dimanche 28 août 2011

S is for Summer's almost over

S is for Summer’s almost over

Summer’s almost over. The aisles of supermarkets have been transformed for ‘la rentrée’ and are full of harassed parents consulting lists and parting with hundreds of Euros in preparation for their offsprings’ return to school.

Advertisers, meanwhile, think we all need something to occupy ourselves as the evenings draw in. In the UK, you get bombarded with ads for sofas that will arrive in time for Christmas. In France, ‘tis the season of part-works. So far, I could buy a weekly publication that will enable me to build a wooden boat for Tintin, or I might prefer to collect and admire miniature Egyptian figures or tiny Formula 1 racing cars. Only €1.99 for the first issue of each — don’t know how much subsequent ones will be. A lot more, no doubt.

I’m keeping my eyes open, though, for the series that offers me the chance to build a collection of genuine coins and bank notes from around the world. I suspect they will all come from places like Zimbabwe where inflation is running at around 1,000 per cent and a Euro will buy you more than 500 Zimbabwe dollars. I can but hope that one issue will feature cash from the UK. A £5 note for less than €2 would definitely be a bargain and I might buy several copies. But I expect it will be an old £1 or even a Scottish note on offer. Perhaps I’d better find the glue and start building Tintin his boat instead.

On a different subject, I’m always surprised how much more agreeable some things sound in French. I had to visit the dentist as I’d broken a tooth. The dentist trotted out the two words of English everyone in business here knows — ‘big problem’ — and informed me that the tooth in questions was ‘fatigué’ [tired]. I know just how it feels. But it sounds a lot better than ‘completely knackered’,  doesn’t it?

The dentist told me I’d been very sensible to consult him so quickly as it gave him a better chance of saving the tooth. I didn’t mention that I’d had to wait over three weeks for an appointment. That’s another funny thing in France. Go to the doctor’s and if you need to see a specialist or have a scan at the hospital, they ask if you can go there that afternoon or the next day. But try and get to see a dentist within a few weeks and it’s another story.

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