For all its wonderful food, literature, climate, landscape and… oh, you get the idea… France has been known to outdo even my flagrant disregard for Consequences, their ludicrous administrative procedures (which I won’t go into here) being the key example. I’m fast approaching the end of my stay, so I’ve spent the last week embroiled in phonecalls to the outrageously underinformed employees of SFR and LCL. In homage to this hellish mire of beauracracy, I’ve rounded up a collection of the anti-logic that’s amused, irritated and enraged me this year, on both my own account and that of this great nation. First, however, I’ll share a couple of cautionary tales from my own past.
Here’s one from my childhood. I’ve always had phases of insomnia, and my night-time wanderings often used to result in strange bouts of creativity. On the occasion in question, I was about six years old, and had recently got hold of a makeup set, none of which, as far as I can remember, ever made it near my face. In a fit of sleep-deprived madness, I decided that the opportune thing to do would be to draw two large faces on the wall – mascara eyelashes, lipstick mouths, etc. I was so wrapped up in a bubble of creative zeal that only after having pretty much committed to the whole face-on-wall concept did I realise that my parents might not appreciate what, in hindsight, was probably a monstrous and disturbing creation.
At this point, my artistic glee rapidly shifted to shame and blind panic. Despite being just young enough to fairly regularly draw on the walls, I was by this point well aware that it was Not Allowed. For some reason, this burgeoning understanding of consequences led me to cover up the sinister, grinning faces with several layers of masking tape, before drifting into a disturbed sleep, sustained only by the hope that Mum and Dad would somehow not notice the large, masking-tapey ovals on the wall. Needless to say, they did. I dare say their reaction (which, ironically, I don’t remember) was more along the lines of amusement and/or worry than the abject rage I was dreading.
|Brief picture interlude of me Susi in front of Van Gogh’s top favourite café in Arles, just in case you were worried I accidentally wrote an essay.|
You’d think this might have taught me some life lessons, but story number two demonstrates just how little has changed in the interval. Last year I had a sink in my uni room, allowing me to drink copious amounts of tea. Due to the terrifying effect that excessive caffeine has on me, I mostly drank loose-leaf green tea and thus suffered from the ultimate first world problem of what to do with the soggy dregs. While the sensible response would probably be to get a tea-strainer, I instead elected to clumsily pour the excess liquid down the drain before binning the leaves. Over the term, this led to a sizeable quantity of strays making it down my sink, which became progressively less and less inclined to drain. Rather than change my irresponsible habits, I watched, waited and continued, ignoring the small stab of guilt I felt every time I emptied my mug, right up to the point where I could no longer brush my teeth and had to admit I should probably do something. The ensuing panicky hours of poking about with a straightened coat hanger were decidedly not worth the tiny effort I’d saved myself over the term.
All this to say that I’m not always the paragon of forthought that you undoubtedly all see me as. In light of that, please don’t take the following snipey digs at France too seriously; it’s balanced out by a good deal of wonderfully British self-effacement.
Cause: Take water out of pond
Effect: All the fish will die
The pond in the Parc du Peyrou has been emptied, presumably for cleaning. This is quite an upsetting sight.
|Poor little guy|
Cause: Try to board tram before people have finished exiting tram
Effect: Fail to board tram and have to wait anyway as the now-irate tram exiters push past the growing crowd in the doorway
Cause: Sneakily eat all of the pecan nuts from the Master Crumble as a snack (yep, that’s really what my cereal is called)
Effect: There are no more pecan nuts in the Master Crumble
You might think this would also be obvious, but it didn’t reduce my disappointment at the lack of pecan nuts in the Master Crumble the other morning.
Cause: Repeatedly allow your dog to sh*t in the street
Effect: Streets are covered in dog sh*t
Cause: Go to the beach for several hours over midday on a 31°C day
Effect: Become horribly sunburnt and slightly delirious
Bonnie and I tested out a new beach yesterday. It was really pretty and pleasingly sunny, but we may have stayed longer than was wise, resulting in patches of lobster-skin that are currently making my life less than comfortable.
|The causeway to the beach|
|Cool-duding on the beach. This is what it’s called when you look inappropriately nonchanlant while wearing sunglasses (and preferably headphones and a leather jacket)|
|The ultimate French gesture: the Full Body Shrug. Works better when not on a bike.|
Cause: Attach mezzanine-ladder to the wall using screws which apparently serve only a decorative function
Effect: Incredibly perilous ladder that can in no way be said to be attached to the wall
Cause: Close ALL of the things for the school holiday
Effect: NOTHING can happen
3) I need to get in touch with various offices (such as the Erasmus department and my volunteering organisations) in order to leave the country, and I can’t.
Cause: Play music at several thousand decibels in every bar in town
Effect: No fun is had by anyone, ever.
Cause: Drink slightly more tea than usual
Effect: Panic about predicted shortage of tea and collect far too much thereof from all possible sources
|Should the zombie apocalypse occur, I’ll be ready. *Longbow and spade are artistic license but I’m sure we’d work something out on the weapons front if it came to it.|
Cause: Anyone (including Rowan) switches on the smoothie machine
Effect: Rowan jumps out of her skin
Yep, our new house has a smoothie machine, which makes a very loud and startling sound that I still haven’t got used to. On the plus side, milkshakes.
Cause: At no point change your course on the pavement, despite seeing and acknowledging your collision course with another (angry, English) pedestrian
Effect: Exponentially increase English person’s anger.
Cause: Finally learn French to a satisfactory level
Effect: Forget all of English
|Bonus picture: Here’s a selfie atop of Pic St Loup, the local mountain. It should be noted that I could have got someone else to take it, but apparently I’m still hooked on “ironic” selfies.|