Thursday, 15 September 2011

Schoolboy French

Having been awoken by the alarm at 3am, it is possible that I was already not in the best of moods. Since that rude awakening I had crossed London in a taxi, crossed the channel on the Eurostar and crossed Paris on the suburban rail. This is a lot to ask of a man on four hours sleep.

It was therefore with some trepidation that I spotted the bag, already positioned possessively on my pre-booked window seat. The bag belonged to a slightly haughty-looking French lady who was at that moment attempting to loft a suitcase the size of a small cow into the luggage rack. I glanced down at my ticket to confirm my suspicions that I was in the right, and then met her eyes with a winning smile.

The smile was, it could be said, not an instant winner. I pointed at the bag on the seat and made a polite yet inquisitive face. I proffered my ticket, temporarily stumped and unable to remember the French for forty-five. She examined my ticket, got out hers (which clearly bore the number forty-six) and started to scrutinise the seat numbers on the carriage wall.

There was no doubt in my mind that I was having that window seat. I had not pre-booked this ticket in order to look at the blue carpeting of the carriage's aisle. Indeed, the constantly scrolling cinerama of French countryside was to be a particular highlight of this five-day jaunt. Something would need to happen.

Drawing deep upon my A-Level French, I pointed to the seat and said, gently yet firmly, "C'est le mien. Numero quarante-cinq est près de la fenetre."

She huffed a bit, but my seat was relieved of the bag. Thus, with a slight feeling of pride, I settled in for the journey.

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