Yes, you are.  All of the students around you, including a not insignificant number on foreign exchange programmes, and the teacher are indeed … female.  Unfortunately you are also old enough to have fathered most of them … except the teacher.”

… said my ethereal self to my other inner self last Wednesday morning at approximately o’eight hundred hours (for we use the twenty-four hour clock in France); drawing my attention to the general genre of my surroundings.

For some reason this bothered me. The very idea that I was talking to myself was probably just another indicator that pursuing a Masters whilst running my own business and being a parent was pushing the boundaries of both my physical and mental sanity.

Anyway, it’s absurd to think that in that classroom there were twenty girls from all corners of the planet, applying themselves to the complexities of the French language, yet I was the only representative of my gender, from England.

Why is it that boys generally do not pursue languages?  Are we intimidated by all the oestrogen in the room? Is it that we’re scared of appearing linguistically clumsy in front of the opposite sex?  That would be irony for you – asking a girl out on a date in your mother tongue is probably just as prone to cock-ups as it is in another.

Come on guys! What’s the matter with you? OK so you may not be fluent, coherent or interesting when you speak a foreign language but just think of it like this:

“This place is an untapped resource. Check it out, dude, these […] girls are hot. ”
(Oz, American Pie 1998)