“Louis. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship” – Casablanca.
You may have noticed an absence of blog posts these last few weeks. I do apologise but frankly I have been in the depths of despair. Last month disaster struck when Amélia, the French teacher I told you about in Karma Chameleon, accepted a job in film production. This left me without my bi-weekly fix of all things Française at Café Bouchon. I was bereft.
What was to become of me? How would I reconcile the need to speak French in three and a half tenses for two hours twice a week? Where would I wear the Breton tees, the jackets, all those scarves? Immediately moving to Paris would be impractical for a range of reasons and so I allowed myself a period of mourning.
I relived the highlights of the relationship to the strains of Jaques Brel – Ne me quitte pas, ne me quitte pas… and to Serge Gainsbourg, always a good fit for wine infused misery – Je suis venu te dire que je m’en vais – I have come to tell you I am leaving… I drank dark coffee from tiny cups, sipped Chablis and smoked Gitanes. After a while I had to ask the important question; “How many more times could I watch Casablanca when the acting was so bad?” It was time to move on.
Somewhat apprehensively I signed up for Alliance Française, part of the French Consulate that offers courses. All fears were allayed the minute I met the formidable Simone! Voila! Not only are we now having three conversation classes a week, I’ve also signed up for her wine and cheese Singalong session this Saturday night. There’s an entire French culture on our doorstep that I knew nothing about; movies, exhibitions, lunches, dinners and the really great news is that…wait for it… I am at Level Avancé. I’ve absolutely no idea who is setting the bar so low but I’ll take it.
Amèlia, after two years of suffering through my attempts to communicate has become a friend. I’m so grateful to her for getting me this far and really pleased she has this new opportunity. As I told her last time we spoke, “We’ll always have Bouchon.”