Friday, 3 May 2013

Paris is Dying

I had no hot water for eleven days. The au pair mum was horrified that I left it for five days before telling her- I think she thought I just hadn't been washing- but it was so hot last Monday and Tuesday that I didn't mind having a cold shower... For the rest of the week I'd like to say I showered at Kayt's every night but in reality I just made do with Squat Washes (splash on the face, splash a bit more under the arms, done). I did shower at Kayt's over the weekend though...

Look, I didn't start this blog post to convince you of my cleanliness...

(My cousin Sophie braved two freezing cold showers while she was here, ever the fan of personal hygiene.)

I'm blogging because I've been cuckolded into an embarrassing and awkward situation and I don't know what to do...

After a week of no hot water, I thought I better mention it to the au pair family and they arranged for their resident handyman Monsieur Fixit to come round on Monday morning. (He's not technically a resident but whenever they have a problem with the house he's appears in ten minutes or less. The ten year old once rolled her eyes and told me: "He love my mum, it's annoying me" but she also told me that Beyonce is white and that Lana del Ray is 'big, really big' so I take everything she says with a pinch of salt.)

Monsieur Fixit told me it was very grave and that there was a spare part he had to find. He said as it was half term, most people he worked with were on holiday and it was a shame it didn't happen a week ago... Oops.

He came back on Wednesday, which was a bank holiday, at 9am. Obviously I slept through my alarm and had to leap out of bed seconds after he knocked on the door. At the back of my mind I'd wondered if he would bring with him a really fit, shy apprentice (the 'shy' bit was very important- I've never forgotten the time Olivia was sexually assaulted in her own house by a horrible pervert who was supposed to be painting her balcony and he told the police that Olivia must have been drinking alcohol because of the type of cup she was using- it was a pretty espresso cup with gold edges) well, all I can say is, be careful what you wish for...

Monsieur Fixit did bring someone else but it was sadly just another Monsieur Fixit-type, not the cripplingly-shy, twenty-five year old apprentice I'd been hoping for.  (In my head he'd be so timid that he'd never dream of flopping his Whatsit out and if anything, I'd have to assault him. Also he'd be really unaware of how good looking he is and therefore flattered by any female attention, even if the puffy-faced female in question had just jumped out of bed and was wearing unflattering, mismatched pyjamas...)

It felt very weird having two random men in my bedroom, while I just sat on my bed in my pyjamas, not knowing what to do with myself. They talked to each other about the heater/boiler (the thing that heats water up, I don't know what it's called) and just as I was considering climbing out of the window because I couldn't take the awkwardness anymore, they announced that they had to wait for all the water to drain and would be back in twenty minutes.

I got dressed, tidied up a bit and turned my laptop on. Monsieur Fixit and his mate came back after twenty minutes but it still hadn't drained, so they went off to get a coffee. I texted Kayt to see if I could meet up with her, even though she working. She said I should come and meet her in the park, but when Monsieur Fixit and his mate came back, they said they didn't have a key so I should probably wait  until they'd finished.

The boiler-thing still hadn't drained completely so Monsieur Fixit struck up a conversation with me while they waited. He asked me if I was leaving Paris soon, what I was going to do afterwards, how I was getting on with my French etc etc. It wasn't awkward or weird at all.

We started talking about how the best way to learn French is to have a boyfriend or girlfriend who you only speak French with, then Monsieur Fixit asked me if I speak in French or English with my boyfriend. He sounded so certain that I had a boyfriend and looked so confused when I started talking about my friends (I never know if people mean male friend or boyfriend) that I asked him if I'd told him I had a petit ami and he said yes- once he'd asked me and I told him my boyfriend was la bas. God knows when he asked me this or what I thought he said to me...

I told him I hadn't understood so then we talked about how I should get one as it would be a good way of practising my French (I love how everyone seems to think that I can just pick up a French boyfriend like a bottle of wine or croissant) then I told Monsieur Fixit and his mate how sometimes French boys text me in slang so it doesn't help my French anyway. They laughed about it and when they went to get the new boiler from the hall, Monsieur Fixit (the au pair mum must have given him my number) sent me a text saying: Coucou ca va le plombier est a la maison.

At first I didn't know who had sent it so I didn't say anything, then they said 'Oh she doesn't understand' (a lot of French men say that when I don't laugh at their shit jokes) so I asked Monsieur Fixit if he'd sent me a message...

They said it was for 'a little laugh.'

Ho ho.

Monsieur Fixit's mate suggested I get a language exchange, someone I could talk to over Skype in the evening. I said yes, that was a really good idea. Then he said maybe I could find someone to text in the evenings, just to practice my French, we could talk about anything, about cooking, did I like to cook, he read cookbooks but didn't think you could learn to cook from books, so could we do that then, put my number in your phone, could you put my number in your phone?

Go on then, put my number in your phone.

Nicely done, plombier, very nicely done...

What else could I do? It was a combination of the language barrier, the way 'we' can be confusing ('we' as in me and you or 'we' as in everyone, people in general?) in French just as it can be in English, the fact that Monsieur Fixit is a friend of the family I work for and so the conversation had felt nonthreatening, almost laddish... I was trapped, metaphorically and physically.

I put his number in my phone and thought, perhaps he generally thinks it's a nice thing to do, helping me with my French and I'm being an arrogant bitch, reading too much into it. They left and I wanted to die a little bit. More than anything I was worried that Monsieur Fixit would tell the au pair family that I took his dodgy mate's telephone number and they'd think I was into old, pervy plumbers.

Two seconds after they'd left, there was a knock on the door. It was the plombier again. He'd forgotten to take my number. Ohhh of course. Here you go then... That was my last get-out card and I didn't use it. What was I supposed to do, really? Slam the door in his face?

This week everyone is either in England or working. I feel like it's the summer already and everyone is leaving Paris. It feels shit. I could have practiced for my audition or looked for jobs online or planned my lessons for after the half term, but after Monsieur Fixit and his mate left I lay on my bed and slept for five hours.

When I woke up it was raining so hard that my window looked like one of those glass water features you get in tacky restaurants and I had two texts from Plombier:

Hi how are you, is the hot water ok?

then sent ten minutes later:

Have you got hot water?

I thought maybe he generally wanted to know, because they'd said it would take five hours for the hot water to work, so I texted back saying yes it worked, thank you.

Straight away he texted me saying:

Good news, I'm at my aunt's house if it won't disturb you too much I'll contact you at 1h30

Why hadn't I slammed the door in his face? I got the metro to Kayt's and when I got to her house, I checked my phone and there was another message from him (just saying coucou) and a missed call from him. Kayt agreed with me that I should just ignore him and hope the whole awkward situation went away on its own.

Last night I was babysitting and he sent me a really long message. I'll translate what I can:

Hi, I hope you are well. I want to tell you that I was looking to chat with you, certainly not in a bad manner, but with a very good intention and with lots of respect and maybe I was a bit forceful because I wanted to get to know you without thinking that maybe I have created an uncomfortable situation for you and if you didn't just refuse my proposition, that's because of your honour and if that's the case I'm sorry. One last thing, with my colleague I don't discuss my private life. I want to continue chatting with you and I only meant well, I thought we could talk about stuff, or if you have a French problem or something, we can talk about everything and nothing hahaha 

I don't know whether I'm being a horrible bitch or if he is actually being a massive weirdo but in any case, I decided to be the grown-up... and just completely ignore the message, as if  nothing ever happened.

Paris is dying. It's a sinking ship and everyone has saved themselves, apart from me and a few old men.

I keep having dreams where I'm walking through the streets of Paris at night time, really rough areas but I feel safe and happy... then I turn a corner and I see the sea and I sit on the shore and the waves wash over me. In the dream I am in Paris, but Paris is on the coast.

You know I love Signs.

I think it's a Sign that I should move to Marseille. I can't stop thinking about it and I don't know why. I do want to move to London but now that summer is creeping up on me and it's almost time to leave Paris I'm freaking out...


Last night, I babysat for the au pair family because it was the au pair dad's family. The mum went upstairs with the toddler and it was just me and the dad. I asked him if it was his actual birthday and when he said yes I wished him Happy Birthday.

"Thank you. Give me a kiss" he said, pointing to his cheek.

I know it's really embarrassing and that it makes me look like an awkward teenager, but I really didn't want to lean over and kiss his cheek, on demand.

"No, I can't." I said.

"What? Go on." he said.

I ended up running away from him, into the kictchen, shouting 'No, no, no.'

"Sorry, I hate it. I hate it. I'm so English, I hate it at parties, doing the bisous, sorry I'm so English."

I was babbling.

"I'll blow you a kiss then." he said and then he actually blew me a kiss, like I was a four year old.

The awful thing is, I didn't really know what to do so I just kind of raised my hand to my mouth like a baby who hasn't yet learnt to control its movement.


It's definitely time to leave Paris.

Nobody is here this weekend so my plan is to drink a bottle of wine tonight, wake up Saturday lunchtime, go shopping to buy a blue, silk kimono-jacket I've been dreaming of and actually saw in a shop yesterday, it's like I dreamt it into being so I have to buy it- then get Chinese for dinner, drink another bottle of wine, pass out and wake up Monday morning, when I will be going to the countryside with the au pair family.

They said I could bring a friend but nobody can come. This will have been the loneliest two weeks of my life. Maybe I shouldn't have been so quick to ignore Plombier.


  1. Fancy sharing that bottle of wine tonight? I've been reading your blog since before I first came here a year and a half ago, and I've always wanted to ask if you felt like meeting up, but I've been too shy. What do you say? :)

    1. Oh my God, I didn't check my blog! In the end the weekend turned out ok but thanks for the offer, I feel bad now because you said you've been too shy and then I completely ignored your message! Can't believe you've been reading for so long!