04 December 2012

A big surprise, the French, and marijuana

Alors, qu'est-ce qui s'est passé in the life of Mademoiselle Melle this week, I hear you all ask eagerly. Because of course you all flit between languages mid-sentence. Well you're not the only ones. Despite being oh so far from being able to speak French well, little phrases keep popping into my English speech and it takes me a good few seconds to remember the English equivalent. I'm yet to decide whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Anyway, the answer to the initial question is 'not much to be honest'. But I feel obliged to write another post, so I shall rack my brain to think of something vaguely interesting I can tell you...

Of course, how could I let it slip. Last Tuesday evening, after having returned home from a petite soirée at Anne-Lise's house with some colleagues (which was lovely for her to organise in my honour even if most of the conversation went in one ear and out the other), I had a telephone call. Dun dun duunnnnnn. Gripping story so far, I know. The little screen on my back-to-basics French mobile informed me it was my dear boyfriend wishing to speak to me. After accepting the call and saying the standard 'hello, how are you', the conversation went a little like this.
Rob: In 10 seconds I'm going to ring on your doorbell.
Me: Haha Rob you're hilarious.
Rob: No, seriously, I'm outside your flat in Melle.
OK so I may have romanticised it a little bit, but the gist remains the same. My boyfriend flew across the channel to La Rochelle, took the train to Niort, and the bus to Melle, to come and surprise me. Aww isn't he cute?!

So that's the main news of my week. He was here for 2 nights and it was lovely.

I was quite ecstatic to learn from Mike that Melle turned it's Christmas lights on on Friday. Perhaps it was because I had seen Paris' lights the previous weekend, or the fact that in my head I had turned Melle into a winter wonderland with snow, glitter and Christmas music falling from the sky, but my expectations were in hindsight a bit high. In reality it's quite endearingly undramatic. None of the lights match, and there seems to be no logic as to where they've been placed. So I've made up for it by blasting Smooth Christmas Radio out my laptop 24/7.

Pretty lights in Melle, just a shame this is the only one of its kind...

What else? My suspicion that the French are a rather odd race has been reinforced. I was pleasantly eating my lunch in the cantine last Tuesday, as usual not really knowing what it was but enjoying it nonetheless. I then heard the other teachers discussing what it was. "C'est la joue de quelque chose..." "Joue de raie, je croix".

I suddenly chipped in by demanding "JOUE??!?" ('Joue' means 'cheek'. -- yeah, see, now you get my shock/horror). Not having been taught a wide variety of animals in French other than the standard pig, cow, budgie and guinea-pig, I had to ask what 'raie' was in English. Anne-Lise, an English teacher, didn't know, so we had to ask Domie, the other English teacher. "Oh", she said, "it's the same in English I think, 'ray'".

Ray? I've never heard of 'ray' bef-- Oh, STINGRAY?! I had just eaten Stingray Cheek it seemed. And I thought I was eating chicken. Having eaten rabbit the previous week, which appeared to have its eyeballs still intact, I shouldn't really have been so surprised...

But really, les Français? Is that really necessary? Chicken, beef, pork or lamb are perfectly sufficient for school dinners.

One of my classes last week was vaguely amusing. I decided to make the pupils at the lycée have a debate on the legalization of cannabis, as I figured it would be of interest to them judging by its pertinence amongst that age group in France. Needless to say, all they boys wanted to argue 'for' the drug's legalization, and I pretty much had to play devil's advocate the whole time. After turning my back for a few minutes, I returned to the 'for' table to find a guy casually emptying a load of weed from inside his mobile phone onto the table. 'You're meant to be talking about marijuana, not smoking it', I said in my raised teacher-like voice. And teacher-like it must have been, as he just wiped it into the bin. The fact that I wasn't particularly surprised by this incident perhaps shows that I am well settled into French life.

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