Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It’s You Isn’t It?

Now I’m not trying to say that I’m Mr Unforgettable; that I’m one of those people who, when met once, emblazons himself onto everybody’s consciousness for all perpetuity with a light that never goes out. But I like to think I impinge just a little bit on those around me. That I leave a slight impression on the memory. Even if it is only to recognize my face as opposed to my name.

Years ago I did an evening class at the local college – French beginner’s level. It only lasted a year but was pretty intensive and a good deal of fun. Our tutor was a strange Francophile whose name I forget (yes, I know, people in glass houses and all that) and who rode a bicycle around town like a Victorian lady wrestling with the idea that she ought to be riding side saddle for the sake of propriety.

She still rides that same bicycle in the same manner and I still see her every few weeks as she pushes those pedals round and round like a Gerry Anderson puppet attempting to walk realistically.

We’ve always caught each other’s eyes and smiled and nodded at each other in mutual acknowledgement.

You taught me French, I think to myself.

And I imagine that in her head she’s thinking, I taught that young ruffian French.

Well, on Monday she drew up on her bike at a junction and as I was close enough to speak I thought I’d say hello – or even bon jour – and swap pleasantries.

All seemed to go well at first.

“Are you still at the college?” she asked.

“Why, yes,” I replied, “I’m just completing a course in Level 1 Sign Language as it happens.”

She looked a bit askance. Like what I’d said wasn’t quite right.

“Are you still teaching as well, then?” She asked.

Eh? Teaching? “Er. No.” I replied. “You taught me French?” I said rather plaintively.

A look of recognition passed over her face. Not recognition of me; recognition that she’d made a mistake. “Oh sorry.” She apologized. “I thought you were David the woodwork teacher.”

David? Woodwork?

“No.” I said rather stiffly. “You taught me French.” I believe I may have growled that last bit.

I could see her thinking zut alors and praying for the lights to turn to green. Things had got suddenly uncomfortable so I said a quick goodbye and stomped off up the street wishing I’d learnt a few more German swear words when I was at school.

So there you go. Not only do I not speak French well enough to stand out in her mind as a star pupil but I also look like a ‘Dave’ and look like I might be able to make myself useful with a dowelling rod.

Honestly. My ego has hit le fond du baril.

And yes. I had to Google that.



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37 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

Did you stop to consider how many hundreds of students she's tutored in the last few years, a good many of which were bearded tossers like yourself? If you want to stick in a lady's memory you'll have to do more than mince around making awkward vowel noises.

Very Bored in Catalunya said...

Alright Dave?

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: you know, upon reflection, given how this lady rides a bicycle, I think I might be content to remain utterly forgettable.

Very Bored in Catalunya: grrr!

Marginalia said...

Ironic don't you think that you should describe her as a Gerry Anderson puppet.

Do you think, therefore, she could have been making a sexual approach. She with her Woodentop gait; you (Dave) with your bit and bevel?

Being Me said...

Awww c'mon, Stevo, I'm sure you look very different these days. Don't you? Otherwise, I'm getting a strange image of a young prepubescent bloke with an oddly out of place goatee.

Wait, though.. how old are we talking when you had these French lessons? She sounds delightfully vague. I like her.

Nota Bene said...

merdre!

Steve said...

Marginalia: truth be told she's a bit too plane for me... geddit? Plane? *Sigh* Sometimes I just kill me.

Being Me: we're only talking, shit, ten years ago. Crikey. I didn't think it was that long but actually, thinking about it properly... Well, doesn't time fly? I was a youngish man back then. Now I'm middle aged. And she must be close to retirement. That explains a lot.

Nota Bene: sacre bleu!

Being Me said...

See? She's tired. Very, very tired. So much pedalling...

About Last Weekend said...

Mind you, the woodwork teacher may be a sort of Harrison Ford type looker! I once read he was a carpenter on a film set when he was discovered...

missbehaving said...

Don't feel bad, or blah du basil, whatever it was, I teach loads of kids, some for years and years and of course I remember them, but some jobs I have 20 kids for one year, during that year I know who they are but at the end of it I get a new group and I
only remember the ones that I continue to see about town regularly.
The ones I NEVER forget are the naughty ones. I could give you a list of naughty kids spanning 10 years...you're just too good.

Steve said...

Being Me: she must have calves like Christmas turkeys. I see that as neither a good thing nor a bad.

About Last Weekend: didn't they mistake him for a chair?

MissBehaving: just too good? You're probably right. I knew I should have got naked a whole lot more.

Readily A Parent said...

Listen Dave,
I could really use some shelving in my storage room. What thickness wood would you suggest for 8 foot long shelves bearing a weight of approximately 200 pounds each?

-Whaddya mean you're not Dave! My goodness, I know asking for a little free advice can be awkward, but I thought we were close enough you could just give me a tidbit of info. No need to pretend you aren't who you are just to get out of it.

Steve said...

Readily A Parent: I'm sorry, ma'am, but for the 16th time... this till is closed.

libby said...

Am racking my brain to see if I've seen her cycling around town......

Steve said...

Libby: she has shoulder length greying brunette hair and big lips.

That should narrow it down.

Marginalia said...

Trust you to notice the big lips.

Steve said...

Marginalia: she has a very distinctive gait on that bike of hers...

Owen said...

Big lips ? Sounds like Mick Jagger... he must know a little French, given that he has a chateau in France and all...

Sounds like you're in a cul de sac (literally : the ass of the bag) as far as your relationship with your former teacher is concerned, Dave, and I imagine she wasn't thinking "zut alors", but rather something more like,"Merde, quel con !"

Oh, and by the way, if you should someday want to take your French to new levels, there is a book named "MERDE" which has all the slang you'll ever need in it... And believe me, when French people start swearing at you, it is very important to know what they are saying, so as to weigh the appropriately filthy response ! Insulting people is an art form in France...
:-)

Steve said...

Owen: thanks for the tip off regarding the book - sounds like it might be an essential addition to my bibliothèque. Knowing how to swear properly when in Rome should be a prerequisite for every self-respecting Englishman. As for ol' Mick J... I doubt his hips have enough of a turning circle now to step up a curb let alone pedal a bike.

the fly in the web said...

Just as long as you don't feel its a 'ras de bol' situation....apply by e mail for translation if this essential phrase was not covered in your course.....

Steve said...

The fly in the web: Dr Google says "flush bowl" so I'm guessing it's something about being flushed down the U-bend of life?

TimeWarden said...

Tous ces moments
Perdus dans l'enchantement
Qui ne reviendront
Jamais

Steve said...

TimeWarden: I poured that into Google, pressed the button and this came out the other side: "All those moments Lost in the enchantment Who does not return never". I reckon I can book that holiday in the South of France with a clear conscience now.

TimeWarden said...

Google was close. More accurately, it should read...

All those moments
Lost in wonder
That we'll never find again

The "we" being you and your French teacher who, given her likeness to a Gerry Anderson puppet, you should rename Madame Penelope!

Steve said...

TimeWarden: and here we see Google's shortcomings writ large - it just hasn't got an ounce of poetry in its soul. And re: Lady Penelope... the poor woman is more like Parker in drag.

Löst Jimmy said...

C'est la vie David, le professeur de bois

Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

Well she's nearly right - she had you down as a French polisher.

Steve said...

Löst Jimmy : better le professeur de bois than le professeur d'armour...

Trish: ooh la la! Try saying that with your mouth full!

EmmaK said...

mon dieu! I feel for you. I am sure most of my teachers would remember me for all the wrong reasons like in chemistry I spun all the test tubes around in that spinny thing and eventually was ejected from o level chemistry altogether!

Phil said...

Yo Stuart, god, what a truly harrowing experience for anyone to have to endure like that. Out in the open in a public place too. How awful. What a totally shocking ordeal. People have just got no idea how to behave. No idea at all.

How unfortunate too, cos five minutes later and she’d probably have missed you altogether. Poor, poor lady. Have you sent her a letter of apology yet? I think you should bloke. It’s the least you can do.

You really do need to stay inside more Sid. Sorry, it's Stuart isn't it. ?

☺☺☺☺☺☺

Steve said...

Emma: thus proving the point someone made above - teachers always remember the naughty kids; the swots like me blend into obscurity.

Phil: you're the voice in my head, aren't you? I thought we agreed that we weren't going to speak to each other anymore?

Keith said...

You always struck me as the kind of fella who was at home whittling wood. Dave it is then.

Steve said...

Keith: yup. That's me. In my room alone at night, whittling lots of wood.

Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip said...

Listen Dave, I don't know what you are all worked up about. Just get back to your woodworking and hobnobbing and quit blathering on. Wait....whose blog is this anyway?

Steve said...

Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip: parlez vous Francais?

The Sagittarian said...

You mean you're not Dave? I've been visiting the wrong blog...

Steve said...

Amanda: I don't speak French either. I may be in the wrong country.