A Weekend in Paris

I haven’t actually got anything to say, but I decided I’d better check in and post something since it’s been a few days, and I know from experience that if I leave a blog/diary/journal for more than a week it dies a miserable death.

So, Anna was here for the weekend! Just turned up on the doorstep on Friday (quite literally – I’m glad my very detailed instructions were actually helpful) and helped me entertain the children until all the packing was done and the family managed to get out of the door for their weekend away. Then the housekeeper left after and for the first time ever I was able to make noise in the house!

It was quite odd for me, because the whole time I’ve been here I have been conscious that it is someone else’s house and that the someone else in question is paying me to be here, so I have been keeping a check on my behaviour and intrusiveness. There have been weekend afternoons where the family have been out and I have been in, but in general I’ve tried to be either working, out, or unobtrusive.

We were not any of those things! We shouted, we sang, we ran up and down the stairs giggling, we watched videos, we ordered pizza from the shop just down the road – once I’d actually managed to place the order, it would have been quicker to just walk down and buy it but it was COLD dammit – and we stayed up late talking. Just like being a teenager again, except that when I was a teenager I did not ask my guests to help me medicate rabbits.

We saw some Paris, and the film Never Let Me Go, which was very moving and quite depressing. See it, or preferably read the book and then see it.

What else did we do? We had ice cream for lunch (my favourite meal!) and got lost a lot. I actually have not got so lost or got on the wrong train or bus ever before, even when I first arrived. On Sunday we left the house at 8.30 and did not arrive at church until 10.15, even though it’s a half hour journey. On the plus side we did see bits of Paris I didn’t even know existed.

Sunday afternoon was the brunch thing which was a close cousin to the dinner that got cancelled. I enjoyed it a lot, particularly the bread products (corn bread! Why did no one tell me about this?!). There was a woman there who talked at great length about raw foods and trophic levels, which I found informative but I suspect is quite a niche topic. I’m planning on going to more of these supper club events so I might see some of the attendees again. They were mostly interesting people and they talked about things like adults! In fact they were adults! It was great.

In the evening we went off hunting the Carnaval, and didn’t have too much difficulty finding it. It was quite fun until we got attacked by a gang of youths who thought it would be a good idea to trap Anna in a net and grab at me and push us both around until I managed to get her untangled and we both ran off. It’s the first time I’ve been actually attacked in France, although my general sense of unease is definitely higher here than it is in England normally. Partly it’s a language barrier thing – not being able to yell back, or even understand the yells, is pretty scary.

Anyway we both emerged alive and unscathed. It kind of ruined the carnival for me because I kept thinking they were about to appear again. There were dozens and dozens of them; if they had wanted to they could easily have borne us off and done anything they liked to us but thankfully they just wanted to laugh at the two English girls stuck in a net made of red and white tape for a bit.

Then Anna went home, after what felt like a very short weekend, and I came back to the house to find the family had returned. Then I fell asleep and then it was Monday, and then I took the girls to school (we were late, as we almost always are if I take them), bought bread, internetted all morning, ate lunch, slept, picked the girls up from school (I was late, which I never am – blame the eight parcels I had to take to the post office, all going to different countries and requiring three different types of labelling and a large amount of French vocabluary I just don’t possess).

I hate going to the post office. I’m fine taking a letter down to pop it into the post box, but if I’m sending a parcel – or rather if my employer is sending a parcel – then I have to go into the office itself. There are five steps up to the door. Have you ever tried single-handedly lifting a 14-month-old in a pushchair up five steps whilst holding open the door at the same time?

And once I’ve made it into the horrifically overheated little room, I’m invariably confronted by how hopeless my French is. I don’t even know how to say “Please can I send this parcel?” although mime tends to work. Today it turned out that parcels being sent to Australia require one of those little Customs and Excise labels saying what is in it (I didn’t know), how much it weighs (I didn’t know), and how much it is worth (I didn’t know). Another one needed to be sent recorded delivery, which requires another two labels, and the rest had to have a little sticker printed by a machine that messed up the printing 50% of the time. The whole thing took about half an hour and I still had to bring one back home with me so I’ll have to go again tomorrow.

Grr. Part of me can’t help thinking “this is not my job!”. My employer has a personal assistant who comes on Fridays who I feel is better equipped to deal with these tasks. She speaks French, for a start, and also she is not encumbered by between one and three small children.

I feel like I’ve been complaining a lot about my job and my employer lately. Please don’t take away the impression that I hate it, although I certainly have moments where I think I do. It’s just that I can’t talk about these things with anyone here, because I don’t know anyone, so I vent a little online and feel better. There are also lots of lovely moments but they can’t usually be put into words or wouldn’t make good reading.

Anyway for a post that I wasn’t really feeling up to writing it has got very long! I’ve been teaching myself shorthand again this evening, with the books I picked up from mum’s when I went back to visit, but now it is time to sleep. Tomorrow I have to make the 2 hour round trip to pick up my bank card. Why can they not post it to me, you ask? I ask that too (or I would if I knew the French for “to post”).

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3 thoughts on “A Weekend in Paris

  1. Point of information: we did not actually have ice cream for lunch. We had pasta, in THAT SHOPPING CENTRE. The ice cream was just one of many mid-afternoon snacks!

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