Year Abroad. Part 6: La raclette c’est la vie

It’s come to that point of the year where I’ve finally made some friends of the same sex, which is just as well, because after over 2 months of almost exclusively female company, we were in dire straits. Of course, there were those moments where you’d hear the distant bounce of a football and poke your head out your window, shin pads on, expectantly, hoping that God had taken pity on you and your cause, but the bounce was not for you. Things had got so bad that you’d even considered legs, bums and tums. What were you thinking? As if this would in any way help your situation. “Oh where did you lads meet?” ask your friends and family back home, “Oh just in a group body toning class”, you reply. I needed help.

Strangely, given the recent calamity that has befallen their country, this help came from America: “dude, this shit’s dope”, yes my friend, it’s bloody good, I’m glad you agree! Now, I know I’m in France, and I know any cultural exchange is supposed to go in the Anglo-French direction, but Americans are cool, and it’s like talking to an episode of Friends. And despite the fact I’m from Essex (this means nothing to them of course), apparently I sound like Harry Potter. No one has ever said this to me. It’s like I’ve shed the orange glow of my county’s reputation and pronounced every syllable in “shut up” for this first time.

Although the debate is rife in our French group chat (yeah, you heard right, been trying to work out how to slide that one in) over whether Trump or Brexit is the lesser evil, us English speakers are sticking together, and would like to know when the raclette is happening. I’d quite like to know what a raclette is as well, but I’m just going to bring some wine and see what happens, it seems to work for most things here. That must be why the post office has a two-hour lunch break between 12 and 2, the most convenient time for anyone to visit the post office who isn’t already there by dint of being an employee. What do you even need a two-hour lunch break for at this time, you only opened three hours ago? If you think this ruined my day, you should have seen the bank opening times. It’s a good job the hospital doesn’t have the whole afternoon off here as well because I almost had a stroke after seeing that one.

Oh well, it’s a cultural exchange isn’t it? And I’m starting to get the feeling that France does it right, other than the sometimes backwards attitudes towards women: bars open late in little streets, coffee for 75 cents, never any rush, which is strange given how cheap the coffee is, slow days and late nights – that explains the coffee actually, ignore me.

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