Markets, I love ’em. Street markets even more so. They’re a whole circus of their own. Various stall holders periodically going into a semi manic routines when trade lags off a little. One super animated skinny blonde Italian stallholder (Well, she said she was Italian) treating us to almost a dance routine as she busily shifted stock on her fruit stall. Everyone practicing their not so much broken as mildly bent out of shape but still adequate English on me while I unstick the heavily corroded French language synapses in my brain. We’re getting by.
As for sarcasm, well, I’ve been enjoying badinage with one of our local Boulangeres, an example of which I’ll try to relate as accurately as possible, having not made notes at the time and consumed a couple of bottles of a half way decent Sauvignon Blanc in between times;
Boulangere: Bonjour (As I enter boulangerie)
Boulangere: Well that was a ‘bonjour’ with an accent
Me: A Canadian accent
Boulangere: You’re from Quebec?
Me: Non, No, nous sommes a British Colombia, the West coast.
As conversation openers go it went, and we chatted about a few things, his visit to Saskatchewan and the unintelligibility of Quebeckers to the average Frenchman or Canadian. Oscillating between his accented English and my bent out of shape French, but it should be enough to give my reader a flavour of how relaxed and easy going most French traders (Even Parisians) can be if you at least try to learn and speak the generalities of their language. Nothing pisses the average French person off more than some arrogant English (or worse, American) twat who can’t be bothered to try. I’m even catching a little mild flak off some of the local waiters because I won’t let them practice their English on me. So I hand a little back in a good humoured way, and we all get it right eventually. It’s fun.
Yesterday Mrs S and I sat and watched a low level drug bust by the Flics across from the cafe we were sitting at. A woman fixing the tyre of a childs bicycle while her husband controlled their Spaniel and their excitable four year old little boy. It may have been a girl, no young lad should be forced to ride anything that pink. Not even in such a cosmopolitan place as Paris. An Angry Dyke stereotype (Very mannish short hair, wearing boots, jeans and golf shirt, pissed off expression nailed to her face) crossed the road and took a seat outside the cafe, ordering an espresso, chain smoking Gauloise, making fluttery finger gestures while talking sotto voce on her phone. She appeared to be watching the Police. Young Couple speaking very heavily accented French tucked into the corner. A tourist parking his sparkly hire car right across from the intersection, effectively blocking a buses turning circle and getting soundly honked for his transgression. Cars and buses squeaking down twisting narrow streets, miraculously missing wing mirrors by millimetres. And scooters, scooters everywhere. Somehow missing getting squished by cars and buses, in turn not squashing pedestrians and the incredibly agile Parisian cyclist. Close calls seem to be the order of the day. Africans punctuating the sidewalks in variants of the Dishdash or Thawb, those long lightweight robes suited more for sub tropical and middle eastern climes. Hey, but this is Paris, right? Street life in the raw.
I’m quite enjoying myself.