of a hangover this is... Is it the type that makes me eat burgers and chicken nuggets all day? Is it the type that makes me want to drink coffee and laugh hysterically as if I'm still drunk? Is it the type that forces me to stay in bed, not sleeping but 'resting' my eyes, only moving to take timid sips of water every once in a while?

I've got teabags but no milk, hot cross buns but no butter. I think it's going to be a shit hangover. I don't feel too bad actually, just annoyed that I can't have tea. I know! I'll have a black tea and a dry hot cross bun. Don't really have much choice, hold on...

The hot cross bun was a mistake. Ergh.

I've got The Fear. Can't remember if I said or did anything awful last night.

The weekend got off to a bad start on Friday morning, I had an arguement with one of the other nursery teachers. Well, not an arguement as such, because I didn't really say anything, I did that thing where I just stare in silence and people think I'm either plotting to kill them, or having a stroke.

There's a new teacher who started over the holidays and yesterday was the first time I'd worked with her. At lunchtime we had to walk some of the kids down the road to the nursery for older kids, where I teach on a Monday, because this is where they eat. I could tell straight away that the other teacher was stressed. She kept asking me if everyone had their teddies and when I told her I didn't know she said:

"Don't you do this every week?"

This is making me look quite bad, because I do actually walk the kids across the road each week, but the other teacher used to sort their teddies out. I'm not a qualified nursery teacher. I was hired to teach English twice a week and I've ended up doing a lot more than teaching English. Once I changed a nappy. It was disgusting as the child was clearly too big to be in nappies (like the toddler in the au pair family who is actually three years old- if he's big enough to eat sausages and pasta with pesto, he's big enough to change his own nappy).

I'm not saying I'm above changing nappies (I am though, if I have ever accidentally wind up pregnant, the resulting offspring can poo in the garden*) but I don't feel the need to leap about, organising teddies and proving what a good nursery teacher I am. I put their shoes and coats on (the kids, not the teddies) what more do you want?

Ha ha. No wonder she was getting annoyed.

She wasn't annoyed though, she was getting really stressed out, for No Reason. People who are stressed make me want to run away from them, I can't help it, it's an instinct thing. If somebody is panicking or getting angry, my whole body tugs me away from them and onto calmer pastures before their stress can infect me. Stress spreads and I don't want to catch it.

We eventually got the kids and teddies ready and set off.

Suddenly the other teacher started panicking and told me that I was being really dangerous, because the two kids I was with were walking on the side of the pavement closest to the road... She had a point, but we'd just been crossing the road- I could hardly start messing about in the middle of the road, switching kids around as cars came towards us...

We got onto the pavement and I stopped to swap hands, but she wouldn't move out of my way, she was just bustling around with those two big bags banging about, telling me that she was 'stressed'. Then two of the little girls she was with let go of her hand, so she started shrieking and panicking, even though they were squished against the wall by her, me and four other children.

I tried to walk past the other teacher because I get quite ANTSY when people take up too much room on the pavement and make me feel blocked in, but then she started yelling at me to get the two little kids who had broken away from her chain. Then she started talking to me in English, as if I hadn't understood her. There is literally nothing that irritates me more than somebody yelling in English the same thing they've just yelled at me in French.

I didn't say anything. I just ignored her and sorted the kids out, talking to them and being nice and calm. When I'd finished we set off down the road but the other teacher was still in my way like a mad fucking bag lady.

"What is wrong? What is wrong?" she was asking me.

I could have happily ignored her for the rest of the walk but I suddenly realised I was being a bit sinister, so I just told her that I hadn't understood what her problem was. Then she started apologising and saying that being with kids near the road stresses her out so I just said:

"Of course, of course, I understand."

Should I have apologised for staring at her and ignoring her? I don't know why I was walking with the kids on the wrong side, but any humble pie I was willing to eat was squished under the foot of her mad, irritating panic.

Anyway, I've forgotten it now, although yesterday I was thinking about it all day, getting more and more annoyed for no reason. I cheered up at my au pair job though- when I was dancing with the toddler, spinning round and round and round the living room, he shouted above the music: "T'es une princesse, t'es une princesse!"

Babies can't lie.

Me and Ruth had said we might go for a drink after work but I was really tired and she hadn't called me to make a plan, so I went bought a bottle of wine on my way home and went to the Chinese traiteur. (I felt a bit embarrassed when I went in this time. I hate people knowing that I like things. "She likes our food, she comes in once or twice a week, she must really like our establishment." Eurgh.)

It was bliss eating chinese, drinking wine and watching Sex and the City. I started the box set again recently. I think I've been watching it too much though, sometimes when I binge on a TV show I think that I'm friends with the characters and I catch myself adopting the same mannerisms as the actors. My mind is too impressionable. It's the only series I have on DVD though and my laptop is being rubbish at the moment. OJ put something on my computer that means you can download TV really easily and it worked really well when I was in TC and OJ's apartment, but as soon as I got it home it slowed right down and now it's just stopped working.

I suppose it's a good thing really, if I could watch TV on my laptop I'd never go out.

Sometimes I just want to turn my brain off. The book I'm reading at the moment is Ivanhoe, which isn't exactly light reading. Not for me anyway- there's no translation for the Latin phrases and there's no appendix to explain who all the obscure knights and saints are. Feel like a dick because I wasn't born in the 12th Century.

By the way, the last book I read was 'Skagboys' by Irvine Welsh and I kept meaning to mention it because I loved it SO MUCH, although books also have an effect on my impressionable mind and I kept wanting to call everyone a 'wee gadge'. I didn't want it to end, I wis pure greetin aftir, likesay when I finished the cunt, ken?

If you've seen the film 'Trainspotting' but never read the book- you should. ('Skagboys' is the prequel to Trainspotting, there's also a sequel called 'Porno'.) I know all good writers create characters that seem like real people, but Irvine Welsh does this better than any author I've ever read. Sometimes scenes from his books pop into my head as if they were real memories. 

Anyway, why did I start talking about Skagboys? Oh yeah- books, TV, Friday night...

I think I was asleep before 11pm. When I woke up I felt like an empty cloud, a pale smudge on the sky of life, the bright blue representing raves and raucousness and there was me just drifting along... I wandered lonely as a cloud/That floats on high o'er raves and pills/When all at once I saw a crowd/A host, of golden raving girls. Oh my God, I have just read the whole poem and it's obvious that William Wordsworth was using nature as a metaphor for going to the disco (that's what clubs were called in the 19th Century, right?) and getting on it:

'Tossing their heads in sprightly dance... the waves besides them danced...

... when on my couch I lie (in a post-rave trance)... my heart with pleasure fills, and dances with the daffodils.'

I bet it does, William. Wink wink.

Ok. I didn't think this tangent I've gone off on would move so far, so quickly.

Back to yesterday. I went to my au pair job feeling like a lonely, rave-less cloud. It was pointless, as always, then I went home and suddenly felt really excited for going out. Everyone was calling and texting me and I just sat on my bed painting my nails and making plans, feeling like the QUEEN OF PARIS.

I wanted to go to a night I found in the 2nd, at a club I've never heard of called Le Malibu. (Maybe it's just opened?) The music looked quite good and it was only five euros to get in. Julia was going out in Pigalle and suggested we go to Le Malibu after.

Then Holly called me to invite me to her place for dinner with B and their American friend Crazy Shayna. (She's crazy in a lovely way though, she jumped in the Seine a few weeks ago... for lolz not to kill herself.)

Kayt suggested we meet her friend G.Shore (her gym-tan-laundry friend who moved here recently from Newcastle) for Happy Hour cocktails.

And... Cece was back in Paris for a few days! I'd not seen him since the weekend Olivia came back and we we went to Silencio and I was two hours late for work the next day. (That was also the weekend we realised Cece's creepy neighbour- Vincent- was standing in the window looking into Cece's apartment at all hours of the night and day. Then Cece suddenly left Paris and I thought Vincent might have kidnapped him.)

Cleo and TC were involved in the texting and planning but then didn't want to come out... I thought I'd throw their names in because I just announced myself as the Queen of Paris and said that 'everyone' was texting me, when actually I can count the number of friends I have here on my fingers. Sob.

Anyway...

I met Kayt, G.Shore and Cece at QG in Bastille. They do really nice mojitos and they're half price between 7pm and 9pm. Then Cece went off to dinner and Louvre Laura joined us. I'd told Holly that me and Kayt might go to her's for dinner after Happy Hour because they were eating late, but we got into one of those moods where you want to keep drinking.

When Happy Hour finished we went to Café de l'Industrie to meet Laura's friend Marjorie. I love Café de l'Industrie (they have two bars on opposite sides of the road, we went in the smaller one) but it's more a place to have a quiet glass of wine than get drunk. Also our waitress was really rude and was wearing really tight leather trousers.

Cece and his friends were at a cocktail bar in the 11th so we got a taxi there. One of his friends is an American actress who works in Paris, she said she mostly does voice-over work but it's interesting to know that it is possible to get acting work in English over here. I don't think she was even an actor before she moved to France, she just kind of fell into it and then she was in Cece's TV series last year. (Another one of Cece's friends at the bar was the guy who played Prince Louis in Gossip Girl. I wanted to be cool and not mention it but I also feel that my readership must be largely made up of girls who watch Gossip Girl...)

The bar was L'Entrée des Artistes- it felt quite exclusive and slick even though it was actually quite laid back. I got given a short glass of red stuff that had a massive square ice cube in the middle, I can't remember what it was called but it was disgusting- it tasted like really rough, dry sloe gin. Kayt had the same and agreed with me that it was rank, so she took them back to the bar and they swapped them for two glasses of champagne. That was really nice of them, but apart from that the service wasn't great- there was only two barmen who sometimes took table orders and sometimes didn't, it was all a bit confused. They did a nice gin and tonic though.

Everyone wanted to go home after L'Entrée des Artistes but me and Cece decided to go to Wanderlust, I can't remember why now. We got out of the taxi and immediately got another one in the opposite direction- there was a MASSIVE queue outside and we were in no mood for waiting. I just wanted to keep getting drunk. We got a taxi to Bastille and I told B and Shayna to meet us there. 

On our way to Bastille, the taxi driver turned round and said "Guys, can you hear yourselves?"

I really don't think we were talking that loudly, he was just a Bad Nobhead. We got out of the taxi and I yelled MERRRRRCI so I guess I'm a Bad Nobhead too. We met B and Shayna and went to one of the shitty bars on Rue de Lappe AKA Costa del Paris. For Some Reason we got tequila and more gin, then Cece went home because he was staying at his friend Chloe's house and he didn't want to wake her up too late.

Shit. I was just about to say that me, B and Shayna went home not long after but I've just had a flashback-  there's a club on Rue de Lappe and we went there! They played Pitbull. We did some mad dancing for a bit but our hearts weren't in it- I was too drunk to embrace the shit music and get my cheesy dancing groove on, B had to be in work at 11am the next day and Shayna kept getting pulled away by strange men. 

We called it a night and got a taxi home. By the time I got into my little Cinderella room I was crying hysterically, for No Reason. This morning I woke up feeling like shit. Definitely had enough of alcohol for a while.

I can't remember who paid for the taxis and drinks last night. I went out with one twenty euro note and two tens. I've just emptied my bag and there's one twenty in there, two fives and seven euros in loose change. 

Erm.

Uh oh. Just had a flashback of putting sixty euros on my card somewhere. I got a deal then, because I feel like I've drunk three hundred euros worth of alcohol.

SHITTING HELL just reread this post and realised that I didn't go to Le Malibu with Julia.

*I've just Googled it and there is a way to safely turn human waste into compost, but it takes a lot of faffing about and then a year of waiting around; presumably those twelve months are spent trying not to think about the fact that there's a bucket of festering shit at the bottom of your garden.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

GILFs and the Five Days of Sleepovers



Saturday night was sooooo good!

I feel that Paris heard me complaining, rolled its eyes and decided to throw a good night my way. Listen, English Girl, I don't have to prove anything to anyone... but as you won't shut up about it, here you go. Don't say I never give you anything... You are actually leaving this year, aren't you?

Cheers, Paz! (And yes, I am leaving, but just to give you a heads up, before I leave I will be burning all my belongings in a Ritual Fire... nothing but nothing is going to make me lug three years of accumulated crap across the Channel.)

This weekend has felt like being on holiday, actually the whole of last week did as well, apart from the fact that I had to go to my au pair job everyday. It wasn't too bad though, on Friday the grandad took me and the ten year old to Jardin d'Acclimation and he was being so nice, pointing things out to me on the way there and chatting to me about Paris and why I can't speak French after living here for so long... Also, I found out he trained at the Conservatoire de Paris, the French equivalent of RADA. He told me that he gave up acting after being in one play- he got such bad stage fright that he decided acting wasn't for him.

I felt like a kid again, going on all the rides with the ten year old, the grandad spinning us round and round on the roundabout until I felt sick and fell over.

There was an awkward moment when we went on this weird see-saw thing: the ten year old lay lay back in a big, dish-shaped seat and I had to sit on the opposite side, with my legs spread quite far apart by metal handlebars, bouncing up and down really fast on a big orange ball to make the ten year old's seat go up and down... The grandad walked away from us and I got really paranoid that he thought I was being obscene and trying to subtly tempt him into becoming my Woody Allen-style lover... I definitely wasn't. Although... if I had to choose between him and the au pair dad... the grandad would win hands-down. GILF.

Oh I've just remembered! I started writing a blog post about a show I went to see last week, my internet wasn't working last week so I wrote it in a word document. May as well whack it out seeing as I've already written it...
 
"I can't believe it's been snowing this week- I really thought Spring was on its way. Yesterday I was walking through Porte de la Villette and it felt like being in a completely new city, somewhere modern and further North. The clean lines of the canal and the walkway that runs alongside the low water, red lights in a straight line, everywhere white with snow...

Me and Ruth had tickets to see 'Barbès Café' at Cabaret Savauge- a musical spectacle about the history of Algerian migration to France. We bought the tickets a few weeks ago, I kept seeing posters for it on the metro and decided that for once I would actually go and see something, rather than mentally make a note of it and never get round to organising tickets...

I'd forgotten how much I love Cabaret Sauvage. At the bar they were serving mint tea, baklava and halal kebabs (at really reasonable prices) and there was a space for dancing between the stage and the front row. I thought it would be more of a musical, with actors singing on stage; but it was more of a concert, with some dialogue to provide a narrative, accompanied by slides of information and old documentary film projected on two screens, either side of the stage.

The actors, musicians and singers in the show were brilliant and I loved the music, but I'm also glad I went because it was so educational- I knew a little bit about the wars in Algeria, but I had no idea about the massacre of 1961, where between 70 and 200 Algerian people (they have no way of knowing the exact number) were killed by the police during a peaceful protest. I can't believe I'd never even heard of it.

Throughout the night, people got up to dance in front of the stage, making the whole thing feel like an Algerian wedding. The film projections were brilliant (although the slides got a bit sloppy at the end, as if they'd been in a rush) and the premise of the show- a French cafe-owner chatting at the bar with an old regular, Algerian customer, between them telling the story of Algerians in France- was simple but surprisingly effective, thanks to the skill of the actors.

Ahhh, I'm so glad we went, especially as one of the things I wanted to do this year in Paris was get myself to the theatre more often. 'Barbès Café' has finished now, but from what I gather they put it on every year for a couple of weeks, so it's something to look out for if you're a long-term resident of Paris.

My only problem with 'Barbès Café' was the fact that it started at 7.30pm (and we got there half an hour early to get a good seat) and it didn't finish until 11pm. It was way too long. At the end of the show people were cheering for an encore, but I was praying to go home. One of the musicians made a joke about baskets of pain au chocolat being on their way... and then they brought out them out, it wasn't a joke! They were lovely and warm, with all the chocolate melting inside. Mmmm."

Ok so that's where my little review of 'Barbès Café' finishes, but the night didn't end there...

I got home at midnight, desperate to make a cup of tea and crawl into bed, but when I got to the second set of doors in my building (you need a code for the first door and a fob for the second), I realised that I didn't have my keys. I checked my pockets over and over again (I didn't take a bag out with me) but I already knew in my heart that I wouldn't find them... I had a memory of patting my pockets before I left, feeling satisfied at how flat and light they were. BECAUSE MY KEYS WEREN'T IN THERE.

The worst thing is that at the moment there is no gardienne for my building- before she left I could go to her to get the spare key. I had one minute of utter horror where I envisioned myself walking the streets all night, or curling up in the cold courtyard to sleep, then I remembered that I was actually really lucky- I had plenty of battery on my phone to call people and the metro would still be running for half an hour.

B only lives three metro stops away so I ran to the metro and made my way to her place, calling her about twenty five times on the way and sending her texts, because she wouldn't pick up. Eventually she texted me to say sorry, she'd been in the shower. Phew.

Little did we know that that night would be the start of a five day-long Sleepover Marathon. The next night I stayed at B's again (I got a spare key from the au pair family, which they had lying in a drawer. Hmm. Funny how they didn't mention this key a few months ago, when the gardienne went on holiday and I was locked out for an entire weekend) because we went for sushi quite late and then I decided that I finally wanted to watch Taken. So many people have described the plot to me in minute detail that I felt as if I didn't really need to watch it, but B said she had it on her hard drive and I wanted to see whereabouts in Paris the sinister parts of the film were set...

I was worried the film would make me terrified of going out in Paris alone, but all I can say is... it's completely unrealistic: there's no way sex traffickers would steal American tourists because it's cheaper than smuggling impoverished Eastern European girls into France- it would draw too much attention; and when has anyone ever seen a yaht gliding down the Seine??

Also, it's incredibly racist towards Albanian people

But more importantly... the moral of the film seems to be: Non-virgins get kidnapped by Albanian gangsters in Paris and they are forced into heroin addiction and prostitution. Then they die. Virgins get kidnapped by Albanian gangsters in Paris, they get sold at auction to millionaire Saudi Arabians- heralded as the best buy of the day because of their 'certified purity'- then their daddy comes to save them. Humph.

Let's hope I don't get kidnapped anytime soon, then.

Also, I've just realised my dad doesn't have a passport. Typical.

Anyway... our five day sleepover marathon continued the next night with our Top Night Out In, then on Saturday night B stayed at mine because I live round the corner from Cirque Paradis, which I will now tell you about...

When we arrived it looked as if there was a huge queue- but this turned out to be for people who had made 'a reservation', the queue for non-reservations was really quick. As you couldn't buy tickets online, I wasn't sure what people had made reservations for, but once we got inside all was revealed.... It was one of those clubs where the VIP section is bigger than the non-VIP section. As well as the VIP section which was roped off behind the DJ booth, the dance floor was surrounded by rows of little tables with ice buckets and bottles of alcohol on them. Clearly this is what people had been reserving.

I know it sounds like a pretentious nightmare, but it actually worked in our favour- all the rich kids (and they were kids, I couldn't believe that some of them were eighteen) were either penned into the over-crowded VIP section, or they were sat down, looking after their one hundred euro bottle of vodka. The tiny dance floor was left to people who had actually gone to enjoy the music.

And the music was amazing!

I know the music is good when I'm happy to dance by myself- Kayt and B kept going to the smoking room and I just stayed at the front, loving life. My internet is being shit so I can't share any links, but you should check out Tom Trago and Dyed Soundorom if you like Deep House, if you haven't already heard of them, obviously. And erm, if they can be called Deep House... maybe there is a new, very specific genre they could be ascribed to, but I would call it Deep House. Oh God. From now on I might just call everything either Really Good or A Bit Rubbish.

LOOK.

All that matters is, Tom Trago's was the best set I have seen for a long time, whether it was techinally Deep House or not.

Ahh I needed a good rave.

If Friday was a Top Night Out In, then Saturday was just a Top Night Out, in every single way. We had fun pre-drinking, then we walked over to the club, there was no queue hassle getting in, the club was nice if ridiculously expensive (ten euros for a bottle of water), the dance floor wasn't too rammed... Also there was never anybody in the toilets! It was amazing! Other highlights from the night include: B meeting a ridiculously good-looking Austrain aristocrat and chatting to him for about an hour, then exchanging numbers (he has since texted her- yey for B and her soon to be Austrian title); Kayt saying that Paris has no edge, then me realising that we were The Edge in Paris, cue lots of shouting about how we were the side of a square, lying on the side of a house, perched on the edge of a cliff, etc; and not sure if this is a highlight or a lowpoint really, but I definitely remember it... realisng that the man dancing next to me was at least seventy years old. An actual grandad, in a club, dancing to Deep House. I have proof:



The club closed about half six, then we walked back to mine (which made a nice change as I never go out in my area) and had a cup of tea. As my hard drive is broken and my internet was playing up, we couldn't listen to any music which was a bit shit, so we just kind of sat in a rave-induced daze until Kayt's bus started running. She couldn't stay because of her contact lenses, but also, I don't think she fancied the idea of all three of us sleeping in my little bed.

Me and B tried to sleep, but I got up after just two hours of lying there. I had to go to my au pair job because it was the toddler's birthday party and I just wanted to get it over with. It was surprisingly pleasant- I ate cake and watched the toddler open his presents, then I played with the toddler and his four little mates for a bit... it was fine and it went really quickly. When I got back home, B was still sitting in exactly the same position, she said she'd been snoozing on and off all day.

We went to the chinese traiteur across the road for tea, I felt a bit sheepish as I'd already been in on my way back from work to pick up some nem for us to nibble on but the staff are really lovely, I feel like I've finally become a Valued Customer.

The plan was to go somewhere horrifically crap and cheesy for some St Patrick's Day drinks, we kept trying to convince ourselves that we'd be fine if we 'got back on it'. After our Chinese however, the only thing we wanted to 'get back on' was my bed. So we traipsed home and watched 'Save the Last Dance'. Well I did, B fell asleep ten minutes in, but I didn't notice until the film had ended. She stayed over again, thus completing our Five Day Sleepover Marathon.

Sunday night was the best night's sleep I've had for ages, then I had a massive nap in between jobs this afternoon and all my lessons went well and I made fajitas for tea at my au pair job. I feel very content, my eyebrows are pleasing and my room is quite tidy. Now I've said that, I'm really scared I've jinxed myself. Maybe the rest of the week will be a nightmare and everything will go wrong. Oh God.

Probably I will get Taken by Albanian sex traffickers and they will say 'Unrealistic, eh?'

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Bad Crowds and Bhangra Bass

So many things jumbling around in my head, too hungover to write them all out in chronological order. Last night I went round to B's for some pre-drinks before we went out, only we couldn't decide where we wanted to go. Ruth and her friends were at Republique but there was a Nineties Night at La Machine... How could we choose between socialising with new people... and Coolio?

We looked online and saw that Wanderlust was having a night called 'Acid Arab'. There was a link to an Acid Arab mix on Soundcloud and unfortunately it was a bit too heavy on the Acid, not enough Arab. But it gave us some ideas. We found a techno remix of Benny Lava (if you don't know what Benny Lava is, click here) then revisited some old faves that we decided could be categorised into our New Music Genre: Bhangra Bass, a natural progression from Acid Arab.

After a lot of enthusiastic dancing, we realised that no matter where we went, they would definitely not be playing techno remixes of Bollywood songs and we had to ask ourselves, what was the point in going out? B slyly suggested that we stay in, dancing to Bhangra Bass and drinking ourselves into a comatose state of sleep. Then we noticed it was 2am and we'd missed the last metro- that sealed the deal. We chatted about everything and everyone. We showed each other photos of past love interests on Facebook. We watched a lot of videos of Prince Harry on YouTube and talked about him like he was our son... who we were having an incestuous relationship with: He's grown into such a wonderful man, he's strong-minded but very conscientious, he's incredibly well-balanced, I'm so proud of him and also definitely want to have sex with him.

This morning B described it as a 'Top Night Out In'.

As we didn't spend any money on going out last night, we decided we were allowed a blow-out McDonald's this afternoon. We both got the nine chicken nugget meal. There was a beggar outside the window and I just sat there, stuffing my face and watching him hobble about, with his hand held out like an empty bowl. It was grim. I am grim. Paris is grim. (Amen.)

After McDonald's B had to go to work, she works at my old restaurant now. When she was looking for a job I told her to apply there but because she's been reading my blog for quite a long time, she remembered how much I used to moan about it when I first started. But it's alright when you get used to it, I really enjoyed it those last few months, when I worked with Mez and Ruth and Cleo. In the end B decided to apply anyway and she's now been working there a few weeks. I went into work with her today to say hello my old manager.

Also... there are loads of rugby matches on today and I thought that the bar might be packed with rowdy British rugby LADs, here for the weekend and looking for girls with an excellent grasp of the English language to take them out on the town. There weren't any, of course, but there were a lot of men in kilts. I've seen a lot of men in kilts today, actually. Apparently there was a big Scottish thing on this morning at Montmartre, with men in kilts playing bagpipes and stuff. It is St.Andrew's day? Google says no. Oh.

Anyway! Later we're going to Cirque Paradis because I've never been and tonight the music looks really good. It's twenty euros but that includes a drink. I'm excited for the music, a little bit apprehensive about the what the club will be like. Recently I've been feeling disenchanted with raves and clubs in Paris...

I never told you about 'We Love Dice' but it was kind of disappointing... Loco Dice were good but for a We Love Art event, the lighting and the venue weren't anything special and the crowd was HORRENDOUS. It was unbelievably packed, they'd sold way too many tickets and there was no room to dance. People were actually running about, for No Reason. Passers-by were shoving us out of the way and one obnoxious raver even pushed down on my shoulders to get past me. It was unbearable. I feel like an old lady, complaining about crowds all the time, but every time we went on the dance floor there would be a sudden swell of people trying to leave or move further in the crowd, resulting in a huge, lung-squeezing crush. Also, I don't think the music was loud enough.

I felt really bad, because I'd convinced everyone it was going to be the best rave EVER. I told them about how good 'We Love Art' events are, always in a huge venue with amazing lighting and projections and stuff, but 'We Love Dice' was just too packed. Also, it was snowing and the cloakroom and the toilets were outside. The venue could have been so nice, it was on the roof of a huge building which sat at the top of a steep hill. There were floor to ceiling glass windows looking out over the whole city, but they were either steamed up or hidden by the stage. Pffft.

House is too popular, every event seems to be full of dickheads who don't want to dance, they just want to take up space on the dance floor and then push past you in order to take up a different space, two metres away from where they started. I know people want to make money, but if people are paying twenty five euros or more for a ticket, they should be allowed some space to dance and to breathe. On the day of We Love Dice, they released an extra one hundred tickets. Hadn't they made enough money??

In May there's a festival here called Marvellous Island and the Wednesday (it's a mid-week festival, but the Thursday is a bank holiday or something) looks really good, but it's Seth Troxler and Jamie Jones... I'm scared it will be a Bad Crowd and too busy.

Oh my God. Talking of bad crowds...  that free techno thing I went to last Friday night was just as we had feared- a psychedelic, trippy-trance dance fest that Techno Viking would have reveled in. Julia told us the music would be mental, but assured us that everybody got really fucked and had a good night. Me and Kayt, however, just couldn't get our heads around the mad techno trance and Cleo has never really been clubbing before, so we left before even buying a drink. (We didn't leave Julia on her own, we were also with a guy from Julia's art school and Julia's flatmate... they didn't like it either.)

Actually, I said 'talking of bad crowds' but the one good thing about last Friday was that the crowd was fine- it was a really odd mix of hipsters, crusties and teenagers and Julia was right- everyone was off their faces, having a good time. It was entertaining to watch, for a few minutes, then somebody gave me a flyer for an Organic Trance night and I decided it was time to go home.

If tonight is a disaster, I'm not going raving again until somebody organises We Love Bhangra Bass.

This is who's playing tonight by the way:

Friday, 8 March 2013

The Great Outdoors

The day after our rave in Geneva, we managed to get up and out of the house relatively painlessly. I thought I'd feel like shit, but I actually pretty good about our impending Swiss Hike. I had a bath, washed the smoke out of my hair and the alcohol from my skin. I'm just so fresh, so clean... Chloë lent me a pink ski jacket and a thick jumper and I was ready to go; the drunk, scruffy raver who sits in parks giggling at five in the morning transformed into a fresh-faced, wholesome outdoorsy type, possibly called Caroline or Sarah. I felt like doing lunges around the living room and waxing lyrical about the fantastic, marvelous, glorious Great Outdoors. Obviously I didn't, as we had a train to catch.

On our way to the little train station, we called for Chloë's friend Anna, an au pair from Finland, who lives in the same village.

(Clo went to stay with Anna in Finland over Christmas and this just might be my favourite story ever... Clo didn't realise that everybody in Finland has a sauna in their house- even if they don't have electricity or an indoor toilet- and everyone goes in the sauna naked. One day Clo was sat in the sauna with Anna, Anna's brother and the brother's friend and they told her she had to do a 'snow bomb', where you run out of the sauna, throw yourself into the snow and then run back into the sauna again. She did it and landed head-first in the snow and because she was cold, she couldn't think straight or move so she just flailed around in the snow and Anna and her brother had to come and drag her back into the sauna. The thing I like best about this story is that everyone involved was naked. HA.)

It was a really nice train journey, traveling through little villages, pine forests and wide, white fields. Wooden houses nestled on the hillside like something from a kitsch children's book. I've never been anywhere with that much snow before and I couldn't believe how bright the reflected light was.. However, I still couldn't see the mountains! Clo and Anna told me they were out there, but looking out of the train windows, across flat fields that ended in clouds and fog, it was hard to imagine there was anything out there...

The first part of our walk was going up a really steep hill in the forest. Clo and Anna had to pull me along for most of the way, because my boots were slippy and I kept sliding backwards. As we walked along, me and Clo ate snow because we were really thirsty. When we were little, our mums worried about us going off on our own, because they knew we would do things like eat snow and go up slippy hills wearing inappropriate footwear. Now we are adults, they don't have to worry about that sort of thing...

Once we reached the top of the hillside, everything flattened out into a wide, cross-country skiing route. People were skiing past us and it made me feel as if we weren't allowed to be there... the countryside is so weird.

"What's going on here, exactly?" I wanted to ask everyone, "What is this?"

At the end of our walk there was a little restaurant, so we had a hot chocolate and a piece of cake. (I've never been on a walk that didn't end with cake and a hot beverage.) Here's a photo of Clo outside the restaurant, with the Swiss flag. I don't know why, but we felt as if we should have our picture taken with it...


Not long after we got back to Clo's house, her au pair family arrived home, they'd been at their chalet in the mountains. We all had dinner together and I felt a little bit awkward... Sometimes being an au pair feels like being a servant and you don't know how you're supposed to behave when you're not working. I know they're not my au pair family, but still...

After dinner me and Clo got in bed and watched 2 Days In Paris  (I loved it, everyone should watch it, especially if you've ever lived in Paris) then we went to sleep quite early, because we both had to be up early. In the morning I dropped the kids off at school with Clo and then we went straight to the airport. I kind of wished I was going back on the coach, because I didn't really have anything to do once I got back to Paris.

I had planned to spend this week going to museums, maybe going to the theatre, learning speeches, planning lessons and 'writing', because most people are away for half term and I knew I'd be on my own a lot... As soon as I got home on Monday, at 2pm, I fell asleep and didn't wake up until 8pm, then I watched a film, ate some tea and went straight back to bed.... Not as productive as I'd hoped then.

Tonight there's a free techno thing at Le Gibus that Julia invited me too. I'm a bit dubious, to be honest... I've looked up some of the DJs on Soundcloud and I've got a sneaking suspicion that it might be more up Techno Viking's street than mine, but we'll see. It's free anyway AND I've not seen Julia for ages. Also I've invited Cleo and now I'm worried she'll hate it...

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Geneva

I've just been to a 'Question and Answer' session with a Belgian actress who studied at RADA and now works in Paris. It was really useful... But it has also shit me up a bit-  if I get past the first round of auditions for RADA, I'll have to go back three times for recalls. That's three lots of Eurostar tickets and three days I will have to get off work. Obviously the money thing is an issue, but getting the time off is going to be tricky as well...

When I told the au pair mum that I needed a Wednesday off for my RADA audition, she looked like she was going to cry. It's ridiculous- being an au pair might be Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy, but it's unlike any other job in that you can never take a day off. Even teachers and doctors can call in sick or take a morning off to go for a job interview. I've given them plenty of notice about this audition. Do they expect me to work for them until the end of July and then just fall off the edge of the world, with no job and nowhere to live?

If worse comes to worse, I'll pay a homeless Bag Lady to replace me for the day. I'll wash her and feed her- the family will never know. I'll say I got her from a nanny agency. She comes highly recommended, loves kids. Just don't ask her about those bags. Don't touch them, don't even look at them... She's great with babies!

But what am I going to do for all my other auditions? Guildhall, LAMDA... what if I get recalls for all three drama schools? I don't think I'll get a second audition to be honest... but what if I do? If it came down to it, would I quit my au pair job?


This was a fucking stupid idea.

I can't blog, I can't concentrate. I've got my RADA audition in four week's time and I feel sick just thinking about it. Am I just going to be constantly nervous and on edge until the audition process is over?

I've been learning my Shakespeare speeches today. I can't find any good contemporary pieces. I bought a few plays on Amazon that I thought might have good speeches in, but none of them are right. I don't have access to a library here. Gaaaah.

I really can't write today, or think.

Let me tell you about Geneva, to calm myself down. I can't believe it's come and gone already. I booked it all really last minute, even though we've been talking about it for weeks. By the time we agreed a date and I knew for sure that I wasn't needed in the nursery, all the trains were booked up, there were no coaches available on the days I wanted to travel... and flights were ridiculously expensive.

I'm an idiot- I'd completely forgotten that half the city would be going skiing for the half term holidays, with a fair few of them choosing to ski somewhere in Switzerland... I'd chosen the most popular day of the year to travel from Paris to Geneva.

Olivia, Kayt and Amy (I can't believe I haven't blogged about that weekend yet, by the way) tried to tell me gently that there was no way I was getting to Geneva. I knew I should give up but it seemed like such a shame... my cousin Chloë lives with an au pair family and they'd agreed that she could have visitors that weekend. Also, I knew if it was the other way round, Chloë would find a way to get to me, if it meant trekking across France on a scabby donkey.

I knew I had to find a way so I kept looking, then Chloë suggested getting the coach to Lyon- she could pick me up from there as it wasn't far from Geneva. I had no idea that Lyon was so close to Switzerland! I booked my coach ticket and then I found a flight back to Paris for only sixty euros... Safe, safe.

The coach journey was quite enjoyable, actually. I slept for most of the way and when I wasn't sleeping, I noticed that the scenery outside my window was a lot more interesting than the dull, flat fields you see on the way to Calais.

As we got closer to Lyon, I realised that me and Chloë hadn't swapped French numbers. We'd done the whole exchange over Facebook, so I messaged her my number. It was only then I remembered that Chloë left her iPhone on a plane a few months ago, so she probably didn't have access to the internet and therefore wouldn't get my message...

I woke up as we were pulling into the bus station. I looked at the time and realised we were forty minutes late. I didn't have any messages from anyone, so I was assuming Chloë didn't know my telephone number. How were we going to get in touch? What if she wasn't at the bus station? The last time I'd spoken with her, she'd asked me for the coach station address and I'd given her a rather suspect address that I found on the Eurolines website. It hadn't seemed like a real address...

Unbeknownst to me, Chloë had been running around Lyon for an hour because it hadn't been a real address. Well, it had been the address of a hotel, not a coach station. Luckily, a toilet attendant in the hotel had told her how to get to the bus station and she'd managed to find it just before my bus pulled in. As she was expecting my coach to have arrived forty minutes ago, it came as a nasty surprise to see that I wasn't in the waiting room. She told me that she bounced in waving her arms and going 'ta-dah', then stopped dead in her tracks when she couldn't locate my face among a sea of strangers, their gloomy eyes asking her what she was so damn happy about.

My coach pulled in just as Chloë was asking somebody whether the Paris bus had arrived or not. As I stepped off the bus, the first pangs of panic started to prickle over my skin, but thank the gods and goddesses, I saw Chloë running towards me. Yey! It was Fate, guiding us together... We got on the metro and an old couple gave us their day tickets because they were going home and didn't need them anymore- Fate. As soon as we sat down, Chloë asked me if I'd heard of Dusky (yes, I love Dusky) because they were playing that night in Geneva- definitely Fate.



We met up with her friend Holly, who had driven them from Geneva. The girls wanted to do a bit of shopping- they told me that the shops are ridiculously expensive in Switzerland- then we headed back to Geneva.

I like Lyon, I'd like to go for a proper weekend one day. I recognised it a little bit from my Tour Bus Adventure, many moons ago...

Anyway, we got back on the road and it took us about an hour and a half to get to the village where Chloë lives. It seemed as if the snow and mountains started as soon as we crossed the Swiss border. The big mountains were hidden in mist and it was hard to imagine that there were giants of rock and earth lurking just beyond my vision... Still, it was impressive, even without the mountains. We wound round narrow roads, high up in the mountains, then we drove through deep valleys, surrounded by trees. I felt like we were in a James Bond film.

Chloë's au pair family were away for the weekend, so we had the house to ourselves. We made some dinner quickly and drank the bottle of wine I'd brought from Paris, as a thank you present to the au pair parents... Oops. We didn't have long to get ready and we debated whether to go out at all- the little village we were in was two trains away from Geneva. We would have to stay out all night so we could get the train home in the morning, but we would also have to start our night quite early, because Chloë wanted to make sure we got into the club. She said that the last time she went, there was a chaotic crush outside and they had to queue for about an hour.

In the end, we decided that we had to go. It was Fate that Dusky were playing. Chloë told me that she's only been out three times since moving to Switzerland to be an au pair... we had to do it. It would be an Adventure.

First we had to get the train to a little town called Nyon and we had enough time to walk to the fort and drink the rest of our wine before Chloë's friend Holly showed up and we got the train to Geneva. I know it's a cliche, but the trains in Switzerland really do run like clockwork. Chloë told me that when she first moved there, she couldn't believe that the trains wouldn't wait for her if she was buying her ticket or running down the platform...

As a city person, it seems ridiculous to think that a train would wait for you, but my cousin is from the Lake District. I've got a train with her before when the driver saw us running down the steps to the platform and not only did he wait for us, but he waited for us to to buy our tickets before we got on. He was hanging out of his window saying grumpily: "Come on girls."

Anyway we got to Geneva and went for a quick drink before the club opened. I thought Paris was expensive... it was 43 Swiss francs (yep, I didn't realise that they don't use euros in Switzerland, so all the cash I'd saved up just sat uselessly in my purse all weekend) for the cheapest bottle of wine and I could tell that it wasn't a particularly expensive bar. The trains were quite expensive as well, actually. (Apparently people get paid quite a lot in Switzerland though, because the cost of living is so high.)

Luckily, the club entry was only fifteen francs and once we got inside, Chloë and Holly said that it was probably the cheapest drinks prices they'd seen in Geneva. The club- L'Usine- was a massive warehouse-style space by the river. I liked it a lot.

The music was brilliant. Holly went home about 2am because she wanted to get the night bus, but me and Chloë felt as if we could easily last the night. The music was so good, as always I don't remember any of the tracks but I do remember they played this:



It always takes me back to the second year we went to Ibiza. It always brings me up...

We chatted to a lot of people and we made friends with a little specky guy called Federico. He sounded like he was from Bristol but he was actually Colombian. He told us that he'd lived in Bristol for a few years and missed the British way of raving... When the night finished, Federico said there was an after-party that finished at 11am. The adventure continues...

Federico made us sit on a wall and wait for him while he got his rucksack, which he had hidden in some bushes... I know what you're thinking, we were thinking it as well, but we had an hour to wait for the first train so we reckoned we might as well follow Federico around and see what 'hilarious' high jinks he could get us into...

Two men tried to chat to us and before we had a chance to tell them go away, a police car pulled up. Two policemen jumped out and asked us if we knew the two guys. We said no and the next thing we knew, the police had the two guys up against the wall, demanding to see papers, asking them where they were from. The two guys looked vaguely North African. I got a bit upset because I thought it was blatant racism, but Chloë said Geneva was just a really safe city.

"They were harrassing us." she said.

By the way I was going on, you would think that the two guys had been my best friends, rather than two weirdos who has been hassling us to 'faire la bise'. But still... if they had been white, would the police had stopped?

Anyway, they stopped the wrong guys, because when we met up with Federico again, he showed us what was in his rucksack...

...about ten canisters of laughing gas and a packet of balloons.

"I miss all the drugs and dat from England man, so I bring them over on the train innit."

Luck favours the brave, Federico!

But I'm not sure the law does...

So we sat in a park (laughing) for a while, then me and Chloë decided that we should go home, otherwise we'd never get up for our Healthy and Wholesome Swiss Hike. We said goodbye to Federico at the train station and swapped numbers, we promised to go out raving together soon. (We won't.)

At Nyon we discovered that the train to Chloë's village wasn't for another forty five minutes, so we got a taxi. The taxi driver kept asking me whether it was 'left, right or straight on' and I was getting really annoyed, until I realised that he was asking me to teach him how to say 'left, right or straight on' in English. I gave him a little lesson and he knocked three euros off the fare for us.

When we got in we drank tea and ate pasta and chatted about family stuff, then we drank water, took Ibuprofen and went to sleep, praying that it would help us get up for our hike.

Woah this has been a long post, I'll continue my Genevan Adventure tomorrow...

Saturday, 2 March 2013

I'm Off...


No trains, no planes and no coaches to Geneva available... they all said I wouldn't get there...

But I've found a way and I'm off to see my cousin for a mini Swiss adventure. See you in a few days xxx

Friday, 1 March 2013

Two Weekends Ago (Surprise Surprise)

I finally got round to seeing Les Miserables last night. Me, Holly, B and Kayt went, tissues at the ready. Obviously I loved it and I cried on and off throughout... But the experience confirmed my suspicions that I should stop going to the pictures until I can afford to hire out the entire cinema for myself: other people just aren't very good at watching films. Towards the end, people laughed whenever Jean Valjean started singing and when he sang the words 'who am I?' someone shouted: "Jean Valjean!"

 

Also, I knew Kayt would make a joke about Jean Valjean being a paedophile because her mind is a dirty dishrag. Once the lights came up, I accused Kayt of sullying the good name of Jean Valjean before she'd even said anything and she went, "Ey! Nobody strokes their daughter's hair like that..."

I used to think that I wanted Hugh Jackman to be my Mr Lover Lover, but now I think I just want him to be my dad.

Does that awkward silence mean I should book myself in for some therapy sessions?

Anyhoo...

Now I can tell you about the exciting thing that happened to me two weekends ago!

(Define 'exciting', I hear you say, well let's say it's half way between finding a fiver in your pocket and a magic carpet floating through your open window, with a little mouse sat on it, singing 'Proud Mary' and dancing like Tina Turner.)

On the Friday morning I got a Facebook message from my mum's friend Mandy who've I've not seen for about ten years. (It's weird because we're not friends on Facebook, yet not only did the message not go into my 'Other' inbox, the one that I almost never check, but I received the message on my Blackberry, which  only alerts me to Facebook stuff when it can be arsed.) This is what the message said:

Hi LBM, Mandy here.....what are you up to this weekend? Your mum and stepdad are coming to stay for my 50th birthday party on Saturday....I was talking to your mum last night and she was saying that she's really missing you....Just looked at flights to heathrow - and they are not that bad (in price) thought it might be fun for you to turn up for the party too (I will pay for your ticket and pick you up from heathrow which is just down the road from us) - you can come to the party and stay here saturday night - then fly back sunday/monday? Let me know! M xxx

Money Karma in action, biyatch!

I replied straight away that I would be up for it, obviously. I'd actually been really looking forward to having Sunday lunch at T.C and O.J's, but it would have to wait for another weekend- my mum never goes to London and the chance to pull off a theatrical, Cilla Black-style 'surprise surprise' was too good to miss.

The fact that I was supposed to be working at my au pair job on Saturday morning wasn't a factor in my decision making-the family and I both know that Saturdays are bullshit. All I do is play with the toddler for a couple of hours while the parents 'go shopping' i.e. eat brunch/drink coffee/hide out upstairs, hungover. The only reason I continuously drag myself out of bed on a Saturday morning after little or no sleep, bleary-eyed and light-headed and wishing I could pull off sunglasses; is because admitting that my presence on Saturdays is superfluous would be like pointing out that The Emperor is stark bollock naked: yes, Saturdays are a bit pointless, but come to think of it, what is the point of me being there any day of the week? The next thing you know I'd be packing up my Cinderella Room, humming that little-known Craig David tune: 'You Don't Miss Your Water ('Til The Well Runs Dry)'.

Anyway, I told the au pair mum I wouldn't be able to work that weekend because my mum's friend had offered to fly me to London to faire une surprise. Maybe she thought it was an elaborate lie I had fabricated to get out of work, but she just said 'ok' and that was that.

I was so excited, but also thought something would probably go wrong. I didn't allow myself to think it was actually going to happen until Mandy forwarded me the confirmation email- she'd bought the flights and I was going to see MY MUMMY!

That night me, Kayt and Julia were supposed to go and see SBTRKT at Social Club and I'd been looking forward to it for weeks... it was bloody cancelled, wasn't it? They said it was a 'family emergency' which sounded pretty dark and they've since rescheduled it for the end of May.

So that was disappointing (although, in a way it was lucky, because if I had gone I would have taken my passport for ID and maybe it would have been stolen) but we had a good night anyway- me and Kayt went round to T.C and O.J's and drank a lot of gin. They had their friend Sarah staying who is an actor so we chatted about drama school and we all played The Name in a Hat Game. We were going to go to Chez Moune, but before we knew it, it was 2am, so we decided to stay for one more drink and just go home. Suddenly, we were on our way home and it was 6am...

The next morning I left Kayt's at noon to go to the airport, feeling excited but slighty nervy with Travel Panic as well. On my way to the airport, my mum messaged me asking if Mandy had been in touch with me... Turns out my stepdad had told my mum that Mandy asked him for my email address. He'd told her not to bother contacting me as I would probably be really busy! Luckily, he hadn't mentioned to my mum what Mandy had wanted to ask me, so she still had no idea. As I sat on the Roissy Bus, watching the sludgy suburbs of Paris slipping away, I chatted to my mum on Whats App about how I was on route to my au pair job... HA.

The whole thing went without a hitch. I felt quite glam, trotting about in my heels, looking for the British Airways Check In desk. I half-hoped I would get talking to a lovely business man/music producer who- just like me- lived  a very exciting, jet-set lifestyle, splitting his time between Paris and London. Obviously I didn't meet anyone (otherwise I wouldn't be blogging would I? I'd be holed up in The Ritz, ordering room service and waiting for my new lover/financial backer to come back from work so we can discuss how he's going to turn my blog into a book... woah what was that? Oh, it was just Emily Pankhurst rolling over in her grave) but I did have a nice flight. We touched down in London at 14:40, meaning I had travelled back in time, as we left Paris at 14:50.

Mandy picked me up from the airport and we drove to her house which is only about twenty minutes away. It's one of those areas of England that feels really alien to me- it's all woods and country clubs and weird chains that nobody up North has ever heard of (Wild Bean Cafe, for example).

My mum and stepdad weren't arriving for two hours, so we had plenty of time to discuss 'the surprise'. Mandy thought that I should open the door to them, but Mandy's husband thought I should hide upstairs and come down once my mum had settled in a bit... Mandy's two kids were running around getting more and more excited and we were worried that they would blurt it out as soon as my mum came through the door. In the end, we decided that I should hide upstairs. Mandy would make them a cup of tea and then, when she asked them if they wanted biscuits, I should come in with the biscuits.

Suddenly Mandy's son was shouting, "They're here! They're here!"

I ran upstairs and hid in the little boy's bedroom. All the lights were off and dusk was falling. It was that soft, half-light that always makes me feel sad and excited at the same time. I lay on the bed, my heart pounding, listening to their voices downstairs. I heard my mum's voice and it was really weird. It was one of those moments that you want to savor forever, the anticipation of surprising my mum, the light and the stillness and being completely alone, birds singing somewhere beyond the back garden...

"Do you want any biscuits?" Mandy said loudly.

Her two kids both came running up the stairs 'to get the biscuits', but I was already out of the room, walking towards them and down the stairs...

I walked into the kitchen and came face to face with my mum, who was sitting down at the breakfast bar. She put both hands to her face like that scream painting. (In dramatic moments, I always make a note of how somebody reacts, in case I ever have to re-enact it on stage.)

Needless to say, she was very surprised. Later on, when she'd recovered a bit, she said, "But you told me you were going to work today!"

Ho ho ho.

Mandy was having her party at the local health club, it was like a proper English 'do'- the caterers served curry, rice and poppadums and the DJ had one of those weird, cheesy voices that slide up and down and he played a lot of ABBA. I couldn't believe how cheap the drinks were. I was the least drunk person there and also the youngest, by about ten years... At the end of the night I went round collecting all the balloons while everyone else danced energetically to 'Gangnam Style'.

The next day we went for a walk in the woods and then we went for fish and chips. Then, at about half four, my mum and stepdad had to drop me off early at the airport, because they'd already made plans to have lunch with my stepdad's friend who has just had a baby. I got a bit teary while I was waiting at the airport and told myself to remember the feeling, otherwise I'll never leave Paris.

My flight was delayed by an hour, which meant I had to wait in the airport for three and a half hours in total. I eventually got home at about half one in the morning.

And that was the end of my little, unexpected adventure.