A recent study has been conducted in France, predominantly focusing on the viewing habits of 18 – 25 year-olds. The independant French research group Groupe de Soixante Neuf have spent the last 24 months compiling data up and down the country in France’s universities and campuses. Their findings appear to support their initial hypothesis and have just been released to the wider scientific community.
The group have sought to verify a correlation between viewing adult films and teen expectations in day-to-day life. Their findings, while accepted as empirical, have also sent shockwaves through France.
Lead spokesman, Doctor Ivor Biggun, had this to say: ‘As we expected, the long-term effects of viewing pornographic films have had a negative impact on the youth of France’. When asked for more details Dr Biggun replied: ‘The majority of French youths now have unhealthy and unrealistic expectations as to how quickly and easily you can get a plumber to visit your house’.
I also encourage them to ask questions; where in England am I from? What’s it like over there? What is the weather like? Do we eat similar foods? What are the schools like over there? What do I think of the current situation vis-a-vis the ongoing problems facing the country following Brexit? etc. etc.
I also encourage them to ask questions regarding the language and how to ask questions, directions, what the days of the week are, general conversational matters and so on and so forth.
With that in mind, here are – in no particular order – the top ten questions I get asked:
‘How do you say ‘Bottom’ in English?’
‘How do you say ‘Fart’ in English?’
‘How do you say ‘*INSERT SLANG TERM FOR A PENIS HERE*’ in English?’
‘How do you say ‘Poo’ in English?’
‘How do you say ‘Boobs’ in English?’
‘How do you say ‘Burp’ in English?’
‘How do you say ‘You smell’ in English?’ (this one made me sniff my own armpits)
‘How do you say ‘*INSERT SLANG TERM FOR A VAGINA HERE*’ in English?’
‘How do you say ‘*INSERT ANOTHER PUPIL’S NAME* smells’ in English?’
‘How do you say ‘I don’t want a bath’ in English?’
Well, that’s the problem when you work with kids between the ages of seven and eleven – you might have lofty ambitions about what you want to achieve, but they’ll bring you back down to earth very, very quickly.
I’m currently working in a campsite here in a very, very hot and sunny France.
Today I had the pleasure of helping out a young Norwegian family.
They came in, looking very flustered, telling me that they needed to to see a doctor, as their eldest daughter – who was the grand old age of two – had a rash that was spreading, and they wanted to take action before it got any worse. I ran a search on the internet, printed out a list of local doctors, and gave them all the relevant info.
“Ah….. yes…..” the mother of the family said, looking at me with despair in her eyes: “But although we speak English – we don’t speak any French”.
Luckily for them however, I’ve been living here a while, so I thought I might be up to the task. Nothing ventured nothing gained, eh?
I rang up the doctor. He answered. He clearly wasn’t a natural-born Francophone.
So here we were. A Norwegian family who didn’t speak French. An Englishman who didn’t speak French well. And a doctor from parts unknown.
Thankfully it all worked out and they managed to get an appointment for just a couple of hours later.
They will let me know if everything is ok with their little one as soon as they can.
Me? I’m just happy that my language skills are better than I expected. Or maybe it’s one of those extreme pressure-type situations, where your brain works at a higher rate than normal.
Now if I could only figure out how to make it work like that all the time…..
I went in to work today at the office. A couple of my French colleagues were there, one of them was watching something on his PC, I couldn’t see exactly what it was, but it seemed to be a news programme as there was a lot of chatter from various people. The other colleague asked me how I was and – using a French phrase she has helped me to learn – I said I was fine apart from ‘the shit weather’. She corrected my French as I’d made a slight error.
It was at this point that the ‘programme’ that my colleague was watching piped up with: ‘The weather is shit?’.
My other colleague wasn’t watching a news programme, he was on a conference call via Skype.
I was just on my way home and walked past the entrance to a local hotel, just as a white van with a builder’s merchant’s signage on the side pulled in. The driver – a well built, mustachioed chap – got out, nodded a greeting to me and commenced punching in the code on the gate to access the hotel’s courtyard.
I continued walking by and, as I drew level with the rear of the van, saw something scrawled there in the accumulated dirt and dust.
‘J’aime les licornes’ the legend on the back of the Ford transit said (‘I like unicorns’.)
I said something today that I never thought I ever would. Something that you may have read in books, or heard characters say in films and TV shows. It’s such a tricky sentence to say, because the context has to be just right, or you might just find yourself in trouble.
Well I managed to say it.
I even managed to say it in French too.
I work at a local school and – due to Covid 19 – we’ve had a lot of people that work in local government departments and businesses working with us, due to their workplaces being closed down for health reasons.
I recognised one of these ‘redeployees’ today while I was in the playground. She was stood off to one side watching the kids play, all wrapped up against the cold in her thick coat and scarf (and obligatory mask). Her name’s Stephanie, a lovely lady in her fifties who works locally and who myself and my kids have got to know quite well as we see her frequently – under normal circumstances anyway.
I headed over to her, weaving through masses of running kids as I did so, nodded my head at her and said: ‘Hello Stephanie, I didn’t recognise you with your clothes on’.
Stephanie – a lifeguard at our local swimming pool – saw the funny side and, thankfully, laughed at this.
I say thankfully because Stephanie also teaches self-defence and judo.
I make my daughter her ‘quatre heure’ – or after-school snack – each day. This involves fruit, a drink and two small slices of toast, one with butter one with organic chocolate spread. I got bored one day and, with the aid of a pair of scissors, cut the pieces into heart shapes for her. She liked that. She liked that so much that she then refused to eat it unless I cut it into heart shapes for her each time.
Then I got bored of cutting heart shapes and tried my hand at other ‘designs’. They won’t win any art prizes, but she likes them and it’s quite fun for both of us. These are all first time efforts as I’m still ‘honing my craft’ but I will upload more photos one day when I think they are worth sharing. So here we have: Heart and the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile, Pacman chasing a ghost (I realise for accuracy the ghost should really be blue, but I try not to feed my daughter blue things) and Jaws chasing a school of fish.
OK, so that’s a title and a half for a blog post, but bear with me, I’ll explain.
You see one of the things I love about French people is their frequent absolute refusal to do things in what I see as a logical, straightforward manner.
I should add this is just my opinion, and yours may well differ (he said diplomatically).
As an example of this I will tell you a little story from the other year, when I was working in a local travel and tourism office.
We had a village event coming up, a very popular, well attended event that spanned one entire weekend and happened every year. We had all the posters up advertising the event, but were still waiting for the programmes to arrive, with all the times of the various activities that were planned for that weekend.
The most frequent question we were asked – on the phone, and in person – in the days leading up to the event was: ‘Do you have the programme for the event yet?’.
The day finally came and we were informed that we would be receiving the infamous programmes, and so we could give them out to the locals and allow them to see what was in store.
The programmes arrived. They were delivered to another building, 500 meters away.
I offered to go and get them, and the conversation went a little like this:
Me: The programmes are here, down the road, shall I go and get them?
Colleague: Oh no, they are in a box, and the box is heavy, we will have to wait till we can get them delivered. I will contact the mayor.
Me: But people want them, and they’re not far away – I could take the trolley (indicating a small trolley we use to move heavy items around)
Colleague: Oh, but that will take a long time and the box is heavy.
Me: But that’s what the trolley is for.
Me: Well how about this? I go down, open the box, and bring up enough leaflets to hand out to people, then at least the ones who have asked for them will be happy.
Colleague: (long pause) (lots of blinking) No. No, the box is heavy. We will contact the mayor.
I’ve just repainted the bathroom floor downstairs, I know we are only two days into lockdown MK2, but I just can’t stop myself from painting things. Basically if it stays still for more than five minutes, it’s getting painted.
Thank god we don’t own a dog.
So the floor’s been painted, my son comes ambling up to me and asks me if he can use it. I check it out, it’s OK, but still a bit wet at the sides of the toilet.
I tell him he can use the bathroom, but to be careful of the aforementioned sides.
‘Oh you can trust me’ he replies ‘I don’t go on the sides of the toilet, I just pee on them’.
So, in case anyone is wondering why I repainted the floor, there’s your answer…