Today I ventured out to the post office with a parcel.
On the way I bumped into my French teacher – who used the opportunity to test my off-the-cuff French conversation. If it had been a real exam I would have flunked with flying colours. We swapped pleasantries, but the look on her face said it all: “I’m dissappointed with you”. I was fairly dissappointed myself.
I scooted through Place Zurich (where they were preparing for the Rhine Festival) to the local branch of ‘La Poste’ and queued up in a pleasant, clean, air-conditioned environment, where I hoped to redeem myself with a bit of brisk parlez-ing. Again I failed miserably and had to admit, halfway through my non-communication with the cashier, that “my French isn’t the best”. “No” she agreed.
Then, stumbling home, I happened upon a ‘jeune fille’ on a bicycle looking for Place de la Republique. Resisting the urge to ignore her and shirk off home – I delivered a number of phrases in her general direction. To my surprise, she seemed to understand. So I continued and gave full directions in French, much to her gratitude. I skipped the rest of the way home, feeling slightly more optomistic about my French than I had two minutes earlier.
So there you have it – in the space of half an hour – one out of three girls actually understood what I was saying. Okay, I admit that the third girl was actually Chinese, but you have to take the positives whenever you can.