Saturday, 24 September 2011

Made in England

As I was randomly opening a can of beans yesterday morning I came to a shocking truth.

I am now eating English breakfast ON PURPOSE.

I ve come such a long way....

Now when I show up at bootcamp at 6.45am in the cold and rain, I say '' the weather is not too bad. it could be snowing. '' when even the most positive of the instructors is saying '' This rain is horrible man. Why didn't you stay in Australia ? ''

" I love England '' I answer doing half sit ups in the pouring rain.

Yes. I eat beans for breakfast and I am positive about the weather. I'm officially on my way to become a Brit with a French accent.

It wasn't always like that. Me and England had a rocky relationship. When I first moved here I thought I was the reincarnation of Joan of Arc going back to England to be burnt in the rain again.

2002. In France Every uni student who want to become and English teacher sort of has to spend a year abroad to try and get rid of this awful accent of ours and NOT pass it on to the next generation of kids.

Anyway Me and my friends needed a break from studying ( aka going to the pub down the road to Uni) so we applied to be assistant teachers. The wealthy are sent to Canada, Australia, America

WE were sent to ENGLAND.

SNOWDOWN. I say trying to remember when I was sent. (in France when you re a teacher you are SENT somewhere, like a fallen angel. You do not pick where you are going. And we would have picked France anyway.

'' Snowdown?!'' but that 's a freaking mountain. says my friend who had a basic knowledge of England ( I just knew that London was the capital)

'' Hang on , it's SWINDON''

'' Oh my god. That's WAY worse than being sent to the top of a mountain.

Swindon was the kind of place where when you say to people you re going there for a year they feel so sorry for you they can hardly hide it. You know the fake smile and that. Others, more honest, will tell you :

'' Don't go mate don't.''

But I did. It could have been worse. My best friend Mika was sent to WALES. I could not decently let him go alone.

Swindon. House share with 6 blokes. They PAID ME to do the housework. And then there was the job. in a 'school with '' special needs '' kids ( I love how positive the Brits are)

The only teachers who were smiling and willing to have a conversation were the ones who just quit or the ones who took an extra pill the morning before.
I think they noticed I was there when I was about to leave.

'' What's your name again?''

'' Annabelle. You know I've been here for 8 months... No I'm not the new cleaning lady. I'm the assistant teacher ''

I made a couple of friends at work. One got pregnant and left ( at the same time as a 13 year old in one of my classes) and never came back. A French girl who was a qualified teacher but decided that there was more to life than kids throwing stones at her in the middle of her lessons. Bless her she's now still in England and happy (and NOT a teacher)

When you were a qualified teacher there, you were also a qualified bouncer. When not teaching you were paid to patrol the school to make sure kids were just fighting, not killing each other.

No I was not qualified for that. I was just making the coffees.

When everyone quit I became the oldest staff member in the French department. ( still waiting for my medal) , trying to recruit new teachers. We had about 10. 1 per week. Then came a new guy who was enough in denial to stay and not noticed being called a faggot for the rest of the year .

He used to have 1 sugar in his coffee.

'' I hate it. Work is awful, the kids call me '' fucking frog'' . I almost pushed one down the stairs the other day ( I actually did but he did not fall. Damn)
People are cold in England , they're not talking to you and THE FOOD ( that's enough to send all the French to deep depression) is awful. They have sausage in the morning and they have a 10 minutes lunch break STANDING. When are we going home? '' I say on the phone to Mika in Wales.

In France we like our 2h lunch break when all the shops close. 3 course meal for lunch, not a damn sandwich. Funny I say that , yesterday for lunch I had a toast with butter while running around checking people in. Length of lunch break 1minutes 34. And I loved it.

It was all the same for Mika, but in a Welsh accent. I used to go and visit him at the week end ( ONLY a 7hour bus drive) . On the Saturday morning we would recover from our week , in the afternoon we used to talk about how better it all was in France. On the Sunday we would spend the day trying to understand what Welsh people were actually saying.

But I had great friends in Swindon. They were French and Germans.

English? Don't be silly. They're weird mate. And THEY don't talk to US.

Yet, One of US gave up hating the Brit and started to love '' one of them''. And now , 10 years later, she is still there with her lovely ''weirdo'' and a beautiful baby. Congrats.

Me and Mika needed 2 years to recover from England.

2005 we decided to give it another shot.

Same job ( it's amazing what we do to hurt ourselves sometimes)

He was sent to London this time.

I was sent to Faversham.

Where? It's not even on Google map.

Oh no. NOT that AGAIN.

'' Move to Canterbury, it's lovely'' someone told me.

Okay then. I look for accommodation on the net. I find a roommate called Matt and he tells me the room would be ready when I show up. 2 days before he emails me.

'' Sorry , flat is not ready yet. I booked you in a backpackers hostel called Kipps for a week''

'' A what????????''

I ended up staying for a year. In a female dormitory. And yes I started to love England. Everything about England ( almost. But please let me tell you about my love life later)

'' I don't think you should be a teacher'' says my colleague at school as I was telling her how fantastic my REAL job was ( part time receptionist in Kipps Backpackers)

It took me an extra 2 years to understand that. When I moved to England with my whole life in 2 backpacks.

Here I am now , loving every minute of it ( almost. But let me tell you about my love life later)

It's not about the place where you are .....

Australia, January 2011 : '' Back home in England, WE have wine in Supermarkets and it's a lot BETTER''

......It's about how you feel within YOURSELF. .

So yes here I am , now , years later calling England Home. My best friends British , and British humour mine.

If it was not for the tattoo on my neck that says Made in France ( and my accent) I would say that I'm from Brighton , England.

I still yet have to figure out the one of Britain's most well kept mystery : British men.

Yeah I know, all these years I still have no clue about them. ( Unless they are gay or over 60)

But I was busy the last couple of years. Busy trying to figure out Australian men ( don't start me on that) , then I tried to learn how to stop trying to figure out Australian men.
Then I turned to Kiwis. And just when I was starting to understand him (his accent that is ) he had to go.

British men? They tend to run a mile when they meet me.

In the opposite direction. Ironically, the last one was an excellent runner. I suppose he is currently still running. At least I keep them fit.

What ? It's not about other people?

It's about how YOU feel within YOURSELF .....


I need a '' cuppa tea'' .

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