Journey through space to the Planet Fabulous, where the Ruler of the Universe will see you shortly.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Je Suis Anglaise!

Ah, France, France, France. Just saying it conjures up romantic images of gendarmes and the Eiffel Tower, of whizzing around on scooters and shopping in fabulous boutiques! Well, you'll be pleased to know the reality is nothing like that at all - why, that's like trying to imply that London is pretty, clean and rain-free! In fact, Paris is remarkably... unfrench, which is a tad disappointing. For in my heart of hearts, I have perpetually hoped that on the continent there exists the tiny little French town of Cliché, where men in striped pullovers ride around on lethal-looking bicycles, sporting a string of onions around their neck, being rude to all and drinking wine for breakfast.

As you know, I was dragged over (well under) the water by my work in order to have some 'fun' with my work colleagues. Well, my hitherto unknown skills at lock picking soon gave them the slip and I was free to start wandering around this fabulous city by myself, idly listening to conversations and shoplifting croissants. Now French is a terribly romantic language, n'est pas? There were these two pretty boys standing outside my three-star hotel (ha! 'Three star'. The wallpaper alone was sponsored by an Indian restaurant) who pounced on me when I left the building. Whether they were after my wallet or after 'business' I'll never know - but I listened to them talk to me with a dewy expression for a good couple of minutes before patting them on the arm and wandering off, full of love.

You can tell my French is not amazing - lets just say I was too busy 'practicing for the oral' behind the bike sheds with Craig Astbury to take any notice of the actual school lessons. In fact, I lost a little weight while I was away simply through forgetting the French for 'breakfast', and did simply result in pointing at things and saying 'Oui! Avec jambon, s'il vous plait!' loudly. It's all I could remember from my Tricolour Level 3, alas - but did make my choice of ice-cream interesting.

Equally so was my 'three star' hotel, fuelling the argument that the star system means absolutely nothing on the continent - La Hotel Est was basically a three star shantytown. Some rooms purportedly had baths, but from what I saw, they were sinks with ideas of grandeur. Possibly slightly deeper shower trays. Anyway, I had a boon due to no-one wanting to bunk with The Only Gay In The Company, so I put in a room on my own which had both a single bed and a double for my own pleasures! Wow! Two beds? That's practically a fleet of Wanking Chariots!

Speaking of which, my name Lee sounds like the French for 'bed', you know. Causing much hilarity for some poor chatty girl in Starbucks who thought I was trying to suggest something improper with the whipped cream she was offering on my latte.

One final thing - as I left to catch the Eurostar back, I finally bumped into a refugee from the town of Cliché. It was as if he'd been laid on for me especially, for there he was, travelling the Metro with his beret at a jaunty angle and playing enthusiastically on the accordion. He'd even started on those twiddly tunes that are so French they are played over establishing shots of countryside in cheap British sit-coms to show they are abroad. And when he finished, he simply moved from this carriage to the next without asking for money, and just started up again. He was just doing it for the love of being French. How very marvellous.

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