The French

7 – The French

1. There’s a Travalator that links one floor of the Carrefour where I get my lunch, to the next floor. So why is it that everyday as I’m madly dashing to grab something to eat before my next lesson, everybody’s  standing still on it like dummies on a production line being conveyor-belted up to the second floor. Why can’t they walk: it’s an aid, not a fairground ride you hop on and off. Continue reading

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The French

6 – Champagne Scaffolding

Champagne Scaffolding call 04567 865712. That’s the sign I can see from my window. They’re rebuilding some flats opposite and that’s the company they’re using. It’s Sunday afternoon; the day I least like out of the seven offered to us each week. But the name has cheered me up. Champagne scaffolding. What would it be back home: Mike’s Scaffolding. Guaranteed erections in any weather! Continue reading

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Food and Drink

5 – Salad Pot

I was eating a ham salad in the staff room yesterday for lunch. Or so I thought. I buy these salad pots for lunch from Carrefour where they have, not just the three or four you can buy in Tesco or Sainsbury, but forty, maybe more. I’ve had prawn pasta salad, Surimi salad,  cous cous salad, beef salad, olive salad, turkey salad, coleslaw salad, and egg salad. Continue reading

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Random

4 – TEFL again

When I start teaching a new set of students I write a few individual words on the board relating to my life; the idea being that they have to guess the question to the answer. It’s a nice GET TO KNOW YOU GAME (GTKG) to break the ice. In teaching books it’s called The Ice Breaker! I scrawl on the board in my spidery handwriting words like Bristol (Where are you from?); 23 (How old are you?); Leeds Utd (What’s your favourite football team).  Admittedly, we’re talking trivial stuff, but one of my answers is OGLEY and it’s always the one nobody gets. I’m either a town, an English dish, the name of my son, or a drink. When I tell them it’s my name we all have a laugh. For about a second. Continue reading

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Food and Drink

3 – Cordon Bleu De Dinde

I have developed a serious addiction to Cordon Bleu De Dinde. A highly processed turkey escalope filled with reformed ham and undisclosed generic cheese. It’s basically a French Chicken Kiev – but flatter. I’m not a fan of this kind of food, but for some strange reason, served with a can of lentils or green beans, they taste great and I’m struggling to give them up. Each day I wander out to buy food and each day I arrive back with a packet of the damn things. Although, I did try something different the other day that was like a pork pie but without the pie. I can’t remember what it was called but for some reason it didn’t agree with me, which is unusual as I eat virtually anything. I hope it wasn’t dog food. Continue reading

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Places

2 – Lyon Flats

The four walls I live in serve the purpose of allowing me to shower, cook and sleep for however many months, years, or decades I choose to stay in France. Moving is not an option. Mining my way through the nightmarish French housing bureaucracy in order to secure this tiniest of places, had me gasping for air. The file I had to give to the landlord was the width of a doctorate’s thesis, complete with contents and appendix. You could piece together my entire life history from the information I had to give them. They even wanted half a finger as a guarantee. ‘We’ll freeze it and when you leave, we’ll give you it back.’ Continue reading

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Places

In Lyon

I’m in Lyon teaching English. It’s a job I didn’t really want, but ended up doing all the same. I live in Guillotiere, a heady mix of Arabs, Africans, Vietnamese, Chinese and me, crammed into a couple of blocks south of the Rhône. At the moment I’m standing in my tiny third floor apartment looking at some Senegalese kids watching a football match on TV through the window of the bar opposite. I like it here.

The city itself is built on the Rhône and the Saône rivers that join each other 1km from where I’m standing looking out of the window. The peninsular they form is imaginatively called The Peninsular and forms the area known as the city centre. But it’s mainly just fancy shops and restaurants. The real city is south of the river where I live. Run down shops, cheap bars, stinking drains and cars left haphazardly in the streets as though someone had shouted BOMB at the moment of parking.

As a young man, I’d have been nervous living in this part of town. But I’m older now and bolder, so we’ll see what happens over the next few months, maybe years…I’ll keep you posted.

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