Rats! My schoolboy French failed me

VIVE La France! Now I don't know about you but my French is distinctly schoolboy. I can buy an Orangina - “Orangina” - and a baguette - “baguette” - and I can ask for croissants - “croissants” - and I can work the Parisian Metro - “Metro” - but when it comes to more tricky things like having a conversation, reading a newspaper and understanding menus without mange tout or ratatouille then things get a little tricky.

VIVE La France! Now I don't know about you but my French is distinctly schoolboy.

I can buy an Orangina - “Orangina” - and a baguette - “baguette” - and I can ask for croissants - “croissants” - and I can work the Parisian Metro - “Metro” - but when it comes to more tricky things like having a conversation, reading a newspaper and understanding menus without mange tout or ratatouille then things get a little tricky.

Nevertheless, last week, as I found myself in the French capital - Paris - walking the streets, interestingly I didn't see a cul-de-sac anywhere, and wishing it would stop raining. I was tested to the limit of my language skills.

Outside La Notre Dame a man came up to me and shouted something like “parapluie” at me several times. Despite his insistence at trying to talk to me I found myself reverting to British man-abroad and ignoring him totally wondering why on earth he didn't use one of the several umbrellas he was carrying.

Then just as I was crossing the river - the Seine - some woman and her child came up to me and said something totally incomprehensible.

This time, unable to ignore her I managed to say hello - “bonjour” - and shake my head and we parted company. It did cross my mind that she recognised me from the pages of The Evening Star but I realised that might be unlikely.

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After a night in the middle of Paris, in a room on the 6th floor of a hotel, spent wondering how on earth I'd get out if there was a fire I decided the next day - again wet - to mooch about the Louvre which has the double advantage of being dry inside and with seats.

It was on my way there that someone else asked me for directions. I know this because I heard the phrase “ou se trouve” buried in the sentence and something somewhere rang a bell.

Though not exactly sure where they wanted to go I replied by saying hello - “bonjour” - and pointed in the direction of where I had just come from, a response which seemed to please everyone.

So as well as being a celebrity of the Felixstowe peninsula, a brilliant wordsmith and a handsome fella, I must also look French.

Anyway, the Louvre - “Louvre” - was shut because it shuts on a Tuesday apparently, so I went to a bar and indulged my passion for strange alcoholic drinks by ordering a crème de cassis without getting any odd looks.

Here I bought some cigarettes - “cigarettes” - and picked up a copy of the international Telegraph.

On the way back I saw a dead rat shop which, to be honest, I found somewhat disturbing.

I know they eat funny things like amphibians and equine meat but dead rat is something they keep very, very quiet.

I think this discovery is quite a scoop and I'd tell the story except I have no idea what rat, dead or alive, is in French. Do you?

TINA Turner is to tour the USA of America I hear.

How fantastic - she's knocking on 70 you know.

I've always liked Tina.

Oprah Winfrey asked the legend how she feels about getting older.

Tina said: “That number doesn't mean a thing. It just doesn't.”

What a voice, what an entertainer, what a woman.

Apparently, my colleagues inform me, she came to Ipswich once and did a concert.

Were you there? Was she good?

FELIXSTOWE'S looking delightful in the early mornings at this time of year.

And thanks to the recent re-felting of my balcony I can enjoy an early-morning look at the sea views (distant) from the comfort of my small Edwardian flat.

There's nothing better than the spring, is there? What's your early-morning view? Do drop me a line.

MY friend Camilla - well I say my friend, she wrote to me once - has been out and about as usual.

This time Camilla, has been to the 50th Annual Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) Floral Luncheon at the Waldorf Hotel in central London.

As usual she's well behaved and always looks nice.

Another royal, I note - the Duchess of Gloucester - is to visit this year's Suffolk Show.

Just as a matter of interest do you know the duchess is colonel-in-chief of the Royal Australian Army Educational Corps and the Royal New Zealand Army Educational Corps?

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