I speak French - with a Suffolk accent

AS regular James Marston readers will know I have moved to France - Toulouse, in fact.

James Marston

AS regular James Marston readers will know I have moved to France - Toulouse, in fact.

And though I only moved three weeks ago it, I have to admit, it feels like three months.

Ever such a lot seems to have happened.

I have, after staring the somewhat unwelcome prospect of homelessness in the face, found a Toulousain apartment.

It is rather big and very empty, this is because it has a funny-shaped lounge and no furniture.

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The floors are wooden - and aren't they a bind? I'm constantly sweeping up - and the walls are blank save for a small print of the Edwardian seaside town of Felixstowe where I had made my happy home in a small flat with sea views (distant) for the last two years before I decided on this madcap relocation.

Of course, I daren't look at my little picture in case I get disastrously homesick.

A bed - and you don't realise what a luxury a bed can be until you've slept on a blow-up version that deflates during the night and with my back as well - arrives this coming weekend. At least that's what I think I've organised, I can't be totally sure until it all happens.

I have met one of my neighbours, a gentleman called Michelle - which I thought very forward thinking of his parents - and the lady who mops the communal hallway and puts out the bins.

Talking of bins we only have two, not each but between us, and they are both the same colour so I suspect they aren't too bothered about recycling here.

Perhaps, more interestingly, I have made leaps and bounds with my lingusitic skills - though naturally with a Suffolk accent.

I have increased my vocabulary from mangetout, croissant, le sandwich and bonjour to include such statements as "Goodness it's hot" and "Where's the nearest English pub?"

So, dear readers, things are relocating nicely, I've even made an omelette though I'm a long way off producing a delicious tarte tatin out of my new kitchen with courtyard access (French).

THOSE of you who have followed my musings over recent years will know that each Christmas Eve I pull out all the stops and wherever I am in the world make my way to the ancient Church of St James', Icklingham - my home village in the west of the county - to play the organ for the late- night service.

In fact, the lady churchwarden Dorothy has booked me for the rest of my life.

And as long as the hymns remain the same - easy ones - I suspect I'll carry on.

So on Sunday last, I thought I'd pop into the cathderal near my new apartment with French shutters and vast ceilings to have a quiet nose.

This proved easier said than done.

As I entered I found myself greeted by what can best be described as the cathedral ladies and, despite trying to explain that I wanted a look and a quiet sit down thank you very much, I was ushered into the congregation.

Though I tried to explain I wasn't of a Roman Catholic leaning I found myself being sprayed with holy water by a very enthusiastic church official who clearly thought I needed a good wash. I spent most of the next hour standing up for most of the proceedings trying to work out when to sit down again.

IT'S true what they say about offal in France. You can hardly move for it.

I haven't had a scampi and chips for weeks.

So far, just to show I'm not scared, I've eaten duck's hearts and chicken lungs - I think.

The duck's hearts were especially tasty.

I happened to mention my courageous dip into the unknown to a French friend who told me I had been very brave and she wouldn't have eaten them.

Isn't that typical? I've drawn the line at tripe.

I HAVE been reading the horoscopes in the local newspaper.

This week I am expecting a welcome injection of cash, a troublesome neighbour and international travel.

While these musings seem unlikely to come true I have found a use for these predictions - my vocabulary is making leaps and bounds in the signs of the zodiac.

THANKS to the miracle of the worldwide web I can find out what's been going on in the county of my birth.

Just a few clicks and I am up to speed.

Don't forget you can look at my musings on line by visiting www.eveningstar.co.uk/

HAVE you seen this latest film by Quentin Tarantino? It's called Inglorious Basterds.

After a modicum of research I discovered the cinema in the heart of old Toulouse regularly shows films in the original version.

I decided to have a look at Quentin's latest offering. Despite being under the impression it would all be in English I discovered significant sections were in French and German as well.

The German bits had French subtitles, the French bits none and the English bits French.

I was exhausted by the end of it.

AS I said to my sister Claire who enjoys murder mysteries and wants to marry a farmer, I've been reading an Agatha Christie book in French.

It's the one where they all sit round at the beginning and read a will. Then things happen, a couple of people die either with poison or a nice back stab and then at the end David Suchet gets everyone into the drawing room of some huge Victorian pile puts two and two together and exposes the murderer - I'm sure you know the one.

With dictionary in hand I am taking my time. I've read four pages so far.

Wearing a long red coat and matching hat, the Queen was in Suffolk I understand. Bless her.

In fact she was in the west of the county from where I hail.

I hope she had a nice time. I think she was doing something to do with animals so she probably enjoyed herself.