Friday, 15 November 2013

The writing of 'One Summer in France'

When it all started:
1979 (a very good year).

Where it all started:
Keele University (northern England, non-prestigious, apart from renowned Astronomy department –run by friend of Sir Patrick Moore – name on tip of tongue/impressive English department - gargoyled hall, windows bit too high to gaze out of).

Friendships formed, (in order of importance/in no particular order – bit of a mix, really):
Carol (best friend/totally brilliant/mad/blond/netball fiend, wing-attack/can be trifle politically incorrect/bit sweary/good punch).
Alison (uptight/control freak/freak/not really friend but essential enemy/obsessive milk hoarder – all property is theft, Alison).
James (hopelessly besotted with Bev – brash totty/betrothed to Jocasta – posh totty/doomed/dishy/dope/eventual accountant, argh!).
Andy (undergraduate in French/lord-of-manor type if not actual lord of manor/Shrewsbury estate/heart of gold/spotty/def. not shaggable).
Luc (entrepreneurial market trader/south of France poseur/admirer of Bev’s dream-goddess bikini and contents/eventual shag interest of Carol).
Lawrence (cor!/French/married – bummer! – ambiguity not intended).
Charles (French/pancake chef/bit stinky/animal/non-runner – pity).
Antoine and Cedric (French/caravan-dwellers/benevolent/gallant/lecherous old buggers).
Others too numerous to mention.

Reason for trip:
To learn French and to contextualise studies.

1. Train to South of France.
2. Put up tent.
3. Go to beach.

Reading/lounging about/flirting/moped mastery/selective sightseeing (pinnacle – Dali’s museum – bonkers).

Places visited:
Lots and lots.

Best bits:
Beaches (normal x 2, naturist x 1)/port – gallon thereof/Jean-Paul Sartre – ‘Huis Clos’ – intellectual stimulant – Carol not enamoured/Spike Milligan – genius - worm verse – best poem ever written - Carol's opinion, not mine/being freeeeee!

Worst bits:
Mohammed’s couscous/paranoid, raw-meat-eating Anna (don’t ask).

Summing up:
Totally amazing time.  Love Carol forever.  Best friend in world.  Thanks to Ms. Adams (finance), my father (extra finance), and to Dave (emergency finance).  Have grown as person.  Have brilliant photos.  French improved (beaucoup). Tan – even. Hair – ruined (in a good way).  Power over opposite sex – incalculable. N.B. government grant/tax payers' money - repaid a thousand times over!  

Wrote book: ‘One Summer in France’, humorous memoir of three-month study break in France (obligatory)

Additional information:
Two-day bargain price ($0.99/77p) 20th and 21st November.  Can’t wait?  Get it now and blow the expense!  (Best consumed with big smile and bigger glass of port). 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Sticky fingers

Christmas is coming, even in France.

Things go more slowly where I live, in SW France.  But, (shock, horror) LeClerc already has all the chocs you could ever want and lots that you probably would rather not have, sitting on shelves specially allocated for 'seasonal goods'.  Gone are the inflatable boats, the luminous bikinis and the swing-balls, replaced by pyramids of chocolate Santas, boxes of advent calendars to suit all pockets and handmade chocolates at extortionate prices.

They begin the campaign for over indulgence and excess where there is the least resistance.  My particular favourite lies in wait: orange peel in dark chocolate.

I just get a few other things so I don't have to dash around at the last minute, in a couple of months' time.  Into the trap I fall. My trolley is laden, but not with the things I came in for.  Too late to go back, I go home to a house full of chocolate-detecting aficionados. 

There are limited new hiding places.  Especially from myself.

I long for the future, when, never getting properly dressed or brushing my hair, spending even more of my time writing books and forgetting about the real world for days on end, I won't be able to remember where I've stashed my wicked treats.  Then, I shall come upon a Milka Daim amongst the bag of summer hats I never wear or a slab of nougat in the lining of an old coat.  How marvellous it will be to discover chocolate I didn't know I had!   

In the meantime, I shall exercise my willpower and watch, as my children and husband tuck in.  After all I haven't told them about my secret stash.  Ho! Ho! Ho!