Monday, February 14, 2011
These are the questions currently burning through my grey matter (hate that word grey, you will see why in a minute.)
1. Why is it that when I really concentrate hard on speaking French, it backfires on me in a spectacularly embarrassing way?
2. Why is it that when you try and do a good turn for someone, it comes back to bite you on the bum?
3. Why am I getting grey hairs?
Yesterday I went to pick up Issy from a birthday sleepover in Grasse. Many of the mums I have got to know in the last two and a half years speak no English at all, which is great for me, forcing me to practise my rusty A level French which has, in my humble view, come on in leaps and bounds since I moved here. It’s not so great however for the 11-year-old fluent French speaker stood at my side. Sometimes I practise what to say in certain situations in my head and it comes out beautifully. So much so that the other person assumes I have a far greater grasp than is strictly true and rattles back at me so fast that I am literally lost in translation.
I find when in doubt saying d’accord a lot, nodding sympathetically and laughing every so often usually saves the day and gets me out of anything I don’t really understand pretty effectively, except when someone asks me a question (at which point I just look like a stumbling village idiot) or says something fairly serious. So as Christine told me yesterday that Issy had been doubled up with stomach ache that morning, it didn’t look good when I nodded and laughed. I did realise my mistake some 10 seconds later once I’d hurriedly translated mal a ventre, but it wasn’t quick enough to prevent the accusation of being an evil, unfeeling mum being levelled as soon as we got in the car.
Then today, out walking the dogs in the village, I spotted the cat lady sitting at her window and had a lovely long chat with her which quite simply flowed. I used words I didn’t even know I knew and cat lady didn’t nod back and say d’accord so I have to assume she understood me. I also seem to be brilliantly fluent with at least two glasses of wine inside me which is a very good argument against any sort of detox. Not that I am considering anything of the kind.
I’m over being a good Samaritan too after an invisible cast iron post too it upon itself to smash into the car bumper last week. Liv spotted two of her mates on the bus in front of us at Opio, who face a long walk in the dark when they get off in our village so I told her to text them and tell them we would meet them below the perfume factory and give them a lift home. Sadly, the movement sensors weren’t working on the car on this particular occasion so I didn’t have any prior warning of the low fire hydrant until I clumped it in reverse, splitting the bumper on the back of our already very bashed up jeep. Still, at least the boys didn’t have to walk back in the dark. See above for the beauty I used to drive, sans any bumps and grazes, before I moved to France. I was so sad at leaving it behind that I have a whole photo file dedicated to it, and still visit it occasionally on Mel's drive when I'm back in the UK.
Perhaps more annoying than all of this is the discovery of the odd (OK, rather more prevalent than I would like to admit) grey hair making an appearance cunningly disguised as a highlight. Given that my roots are now two inches long, it’s rather obvious that the light reflecting strands at my roots are not the honey blonde I covet but a rather dangerous steely colour. They tend to show up most when I’m driving and checking my rear view mirror, then annoyingly disappear by the time I’ve legged it to the bathroom mirror to dispense with them. Is it true that for every one you pull out, another three grow back? If so, I should have a shock streak by next weekend. I have a feeling I might need more than rear sensors to prevent any further car incidents...and if you see the driver of a black jeep paying rather too much attention to the rear view mirror and not enough to the windscreen, do yourself a favour and give her a very wide berth.