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My boss talks through his top lip.

This adds an extra delicious layer of difficulty to my daily struggle with the French language.

A normal everyday exchange goes a little something like this:

Me: ‘Nice weather today’

Him: ‘Plap plap, plappety plap plap sunny plap plap, plap plappety plap January plap plap plip plap plip brown. Plap, plap plap banana!’

I can’t complain too much about this, as he’s just trying to be nice and make conversation, but I really run into problems when I need to check with him when I am and aren’t working. I’ve managed to get it to the point – after verifying with my other colleagues, and checking the rota – where the response should be a simple yes.

This doesn’t change anything though.

Me: ‘So I finish at 12.30pm today?’

Him: ‘Plip plip plap, plappety plap plap, plap plap 12.30pm, plap plap small plap plap plip, plap candles PLAP! Plip plap, plop plap plip trousers plap plip plap brown plap plap plappety plop banana. Plap plap plap?’

(looks at his assistant to verify something, she looks at me, she talks mainly in vowels)

Her: ‘Oaui, oaui oaui, ooooooooa? 12.30pm, oaui oaui eh? Ooooaui ooooo, oaui. oaui oaui oaui, banana

Me: (nodding head, waving hand like Obi-Wan Kenobi) ‘So I finish at 12.30pm, yes?’

Him:‘Plip plip plap, plappety plap plap, plap plap 12.30pm. Plip? Plap? Plop? Plappety plap plap, fish fingers? 12.30pm, banana plip plap plap

Her:12.30pm, oaui oaui, ooooooooa’

Me: (backing away, nodding head) ‘Okay, 12.30pm. I’ll finish then’

Due to these exchanges so far I have turned up twice when I shouldn’t have done. Thankfully the plaps and plips are getting less and less as my ears adjust.

There’s been no improvement when I talk to my father-in-law though, as he also talks though his top lip. Except his top lip has a moustache.

Me: ‘How’s it going Andre?’

Him: ‘Mwaf, mwaf, mwaf mwaf cold mwaf mwaf mwaf mwaf mwaf, mwaf mwaf mwaf?’

Me: (smiling, nodding vaguely) ‘Great, yes’