Monday, July 30, 2007

Now heres a funny thing... here is a funny thing, What ? Eddie Izzard ? Yes, yes, he's funny,
But thats not what I'm talking about...

See, I was listening to the Michael Parkinson show on Ray-dee-oh Tooo-woo-ooh, yesterday and he had in the studio Roy Hudd, yes Roy Hudd the radio comedian, tv comedian, tv actor, President of the Music Hall Association or something , and Roy Hudd was talking about the music hall traditions and in particular he mentioned Sandy Powell.

Now Sandy Powell was an old fashioned stand-up comedian who had worked through the music hall into radio before, during and after WWII - and he was fooking funny.

No I don't remember him, cheeky bas'tad, ok I do, just a bit, comedians in the 1960's used to take this piss out of his style of comedy but what does Jimmy fooking Tarbuck know about comedy eh ?

So Roy Hudd is talking about Sandy Powell doing a ventriloquist act in the music hall and I'm reminded of this day when I slagged off ventriloquists and I realise now that its not just me, Sandy Powell thought they were crap in the 1940's - his act consisted of him drunk on stage trying to control a ventriloquist's dummy and the act ends with the dummy's head falling off while Sandy Powell isn't looking and he keeps talking to his fingers sticking out of the dummy's neck while the head rolls across the stage, and when he realises what has happened he flusters and confides in the front row of the audience "have I given the game away now ?"

Maybe you had to be there.
No, for the second time, I'm not old enough to have been there.

So while I'm looking for Sandy Powelll and the ventriloquists dummy on YouTube I find Eddie Izzard instead, I don't know, it just came up in the search, and he's talking about learning French, which is fortuitous after yesterdays heavy defeat of Wigan by the Catalan Dragons in the rugby league challenge cup and my fellow blogger, RLFan, and all round jewish-looking-bas'tad friend John_d of the blog John_d fame just happens to be closely linked with the Catalan Dragons...

You just think these are random thoughts don't you ?
No, there is a link, wait...

OK, his link to the Catalans is just that he goes to a lot of their UK games and blags free tickets for their games dans le sud de France, well actually its his wife that does the blagging seeing as she flirted with le president de club once, but all of that is by the by...

...where were we...

Ah yes, Eddie Izzard learning French...

I can speak French, I can speak enough French for me to actually survive unharmed in France, I will not starve nor will I die of thirst whilst in France and I will probably, with some drawing and charades, be able to place a roof over my head - I'm good at French, me.

But only when I'm in France.

When I'm in England my French is as good as the day I left school, that is it's a CSE grade 4 which for those not of an English persuasion and for those of an English persuasion but younger that 45 years old translates to "this child is fooking crap at French and should that country ever find itself invaded by Germans again then this child should not be considered for for spying duties", which is exactly what Pansy Smith my French teacher wrote on my school leaving report, nearly.

But Pansy Smith had never seen me in France, when I'm in France I am as fluent as, erm, fluent as a man, erm, who is French, that didn't come out very well, I'll edit that when I can think of something French-ier - this blog is only practice for my biography web site anyway.

For example, or as we French (when in France) say, par example, (see - fluent), par example the last time I was in Perpignan for a rugby match I ordered, in a cafe, "une cafe noir est un cognac s'il vous plait" just like that I said it and the waiter looked at me and raised one eyebrow in recognition at fellow fluent French speaker, he was impressed I could tell, and so he should have been, it was only 7.30am and that was breakfast, or petit dejeuner as we French say.

And later on during the same trip as I was dining in a small and quaint Catalan restaurant with the chap who is Drago the Dragon the Les Catalans mascot, and his rather stunning girlfriend, and we were eating a dish of twenty different cuts of animal meat (for the Catalans like their meat) we were joined at the table by a strolling gypsy minstrel in the Gypsy Kings stylee, a rugged looking man who reminded me remarkably of Trampus Shaw a German teacher of my youth, and this here gypsy minstrel puts one foot up on my chair in the space between my legs and leans forward to woo Drago the Dragon and his rather lucious girlfriend whilst I sit there looking at his gypsy arse with the back of his guitar shoved in my face while he strums it faster than a fiddlers elbow - a quite good choice of metaphor if I may say so.

And its when I lean over to the Gypsy King and whisper in his ear that he should fook off out of my face that I realise that once again, my French accent must have been perfect for he threw a curse at me and left the table, and I didn't even have to use any French words that time, so perfect was my accent.

But the pee-esse de reistance came during a holiday in Brittany (north France) during the heatwave of 2003 when I booked the vacances de famille into a golf club apartment for 14 days - hey I didn't know it wa a golf club at the time - ok - and I only took my clubs on the off chance that there may be a club nearby, not because I knew that our apartment door would be a matter of yards from the first tee, honest.

So mon famille spoke not one word to me for the rest of the vacances and because they refused to learn any Frenchy words no-one spoke back to them, they hated that holiday whereas I, well, I played a lot of golf and on the days when I wasn't playing golf - wait, I have to mention this, that august the temperatures topped 100c every day for fourteen days and the golf course was closed most afternoons as it was "tres dangereux" they told me, but still I managed to book a 2pm tee time one afternoon and turned up to find that the course was deserted with all of the cowardly froggie golfers sheltering in the shady clubhouse balcony, with beer, so they weren't the stupid ones after all, maybe that was me, hence the Noel Coward song "Mad dogs and Englishmen"

So the golf club pro didn't know how to tell me that I couldn't play that afternoon and he followed me outside to watch me pick up my bag and walk to the first tee, on my own, mon famille est ne pas parlez avec moi remember ?

So he shouts something at me and gestures for me to wait in the burning sun which even now was setting fire to some of the dryer trees down the far end of the course and I wait while he runs back inside the club shop and then returns with the key to one of the buggys that you normally had to pay for in blood, he handed me the key with a "gratis" and then unzipped my bag and popped a bottle of water into it, also "gratis", he was worried for my safety god bless his little froggy heart and for the rest of the afternoon I kept hearing the electric whiring of another golf buggy on distant fairways and I'd look up from a shot to find him peering through binoculars from 500 yards away through trees, checking that i was still alive and not burned to a crisp on a green somewhere.


So we're in Brittany for two weeks and no-one is talking to me and when I wasn't playing golf I took myself off in the car on little painting expeditions and it was whilst on one of those painting trips that I found myself in Pont-Aven, an artists colony, and thenceforth into a studio shop browsing for prints,which they had in abundance, it being an art shop and all. Having selected a few I joined a queue at the counter where some pesky kids were messing with a display stand for which the shopowner gave them a right bollacking then looked up at me and said something to me, angrily.

20 seconds passed before I finally acknowledged to myself that I recognised not one word of what he had said and so I shrugged my shoulders in a very gallic stylee and offered "je ne comprends pas" to which he apologised in French and informed me that he thought I was Italian, and the strange thing is that by now, the second week into the holiday, I understood every single word he said.

It came to be my turn to get served and we exchanged pleasanatries about the prints I was purchasing and I told him that the pen of my aunt was on the table, which was interesting, and then he said something in return which I didn't understand and so I said something like "je ne comprends pas" again - for why waste a good phrase when you've got it right - and then "je suis anglais" at which he looked shocked and apologised again, in English this time - that bas'tad could speak four languages - and told me he thought I was Parisien this time, fook me, I'd been three nationalities within a matter of two minute.

I was quite proud of my subterfuge when I left the shop, posing as an art loving Italian and then a sophisticated Parisien, until later I found that the word "Parisien" is often accompanied by gobbing at the Parisien's feet...

But still,

I done better than what Pansy Smith thought I ever would...


John_D said...

I got interviewed for French TV on Sunday, incidentally. International media whoring.

Gary said...

I'm proud to know you sir, do you have problems with groupies ?

John_D said...

I did, but the cream I got from't chemist cleared them right up in no time.