Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Metaphor for Life

Yes, another blog post so soon.

I feel like Clare and Amy will kill me because I didn't write a lot about their visit, especially as it was Clare's birthday on the Saturday.

Unfortunately, I had to go to my au pair job in the morning to introduce the new girl I've found for them-  she's the sister-of-a-friend-of-a-brother-of-TC's. We took the two youngest kids to the park for a bit and then had a quick conversation about me leaving early... Basically, when I got back from TC and OJ's wedding I decided that there was no way I could go to Secret Garden Party, but I sent a text to the mum anyway to see if she'd be ok about me leaving two days early, just in case I changed my mind... I pointed out that the new au pair would already be in Paris, because she's moving here in July and staying with a friend until I clear out of my/her room.

The mum ignored me all day, but kept messaging me about other things, so in the end I just said: "Did you read my message about the festival?'

She responded that it would be a problem because she'd be working on the Friday and on the Saturday she'd need me for the toddler and didn't want to leave him with the new au pair, who had only met him once 'for ten minutes'.

As soon as I read the message, I was FUMING.

I've worked for them for two years, what's two fucking days? I only decided to stay for another year on the condition that I wouldn't work so many Saturdays, as I'd be teaching the drama classes. As it happens I've only taught on a Saturday four times all year, most weekends I go in and play with the toddler for a few hours while the parents hide upstairs or go clothes shopping, if I'm not away for the weekend which the parents always make a big deal of, as if I'm dumping my kids on them for a couple of days. (I don't get paid extra for Saturdays, I'd like to point out.)

I'm sick of people treating me like a commodity that they have to 'get their money's worth' out of. Once I leave France I'm never doing nannying/babysitting again, because Rich People are just disgusting when it comes to the people looking after their kids. I'm not really talking about myself, to be honest, I'm just thinking about the underpaid nounous I've seen  in the park, calling their employers Sir down the phone and spending all day in the house cleaning...

Even my au pair family's nanny is ridiculously underpaid, she told me the other day that once she gets her French papers in order she wants to be Declared and the au pair family said if she wants to be all above board, then they'll 'be forced' to cut her wages by four hundred euros a month. They must spend four hundred euros a month on clothes and shoes for the kids, I'm not exaggerating (that much).

As soon as I realised she was effectively saying I couldn't go to the festival, I bought my ticket.

When they meet the new au pair, the mum casually mentioned that I wanted to leave two days early and the new au pair said she'd be happy to replace me. Everybody seemed fine, it was hardly the dramatic shouting match I was envisioning, perhaps Paris leaving in the middle of the night in a glittering blaze of hurt pride and selfishness, which I've always secretly wanted to do.

But I was talking everything over with Amy and Clare over the weekend and they said it's crazy for me to stay in Paris for two weeks, without working, just to work four days and then go to a festival in England. The au pair family don't need me for two weeks in the middle of July, you see, but they need me for the last week and because I'm an idiot I agreed to hang around.

Clare and Amy had 'a talk' with me on Sunday, while we were sat in a little park near Republique, watching a homeless Romany Traveller family hang their washing out on a hedge. The whole thing was grim. Clare was telling me things that I don't want to hear, about the job situation in England, about how hard things are in London.

It freaked me out a lot and I realised I can't take a two week holiday in Paris when I have no job, no money and nowhere to live. I told the au pair mum last night that I wanted to leave early but that the new au pair was happy to fill in for me... and she was aghast. She reminded me that the new au pair can't work during the day because she's taking intensive French lessons.

Fuck. I forgot about that.

If you're wondering why I'm passing this job on to someone when it seems as if I hate it, then let me remind you that it has enabled me to live in Paris rent-free, most days working just two hours in the evening. Also, I don't hate it. Things are so different now to when I started, I get on with the family really well. That's why it's so difficult for me to kick up a fuss about leaving, because I don't want to end things on a bad note.

I've told the new au pair all this by the way, so she knows exactly what she's letting herself in for.

On Saturday she wanted to see my room, which will be her new home for a year once I get my shit together and move out. I know I say this a lot without any real conviction but I think I am going to have to burn a lot of my possessions on a ritualistic fire. Obviously not the kimono, or my eyebrow pencil.

After the poor girl spent what must have been a horrible half an hour sat in my very messy room drinking tea from one of my (soon to be her) chipped mugs, I went to Kayt's for Clare's Birthday Brunch, only I didn't get there until after 3pm and everybody had already eaten and was ready for a nap.

We spent the rest of the day wandering round, then we went to Les Parigots and got the massive slab of meat, served with chips and salad. We got the beef skirt which was on the Specials Board, don't bother with the beef which is always on the menu, because it's never as good as the Specials meat. The dish if for two people and luckily me and Amy both wanted it rare. That's the one thing I'll take away with me from Paris- I can't speak French, I can't smoke in a cool and sexy manner and I can never just have one glass of wine with my meal... But I do like my steak rare. Great, not a complete waste of three years then...

Talking of food, I need to say this while I remember: Forget what I told you about the raviolis restaurant- on Sunday night Laura took us to a much better one just down the road from Restaurant Raviolis!

It's called Ravioli Chinois Nord Est and it's five euros for ten gyoza, not fifteen, but the gyoza are much better. In the other place they just reheat pre-made gyoza, but at Ravioli Chinois Nord Est they are made fresh with fillings like beef and turnip, pork and celery and chicken, prawn and egg. Go. But maybe have a wee at home before you go... the toilet is that much-feared but seldom seen 'Continental style' toilet (a hole in the ground that you have to squat over) and it's not even in the restaurant, it's located in the courtyard of the next building along and you have to ask the staff for the key.

Anyway... I was really excited when Amy and Clare were here about moving back to England. It's just suddenly hit me- I'm done with Paris. For weeks I've been shuffling along, feeling quite sad about leaving and wondering if perhaps I'll end up staying after all, but I'm definitely ready to leave now.

Last night the nine year old was asking me about when I move to England and she was really shocked when I told her I wasn't moving back in with mum.

"But she don't know where you are, what you do, if you in the house ou if you in the street!"

When I reminded her that I'm 24 (almost), she calmed down a bit but still seemed surprised that I didn't have a house. She told me about her fit uncle who is twenty-three and has his own house... Yes, I'm sure he bought it for himself... HA. I asked her if she was alone, meaning does he really live alone in a house, or does he share it with friends, but she thought I meant is he single. She will probably tell him next time she sees him that her au pair was asking if he had a girlfriend or not... (He does.)

The eight year old said that it was ok for her uncle to live alone because he has a girlfriend.

"If you have somebody then ok, your mum can not look you but it not normal you have no boyfriend!"

I felt like telling her that if I did have a boyfriend, he would probably be unemployed, depressed and addicted to online gambling and so I'd be better off living alone. I bet he would be called Dave and I'd tell everyone that he was an amazing artist and that he was waiting to hear back from a gallery about an exhibition, but in the mean time he couldn't really get a job as it would stifle his creativity which is why I was working full-time in an office and hostessing in the evenings, just until Dave's exhibition gets sorted... Then I'd give a big, pained smile and secretly enjoy being a martyr. And Dave would just roll up a spliff in the corner and wonder how he was going to tell me that he'd been sleeping with somebody else, a Hedge Fund Manager called Carol.

When I leave Paris everything is going to go to shit.

Last night I deflated the airbed that I borrowed for Sunday night (me, Clare and Amy are close but we still couldn't sleep three of us in my single bed). I lay on top of it to help things along and as the floor slowly but surely came up to meet me I thought, 'This is a metaphor for my life.'

Also, have I told you about the piece of blue fur that she takes everywhere with her- Fluffy? Well she left Fluffy. She realised on the way back from the ravioli restaurant on Sunday night. Kayt sent us photos of herself wearing Fluffy as a beard and draped across the crotch of her jeans. Clare was furious and wants me to take Fluffy away from Kayt as soon as possible. She said we can't post it unless it gets lost, so we have to 'babysit' it until one of us goes to London so we can hand-deliver it to her. Sigh.

Clare is insane, but lovely. She took a big bag of stuff back for me on the Eurostar, even though she had a bag of her own. She said I can stay with her in London and of course Amy said I can stay with her in Manchester too, while I look for jobs in London.

They are so lovely.

But they keep giving me Tough Love and I don't know why. I wish they would just pat me on the shoulder and say:
"Eveything will be fine, you will get a GREAT JOB, even though you haven't applied for any or even got a CV. You will get a REALLY NICE FLAT London that is really cheap and in a lovely area, just by strolling down the street. Also you will wake up one day and you will be a famous playwright and you will star in all your own plays, all by doing no work, ever."

Aww, that's better. In other news, I'm going to be very late for a drama lesson. Apparently there will be sweets and cake as it's the last lesson. I wonder who is bringing them?


  1. Good luck! (And this may seem a teeensy bit selfish, but will LBM still write her blog?) GM xx

    1. I think I will have to write my blog or I'll miss it, but don't know if anybody will be interested in reading about a skint, unemployed English girl living in... England.