Always go before you leave….

I’m in a car on the way to Lyon, and drinking two large mugs of coffee before leaving the house is starting to seem like a indefensible thing to do. It is a co-voiture (car share) situation, which means that enterprising individuals put the details of their planned voyage on a website called blablacar, and advertise the number of free spaces in the car. So for €15 each, Anna and I can get to Lyon and back. It’s a fantastic system, and apparently very popular in France. It’s basically hitch-hiking for people with credit cards. Monetising this age old tradition in one way seems like a shame, but on the other hand I’m very grateful for it, because if my new-found Russian had suggested that the two of us head for the motorway and start thumbing, I would have to redefine my circle of friend. Singular. No longer a circle, as such, more of a line. But thanks to blablacar, the Hungarian, the Russian and I continue to form a very neat triangle. Of course, neither of the other two know about this triangle, in which they are so deeply entrenched, but some day we will all come together and drink vodka and expand our shape making capacities.

It’s all about the nodding and smiling…

I tried really hard this time. I went to a nice quiet cafe, in the calm that can only be experienced at 10am in a university. It has the marvellous feel of the very early morning, without the inconvenience of having to actually rouse oneself from a (mildly hungover) slumber at an unreasonable hour. (The art exposition came good with the free wine). The weather is perfect today incidentally -crisp cold but real heat in the sun -and I couldn’t bring myself to cart me and my grammar book indoors. Thus determined upon an outdoor coffee, and emboldened by my stammering success at the bank just moments previous, I decided to explain EXACTLY what I wanted. I politely explained that I didn’t know exactly what to ask for, but that I wanted un Grand café noir (stress the Grand), with juste un petit peu du lait. Si possible. She smiled warmly and encouragingly at me, and reassured me that what I wanted was a cafe au lait, from her trusty machine juste derrière. Most self satisfied and smug, I sat myself outside at her best plastic table, and enjoyed the living fuck out of yet another latte. The struggle continues.

In other news, Mrs. G has taken to the bed!! Her son lost his job yesterday, which she explained was completely catastrophique for him, and she hasn’t been to work in two days. Will you come out of the pyjamas Mrs. G says I, don’t you lose your own job. Okay I said no such thing, I mumbled something about qu’elle dommage it was, and made knowing sympathetic faces, but I felt she could do with the advice.

Making knowing faces is very much the order of the day in Class B2.5, as it happens. I’m realising that the synopsis for this particular level must be something along the lines of “Faking your way around France: How to convince people that you speak far more French than you really do, and fool them into believing you have understood them”. This is the precise level we are at. It probably says this somewhere on the website, and if I in fact spoke French I would have understood this sooner. We spend a great deal of time in class practicing ‘nodding sagely’. In fact it was how we spent much of the first week. A dangerous game it is, pretending you understand. Any exchanges with the gendermerie are naturally discouraged. However, if I can blag myself a job out of it, I will write a most glowing report on the university equivalent of TripAdvisor.

So the art/poetry exposition was a great success last night. The most exciting aspect was perhaps finally finding justification for having brought my lipstick and high heels to Grenoble. With great results I might add -the bonjouring is back!! En route to the library, I encountered three bonjourers, one group of teenage snickerers and on an unrelated topic, a homeless man in a doorway passing the time by painting intricate designs on his patchwork trousers. I may have missed an opportunity to get a photograph in the National Geographic on that one, but the free wine was beckoning. Myself and the Hungarian installed ourselves in the back row, behind the conglomoration of university professors and middle-aged women draped in bohemian scarves, letting their hair grow long and grey and pretending to be ‘alternative’. The likes of which you might typically find at a reiki convention. Still, free wine is free wine. There were even nibbles, if one had the small intestines for them (gluten intolerance proving an effective starvation method in France). There were three poets who read words that I did not understand but that sounded very beautiful. I understood that the poems had been written to accompany the paintings surrounding us, and it was all very civilised. Our teacher from Class B2.5 was there, and she was very keen to culturally educate us, so took us under her wing and spoke extensively in rapid French to us. It’s a good job I’m as practised as I am at the nodding, although my neck is starting to get sore. The fizzy wine loosened the tongues a bit, and hopefully we exchanged a few sentences that made sense. The Hungarian and I have now professed ourselves so cultured that we plan to go to a bilingual poetry reading next week. We might have to bring our own wine to that one though…

They say Hupla in France! And other signs of progress…

07:20 -Chez Mrs. G
It’s early Thursday morning, and I am back on the buckwheat, baby! I’m slowly getting my act together, and the transition from Nutella to my Slimming World friendly buckwheat porridge has been quick and painless. I much prefer it, to be honest, and have lost a kilo since Tuesday! Go buckwheat. In fairness to it, it has regulated my eating completely. It’s true what they say, one Nutella leads to anutter (sorry) and things were getting out of control. It’s in hand now though, we can all rest easy.

8:20 -Tram stop
Ah unfamiliarity my old friend! It’s a strange phenomenon when you are in a new environment -you don’t realise it until something out of the ordinary happens, but you are always in a frame of mind in which you believe anything to be possible. Not in an inspirational Facebook quote kind of way, but more in an “if a tree gnome fell from the ceiling, I wouldn’t be in the slightest bit surprised” kind of way. So I was perhaps not surprised, but nonetheless petrified upon disembarking the tram just now, to see a man with a running chainsaw on the loose. (I knew there was a reason for last night’s clearly premonitory nightmare). Images of scary clowns and words like ‘Texas’ started popping uninvited into my terrified mind. Paaaaniiiicccc! Oh, no wait. Panic over. It was a leaf blower.

So prior to my near death experience, I passed yet another very pleasant half hour people-watching on the tram. I have noticed in my past that I have a tendency to stare at the parts of other women that are my own bug bears of the moment. For example, if I’m obsessing over my stomach, I stare at their stomachs, and compare theirs with mine. If it’s thighs are the source of despair, it’s their thighs I’m staring at. This was particularly unfortunate in secondary school, when I was consumed by the fact that I had no breasts.. As the men of the world will no doubt confirm, it is very difficult to stare at a woman’s breasts without coming across as an absolute creep. However, as my male counterparts will also attest to, once the impulse to look is there, it is impossible to ignore it. Over the years, the objects of my staring have included hips, noses, stomachs, the upper part of rib cages (a skinny upper mid section seems to be the reserve of very tall genetically blessed ladies, but is an insurmountable advantage when buying tight clothes), upper arms, bums and foreheads. (Please note that this list is not exhaustive). There was additionally a previous obsession with the perfect arches in my best friend’s feet -I can’t really explain this one, but she has enviably roundy arches. However, I am well past teenage insecurity at this stage and have accepted my breasts for who and what they are. At this stage in life, it is posture and injury (and ceaseless physiotherapy) that consume my thoughts and time. This morning on the tram, I found myself staring an attractive girl in the skinny jeans, thinking “what lovely turned out knees you have”. (All the better to climb stairs with you, my dear). However more socially appropriate knee staring is, I fear I am still a bog standard creep.

 

14:00 My Desk

Sure amn’t I only high as a kite. In the past three hours or so, the following fantastic things have happened:

  • I discovered that I was one of only three in the class to pass the listening test we had last week. This is a most marvellous boost to my Fronfidence, and I am caressing my 13.5 out of 20 as if it were a certificate of linguistic genius. I am not the dunce!! (Or ‘le cancre’, if you will, en français). (Yes that was parenthesised showing off). I am also gaining insight into why I can’t understand a lot of the Asians in the class -they literally cannot hear the difference between the /b/ and the /p/ sounds, and use them interchangeably. Oh, the fun we had today with our practicing. Best was when we clearly, loudly and repeatedly enunciated “boob”, “poop”, “boob”, “poop”. Chaos I tell you. Additionally, I have figured out why I can never understand our sole Chinese homme -it is because he makes no sense. He was supposed to present a simple anecdote, which went all over the world for sport and concluded in the translation of the lyrics of a Chinese song. Which none of the Chinese girls understood. Following which the teacher went on a lengthy rant about the importance of having a central idea and sticking to it. His presentation was entitled “Les perturbations”. Ironic, I says to myself.
  • I may have finally convinced the good people of Halfords in Navan that I never ordered a bike from them (although I have previously believed myself to have achieved this, only to receive further accusatory voicemails).
  • My pet Russian invited me to go to Lyon with her for a day some time in the near future, which is a much better outcome than I had hoped for when I made contact to invite her to an art/poetry exposition. She can’t come, but I have a plan B -see next point…
  • I have secured a means of procuring free wine with the Hungarian this evening. (See previous point).
  • I discovered that the French say ‘Hupla’!! Just like in South Kerry! (It sounds a bit sexier naturally, but it’s the same effect.)
  • I have finally programmed the word ‘amn’t’ into my iPad autocorrect.
  • And best of all, I just got a message telling me that my French bank account is OUVERT!! Success! I just have to go to the bureau tomorrow to sign the papers. Fingers crossed.

On the down side, I have physio to do. Boo.

Farewell coffee, my old friend

Weds Oct 18

I miss my Nespresso machine!!! I have not had a single good cup of coffee since I came to France. For a country that is not so much obsessed with food and drink as consumed by it, this may seem hard to believe, but it is true. This city is particularly food-obsessed -it would be a very unwise decision to move here with notions of flashing a bit of cash about, as you would be three stone heavier before you could say Patisserie. Everywhere, everywhere, is chocolate, cake, restaurants, food markets, people drinking fancy beers and ciders outside busy bars -it is literally temptation city. Happily for me, I am on a budget. Less happily for said budget, any coffees I have successfully ordered have been overpriced and/or disgusting. It would seem a simple request -black coffee with a little cold milk. However, it appears the French have never heard of americanos, and although I am quite convinced that such a thing exists in France, they have encrypted it’s name in a secret code known only to the elite French speakers and the upper echelons of the illuminati. Un café crème? Un grand café? Un longuer? I have tried them all, only to be met with perplexity, irritation and lattes. In that order.

So to continue my cultural analysis, on to Mrs. G, my resident landlady, who deserves a cultural study all of her own. As I covertly gather evidence and start piecing together her life, it appears that she lived in Asia for quite some time in her twenties and thirties, where I have deduced she met and possibly engaged in an ill-fated marriage with a Japanese man. This has left her with a tendency towards superfluous chopstick-usage and a fierce particularity about the Feng Shui in her apartment. The first rule of the Feng Shui way is no shoes past the threshold. I admit it, I break this rule with reasonable regularity. Physio exercises call for runners, so me and my newly purchased dumbells have been fenging our shui all over the place. However, my transgressions against Mrs. G do not stop there, oh no! (And she doesn’t even know about that one…) Many is the grievous crime I do commit, and I have to date been accused of the following: banging the door too loudly, opening the fridge too violently, allocating saucepans to rings on the hob too randomly, robbing her breakfast bowl for my lunch, and pinching her lunch bowl for my dinner!! I am not allowed use the washing machine -clearly, I could not be trusted with a machine of such power. (With great power comes great responsibility). I put the small bowls in the cups section of the dishwasher, I used the hand towel instead of the dish towel (they were identical), and I didn’t rinse the suds off the saucepans. Conversely, she was also upset that I was washing the cartons before putting them in the recycling bin and she told me not to do that! Crikey. (There was a terrible sulk the night of the fridge door incident.) It’s odd though -one would think that with Mrs. G having travelled through Asia and had years of students staying here, she must have come across more culturally diverse than the likes of me. I mean, I may be misusing some of her equipment, but it’s not like I’m shitting in the sink.

Now, in Mrs. G’s defence, she is great for the chats and is reluctantly helping me to secure a bank account. Okay I’ve press-ganged her into helping me secure a bank account -but if I can press gang in French then that makes it acceptable, n’est-ce pas?? I do also have to concede a point to Feng Shui at this juncture. While I’ve been in the process of dancing around the kitchen, entertained and delighted with the slanderous things I am planning to write about my good host, her dishwasher has enacted vengeance upon me and kicked me in the shin. A sore dose, but I probably deserve it.

All the same, much of the above is quite neatly paving the road to Northern Africa… To which, incidentally, I collected the keys last night! I am looking forward to having my own space and having a mirror in my room, the lack of the latter proving the more problematic. I have been doing my make up in a very compact mirror, which can lead to significant surprise at my first reflective encounter of the day. Sometimes it’s a good surprise, sometimes it’s a ‘clown stripes and mascara on my chin’ surprise. But what’s life without risk?

Now it may be linked to the mirror deficit, but I have noticed that the bonjouring from les hommes has taken a considerable nose-dive. I suspect that now that I’ve settled in a bit and lost my air of wide-eyed vulnerability, they’ve lost interest. (Must work on that..) I have recently resorted to making eyes at the painters on the scaffolding of our building, although I do find them somewhat overly familiar when they are peeping in my bedroom window in the mornings. One of them actually brazenly bonjoured me, having been caught gawking. Cheeky fecker would have been in for the tae had it not been for my scowl of reproach. (Or the substandard coffee, as the case may be, which would naturally have him running for the nearby hills).

So I am gradually coming to know the city, albeit primarily by its tram stops. If anyone mentions a landmark that is near a tram stop, I nod enthusiastically in excited recognition, as if I knew the place and it’s father’s father before it. However, what I am also coming to know, is that this place is fricking tiny! There’s about a four meter walk between each tram stop, sparing the economical walker no end of inconvenience. They could learn a few things from our Luas, I tell you. Dublin’s favourite ‘tramline’ of course understands that if you make things too easy for the customers, they will just get complacent and start taking advantage. They’ll stop making the effort. Won’t turn the telly off while having sex. That’s what you will get France. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The tram is quickly becoming one of my favourite places. It provides no end of intra-transit amusement -for example, this morning, four ticket officials, dressed like Ghostbusters, stormed the tram -each one, no doubt, playing the theme tune to the A-team in his mind. They blocked the descent of the unfortunate ticket-less chancer beside me, who at least had the cop-on to pretend to be Spanish. However, I don’t think they were buying it, and as the tram sped off he was surrounded at the station, four rifles trained on him. Okay I made up the bit about the rifles, but they looked as if they had it in them.

Additionally, I like to play a game on the tram, in which I try to decipher what the name of the next tram stop will be before I read the sign. It’s me versus the automated voice lady. The automated voice lady always wins. Her victory du jour was Flandrin Valmy. Now how am I supposed to recognise a name like that?? Not a helpful Pierre or Jean-Michelle in sight -she’s not playing fair that one. Sure I don’t know Flandrin or the sky over him! She could have been speaking Mongolian for all I knew. I had my money on ‘Mumbly Melville’, but no. Much to my dismay, it was Flandrin, me oul flower. I have her nailed though with Neyrpic Belledonne, who was a good friend of mine in the 1600s. My next nemesis, Hector Berliotz Université, doesn’t stand a chance, what with his vaguely recognisable name. The fool. Tram line C, how I will miss you in Northern Africa

 

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Bienvenue en France… but only with proof of address

Honestly, if I continue to have to speak to people in French, my shoulders will become permanently stuck to my ears. Yet another attempt to create a bank account today. Naturally it is doomed to failure, as I do not have the documentation they require, but today’s friendly bank official happily failed to check the utility bill I provided, and did not notice that it is more than a year out of date. However, I am sure to be rumbled, as I have a further appointment next Friday to iron out more details. Third time lucky? Who knows.

Last night’s linguistic efforts included a house viewing with a very friendly young North African, who speaks lovely comprehensible French and seemed very keen to help. He needed no official documentation and apparently very little money for his centre-ville appartement. I feel I would do well in Northern Africa.. However, I have a few reservations, not least of which includes the four mysterious Playstation4 games consoles, I daresay of dubious origin, which proudly lined his dresser. Additionally, the lack of official documentation may prove problematic in this Pays du Pain-in-the-ass (meant in the gluteal injury sense rather than that of culinary misadventure). Especially when it comes to proving you are in fact a real live person who lives in a real live residence. Deescreemeenaytion, I tell you. Nonetheless, I may be running out of options when it comes to residences, as my other possible apartment has fallen through, due to me being a work-shy layabout who is naturally going to commence a lease and go immediately underground. In the true spirit of most thirty-something psychologists, who are only mad to release their inner gangsta to unsuspecting French landlords.

On a lighter note, it is confirmed! French people actually say “ooh la la”, very regularly and with no sense of irony or embarrassment. It’s highly entertaining. I haven’t experimented with using it yet, but eventually I will have to replace the less universal “OMG”. The bises (it’s two kisses here, incidentally -I’ve been taking notes) are well up and running, and although I haven’t yet received any, it seems only a matter of time. When the thuggish looking man leaning against the door of his tattoo parlour is approached and casually air-kissed by another man, you know you’re in civilisation. Even the homeless people are overly polite -once your sorrow at not giving them money is expressed, their friendly forgiveness knows no bounds! It’s bizarre, but very civilised indeed.

So now, a little more of my favourite book, “L’essentiel de la grammaire française”. Proving increasingly necessary, as confirmed by Google Translate last night. I Googled something I had said to someone earlier in the day, which translated back as “That is share of my reason to leave at France”. Imbecile I am. How anyone continues a straight-faced conversation with me is utterly beyond me. J’y vais.

 

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Frenglish, wine and inadequacy

University Cafeteria:

Shock!! My cross-eyed tram amour is flirting with Another Woman! In plain view! Wait until shortarse girlfriend gets wind of this… She is small but well built, wears a lot of black mascara -could definitely pack a good punch. If I wasn’t so tired I’d punch him myself, but mainly for the look on his stupid face. (Unsure why I have taken so violently against this poor divil…)

Part of the aforementioned tiredness arose from the wine-tasting event yesterday evening. It wasn’t so much the wine that exhausted me -although said wines were more than worth a mention -amazing. It was more the enduring presence of a member of the aristocracy (AKA Class C1), who was flashing her French around like it was a Series 6 BMW. She was very friendly in fairness, but she peer-pressured me into eating oysters, for which I may never forgive her. I tried to keep reminding myself that she has a degree in French and is a professional interpreter, but despondency soon set in. Additionally, my brain became so addled from the dangerous mixture of Frenglish, wine and inadequacy, that all language became lost to me. By the time I met my Hungarian friend afterwards, all words were gone, in all languages, and I was left with merely nameless nebulous concepts, and no means of communicating them. I explained to her that the Aristocrat was a “translationist” and I forgot the word for a table. Things are getting serious..

In other news, Acceptance!! Following yesterday’s presentation, it seems the Queens of Class B2.5 have decided I am not completely sub-human and may be worthy of conversation. However, when they discovered that we don’t have a royal family in Ireland, they quickly lost interest. Highly enthusiastic they were, not even about the current royals, but the “plus âges”-seemingly they have a big thing for the extravagant jewellery of the ancient British monarchy. Can’t help you there Chenguang, sorry! Segregation endures..

The Queen Bees and the Crawling Race

Maladie!!! I have been struck down!!! A terrible awful head cold is threatening my energy levels and my social life! However, I am currently engaging in Advanced Lying Down, and I am quite sure this will have me up and running for the wine tasting event tomorrow afternoon.

So it appears that I will be speaking French in a Chinese accent, if current trends are to continue.. I am finding my place in French Poly-n-Asia, and am interested to find that I am firmly in the ‘bewildered’ social group in the class. Very clear divides are emerging in our little sub-culture. The pecking order is as follows: first come the highly accomplished Chinese girls, who speak better French than the rest of us, and carry themselves with an air of great superiority and maintain an aloof distance from the rest of us riff-raff. They actually provided an answer IN VERSE today. There was no need for it. It was at this point that I realised, this is not a friendly language class where we are all here to make mistakes and laugh and learn -THIS IS A COMPETITION!!! A RACE!! Christ. And I didn’t even know I was running. (Crawling…. I might win a crawling race… I won one once in when I was four… Women of China, be warned!) Next come the very nice Chinese girls, who have lovely self-deprecating senses of humour and don’t attempt anything too poetic, but who still primarily keep their distance in case they catch ‘stupid’ off me. Next comes me, the remaining Chinese and one Korean girl, who spend most of our time fantasising in hushed tones about changing to a different level, thinking how happy we would be frolicking between the simple infinitive and descriptive adjectives. And then, there is Tessa. Oh Tessa. In a category all of her own, a Dutch woman who has lived in France for many years, but has been too busy rearing her small children to learn much French. Now as class B2.5 goes, her French is very good, but she comes up with some terribly mysterious interpretations at times of what she has read or heard, and alienates herself by ensuring she keeps a suitably racist distance from anyone Chinese. She likes to place a buffer, approximately the shape and size (and skin colour) of my good self, between her body and anyone else’s in the class, but I am counteracting this naturally by wearing my “I   ❤️  China” t-shirt to class at least twice a week. There is also one very strange young Chinese man, who over complicates things whenever humanly possible, but he doesn’t show up to class enough to deserve much mention. Oddly, he is very foolishly ignoring the golden opportunity he has been presented, in being surrounded by young Chinese girls whose primary focus in life seems to be to find their Prince Charmings. Very sexist these little ladies are, I find. However, anyone who was relying on this fella for charm would be sadly misled I fear, so maybe it is for the best.

So for now I must return to my sick bed, where I will spend the next four hours or so putting off writing my presentation for tomorrow. I have to speak for five minutes, no more, no less. Normally of course, the “no more” aspect of this task would prove the more challenging for me, but this time it’s en français. I’ve opted to be the first to present, lest some of the queen bees decide to present theirs in iambic pentameter. This way, there’s less pressure, and I can set the tone for the crawling race.

Aministritis

It’s lunchtime. Well almost. It’s 11:45, but I am permitting myself to eat a Mediterranean salade and an orange. France is really messing with my eating schedule. However, said untimely eating has proved urgently necessary, as I have been struck down by a new malady that I have just identified. It is called Administritis, and is characterised by the brain haze and mild nausea brought on by even mild contact with French bureaucracy. It is enhanced by any attempts to navigate anything that can be described as a ‘system’ via French. It cannot be cured by coffee, salads, oranges, or by reading the Irish Times online. Although research continues, the only known cures to date involve increasing one’s Nutella intake and assuming a horizontal position on a soft surface. Maybe if I ever do secure a Carte Vitale (the French passport to all things free healthcare-ish), they will have some local treatment alternatives. Valium, maybe. I now know what is necessary to secure a bank account (a 4,000 word essay on the history of France and my first born son, naturally), but given the extent of my difficulties with printing two simple sheets of paper earlier, I have limited confidence in the likelihood of this ever happening. To print two sheets of paper, I had to persuade a young library official to log me in to his account, write two official documents on Microsoft Word (dubiously translated into the French of the pigeons) and then convince his colleague that he had in fact done so, in order to pay her the 20 cents to release my documents. Jeebus. But now, off to French Poly-n-Asia with me, also notoriously known as Classe B2.5.

 

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Ammunition

I am currently munching my way through a rock, cunningly disguised by the boulanger as gluten free corn bread. She did warn me it was dense. I fear the density was my own in believing this could be edible. You could genuinely kill a man with this, should battering people about the head and neck with overpriced cuisine be your particular cup of tea. However, after sawing my way through the bloody thing, I’m damned if I’m not eating it.

On the way for the university again this morning, this time armed with my grammar book and my passport, with the optimistic goal of starting some of the infamous bureaucracy involved in installing oneself in France. Having spectacularly failed to get my French SIM card working in my Irish phone -even the dodgy Iranian in the flashy lights shop looked at me with sad eyes and told me he could not do any “déblocage” of Irish phones -my optimism has little grounds. But as long as they don’t make me ring a helpline, things shouldn’t get too heated.

Met the Russian friend yesterday for coffee (successfully ordered, with soya milk no less), at the expense of meeting the Hungarian. The additional expense of €4.50 for a bloody coffee I am willing to overlook, but I have considerable Hungarian guilt. It’s worse than Catholic guilt, but might eventually get you more sex. Not that I’m trying to sleep with this poor Hungarian girl mind, but you never know when a bit of cultural expansion might come in handy.

Right, it’s too early in the morning for this kind of carry on. On y va !

First you get the women…..

It is clear that I am to be a great friend of the Lonely Eastern European Women of France. In fact I am thinking of starting a support group. I will court them individually first (for drinks and coffees and cinema dates), and then I will bring them all together, for vodka fuelled fun. Good god maybe I am the one with a prostitute ring….

Went to the cinema last night with a Russian girl called Anna -mainly because I was so impressed with her post on the expats’ Facebook group. She quite randomly, at about 6:30pm, put up a post explaining that her boyfriend lives far away and none of her friends were into the movie, so she was looking for a brave person to watch the movie with her. A brave person, says you? That’ll be me, says I. so I private messaged her instantly (being sure not to come across like a needy mad person with no friends and too much enthusiasm), and by 7:50 we were chatting outside the cinema! She seemed lovely and normal (although she did sing along a few times to the soundtrack of the movie, but maybe that’s how they do it in Moscow…). Still, the film was great (in English, with French subtitles, to my great relief), and we’re planning to meet again tomorrow. It seems my vast history of Internet dating has stood to me in one way or another. Sadly, it only seems to have made me truly excellent at meeting women… (First you get the women…. then you get the power…. Then you get the prostitute ring.) Turns out she also has significant knee difficulties and lives about three seconds from my house. Hungary, you’ve got competition.. (Clearly, they must never see this).