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November 2017

Here’s Looking at You Kid

“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.”