Wednesday, September 09, 2009
What a win. I walk into the Alliance Francais, and it’s literally like I’m in Fwonce.
People are sitting around looking all French and mildly petulant, on tables dotted about the place.
Va va voom. My kind of place. No one addresses you in English, and we’re standing in Parkview. How fucking cool is that?
In fact, while registering, even when I was sorting out invoices and sundry, the dude was speaking French.
Ooh and I got me a student card – oh yes, it’s been a long time since I had one of those bad boys.
He was asking me with a straight face which module I was doing, and frankly I know neither the words ‘module’ or ‘facilitation of oral conjugationary dialect,’ in French.
Or whatever he was asking.
‘Mister. Monsieur. I’m here to learn French again. That’s why I am here. Because I cannot understand what you’re saying.’
‘Pardon?’ he says, still straight faced, ‘Tu faux parler le francais.’ Sweet baby Jesus, I’m in Paris.
Everyone who walked past smiled and mouthed a cheery ‘Bonjour!’, and there’s this whole café culture thing going on right in the entrance. Where you can drink coffee, smoke a cigarette and not feel like a pariah [It was the French who really taught me to smoke, it must be said], and eat saucisson.
But you have to order this stuff in French, there's an unwritten code of conduct. English simply isn’t spoken.
We even had to stroll around the gallery section giving symbolistic interpretations of this artist from the Cote d’Ivoire. Seriously.
Luckily I got to drink a vin rouge during the lesson. Nice touch, and frankly, I’m a fan. The Alliance is officially my new hang out, and now that I have a student card, I’ll flash that baby on weekends when I get to peruse through the library and take out French films.
Had two Scousers in my class, which was WELL funny, yeh.
The teacher is awesome – she is from Grenoble, it turns out. The city I lived in for the year I was in France.
She also told us a story – and I think I understood the jist of it – but interesting character: she was a hippie once (?) and tied herself to a tree for five months so they didn’t chop it down.
Five months living tied to a tree in the middle of a French city. Shweeet.
Also chatted about the French socialist system. This was around about the time I realised that in 10 years, I’d lost a lot of the language and was possibly a little out of my depth.
But I understood bits and pieces, and from what I learnt (this is a shonky translation, so maybe I have it wrong):
1) If you’re unemployed in France, for five months after your last job, the government matches your salary. Like free. Thereafter it gradually gets more and subsidised. How does anyone work? At all?
2) You have a card for everything medical. You swipe it, and you never ever see a bill.
3) You strike or tie yourself to trees when you’re upset.
4) You pay exorbitant taxes for the above benefits.
Yeah, they’re almost communists, but they’re not. I love it. Je l’aime je l’aime.
Had to give a stand up description to the class about what we love and what we hate.
Needless to say no one found ‘J’adore le vin rouge et Richard ’Ammonde’ funny.
What is ‘wha evah’ in French I wonder. Because that’s what I’ll say next time, and give them a Catherine Tate impersonation.
(‘Regardez mon visage. Est-ce que vous disrespectez ma famille?
Est ce que vous appellez ma mere une pikey?’)
Gotta write a French story in some random tense for next week. Fuck. The last time I did tense was in the plane on the way back from Cape Town, and it wasn’t the tense the teacher was referring to.
Better look on the Internet.
Bless. They have all these cultural events involving cheese and wine, just like how I imagined.
I’ve found my club.
There goes that brief crash course in Italian.