Today was not the best morning for the guy at the newspaper stand to start talking to me in French. Every so often, when things are quiet, the tall skinny one with glasses gets a bit of a mischeivous glint in his eye and starts trying to engage me in a spot of French conversation. This dates from around Christmas last year when, fresh from a trip to Paris and overhearing him speaking French to another customer, I greeted him with a merry ‘Bonjour’. Sadly, despite a French O Level, this proved to be pretty much my entire French spoken vocabulary as he quickly found out. Ever since, he likes to spring a few French phrases at me on occasion to see how I respond. I don’t know why – possibly he hates the French and likes to hear their mother-tongue mangled, or perhaps he just enjoys the trapped-rat look of panic that comes over my face as I try and respond.
Anyway, today I was particularly tongue tied. I’d woken up with a throat like sandpaper and a head full of cotton wool and only the chance to spread my lurgy to some of the more senior managers at work had persuaded me not to call in sick in the first place. I’ve a feeling the same thing may happen tomorrow. So what is the French for ‘I’m feeling particularly rubbish this morning, how are you’ anyone? Because responding with that would really blow him away.