Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Let me tell you why I don’t like Wednesdays

A very long time ago, somebody thought that it would be a good idea to give all little French children a day off school on a Thursday. This, so that the week would be cut in two and the little "têtes blondes" wouldn’t become overtired. At some point, perhaps in the seventies, for some reason, Thursday off became Wednesday off. Then, gradually, as more and more parents started to spend weekends at home rather than at work and wanted to spend some of that leisure time with their children, Saturday also became a non-school day and "la semaine de quatre jours" was born. Theoretically, the children who don’t go to school an a Saturday morning have slightly shorter holidays than those who do and nobody seems to mind this. What nobody, ever ever calls into question, however, is the sacrosanct "jour des enfants" - a day originally intended to be spent chilling out at home in a post-second-world-war sort of way. Only it is no longert a relaxing day of rest at all, at least not in our house, and I don't think we're particulalry atypical. For us, it’s more of a running-around-like-chickens-with-their-heads-cut-off sort of day.

If you both work, you obviously have to find some sort of alternative childcare solution for a Wednesday, a complicated task if you don't have grandparents on the doorstep. This is how, a couple of weeks ago, I came to spend over three hours queuing to sign my four-year-old up for a kids’ club with a really good reputation and a very long waiting list. I got him in. He then sobbed inconsolably when I left him on the first two Wednesdays he had to spend there. His little sister, meanwhile goes to her old childminder’s since we felt starting nursery and doing something unfamiliar on a Wednesday all in the same month would be a bit much for a three-year-old to cope with. Neither of these arrangements is free, far from it.

“Aha” I hear you say, “but if you didn’t work, your children would be happy little bunnies playing contentedly at home all day on a Wednesday with you, their paragon stay-at-home mum devising on-tap creative activities and leading occasional cultural outings.” Perhaps. But I don’t think so. Some working mums I know do manage not to work on a Wednesday. From what I see, Wednesdays are the days that mums (why is it almost always the mums?) spend ferrying children from music lessons to judo, from fencing classes to soft play, from ballet to swimming. It’s also the day to which all medical appointments and the like are relegated and some of the hothoused kids are even treated to extra maths lessons.

Since Wednesday is a no-school day it is also birthday party day which is how I came to organise my schedule today so that I could rush back from work at lunchtime to pick Z up, drive him across town, drop him off at a birthday party, kill two hours while he worked on his sugar high, pick him up and drive him and his little friend back into town and arrive just in time to pick little sister up from the childminder’s.

This evening, we’re definitely not refreshed. Roll on Thursday.


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Extraordinarily famous blogger

That's me. We were at a party last night (actually, we were at the prolongation of a birthday party our children had been to bacause that's the only sort of party we get invited to nowadays), a couple we know asked, "Hey, Lesley, est-ce que tu as un blog?" Turns out they'd arrived at this here humble blog via a search that threw up a photo I'd posted of oyster beds at Cap Ferret. I'll have to watch what I say in future.

And now for something completely different. Here, via Marco (again) is another political chart. You've got to pretend you're American to do this one. Perhaps unsursprisingly, my profile is very like Marco's and that of all the other people I've seen post this on their blogs. So, next time someone asks me about my politics, I'll tell them I'm somewhere near the bottom right-hand corner.

You are a

Social Liberal
(68% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(10% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Three Things

I. Make your own stamps. Another amusing thing to do with your flickr photos.This photograph is of a place called Hostens, south of Bordeaux.

Do it at Framer
Via SoWeirdProductions

II. And here's a quote P. pointed out to me yesterday:
"Selon Pierre Sansot, le pérégrination serait une forme de sagesse. Celle de l'effort, de la modestie et de la rencontre."
("According to Pierre Sansot, peregrination is a sort of wisdom — the wisdom of effort, modesty ad meetings.")

III And finally, here via Profgrrrl is the fifth sentence meme:
1. Go into your archive.
2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to)
3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions."

So here's mine: ".....they all have lives outside of the English classroom."

Must try to remember this. Wish I'd added "interesting" before lives.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Wednesday, September 14, 2005



1) your little boy had sobbed his heart out and clung to you like a koala would you have left him at the kids' club anyway?

2) your Powerbook had been dispatched on Saturday, wouldn't you expect to be cuddling up with it by now?

3) you were putting a drier in the garage, would you get the sort that pumps damp air out into the garage or one that costs more but condensates that moist air?

4) you had watched twelve episodes of Six Feet Under over three evenings, would you expect to be in a slightly morbid state of mind for the rest of the week?

5) overnight, your pink i-pod mini suddenly became yesterday's big thing, would you feel totally untrendy in every compartment of your life?

6) a bloggers' apéritif was being planned in the town where you live, would you be tempted to go along, even if you didn't know anyone?


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Gender Genie

Does my voice sound husky to you? Do I talk like a man? Is my tone anything less than feminine? Have you ever been in any doubt as to my sex? No, no, no, I hear you cry. Well, not so the Gender Genie whose algorithms obviously have a major hormone problem. On the evidence of two recent blog posts which I fed into it in my usual womanly way, it concludes that there is a very high chance that I am male.

"Inspired by an article in The New York Times Magazine,
The Gender Genie
uses a simplified version of an algorithm developed by Moshe Koppel, Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and Shlomo Argamon, Illinois Institute of Technology, to predict the gender of an author"

Try it for yourselves, then reassure me (because we girls need lots of reassurance).

Via: Allan Jenkins

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Spend, spend, spend

I'm on a spending high. This week several goodies have arrived in the post, namely:

Lost In Translation : watched last night and now back on sale on

Six Feet Under - The Fourth Season: Please, please go to sleep children so that we can watch at least two episodes tonight.

A couple of books on:National Identity Perhaps goodies isn't quite the right word for them (and to be absolutely honest I can't actually remember ordering the second one which came from a little bookseller in Springfield, USA) but they will be useful, I hope. And, wait for it....

Yesterday, I ordered a 12'' Powerbook from Apple, as well as a washing machine and a drier (unfortunately not from Apple). I'd like to linger lustfully over the words at the beginning of that sentence and just mumble the rest. Guess which I enjoyed putting in my basket most.
Don't you just love spending money online? No fighting through Saturday afternoon shoppers to see the display model. No unwelcome advice from incompetent sales staff. No queuing at the cash desk. No hard sell for the extended warranty. And you can do it late at night after a few glasses of wine, when values in Euros and Francs meld into one, and budget priorities seem trivial (I'm justifying the Powerbook here, not the washing machine by the way). And after all that's not real money they take, is it?
Is it?


Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Originally uploaded by Lezzles.
Borrowed three CDs from our excellent médiathèque his evening:

Al Stewart: Year of the Cat
Bob Dylan : Blonde on Blonde
Simon & Garfunkel : The Graduate

How did my musical taste get stuck quite so far in the distant past? What should I borrow next time to get me out of this time warp?


Monday, September 05, 2005

Low resolution

Making new year's resolutions in September may seem a little strange, as Sarah* points out but, believe me, when your life is organised according to the academic year, it really is the only time that anything is ever going to change. After October, we're caught up in a demented rush of teaching, class preparation, meetings, conferences etc. so there's no time for innovation or change. Anyway, here, for what it's worth, is my non-exhaustive list of things that need improvement:

I will not
write down what I did in class on scraps of paper which then disappear and only turn up as screwed up paper mâché at the bottom of my bag weeks later.
I will
buy a(nother) nice new exercise book and keep accurate records of class activities so that I don't have to keep asking students: "Are you sure we haven't already done this?", "As I may already have told you..." etc. ( I may have to think about a similar system for dinner party conversations)

I will not
spend ten minutes in the middle of each class scrabbling around at the bottom of aforementioned bag looking for a marker pen that works so that I can write a vital item of vocab on the board.
I will
lobby for the purchase of new interactive whiteboards for our department (and pigs will hit the stratosphere around about the same time they actually appear.

I will not
take the car to work a) because there is a perfectly good tram line that we are currently paying for, apparently singlehandedly, through our local taxes b) parking is now prohibitively expensive c) because it will do me good to walk a bit d) I now take the children to one place not two and it's on my way to work, so that excuse has been blown**.
I will
therefore be consistently late for any important rendez-vous such as the exam I was administering yesterday — it took me fifty minutes to get from one part of the universtiy to another by tram and bus, a journey that would have taken twelve or so minutes by car.

I will never, ever
consult my Bloglines account while at work, not even at lunchtime.
I will
only read online articles from scholarly journals, and preferably only articles with titles I don't understand (and will therefore spend all free time at home reading blogs without feeling guilty.)

How much more time do you have?............

* I've just discovered that I can't link to my own comments box so you'll have to look for what Sarah said, all on your own. Sorry
** Update on the playpiece dilemma. It turns out that mid-morning snacks are now forbidden in shools as part of France's fight against childhood obesity. It is considered far healthier for a three-year-old child to go for five hours with nothing to eat.


Friday, September 02, 2005

False Pretences

I spent yesterday evening wandering around Bergerac looking for a place to eat and wondering where all of the English people had come from. There were noisy families with kids on all of the café terraces, couples aimlessly pushing buggies around the old town, old biddies collapsed on stone benches, young couples looking at restaurant menus and beer bellies queuing for baguette sandwiches. Then it dawned on me: low cost flights from Stansted to Bergerac. Ryanair has a lot to answer for.

I wonder how many hits the last couple of sentences will lead to. I feel a little guilty about the Google search that seems to bring most people to this site. It is "w*ords per m*inute t*est". I've added the asterisks so as not to disappoint even more budding secretaries. I imagine their dismay when they end up on this drivelling blog site instead of the efficient gauge of dactylographical skills they were looking for. Needless to say, they don't hang around for long.

On the drivel front, it seems that the academic year has started. The children have just finished their FIRST week of nursery which has been a great success ie. we managed to get them there on time every day. No seriously, they both had a great time and no tears. I went into work for the FIRST time to prepare for my FIRST class on Monday morning (almost tears). I've done my FIRST interpreting job since the holiday, hence the unfettered visit to Bergerac. And I've made my FIRST list of resolutions for the new year. Bring it on, I'm ready.



Being confined indoors most of the day, just the four of us, is reminding me of the days when my children were wee and most of our weekends ...