Before I publish part one (probably more forthcoming eventually) of my collected wisdom on the French, quick update on moi. Most glaring event lately has been the death and resurrection of my laptop. I was unbelievably distressed when it crashed. Despite the hours spent on it every day, I hadn't quite fathomed the depths of my dependance on it, but it's my entire communication and entertainment apparatus, plus really quite useful for work, and I was lost without it. Thankfully some dude fixed it for me for a reasonable price, but alas, all my files are gone, including my iTunes library (which is backed up in New Zealand thankfully) and my photos. Which are not, for the most part, backed up anywhere. So, of my trip to Italy, there remains pretty much just the photos on this blog :( So that's upsetting, but daddy dearest burning down the garage has taught me not to get too upset at the loss of physical (or digital) "memories". C'est la vie and next time back the things up! The thought crossed my mind every now and again, but yeah... Oh well. I'm hoping like mad that it won't die again. My flatmate is of the opinion that it will, but don't know whether she actually knows what she's talking about. Not sure if the guy who fixed it had an opinion on the subject, I was seriously struggling to understand a word out of his mouth - he was of the French-speaking variety whose every sentence consists of "mumblemumblemumblemumble, quoi?" but I figured that most of what he was saying would have equally gone over my head in English, so just nodded and smiled and panicked slightly on the occasions when he was actually asking me a question. PS on a tangent, it's a somewhat endearing French young person tic to end sentences with 'quoi?' ('what'?), and is not indicative that they're about to break in to 'topping day, old bean' mode.
So anyway, things I have recently been thinking about, enjoy:
- On the bus today there was not one, but two obese people (one man, one woman). The man, at least, was French, don't know about the woman. Anyway, this reminded me of how rare it is to see overweight people here, they virtually don't exist. Almost all the young 'uns are skinny as (boys included) and the women mostly stay skinny until about 50, when some of them start piling on some grandmotherly pounds. Of course, they are all obsessed with dieting...
- Also on the bus today was a woman wearing a CAPE. Sweet. And it has to be said, she was semi-rocking it. Kudos. On the subject of dress, my high school students frequently make me laugh with what they wear. Not so much the girls, you kind of expect sophisticated French mode from them, but the boys vary from jeans and t-shirts to looking like they stepped off a catwalk, it's hilarious. All charcoal turtlenecks with elegantly knotted purple scarves and man bags. Heh.
- There are way, way too many motorbikes and scooters here, and their owners have all taken compulsory wanker courses before being allowed to ride them. They are really loud, they often go through red lights, they drive on the wrong side of the road wherever possible, they drive up on to pavements and 'park' in the middle of them, they rev their engines at you if you cross the road in front of you (that's on the rare occasions they stop at all)... Yesterday I even saw, would you believe, someone going down the wrong side of a busy multi-lane street at 11.30 am doing a wheelie. Wank-ers!
- It's been said before and it'll be said again, but France really is full of merde. That's poo to our non-French friends. Specifically, it's merde of the canine variety. Crottes de chien are everywhere - it's less "keep watching the skies" than "keep watching the pavements". I don't know how many times I've suddenly noticed a pretty building or sign or whatever that I must have walked past a million times before and thought "well, up to now I've missed it because I've been on dogpoo patrol". They - and this must be with malice aforethought - seem to take special delight in pooing in the gaps between parked cars, also known as the part of the street where the crap is likely to be difficult to see and easy to step in. I've escaped so far, but for how long??? Possibly the worst is when it rains (granted, that's not often) and the piles of crap are replaced with melted dogpoo puddles leeching across the pavement. Nice!
- I haven't seen it, but apparently there's another memorial somewhere in my school to all the Jewish kids from the school who got taken away to concentration camps in WWII. I've seen my fair share of Holocaust memorials by now, but what an especially sad idea to think of students like mine sent away to their deaths :(
- Was having chats with the two students who turned up to my class this afternoon. One, a 16 year old, is planning on 'drinking' this weekend - she's been going out to bars for about a year now. Both of them said that teenage drinking was a big problem in France, and it's 'bad' how easy it is for teenagers to get into bars and buy alcohol. They thought it was hilarious when I told them how, in New Zealand, the French are held up as paragons of healthy drinking behaviour. So suck on that, all you journalists who act like the French are universally sophisticated and sensible. (For one thing, you only have to watch a bit of French TV to see that's not the case. Cheese city!)