Swedish Girl In London

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Now I Am Miserable

Do you remember how I was supposed to meet up with a French conversation exchange a while back?

Well, I did meet him, although I haven’t blogged about it. It was just too traumatic at the time. Now, finally, the wounds have healed, and I am ready to share.

The way conversation exchanges normally work: You put up an ad on some expat website, get loads of replies and then meet up with a couple of people for coffee and a nice chat in Serb. Or whatever language you want to practice.

It is all rather easy-going, so I was a bit taken aback when this particular Conversation Française turned up sporting a serious demeanour and five (5) books on French and Swedish grammar.

He immediately began coaching me in French irregular verbs, spurting out phrases like “split infinitive” and “past perfect subjunctive”, which are hardly even words to my ears – more like strange sounds emitted by highly intelligent extra-terrestrial life-forms.

(And I did languages at Uni. It’s a disgrace.)

A fresh shock was then administered by Conversation Francaise, who out of the blue proposed that I should also learn Arabic, his second language.

“It’s not difficult,” he said with what I fear was more optimism than a fair assessment of the situation.
“It sounds like a lovely idea,” I found myself answering (pourquoi? Politeness? Madness?).

An interminable period of time then elapsed, during which Conversation Française drilled me and I monitored, with wild desperation, the level of coffee in his cup.

Q: How can a person possibly drink so slowly?
A: It is perfectly possible when every sip is preceeded by unfathomably long grammatical excursion.

When, at last, it seemed that CF had drained his double venti, I decided to make a run for it.

“How nice to have met you… I must run… No, no, really, I couldn’t borrow your book… No, really.”

(Because if I did, I would have to meet you again to give it back to you, and frankly, I can’t see that happening.)

On the way home, it struck me: This man knows where my e-mail lives.


At 2:07 PM, Blogger Curly said...

It all sounds like a great idea but I'd still be a little hesitant meeting someone like that - I'm not sure I could ever mix socialising AND studying.

You SHOULD learn Arabic.


At 10:53 AM, Blogger Rocío said...

Hey pet! next time, ask people you meet for an exchange for their cv..maybe this man was a Professor on Arabic Languages..or a Language teacher. Did you tell him about this French Dictation contest, where not even Frech people are able to write properly what they hear? I love French...but it is difficult to write it absolutely perfect!

At 4:03 PM, Blogger Swedish Girl said...

Inshallah, inshallah.

Rocio, you are right - from now on I'll check up on people better. Those that are actually qualified to teach will be weeded out immediately. I only want the happy-go-lucky lay-abouts, please.

At 9:11 AM, Blogger ChickyBabe said...

French grammar sounds like music to my ears, in French class, not in mixed company!

At 9:53 AM, Blogger Léonie said...

I did languages at Uni. I also have no idea what phrases such as "split infinitive", "past perfect subjunctive" and "please could you come to more than two percent of lectures" mean.

I am glad that you're finally beginning to heal from this traumatic experience, it sounds very scary to me. Perhaps an elaborate escape through the toilet window was called for.

At 1:53 PM, Blogger Noe said...

Hola Isabel, soy Noe, solo para mandarte un beso muy fuerte y decirte que Paris me encantó!!!.
Te espero aqui en Madrid para invitarte a ese Gym tonic de puta madreeeeee!!!!


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