Monday, 7 April 2008

French Ramblings (2)

So the Olympic Torch has a rocky ride through London, the next day Paris provides a repeat screening. The UK has a touch of snow, the North of France gets exactly the same thing. The snow was short-lived however and within a few hours it had virtually disappeared. Good, however, that the weather didn’t stop Portsmouth reaching the FA Cup Final – even if West Bromwich Albion did play the better football. Good, too, that of Mrs Rambling Nappa’s three Grand National selections she found first and second place, even if her third horse (which was also my selection) came a bit of a cropper.

I had an Al Murray moment when watching the French TV equivalent of the Jonathan Ross Show on Saturday. They were comparing Carla Sarkozy’s very chic evening dress with the drapery and tiaras worn by our Royal Majesties and hooting with Gallic mirth, particularly at poor Camilla’s attire. “So what’s wrong if our Royals want to dress up in bedroom curtains with some rocks on their heads? They’re ours, they’re British and we’re proud of them! Bloody French….”

Mrs Rambling Nappa (who has joined me for a few days to try and introduce some order into my affairs) had a Mrs Bouquet moment when we visited a local supermarket today. “Look at that family … just look at them … gross, overweight, slow, rude, appallingly dressed, and the girl what are those things she’s wearing on her feet … what do these French people think they are?”. She then overheard their conversation and, yes, they were in fact our compatriots.

And now I must turn my attention to the Augusta Masters and the small matter of who is going to win it if the Tiger doesn’t. The cast list of players tends to change very little from year to year, so will Messrs Singh, Els and Mickelson be the only three other players to feature on the leaderboard? Or will (here comes Al Murray again) someone English, “who likes proper beer, someone we can be proud of …” come along. A Rose or a Poulter, A Donald or a Westwood maybe? But then again maybe no English players will make the cut and I’ll have to pin my hopes on Padraig.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

French Ramblings (1)

I’ve taken to buying the local daily paper (Courier Picard) to try and help widen my French vocabulary. The headlines for some days have been the aftermath of the French League Cup Final between PSG (Paris St Germain) and our boys RC Lens. The match was decided by a questionable penalty decision in favour of the Paris team, but more controversial than the penalty was the large “banderole” displayed by the PSG fans.

I looked up banderole in my French – English dictionary and was informed that in English “une banderole” is indeed a banderole. The Oxford Dictionary was more helpful – a banderole is a banner or streamer.

Now it takes quite a bit to insult an RC Lens supporter. This is the team of blood and gold (a description of their colours) and their fans come from all over Northern France (including the jardinier that I laid off last week). This is the text that caused such consternation:

Pédophiles, chômeurs, consanguins, bienvenu chez les Ch’tis

Wow! I don’t need a dictionary to start that one. Chômeurs are out-of-work layabouts, and les Ch’tis is a slang expression for inhabitants of Northern France, but the word that absolutely enraged people was Consanguins - what we would term as inbreds. The newspaper headlines have included such as Dégout, honte, scandale … Carrément répugnant, inadmissable. All this is wonderful fodder for the aged Englishman trying to improve his French-speaking skills.

Also in the paper this week is a rather pompous piece about Lewis Hamilton and his amende of 578 euros for getting caught by a radar trap on the A26 in December. He was cruising along at 193 km/h instead of the permitted 130 km/h. There is criticism that he didn’t lose his licence as well, and rather ominous rumblings about EEC legislation to ensure that all Europeans are treated equally when caught by radar traps. This will surely backfire on the French who reckon that they are immune from penalties when racing up the A20 from Dover towards London.

So, apart from leaning on my fork and reading the paper (there’s a Beatrix Potter character - a fox – that comes to mind) what else have I been up to in France. Well, lots of cleaning and painting – the house is now formally on the market. I received a gift of mangey looking carrots from a friendly neighbour (the hundred-year-old lady with one tooth who sells gas cannisters, but who won’t let me lift them because I’m too elderly). The carrots were “pour les bêtes”. I’ve had trouble with late payment of rates and non-payment of insurance premiums to sort out. A malcreant managed to drill a hole in my oil tank and syphon off a couple of hundred litres of outrageously expensive heating oil. And I’ve written a few words. A quiet start to my séjour in France.