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It has finally happened, the revolution has begun, again.  There have been tears, tantrums and traitors, and in true French style it has all been deliciously dramatic.

Yesterday, Les Bleus went on strike following the sacking of Nicolas Anelka - so far, so French. But the story behind the sacking and subsequent strike have brought both scandal and intrigue to an otherwise uneventful world cup. 

In honesty, I have not been watching the World Cup in part due to the fact that I have not felt the need to do so.  My Facebook friends promptly display their disgust with match outcomes through rapid status updates, and when you don’t have a television or friends constantly talking to you about the matches your indifference seems to take on a life of its own – seriously, some days I even forget the World Cup is taking place.  I have put this down to the fact that I am in Paris…..which is probably also the reason I am now blogging about the latest saga to hit the headlines.

Now, according to unnamed and unverified sources, during the match against Mexico, Nicolas Anelka and Raymond Domenech reignited an old quarrel regarding the former’s weight issues.  Since Anelka begun his advertising for Quick – a French fast food chain (see photo above), his weight has slowly become more and more of an issue for the French Manager.  Apparently, XL shorts have had to be bought for the Chelsea international and owing to his sensitive nature, Patrice Evra (as of today the FORMER French captain) forbade anyone on the team from bringing up the subject of Anelka’s expanding waistline.

All was going fine, until the Mexico match when, disgusted with Anelka’s performance, Domenech burst into the changing rooms.  Upon seeing Anelka devouring his third half time Giant Max Burger (see above) Domenech could no longer control his frustration and apparently told Anelka that if he doesn’t register for Weight Watchers immediately, then he (Domenech) would have no choice but to forcibly have Anelka removed from the team and sent to a fat camp.

Amid gasps from the rest of the team, Anelka immediately stood up wiping the ketchup stain from his shirt.

Being the sensitive soul that he is, Anelka deliberated for 5 whole seconds before deciding upon a response that would appropriately pay homage to some of the delicate subtleties for which the French language is renowned.  Thus, when it finally came, his retort - “Va te faire enculer, sale fils de pute” which roughly translates to “go and make love to yourself, you unclean son of a lady of the night”; seemed to closely portray not only Anelka’s linguistic aptitude but his appreciation for the French language as a whole.

Not wanting to seem ignorant and descending from a long line great French philosophers, Domenech reflected hard upon Anelka’s suggestion.  He finally resolved, that the moral and practical implications of such an act would be too difficult to overcome and so decided against the idea.

But the story does not end there…..

It would seem that there was a traitor in the midst of the team.  Who, was not only jealous of Anelka’s cushy deal with Quick but also of his new curves - which were making him quite a hit with the ladies.  This teammate, who is as yet unidentified, leaked details of the changing room exchange to the media, which promptly reported it.

In an effort to respect Anelka’s privacy regarding his sensitive weight issues, the Press purposely decided to focus on his comment to Domenech and imply a connection between it, and some ambiguous long-running feud. The French management team decided this would be the perfect opportunity to send Anelka away to fat camp under the guise of ‘ejection due to disreputable behaviour’, and with the agreement of Anelka the story was reported that he had been sacked.

In all honesty, the French strike had little to do with Anelka being sacked; and everything to do with the team wanting to show solidarity with Anelka by not taking part in any sporting activities for the day.  Clearly they realised that this might well be seen as a slap in the face for a teammate who is evidently struggling with weight issues.

So, as Evra rightly said, “…there is no problem with the French team, only with the traitor in [our] midst.”  

Thus, it remains to be discovered who this traitor could be…..

My advice?  Keep an eye on the next sports personality chosen to head the Quick advertising campaign!

You heard it here first!


Note: Parts and/or all of this blog may only be true in the mind of the blogger.  The blogger has not received any remuneration from Quick, Weight Watchers, Anelka or Domenech, although after reading how large their bonuses will be – she would very much like some….



At the moment I am living in Gare du Nord.  Well, not in the actual station, but close enough that you'd be forgiven for thinking I actually bed down between the tracks every night.  Although I will be moving back to London at the end of this month, I really quite like the area.
When I mention this to my co-workers here in Paris and those people that have spent a lot of time here, 9 times out of 10 I receive a particular reaction which I have come to find very bemusing.  Their eyes widen in a strange mixture of surprise and fear and their mouths and noses curl in such a way that even a contortionist would be impressed.  If you've stayed in Gare du Nord for more than a day, you'll realise why my 'quartier' arouses such a reaction.  

Gare du Nord may not be the Paris we see in post cards, or the backdrop for romantic French films, but it is Paris.   And amongst, the professionals and the profiteers, the addicts and the anglosaxon tourists you'll find the SDFs who are as much a fixture of the area as the overpriced coffees.

Lucie is Belgian, and if you ever take the Eurostar to Paris you are likely to see her at the end of Boulevard de Denain next to the post stand; her luggage cart stuffed with all her worldly possessions.  She doesn't beg very often, instead she mostly sits down and watches the world go by.  On many occasions she makes a real effort to look nice and in good weather you might see her wearing a summer dress, make up and heels.
Rose is half Martiniquan, half Trinidadian.  She told me that she would love to come to England and learn English but at the moment she has '...problèmes du logement' ... somehow euphemism doesn't even begin to address the degree to which her description is understated.

On Friday, I met another elderly lady near Jardin Villemin. She was softly playing the recorder, surrounded by plastic bags stuffed with newspapers and magazines.  I stopped to listen to her (everybody deserves an audience) and then she started to ask me if I recognised the tunes she was playing.  After the third song, I apologised and said perhaps it was because I was English.  She agreed saying they were old French songs and then promptly began playing old English tunes such as 'My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean' and 'Oh My Darling'.
We subsequently got chatting, she told me that she had spent a year in London, which she described as " of the most wonderful years of her life" she worked as a French teacher and as a Secretary.  
She told me that she had lived all over Paris in the last decade and, she remarked pointing at her sparsely populated mouth, some people are much nicer than others.

She never once complained about her life as it is, how cold it must be to live on the streets, or what living rough can do to an elderly body, instead she seemed to put it down to her being the type of person that she is "...some people are morning people, I am not like that, it takes me a couple of hours to be ready for the day so I play my flute (recorder) to exercise my lungs and prepare my body...".
She finished off by saying " know when I was working it was all métro – boulot - dodo, but now.... at least I have time to really discover the city..."

Kind of makes you think.....


As Ursula Andress waded out of the sea in James Bond, many men (and perhaps women) around the world uttered the often misappropriated French phrase 'oh la la'.  Little did they know, they had more to thank the French for this image, than their tongue-in-cheek mutterings of appreciation would at first suggest. 

The first two-piece swimsuit was the creation of Jacques Heim a fashion designer from the popular beach resort of Cannes.  It debuted in a local beach shop in the early summer of 1946 and if I were to leave it there, you would be forgiven for thinking that the modern day bikini is a direct descendant of his creation…but that wouldn’t make for much of a story. Heim’s creation was called the “Atome” apparently in honour of the recently discovered atom, the smallest particle matter yet detected.  To market his product Heim sent skywriters over Cannes’ beaches, announcing that the Atome “the world’s smallest bathing suit” was now available for purchase. 

So why, I hear you ask, are women all over the world not rushing to the gyms in search of that ‘Atomic Body’? (Which does actually sound quite good!) 
Well, you don’t always have to be first to win the race, and when 3 weeks later Louis Reard (a French mechanical engineer turned swimsuit designer) revealed his own, remarkably similar two-piece swimsuit along the French Riviera he decided that ‘bikini’ would be a more fitting name.  The name was taken from Bikini Reef, one of a series of islands in the South Pacific where testing of the atomic bomb was occurring that summer.  It is assumed that Reard named the swimsuit ‘bikini’ because he believed its revealing style would create reactions among people similar to those created by America’s atomic bomb in Japan just one summer earlier. 

Blogger Embellishment Later that year Heim and Reard crossed paths at the Cannes Photo Festival (the precursor to the Cannes Film Festival which debuted in 1962, incidentally, being the same year Ms Andress’ bikini clad body became the envy of mermaids the world over).  Needless to say it didn’t end well. Heim was disgusted that all images showing women wearing a two-piece, described them as ‘bikinis’. He stormed out of the festival and vowed never to look at another woman’s navel again.  He later founded ‘BLAGUE’ (Bikinied Ladies Are Girls and Under Experienced), which unfortunately like the Atome never really took off and was seen as a joke by almost everybody.  It is thought that Heim later moved to Northern Russia where the cold weather meant he could completely avoid encountering any female mid-riffs. 

So it would seem that the French really did bring sexy back (twice), am I am sure the lovely Ursula is more than grateful…perhaps even Tom Jones might want to send out a few thank you letters of his own... just a thought. 

It may be a word that Mr Brown hopes he does not have to hear for a while, but whatever your opinion on sixty-five year old Gillian Duffy's views, it seems 'Bigot' is one immigrant that decided to settle permanently in the UK.

Legend has it (I love sentences that start in this way) that the first Duke of Normandy refused to kiss the foot of the French King Charles III uttering the phrase bi got, his borrowing of the assumed Old English equivalent for our expression 'by God'.  

This story may be as authentic as a £3 note; however,  it is true that the French used Bigot as a term of abuse for the Normans, and later, the word, or very possibly a homonym, was used abusively in French for the Beguines, members of a Roman Catholic lay sisterhood. 

From the 15th century on Old French bigot meant "an excessively devoted or hypocritical person." Bigot is first recorded in English in 1598 with the sense "a superstitious hypocrite."

So the word 'Bigot' is an ironic example of the way in which immigration can influence language both positively and negatively, and although the French may not be the Biggest Bigots around, they can certainly lay legitimate claim to being the first!!

Firstly, a big thank you for all those who have contacted us for Registration Forms and to request more information.  With such overwhelming and enthusiastic responses, it seems the classes are going to be as animated and enjoyable as we had envisaged!

This weekly blog has been started in order to keep everyone updated with information regarding classes and to post answers to any questions or queries received. 

Update Information

Class Composition:  Evening Classes will be streamed according to ability, this is so that nobody feels left behind and consequently tempted to ditch class early and head down stairs for a sneaky drink ..... if you wait until the end of the session at least your tutor can join you!

The Saturday morning class will be a mixed ability class, with the focus on fluid conversation and inclusive discussion.  The structure of this class will mean that students of all levels will be able to improve their skills and thoroughly enjoy the session.

Spanish Classes: We hope to start Spanish classes after the first term. Please feel free to register an early interest and you will be contacted once details have been finalised.

Thank you all once again for your interest, I am pleased to see that some many people are keen to start learning French and appreciate the fresh approach we are taking towards language learning.

Please check back for more updates, and don't forget to Register to secure your place before it's too late.*

Hope to see you all in September.


*Once classes are full we will be operating a waiting list system and give you the option of having your name added.