Thursday, August 09, 2007
So, the playscheme. I spent two weeks on the Saltern's Playscheme, which organises fun activities for children with learning difficulties, like going to the aquarium, going swimming and stuff like that. Each of the children needed a carer to look after them, which is where I came in!
On the first week, I was looking after a child with Down Syndrome, who was absolutely fantastic, although a little stubborn and unaware of his own stength! So I had as much fun as the children that week, although my glasses were bent within a few hours of the first day after getting struck by a basketball in the face. I was hit by various objects to various parts of the anatomy over the fortnight. I got to go to the aquarium, go swimming, watch Shrek the Third, go to Finkly Down Farm and eat lots of ice cream! All in the name of making sure the children had a good time, of course!
The second week I mainly looked after a child with Kay, who decided to join in (the first week she was camping in the exotic location of... Brockenhurst). This child, although really cool in his own way, was anxious about quite a lot of things; he didn't like crowds, loud noises and water. That meant we spent most of the time staying on the bus while the rest of the children went and did things. That wasn't too bad - we must have sung A Spoonfull of sugar about a dozen times! It was only annoying because the first week the weather wasn't so great, but last week on Wednesday, it was scorching, and I spent the day on a hot bus.
However, the Tuesday we were to go swimming. The child I was with didn't like swimming (as he didn't like crowds, noise or water, which is what swimming is all about), so he swapped with a child from another group who really liked swimming while he went to Longdown Dairy Farm, where aparently he saw a lion. This third child had Angelman's Syndrome, which a fascination with water is a characteristic, hence the love of swimming.
So all in all, the Saltern's Playscheme was a fantastic experience, and I'd love to do it next year if I'm around. The children were all fantastic - well, at least the ones I looked after, there were others which were more ... challenging, to put it diplomatically.
Last Wednesday, there was a church youth group barbeque at Denise's, which was jolly fun, and Thomas decided to make a cheesecake.
This weekend just gone, the weather was fantastic, and I tried to make the most of it. Saturday, Thomas, Jess, Ali (two friends who worked at Morrison's with me) and I went on a picnic at Longdown, which was a great day. Thomas made these lovely chicken and pesto baguettes and a batch of scones. We also had strawberries, watermelon and cake. And Longdown, even though it was in the New Forest on a sunny Saturday, was practically empty, save the horses, (one of which stole a scone, an apple and trampled in our butter) which Thomas so galantly chased away - shouting and waving his arms like a maniac. After the picnic, we were thinking of going for ice cream at Lyndhurst, but the traffic was an absolute abomination! We know where all the grockels went instead of Longdown. So we went back home, and walked up to the post office to buy some ice lollies. Such a perfect day...
Sunday, I went to church, had lunch at our grandparents and then had Jo, Katy and Ben come round in the evening where we served more chicken and pesto (Jo's addicted to the stuff...) and played games, including a hilarious, yet slightly vulgar game of consequences, cranium, and pig, the card game. Another great evening. (I have such a cool social life, non?)
This week's been slightly more laid back, but not as much as I hoped for as I've got three manic weeks coming up. Next week is Soul Survivor, then Thomas and I are off to Paris!
A bientot, mes amis
Thursday, July 19, 2007
So, a little of what has been happening, possibly or possibly not in chronological order:
a) Marchwood fete. Two Saturday's back was Marchwood fete (Marchwood being a village where my grandparents live), and Thomas had volunteered to help out with Jo and Kay. I hadn't but on arriving, I was given things to do without even being asked whether I wanted to, not that I minded. Power of association I say. Anyway, the weather was really good, and I spent the day in the sun and got the burns to prove it. But apparently I'm a sauerkraut for not dressing up, but I only got back from Paris the Tuesday before.
b) Work. I sort of have a job. Well, I signed up for a temping agency and have been given work once a week putting inserts into local newspapers. Rivetting. I could ask for more, but I'm fine.
c) Went to see Harry Potter, which was by far the best Harry Potter film so far. Also on the Harry Potter theme, as this Saturday the new book is coming out, Hythe High Street is being decorated for the occasion. As Jo's dad is the manager at a shop there, Thomas, Kay, Jo and I (yes the same four, we should have a name, like the Marchwood Musketeers or something) are decorating it, so Thomas and I have been working on that.
d) Father's birthday. Last Saturday, which was also Bastille Day for those in France, was my father's birthday, so we had a big barbecue, with a giant gazebo and everything. My mum had a nice quiet meal with the family. My dad, the entire works. And it's not even a landmark birthday, although he'll be 50 next year. What'll he do for that, hire a string quartet?
I've also volunteered to do two weeks at Saltern's Playscheme. Saltern School is a local school for children with learning difficulties and at the start of the summer holidays, they organise activities with the children, which I'm helping out with, starting next Monday. Should be fun. Then I've got a week off, then it's Soul Survivor, and then I'm off back to Paris, to find a new apartment. And I have about 10 days to do it before I have to leave my current one! I'm insane, I know.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
And I'm also back in England, since McDonalds didn't want me anymore and cancelled my contract. Cancelled, by McDonalds! Hilarious! But I'm so glad to be back in England, even though the weather is being tempermental at best.
That's all for now folks. I told you it was a short entry.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
So, following on from my last entry: Tuesday, after the whole rigmarole of the McDonald's job thingy, I met up with Katy Dey at St Michel again. I had my suitcases with me, so we went to a cafe where I ate a crepe, and a baguette if I'm not mistaken. After we said goodbye at Cite, I went to the gare du nord to catch my train and buy the ticket to come back. (For some reason I'm having to control a strange desire to insert random French words here and there) I accidently bought the ticket going the wrong way, but managed to sort it out, so that was all fine. I got on the Eurostar, as one does when going back to England by train, and met my dad at Waterloo, even though I didn't realise he'd be there. Got home around nine, and had a dinner that Thomas prepared. To be honest though, I was so tired I could have eaten polystyrene.
Wednesday, I'd arranged to meet Ali and Jess in Southampton, which was cool. Thomas tagged along of course! We went to Costa Cafe, where the waitresses were rather miserable (made me feel like I was back in France!). That evening, I went to the church youth group, which was the first time in about a year, but it had hardly changed, which was nice. Afterwards, Thomas and I watched Gosford Park.
Thursday, Thomas and I went to Poole to meet up with Kaylee. Weather terrible, company good as usual. Had lunch at Wetherspoons, chatted, had a wonder around Poole, chatted, looked at some little bits and bobs including Poole Pottery, which is obscenely expensive. Then we had a cream tea (not great) to escape iniment rain, and chatted, bought some sweets (not that great either) and chatted. Then Thomas bought the entire works of Shakespeare, all 20 tons of it. And that was about all. That evening, we watched A Corpse Bride.
Friday, I went to the cinema with Jo and Katy to see The Fantastic 4, which was cliched and poorly acted, but it was at least mildly entertaining. But it was nice to see Jo and Katy. The family all watched The Prestige that evening (4 films in 3 days!), which was really good, but the ending was a bit disappointing.
Saturday evening the family (sounds daunting, mafia-like, non?) went to The Fisherman's Rest, Lymington for dinner. The food was excellent, but they ran out of venison, which Thomas ordered, and didn't tell us until they were serving everyone else. Bit daft, if I do say so.
Sunday was Father's day, so Thomas cooked a fried breakfast, while I cleaned up. Then Thomas cooked a chocolate cake and some scones for an afternoon tea (which Thomas so humbly put while plagiarising Mary Poppins, "all of which were practically perfect in every way"), while I cleaned up. The grandparents came round for the afternoon tea, so it was a thoroughly enjoyable affair.
Monday, I didn't do anything, and Tuesday I returned to Paris.
That'll do for this entry, which is beginning to compete in length with a Vikram Seth novel. Till next time, which I believe will be very soon...
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Sarkozy - the cause of all our problems?
Saturday, June 09, 2007
I can't believe I'm leaving Paris on Tuesday for a few months! Although I sort of need to go back to England to find a job (following unsuccessful searching here), and prices became prohibitively expensive after Tuesday, I'm starting to regret buying the ticket. There's people I probably won't be able to say goodbye to and that's sad. I told Jennifer I was leaving, slightly bluntly it must be said (by text), which shocked her somewhat! Sorry Jennifer! And plus, I'm really tired today, having not slept well, got up early, went to the Church Council half day away - which was a lot better than I anticipated, collected my ticket from Gare du Nord (isn't the RER bit scary and confusing?), did some washing and started to pack. My tiredness is contributing to my general state of miscontentedness, but nothing a good night's sleep shouldn't sort.
Church Council not so boring after all
Having joined the church council fearing it would be incredibly bureaucratic, I thought today would be a form of purgatory (if I believed in it, that is), but I was pleasantly surprised! I talked to some of the fellow church councillors who I hadn't spoken to, and there was lots of positive contributions. There was albeit some bureaucracy, some more responsible for that than others, but there was some cool stuff. And the food was really good. Which helps.
Friday, June 08, 2007
But now to the decisions bit... He said that he won't know whether he'll be able to give me a job for another week at least, because a nearby McDonalds is closing for several months and this restaurant is absorbing most of its staff, which for a summer job is quite a long time to wait. So do I wait until I find out for sure, or do I go back to England? What if I stay and it turns out I haven't got a job? At the moment I'm thinking of phoning them some time next week telling them that
And yes, it may seem a rubbish option, but McDonald's isn't actually that bad. Yes, I'm selling myself to a capitalist juggernaut with which, small, worthy businesses can't compete, but the benefits include: all uniform provided, free food on the premises, and most importantly, 50% reimbursement of transport costs. That means McDonald's would pay for half of my Carte Imagine-R. And if I stay in this area (i.e. St Mandé, Vincennes etc.) next year (although I definitely won't be staying in the same apartment), the local Préfecture has announced that it'll pay for half of students' transport costs as well. That means I'll get free public transport in Paris absolutely legally! (no comment Jennifer!)
So I need to make my decision, and pretty soon since Eurostar tickets are really expensive and the longer I leave it the more they cost. Any ideas people?
- The English word hazard comes from the Persian word (via Arabic, Spanish and French) izr which means a die.
- The Spanish word for head is cabeza which comes from the Latin capita (as in the phrase per capita). So where does the French tête come from? From the Latin word testa meaning vase. Bizarre, non? But what's even stranger is that exactly the same thing happened in German. The German kopf comes from the Germanic kupaz meaning (and from where we get the word) "cup".
- Grammar and glamour come from the same word.
- Chicago means garlic.
And that'll do for now.
Not so erotic example of Japanese art
And the Rodin gardens are really cool, and again, with my Histoire de l'art student card, I can get in free! So after my little browse in the museum, I went back to uni, and got back at around 12h10. It was still closed. I waited till gone 12h30 - during which it didn't open - then went and got some lunch, which was annoying since I had already bought some lunch at home - went back to uni to find it was still closed an hour after it was supposed to open. Typical! So I went home. A WASTE OF MY TIME that was. Although I did enjoy the museum.
But while I was at the museum or at uni I received a message from McDonald's asking for an interview, so I phoned back post-haste and arranged an interview for Wednesday.
Fast forward twenty-five and a half hours, and I was at McDonald's having my interview. IN FRENCH! The interview itself went really well, the interviewer seemed really pleased and said that my interview was good, so that was a real boost to my confidence. But... I don't know whether I've got a job. I've got another interview in a McDonald's restaurant in the south of Paris, which is probably too far for me to go. The problem is that most restaurants don't want to give holiday, and I want to go back to England for some time during August, which means it's unlikely I'll get a job. But they said that if I can't get a summer job, I'll go on the waiting list for the rentrée.
Yesterday I didn't really do much. I spent one-and-a-half hours on the phone to Thomas via Skype, which my parents weren't impressed with since Thomas (who arrived back home on Wednesday) was meant to be unpacking his stuff and tidying up.
The evening was church social, and it was the grub crawl. And it was really good. The food was nice as was the company.
And that leads me to today. I shall tell you how the interview went later.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Saturday, June 02, 2007
The steps leading up to the Sacre Coeur, and as you can see, lots of tourists. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving, forever?
From the Sacre Coeur looking over to the 13th and 5th.
A street in Montmartre. I'm sure there was something important about this street, but I can't remember.
By the way, if you were disturbed by my sudden psychotic outburst about killing people, I was actually quoting The Third Man by Graeme Greene.
As the title suggests, I had my haircut - always an adventure in a foreign language. Which is why I left it so long. I feel practically bald now. And also as the title suggests, I've been continuing in my rather apathetic search for a job. I applied to Starbucks and McDonalds, the great French establishments that they are, as I didn't need to send a cover letter. I really don't want to write my cover letter, do I? Could someone do it for me? Please?
But that's about it in my life so far.
According to the format, a terminally ill woman, called Lisa was willing to donate her kidneys to one of three contestants requiring a kidney transplant, and the viewers could text her to aid her in the decision. One of the contestants was so ill that she could only drink a pint of fluid a day as that was all her body could cope with. Before it was aired, the show was condemned internationally as unethical, asking three people to compete over potentially life-saving treatment.
In the Netherlands, there is a chronic shortage of organ donors, and 200 people die every year waiting for a kidney transplant.
However, just as Lisa was going to give her decision, the presenter interrupted, announcing that the show was a hoax. Lisa was actually an actress, and although the contestants really did require kidney transplants, they were in on the hoax and were taking part to publicize the plight of those waiting for organ transplants. And the show definitely did that - 12,000 people texted the TV channel after the show saying they would join the donor list.
Given the publicity, it's shocking that no-one suspected it was a hoax. Prehaps this says a lot about the tasteless and sadistic nature of today's reality TV.
The chairman of BNN, the channel that broadcasted it, admitted the show was in 'bad taste' but said he 'believe[s] that reality is even worse taste'. And whether it's about the tragic shortage of organ donors or the repugnant nature of today's TV, he's probably right.
Friday, June 01, 2007
We then went for a little walk to Hotel de Ville, had a look at the "Garden of Tomorrow" display they had there - why not, it was free. I then went home. At my metro stop, I bumped into Virginie from church, and we had a little chat (in French of course). It turns out she works not at all far from where I live. Le monde est vraiment petit ! (See The Mighty Game of Go...)
Then I did some washing to resolve my sock shortage.
I NEED TO WRITE MY LETTRE DE MOTIVATION! I also desperately need my haircut, but I'm scared of French hairdressers. I'm gonna have something to eat and then go to Hillsongs maybe. Even though I don't really like it.
A bientot, mes amis !
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Beki: "I'm having dinner with my sister, brother-in-law and nephew tonight."
Me: "Aunt Beki! How sweet!"
Beki: "I know!
"They're staying at Disneyland.
"It was a total surprise for my nephew."
Me: "What, that you're his aunt? It must have been."
I then went to a bar called the Cameleon in St Michel to say goodbye to Cecily, as she's leaving this evening. It was really nice and I had some cool conversations. The bar, which is a jazz bar was cool as well. I thinks I might return. However, I have to confess, that with my prolific alcohol consumption of just two glasses of kir cassis, which probably has a tiny alcohol percentage (and the glasses weren't even that big) I got slightly tipsy. How embarrassing, I'm such a lightweight. I didn't do anything humiliating, I was just very aware that I had consumed alcohol.
Luckily I was nowhere near as drunk as this French guy who decided to join our group. He was wasted. And he kept on staring at the female members of our party. I had a rather interesting conversation with him, which went along the lines of this:
"Why are you in Paris?" (drunken random)
"I'm studying." (me)
"What university are you studying at?"
"The university of London."
"No, what university are you studying at? Cambridge?"
[I repeat previous answer, but he still doesn't believe me, and moves on]
"So, what are you studying?"
"Yep. French language and culture."
"Not anything like French business? Just French?"
"So, where are you studying?"
And on the way home, a rather jovial (also drunk) black man sat next to me laughing hysterically at a woman because she was wearing a scarf. I know this because he decided to share this hilarity with me. I did the usual trick, "je suis anglais." Didn't work. "Oh, you're English? Wheeeeeerrre arre you frooom?" (note drunken slur) "Southampton." Bad move. He then started talking to me about Southampton Football Team, which I don't support nor know anything about. He said it must be so difficult for me to cope with Southampton being in the second division (now called the Champions' league, n'est-ce pas?). I graciously accepted his sympathy, and smiled to him as he got off the metro.
Today, I got up in earnest to find a job, and looked at loads of offers, but have yet to really get anywhere. I WILL write my cover letter and I WILL send it off! I WILL write my cover letter...
And that brings you up to date really.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
1) A performer is juggling on a jumbo jet. He throws a ball into the air. At its highest point, the ball, for an infinitely small point of time, is perfectly motionless, before it falls back into the performer's hand. However, the ball is never really perfectly still, for it is moving along with the plane at 895 km/h at cruising speed. The plane is flying around the Earth, which rotates at 1674 km/h which means if the plane is flying in a westerly direction, it's actually going backwards. The Earth itself is orbiting around the Sun at on average 107,218 km/h. The Sun itself is orbiting around the centre of the galazy, the Milky Way at a staggering 217 km per second (That's 718,200 km/h). The Milky Way is hurtling through space at around 600 km per second. That means the Milky Way moves a staggering 51.84 million kilometres a day. No wonder it's so difficult to get any stillness nowadays...
2) The number of final positions of the chinese game of Go is larger than the number of atoms in the Universe. The number of atoms in 12 grams of carbon is 1,400,000 times the age of the universe in seconds. I have been alive for 19 years. That's 1/720,000,000 of the estimated age of the universe. To put that into perspective, if the universe existed for one year, I would have existed for aproximately one tenth of the time it takes to blink. That is a lot of final positions for the game of Go.
3) You may have heard that, unless you're Sentinelese and unsociably chase off with arrows and javelins anybody who's not from your remote tribe on a small island near Burma, that there are six degrees of separation between you and anyone else in the world. You can also theoretically get from any Wikipedia article to another with a maximum of six clicks (you can test that here).
So in conclusion, I am just one of six billion people in the world, but nearly every single one of them is practically my next-door neighbour. The world is obviously a small place, which is also moving incredibly quickly through a rather large universe. But nothing compares in size to the number of final positions of a game of Go. But if you were Sentinelese, this wouldn't matter, because you don't even know how to make fire. On the other hand, one expedition noticed that the Sentinelese had what appeared to be an 8x8 game board. So maybe they prefer chess.
Sunday and Monday were characterised by my inability to motivate myself to do anything. Instead, I either slept or sat at the computer in a quasi-vegetative state watching Heroes (although I did only watch two episodes... but so many twists and turns. Utterly addictive). I also managed to consume five bars of milka in three days. In the evening however, I went back to that Spanish bar with Nicky, Nichy's cousin, Natasha, Susannah and Susannah's friend who's here for the week or so. A Columbian, who could dance really well (but was incredibly sleazy) danced with Susannah, Natasha and Susannah's friend. And for some bizarre reason Susannah gave him her number... out of sympathy apparently.
Today, I've been slightly more proactive. I washed up for the first time in ages, and sent off my CV to a Subway in Paris, and have printed off some copies of my CV to give to other places around Bastille. I went for a little wander and saw 5 ads, so I decided that might be a good place to target.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Here goes... last week I had three exams, roman (Monday), grands débats (Tuesday) and poésie (Wednesday). All went relatively well I hope, but I'll only find out for sure when I get my results. Thursday I didn't really do much, at least I don't think so, but if I did I can't remember.
Friday - I can definitely remember Friday! In the evening, a group of us from uni (Lucy, Natasha, Nicky, Susannah and moi) went to the Louvre. Nicky and Susannah walked ridiculously fast, so within two minutes, the rest of us had lost them. We guessed roughly where they would be (the section on French art), but we never caught up, so we decided to go back to Lucy's apartment (spelt correctly this time). It turns out we were probably only a room or so apart all the time. C'est la vie! Nicky returned not long after sans Susannah, and the four of us had lasagne. We then decided in a moment of random impulsiveness to go to a karaoke in Pigalle (which, if you don't know, is the red-light district of Paris). And we were terrible! But we had fun, and Lucy and Nicky chatted to these Australians.
Saturday, I went to Nicky's and Lucy's to watch Cyrano de Bergerac with Natasha tagging along as well! After that, Nicky, Natasha and I met up with Susannah at Invalides to watch a jazz concert. It was really good, although it was a bit odd that the players were in full military costume, slightly contradictory. Lucy then joined us and we went to the Marais, and had falafel. We then went to Victor Hugo's house, but since it was Nuit des Musées it was really busy, but cool anyway. We then went to the Archives Nationales because there was a medieval thingy. I had bottled mineral water and a waffle from a waffle iron. The epitome of medieval cuisine! There were some people in armour though...
Sunday, I did some washing and went to church in the evening.
Monday, I had my théâtre exam in the morning. I then went shopping with Natasha to buy some clothes for the uni end of year boat party which is tomorrow! We then went to Lucy's to watch... can you guess? Heroes! Unfortunately, we got to the end of the 18 episodes that she has, so we'll have to wait till October to resume viewing. In the evening I then went to my first Church council meeting, which I found slightly excessively bureaucratic, but maybe that's just my youthful idealism.
Tuesday was art exam. Went well considering I did no revision whatsoever. I then went to church for the mid-week thingy.
(I started writing this on Friday, but didn't finish it. It's now Sunday, so if there are any confusing time shifts, bear with me.) Wednesday was the cinema which went ok I hope, but was one of the hardest exams. And I don't think I did much else after that.
Thursday was media. After that I went to Lucy's apartment (also spelt correctly) to eat this chocolate fondant thingy and ice cream. I then went to have fondu with Square 1 (the student youth group at St Mike's) in this bizarre restaurant in Montmartre (Refuge des Fondus, rue des deux freres if you ever want to know where it is), which was cool. We then wondered around Montmartre a bit, watched people perform outside the Sacré-Coeur and then had ice cream. Apparently, someone from uni saw me at Sacré-Coeur but I rudely ignored them. You don't expect to bump into people in Paris (well at least, I don't) so you walk around in a little bubble. Then I went home.
Friday was my last exam! And Questionnement too, what a waste of time! We were originally told it was three hours, but it was actually two. And one of the questions was of course 'Peut-on justifier le terrorisme ?' (this probably means nothing to anyone outside of ULIP, but it became a bit of a running joke since in each one of the two and a half lectures we had he asked us to discuss this question). Then I started writing this, but didn't finish.
Then, I went to Lucy and Nicky's apartment for a celebratory drink with Natasha and Gabby. After the drinks and an excessive consumption of crisps and mock petits écoliers we said goodbye for four months to Lucy as she was catching a train back to Brittany that evening. The rest of us save Gabby then went for a nice Italian dinner at Susannah's, where we consumed more drink, and we then went to a Spanish bar in Saint Michel, where Susannah was chatted up by a Spanish car salesman who wanted to marry her the next day and bizarrely stroked my hair. There are lots of weirdos in Paris, I can tell you!
Saturday during the day, I mainly slept, and did some shopping since Monday is yet another bank holiday (the fourth in a month!) so I won't be able to buy anything else till Tuesday. In the evening, I went to the uni's boat party on the Seine. The boat was really cool, but the part of Paris was a dump (by the National Library of France), but that was probably the only place the uni could afford! I then went back to Nicky's apartment with Nicky, her cousin, Natasha and Will Setters. Will and I slept in Lucy's room, since she wasn't there (I had permission to use it, and I'm sure she didn't mind Will sleeping on the floor...). And then I left around midday (when I got up) and came home. Et voila, we're up to date.
Next week, I'm also going to be busy, I'm planning to tidy my apartment, find a job and am also going out Monday and Wednesday...
Till next time, adiós!
Thursday, May 17, 2007
- I’m a twin
- I’m also identical
- But I’m left-handed and my brother’s right-handed
- I’m the oldest
- I have no other siblings except my twin brother
- I’m English
- I was born in Southampton
- I liked school
- I binge chocolate
- I worked at a supermarket – good old Morrisons!
- I did my two-week Year 10 work experience in a primary school in Southampton
- I’m studying French Studies
- In Paris
- At the University of London Institute in Paris
- Even though French was my worst subject at both GCSE and A-levels
- I’ve always wanted to live abroad
- I applied to Oxford
- But they rejected me
- As a child, my favourite book was the Dorling Kindersley Encyclopaedia
- My nicknames include Shmead, Shmead no. 1 and Mr Wikipedia
- The last is owing to my ability to retain useless information
- As a child, I had two hamsters, a guinea pig, as well as looking after my brother’s guinea pig and rabbit
- I was rubbish at looking after them
- And they died
- I talk excessively
- I hate French pop music (who doesn’t)
- I like rollercoasters and fast rides
- I’m not particularly afraid of death
- My favourite novel is To Kill a Mockingbird
- My favourite French novel is La Symphonie pastorale
- I used to have a comfort blanket
- I once fell down the stairs whilst inside it (don’t ask)
- I was kicked in the mouth by a New Forest pony when I was a child
- I’m a Christian
- I was baptised nearly two years ago
- I hate injections
- And I generally pass out when I have them
- But I survived the BCG!
- But only since I passed out ten minutes after my meningitis C jab
- I also hate blood, blood transfusions, and so forth
- But I can’t give blood in France because I lived in the UK during the mad cow disease crisis
- I play the violin
- But failed my grade 6 exam
- Mainly because I didn’t practise for a month before hand (it was my A-levels at a time)
- I hardly ever revise for exams
- But have the gift of the gab and generally do well
- Simple things amuse me
- If I’m in a bad mood, a cup of tea and digestive biscuits will always cheer me up
- I laugh incredibly easily
- But often sound like I’m hyperventilating
- I like words because of the way they sound (ubiquitous, soliloquy, cacophony, etc.)
- I did GCSE Spanish in a year, and have since forgotten everything
- I forget important things like birthdays and where I put things
- But I’m rarely late for appointments
- I’m incredibly untidy
- Certain people (you know who you are) say I’m like an old man, and maybe they’re right
- I love to sing
- But have possibly the worst voice you can imagine
- Sometimes I talk to myself
- Languages fascinate me
- I love to travel
- I’ve been to Australia
- And went snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef
- I went to Japan
- And ate something which was the most disgusting thing I ever tasted (it looked like Branston pickle)
- The second most disgusting thing I’ve eaten is a type of cheese from Corsica in France
- Sometimes I don’t know why I’m in France
- But I love it anyway
- I have no idea what I’m going to do after uni, well I have some idea – I’m not going to join the Foreign Legion
- I’ve never voted
- I’m very legalistic
- I’ve never smoked
- I hate sport and hardly ever exercise
- I have terrible hand-eye coordination
- I eat lots but don’t put on weight
- I’m trying to read the entire Bible
- I hate marmite
- At the moment I’m a bit of a Heroes addict
- I am a bit of an internet junkie
- I have a Facebook, Myspace, Bebo, and WAYN account, as well as this blog
- I want to write at least one novel in my lifetime
- And I’ve started to write several, but never get further than a few thousand words
- I sometimes have a feeling of Weltschmerz (don’t we all?)
- I’m happy 99% of the time
- I sound stereotypically British with my received pronunciation accent
- I like literature and poetry
- But avoid writing my own poetry, to prevent creating angst-driven prosaic rubbish
- I wear glasses generally
- But I can see without them
- I may have an operation on both my jaws in a few years time
- I had tracheo-oesophageal fistula
- And needed an operation in the first twenty-four hours of my life to prevent it
- My earliest memory of football (soccer) is being hit by a football at the top of the hill with such force that I rolled to the bottom
- My favourite radio station in the UK is probably Classic FM
- But I don’t really listen to the radio
- And I don’t watch the TV since I don’t have one in France
- I like maths
- And studying grammar
- My favourite composer is probably Vivaldi
- But I also like Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Saint-Saens, Fauré and Ibert
- I have just listed 100 things about me.
There you go! I hope you enjoyed that.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Yesterday I got the results for my phonetics exams, which I'm really pleased with. For the speaking, I got 13/20, which is a good 2:1. But for the theory, I got a whooping 19/20. As you can imagine, I'm really pleased with that.
Last night, after the exam and before going to church, I went to Lucy's to watch more Heroes. However, I'd already watched those episodes because Natasha needed to catch up. But we're having another Heroes session tonight! By the way, I'm not addicted... Church was really cool as well, as usual.
Oh, and I've decided to eat more healthily, since I keep on cutting myself and the cuts are taking a long time to heal. So five fruit and veg a day from now on. My plans to cut back on chocolate failed last night as I bought some petit-beurres with chocolate on top. Oh well. The only other thing I've done is break a glass. Stupid glasses. I've broken 3 in my apartment, they're rubbish (unless it's just that me and glass don't go well together...). So I suppose I'll have to buy some new ones before I leave.
Anyway, I'm gonna go to uni. A bientot, mes amis!
Sunday, May 13, 2007
I shall continue from where I finished on my last blog, because unfortunately, I can't see into the future. Friday evening (I can't really remember what I did during the day, so probably not that much) I went to Lucy's apartment to watch some more Heroes. Thursday night, while I was at the funfair being spun around at 120 km/h, Natasha and Lucy had a Heroes watching night, so if I wanted to catch up, I'd have to watch two-and-a-half hours extra. Which I did. Then Natasha decided to join us. So after having some dinner, we watched another two (or was it three?) hours of Heroes. Then I got bored of watching five-and-a-half hours of heroes (it must have been three hours then, mustn't it) so instead I suggested we watched Remains of the Day. Natasha, being utterly addicted to Heroes and being unsociable decided to watch Heroes on her own in the corner on Lucy's laptop, while Lucy and I watched Remains of the Day on the TV. The DVD player didn't work (flat batteries in the remote control) so we were able to force Natasha to watch it with us. We only watched the first hour before Natasha and I had to leave to be able to catch the metro in good time. It's really annoying if you're running close to when it shuts, since you don't know whether you're going to make it home or not!
But before I left I borrowed Nicky's version of La Dentelliere and an umbrella owing to the inclement weather, which I promised I would return the next day.
Cue Saturday, and a string of unfortunate events and technological bafflements. I left my apartment to return said book and said umbrella to Nicky. Although I hadn't finished La Dentelliere, I managed to borrow another copy from Gabby. However, when I got there, I discovered my mobile phone wasn't working. It turns out, that without any warning of any kind, my number had expired after six months, which I would have to 'recharge'. Typically French! In good old Royaume-Uni, if you buy a mobile with a SIM card, you keep the number as long as you keep the SIM card. But, oh no, not here in France. You have to 'recharge' your number in the same way as you recharge your credit, or your battery. I can still receive calls and texts, I just can't do anything else. I wonder if I can phone the emergency services if the necessity ever arose? So, I had no way of contacting Nicky to tell her I had arrived outside of her apartment so she could come down and let me in.
No problem, I thought. I'll just ask the gardien to let me in. But, oh no. That wouldn't work, would it. I knocked on the door, and the gardien replied that he'd locked the door and didn't know where the key was. So he was locked inside his own apartment. So I had to give him the book and the umbrella to give to Nicky whenever he managed to escape from his apartment or whenever Nicky happened to be standing outside his window...
So I went back to my apartment. And I tried to email Nicky, phone Nicky using Skype and send an instant message, but, alas, my internet, being as tempermental as it is, decided not to work. So I was unable to get into contact with her. I was just about to go to a public telephone when the internet finally worked long enough for me to contact her. She went and collected her book and umbrella, the man still locked in his apartment. All's well that ends well.
Almost immediately, I was invited back to Nicky's apartment (by Lucy this time) so we could watch the Eurovision song contest. Because the internet stopped working, Lucy texted me saying she would let me in at five past five. We planned to watch the Eurovision song contest, but since that started at nine, we watched some more Heroes instead (partly to spite Natasha). And at around 11, I went back home. So in the space of one afternoon, I made 2 journeys to and from Nicky's and Lucy's apartment, each part taking 45 minutes. So that works out at three hours on the metro. Not that I mind, since it gave me time to finish La Dentelliere, speaking of which, I finished this morning. Then I did some washing. And that's about it.
And tomorrow, I have my first exam, literature (so good timing with the whole La Dentelliere thing, although it seemed every power on earth tried to stop me...). And the internet's still being decidedly uncooperative. And I still haven't got my own copy of La Dentelliere back from David's apartment.
So till next time: remember, it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Friday I went shopping with Cecily to buy some new trainers. Instead I bought a t-shirt, a jumper, some sandals and a belt. I didn't really do much Saturday, so I'll skip that.
Sunday was election day here in France! I didn't vote of course, since I can't. I don't really know who'd I'd have voted for if I could, possibly Ségo, or possibly a vote blanc. In the afternoon/evening I went to church (both French and English services). After church, I went to Bugsy's for free sandwiches (on the condition you buy a drink for 4€...) and then went to Place de la Concorde to watch Sarko's acceptance speech. I have to say, he's a very good public speaker, but what he said is what everyone says when they win an election ("I will help the victimized...", "This is a historic moment for France..." "Vive la France!"), which was followed of course by La Marseillaise (Allons, enfants de la Patrie...) plus an incredibly trite political rendition of O Happy Day. Enough to make the skin crawl! It was interesting as it was far more patriotic than anything in Britain would be for a general election. On the way back I went through Bastille, which was unusually noisy. It wasn't till the next day I found out that there were riots at the time... Ah, the French and their revolutionary tendancies... And the unions are promising lots of strikes come autumn, which should be fun. I've already seen three protests, and the RER has had about three or four strikes, and the metro one, since I arrived.
Monday I went to look at an apartment, which was rubbish, and then went to Susannah's apartment with Nicky and Natasha, where I had baguette and white chocolate spread. Delicious but incredibly sickening, as well as diabetes-inducingly unhealthy. Tuesday I went to Nicky's to watch A Bout de Souffle, which although it is a pioneering classic, is not that good. Thoughts of tinny jazz music and Humphrey Bogart impressions haunting my dreams... Then I went to church again for the midweek social.
Wednesday, I did do some revision, and then I went to David's apartment for crêpes and to watch a movie (which didn't happen). Unfortunately, I left La Dentellière at his apartment.
Thursday, I did actually a near-decent amount of revision, then in the evening went to a fun fair. I only went on one ride (I might go back this evening or something because it's just down the road), one which spins you around at up to 120km/h, which was great! It was really cool as it was very high and I could see the entire funfair upside down. Unfortunately, I couldn't really see into Paris, as I was facing the wrong way, so all i could see was the Bois de Vincennes.
Till next time, Vive la France...
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Seeing as I didn't go to bed till quite late, it's not really a surprise that I didn't get up until 11. But this morning, I actually tidied my apartment, and did some washing. And then I went to uni to collect my essay result for grands debats. On the way, I started reading La Dentelliere on the metro. For the essay, I got 16/20, which I'm really pleased with. And then I came home, had lunch even though it was half four and had a slightly too long snooze, which probably means I won't be able to sleep tonight.
Monday, April 30, 2007
And indeed, the heavens did open, and there were the occasional flashes of lightning followed by rumbles of thunder. So we decided to watch the first two episodes of Heroes which I hadn't seen before, and then I went to church. I was intending to go to the French service, but I didn't leave in time so I decided to skip it and went to the English service instead.
The aforementioned English service was really good and inspiring. The speaker was a medical missionary for Lifeline Malawi, and he talked with such passion about what he did. He only left for Malawi aged 58, which goes to prove it's never too late, which is a feeling that I already sometimes experience at age 19. The bible readings happened to be about the Final Judgement, which seemed to be quite appropriate with the pathetic fallacy of the regular low rumbles of thunder. Is it just me, or do you agree that everyone's mood seems to change when there's a storm? Then I cooked pizzas for students after the service even though it wasn't my turn, and then I consumed my fair share and went home and finished La Symphonie pastorale. The whole book leads up to an ending which comes very swiftly and seems to be over and done with in a couple of pages as if the author got bored and decided to finish the book there and then.
Today was another day characterized by doing very little. I finished my art essay, handed it in and got my mark for my grammar exam - a very respectable 14/20. The comment from the lecturer was, "You take some risks with the level of syntax and vocabulary, which is good (even if it is not very prudent for an exam)", so I was pleased enough with that. And I did some shopping, and that's about it. Tomorrow, I'm planning to tidy my apartment and do some washing. Let's see if that actually materialises.
And what makes it worse is that the IOC says that it is a sporting organisation, not a political one, and so won't do anything about it. But with the quickest glance to the Olympic Charter, especially the section 'Fundamental Principals of Olympism', it is clear that political considerations are an integral part of the Olympic games. For example:
with the preservation of human dignity."
I'm not sure abusing human rights and forcing people to work below the minimum wage of Beijing in order to make a good impression when the opening ceremony arrives is compatible with the values of 'Olympism'.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
La Conciergerie, Île de la Cité.
I didn't realise the Notre Dame was so crooked! Also on Île de la Cité.
Opéra de la Bastille
Children on the taboggan slide outside the Hôtel de Ville, next to the big ice skating rink that you can't see. Just to think, there's going to be an artificial beach there soon if I'm to believe correctly.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
France has faced long-term consistent unemployment at around 10%, which is much higher among the young and ethnic minorities. France also has a massive welfare system, which has to be sustained by high taxation. Protectionism is restricting business. London continues to outstrip Paris on development, even though in my opinion, Paris is probably a much better city for international business - transport, for one, is second to none here. The government's spending is unsustainable. The law makes it almost impossible for businesses to hire people, because of the taxes they'll have to pay and because it is near impossible to fire someone once they are employed. But people don't want the law to change, as demonstrated by student riots last year.
And then there's the question of national identity. Nearly a quarter of the French population belong to ethnic minorities, although most of these are European and the descendants have long been assimilated into the general population. However, there are massive immigrant populations from the Maghreb, and from French overseas colonies. But with the French unitairianisme, these immigrant groups must become French or face exclusion. This is a country where only last year did the television see its first non-white prime time news presenter on state television. The immigrant groups are often face discrimination, and are forced into ghettos in the banlieues, particularly around Paris. Paris is a city under seige, with riots and car burning in the surrounding banlieues always grabbing headlines.
The people of France want change, and that is why there was such a high turn out to last week's first round to the elections. The problem is, most of the population don't really know who's going to deliver such a change.
(Another interesting article here)
It was on Monday that my holiday in England came to an end to start my holiday of sorts here in Paris. As I left London on the Eurostar, the weather on that side of the channel was decidedly greyer and cooler than previous days. But arriving at Gare du Nord, although it was seven in the evening, it was ridiculously hot. And things haven't changed from then.
Tuesday was just as hot and sunny, so before going to my only lecture of the week, I went on an hour walk. Well, two walks, since I found it impossible to tackle the Nation mega-roundabout and find the road I wanted. So, instead, I caught the métro to Châtelet and continued from there until Tuileries. Walking by the Seine in the summer air: it can't be beaten. Since our lecturer wasn't there, which was no change as we have had him for a total of four hours approximately out of the timetabled ten, the lecture was taught instead by a PhD student, whose name I can't remember, and never will again. She was really good actually, although she became frustrated by the very little general information we seemed to know. In the evening, I went to church, which had a new format; we got into two small groups and talked about a topic. My group was 'decisions'. I have to say I really enjoyed that evening. Although we did get onto slightly bizarre side tracks, like having one's head cut off.
Wednesday, I wrote some of my art essay in the morning, and for lunch I went for a picnic with Nicky on the Champs de Mars, just by the Eiffel Tower. Nicky has the fortune, or misfortune, of living right besides the Eiffel Tower. I then went swimming, but I was quite disappointed, as the swimming pool was covered (I thought it was outdoors), I had to pay the full fee (a whopping 2€60, extortionate!), and it was crowded. But that's what you get for going on a Wednesday, as all the schools are closed. I could have swum in one of the designated lanes, but since when I swim I look like I'm drowning (well, that's what my report for swimming said at school), and the swimmers already in the lanes looked incredibly serious, I decided it was best not to disturb them. Some people were taking themselves far too seriously, but that's the French for you... and I know as an Englishman how easy it is to upset the French.
Thursday, I wrote more of my art essay, and then I had ice cream with Lucy and Katy Dey. Katy Dey has quit uni but is still working in Paris. We went for ice cream on Ile St-Louis, which has a ridiculous number of ice cream shops in a really small area. Although that is what the island is known for. And there were people queuing for miles (slight exaggeration, but 50 yards sounds less dramatic) because it was so hot. But we found a small ice cream shop with no one queuing, and the ice cream was really nice. There's always a possibility that there's a reason people weren't queuing for that one but for others. But that's how tourists work. They only go for ones where there are already really long queues to be on the safe side and then moan about how long the queues are. I had a very nice raspberry ice cream (at least I think it was raspberry). I'm sure that counts as one of my five fruit and veg a day. We sat by the Seine eating ice cream while Lucy explained why she hates Paris so much. We then walked through Ile de la Cite, past Notre Dame, crossed over the river and past Hotel de Ville, and decided that because it was so hot we'd have another ice cream. This one wasn't fruit orientated, in fact it was chocolate fudge brownie ice cream. A bastion of calorific temptation, but it was worth the possible later heart disease. There Lucy and I parted from Katy and went to uni to collect our results for Literature. I then went back to Lucy's apartment (she lives with Nicky) where I had dinner, although I did help pay for it as we purchased it on the way. Chicken nuggets and boiled potatoes. Loving my healthy life style.
Friday morning I wrote my shortest ever essay, 150 words! That's ridiculous. It was a film review on the 1966 Bataille d'Alger. The "essay" only took about an hour to write. I haven't even watched the film. Although that's possibly a good thing, since Thursday I got the mark back for my literature essay (see above), a text commentary on an extract from La Nausée by Sartre. I hadn't read the vast majority of the book, and I got 16/20 - a very respectable mark even if I do say so myself.
After spending the entire afternoon in a comatose state owing to the heat, I spent the evening handing out sandwiches to homeless people. Our group of three, I believe, was the only group who didn't get rid of all their food. But as it was my first time, I can only get better. There were several examples of people who were probably homeless but we weren't absolutely sure. Offering food to a non-homeless person isn't a great idea, since they may get the wrong idea. So we mainly went for ones with sleeping bags, just to be on the safe side. Paris has a phenomenally large problem with homelessness and unemployment, it's really sad. Paris is such a city of two extremes. Near my church, in the incredibly wealthy 8th arrondissement, there are shops selling hand bags and the like for hundreds of euros. And then there's the lavish Hotel de Crillon, where a starter can cost 35€ or more. And then there are the hundreds of people who are homeless. And I'm not exaggerating. By St Lazare, homeless people put their tents above the grillings in the road to catch the warm air rising from the métro. On the way to making sandwiches, a homeless person sat opposite me on the train. Although he was slightly abrasive, he wasn't doing anything criminal. But the middle-aged woman next to me tutted as he sat opposite, and when she left, people refused to sit in the vacant seat. Handing out sandwiches to homeless people, as Ekkardt from my church pointed out, is a total reversal of normality. Normally, you try to avoid homeless people - I know I do, especially the ones who smell, and when I say smell...imagine a person who has defecated in their trousers and done nothing about it...that's what I mean smell - but today we were actively trying to find them.
And today, I've done absolutely nothing. Well, that's a lie. I had a shower, and got my clean linen as we have a linen exchange, and I started this blog. And had a cup of tea.
Hope you enjoyed reading that rather long monologue on the life that is mine. A la prochaine, mes amis !