Sunday, 7 October 2007


Considering french was taught at me for seven years, it's remarkable how little I absorbed. Aside from the usual franglais road directions to lost foreigners -'Allez a droit, et a droite un plus temps, puis prenez la gauche apres les lumieres traffique' - and once allegedly nearly causing a diplomatic incident by wishing a flemish Belgian 'Bon soir' on the office telephone (well, how was I supposed to know about the cultural politics of Flanders and Wallonia?), the zenith of my french-speaking career was a long conversation with a hitch-hiker in Skye.

The apparent fluency of this impressed my wife no end. What she didn't know was that the exchange revolved mainly around my not remembering the word for 'bus'. The nearest I could get was 'camion', which I seemed to recall meant a 'light lorry'; one of those essential words once included in every school vocab list. The poor girl must have been puzzled by my persistent assertion that she could travel on to Uig in a light lorry fitted with chairs, and seemed highly relieved when we dropped her off at a handy light lorry stop.

Of course the best reason for learning french was putting an end to grown ups resorting to it when they didn't want their children to understand what they were saying. 'Pas devant les enfants', and all that. So annoying, and so disappointing when you finally acquired enough french to discover that you hadn't been missing anything interesting anyway.


  1. that did make me laugh and I even read it aloud to The Man who also gave a chuckle

  2. Thank you Fancy. You're probably the only person to have even read it. Now I feel all worthwhile!