Tuesday 11 August 2009

Lift Off

Last night I dreamt that a cow was eating my tent.

Strange, as I wasn’t sleeping in the tent but in the van - inclement weather had been forecast.

Stranger still as the cow that had appeared uninvited in our fields a week or two previously had finally been fenced in to his own pasture by the distant neighbours responsible.

Getting the neighbours to do this had not been easy.

You would think a simple phone call would have been enough but first I had to speak to the farmer’s grandmother, and then to the farmer’s brother-in-law.

Each time I was told that the farmer had checked his field and the cow was there, grazing contentedly.

Explaining that, no, she was outside my window contemplating whether to trample the tomatoes or sit on the car, had no effect.

In a moment of inspiration I decided to speak directly to their sense of stomach by saying that if they didn’t come and sort it out, I would eat her.

They came -and the grandmother, the brother-in-law and two children. Obviously the threat of food depravation resonated strongly.

It is a cliché but food is important in France.

As I have pointed out elsewhere in this blog the French have been described as ready to eat anything on four legs except the table, and 12 o’clock has an almost religious observance.

French students on work placements in England often return complaining about how they almost passed out from hunger because their employers never stopped before one o’clock, and then only for a sandwich.

I once made the mistake of signing up for the grape-picking season. We started at 8 and worked for four hours. At twelve sharp we sat down and for the next two hours ate the biggest meal known to the universe – WITH WINE - and at two we were expected to put in another four hours back breaking toil.

I was sacked when they found me snoring through a drunken sleep in the hayloft.

But this insistence on a good meal took an unexpected turn last week when I was teaching someone who worked at the Space Centre.

I had asked him to explain his project to a visiting teacher as a dry run for the presentations his job requires.

The project is complicated, data imaging from satellites for environmental purposes, and the team responsible are still in the setting up phase and it’s complexity is at the outer limits of the student’s English ability.

Especially his pronunciation.

He concluded the presentation with the statement; “The Lunch is scheduled for 2011.”
more on the pitfalls of pronunciation here.


Anne Hodgson said...

2011! By then he'll be able to heat an orse and a cow to boot ^^

popps said...

By the way - did you notice the title of the book in the photo?