Keep watching! That’s the safe cross code


The blog is on a bit of a go slow. I’m too busy these days gazing adoringly at my new phone and feeling like a French person to be writing blogs you know. I am inexplicably proud of the phone, and even more inexplicably proud of its charger, which has TWO prongs and not three. How continental, I hear you say. No need for an adapter, I hear you gasp in shock. Yes that’s correct, I live in France you see, and my electrical equipment is now attuned to their voltage system. Oh what a fantastic pain in the arse I am going to be when I get home. Speaking in a French accent and refusing to eat between meals. God, future me is a right smug fuck. I don’t like me already, and I’ve barely met me. But like me or not, a French phone number and a bank account proves that I am a real live citizen of France. I have really moved here, and am not just a charlatan taking a very long holiday. Armed with an ATM card and unlimited text messages, there’ll be no stopping me.

Actually that’s not true at all. I’m very easily stopped in my tracks, or at least significantly slowed -primarily by the aforementioned object of my affections -the phone. The phone is an inferior version of the sturdy Nokia I had in 1999. It is pink and black and tiny, and has rubber buttons that require unreasonable pressure in order to register a number. (Kindly picture me wringing out my hands dramatically, with an expression of anguish on my face). It has a horrible echo and you can probably play ‘Snake’ on it. But it was €17.90, it works, and I love it.

However, if inanimate objects can give me pleasure, they can also give me pain. I felt actual grief this morning when two of my moisturisers simultaneously ran out, and I spilled some of my hair serum. I’ve realised that my toiletries have become like transitional objects for me, like small viscous safety blankets, quietly maintaining my link between here and home. I may be ready for two pronged plugs, but a French skin care routine is completely out of the question. You spend years, Years, finding the products that are cheap and effective, (not always that cheap, admittedly) only to discover when you leave the country that their only global stockist is the Supervalu in Mahon. I did go desperately in search of Aldi on one of my walks the other night, but only found several substandard Lidls. In fact, Google maps later confirmed that while the nearest one isn’t exactly in Germany, it could have been a very long walk indeed.

My nightly walk was cancelled last night -i sent myself a memo -owing to a massive thunder and lightning storm. And tiredness. But generally I have been going for a ramble at least once a day, for discovery of self and city. However, said rambling is clearly going to be the cause of my demise in France. Try as I might -and do try -I cannot get the hang of the traffic flow. This driving on the right business has me completely addled, and a I am a menace to myself. I keep saluting the people in the passenger sears of cars when I am allowed to pass, and becoming shocked when they are nonchalantly looking around them while whizzing through town at high speed. But more worrying is the number of buses that I literally just haven’t seen coming. I very much need to befriend the Green Man of the Traffic Lights. It’s that or stand on the footpath singing the Safe Cross Code.

We’re having lots of tram drama this morning. Trama? No that sounds a bit more alarming than can be claimed. It’s very packed, resulting in people assuming the ‘starting the 100m sprint’ crouch position atop their seats a good five minutes before their stops. Which gets awkward, not to mind painful, I’d imagine, when the tram driver decides to stop at a traffic light 12 inches before the start of the platform. However, the second result is causing more difficulty. I have always been endlessly impressed by people who can stand casually on moving trains and buses, appearing as if the vehicle’s movement causes no impediment to their balance whatsoever. I have spent vast periods of time studying these people, and experimenting with engaging various muscle groups. However, i always end up unstably gripping the grab rails so tightly that my shoulders are at risk of dislocating, in the event of a sudden stop. Or a gradual one, for that matter. However, apparently the city council engineers and train designers envisaged an urban space so civilised that no tram carriage would ever be overburdened with surplus commuters. Work hours would be staggered -in fact, if people were lowly enough to work at all. But this is not the reality, and now we have spacious corridors in the middle of the carriages, with no friendly yellow monkey bars to offer stability. Naturally I ended up entangled in the earphones of the young man beside me while I lurched towards an empty seat (its perching crouch-mistress just ready for the off). However, my clumsy pirouette was expertly outdone by a college student, who looked as if he had he’s wits about him, but landed, damsel in distress style, in the arms of the tiny middle aged woman behind him. I tried not to laugh.

(I failed.)