Tuesday, 7 December 2004

She was born ... Hungarian!

"Her english is too good, he said, which clearly indicates that she is foreign."

- Henry Higgins, My Fair Lady.

"Excuse me, excuse me, but I speak very well English."

- Random passerby.

Henry Higgins obviously hadn't spent enough time in France. French natives trying to speak convincing English can be identified as such from about a hundred yards. More excruciatingly, english words that find their way surreptitiously into conversational (if not official) use are given a treatment equivalent to Bob Hawke or David Boon saying "je ne sais quoi". Ears burn, and both english teachers and french purists spin in their graves, albeit in opposite directions. Ah well, c'est la vie.


I never cease to be amazed by the song selection for the timeout and quarter-time breaks at the women's basketball games I attend every week or two. There are a couple of theme songs from sports movies like Rocky, mandatory at any spectator sport worth its salt, and a couple of more-or-less-current hip-hop anthems (suitably moderated for young ears), in fitting with the general culture associated with basketball.

Then we have the Benny Hill theme.

Now, I'm not one to judge a song harshly, but at least in my mind this jaunty ditty is prone to conjuring images of scantily- or un-clad females gallivanting (Hi Lee) through a forest being chased by dirty old men. At a women's professional sports event, this juxtaposition might generously be called dubious.

It might just be my filthy mind, though.

On an related note, my french-english dictionary lamentably makes no attempt to provide a French equivalent for 'gallivant'. Perhaps that's for the best.

Friday, 3 December 2004

sometimes you catch yourself

I'm sitting in a laundromat in France, listening to Crowded House, on a small box barely bigger than an audiocassette, that has almost every song I've ever loved or recently liked.

I was depressed this morning. I've been bludging off a foreign government for 10 months, and had a presentation to give that I was so sure would be the end of my studies that I wrote Australian idioms into the slides in an effort to lose my audience. That tactic failed so spectacularly that not only did they like what I said, they doubled the length of my talk with discussion, and suggested they might find me a more lucrative scholarship next year.

I am finally arriving at the conclusion that you can, in fact, fool all of the people all of the time. You just have to be fast on your feet and be more familiar with the domain than your superiors.

If only I was convinced that I really wanted to spend all three years of the course in France, I'd be pretty smug. As it stands, I wouldn't complain too much if they booted me back to the southern hemisphere, if only they could find a reason that didn't show me for the bludger I've been. Failure to follow proper procedures for my residency permit. Too pale to be credible as an Australian. Something like that.

Outside its about 3 degrees C and humid: cold. The other day I had ice on my gloves while I was riding to work. In ten days, though, I'll be sitting on a veranda wearing shorts and sunnies, and relying on a cold beer to fight the 34 degrees and humid that have all ganged up on me at once. Its 10,000 miles away, but I've got a ticket to ride.

It's a funny world.