Tuesday, 12 March 2013

There's something wonderful about snow

Yesterday, as I strolled home and spoke to my smallest sister, it started to snow. Great big clumps. This morning when I awoke it was to find that the snow had not, and everywhere was covered in a thin blanket of sparkling snow. I say sparkling because, despite its whiteness, there was a sparkle that lay just below the powder. In any case, as I scurried across the car park (I can run from my bedroom to my office in thirty seconds) those thoughts were the ones that struck me with the greatest force. Snow adds an ethereal beauty to anything, and anything already beautiful merely has its beauty magnified - be it a town or a person.

Enough proselytizing. You love snow, and I'm sure I need not convince you of how wonderful it is.

This morning was spent completing the task I started yesterday, a task for which I was rewarded with a bottle of something novel and exciting. It's an apéritif, and not one I'm familiar with. Normally I'd put a picture of it here but, in the dash to get home and do shopping, it's still in the office. However, I promise if you check back after 11am GMT there'll be a photo of the gift in place of my grinning face.

See? Looks exciting, non?


Having delivered the goods, completed the assignment, and been incredibly surprised by the kind gesture of my colleague - perhaps I'm cynical, but every time a colleague gives me a thank-you gift for some work I've done I'm completely bowled over and stammer thanks in two different languages.

That's how you know you're getting better at second languages. You use it to thank people because it provides useful filler while you try to get your brain back in gear.

The only other thing that happened today was that I called up my interviewer to fix a time and date for the aforementioned interview, time being a bit weird between here and London. She answered the phone with the distinctive "'Allo?" of almost all French people. My resolution, which had been to speak exclusively in English, went swiftly out the window. Hearing that "Allo?" at work has become a signal, for me, to speak in French rather than English. Like a Pavlovian dog, I switched into French. (The following has been translated:)

- 'Allo?
- Ah hello, am I speaking to --
- Yes, speaking.
- Hi, we spoke yesterday via email, I'm just calling to confirm the interview time and date.

And so on, as you would expect that call to go. Except it was totally in French, and at no point did either of us suggest switching to English. It just seemed completely natural, and that pretty much made my day. A genuine French person who's never met me felt more at east speaking French than English. Joy.

The afternoon was absolutely full of work, which was also really pleasing. After lunch my colleague and I did a coaching session with the same colleague who'd gifted me the scrumptious looking bottle above, and ten minutes from the end my supervisor rang me on my mobile.

-Tu es où, Jonathan? Where are you, Jonathan?
-Je suis à l'école, Madame. I'm in school, Miss. Bear in mind that the coaching session we were conducting took place not more than 100 meters from my supervisor's office.
- But why aren't you picking up your phone?
I walked into her office.

It was a good moment. She looked completely nonplussed, stared at her own phone for a good ten seconds, and then looked at me. I apologised and explained why I'd (apparently) spontaneously materialised outside her office. She told me that the marketing and press department were looking for me, hoping to utilise my knowledge of English. A press release was ready to go out, following an interview with a CEO and alumnus of the School. All that remained was for me to okay it.

You can imagine how my ego swelled. Coming on the heels of the interview that I confirmed this morning this fresh massage of my ego (well recovered from its bruising descent yesterday) and so I stormed up to the department and spent a comfortable hour discussing very tiny variations in language. English is so rich but also so very sensitive to change; anyone who has looked up the difference between get on and get off knows what I mean.

Now, at this point I'd love to talk about how my evening was interesting, how the French lesson was brilliant, and how I trudged through snow that crunched underfoot.

Instead, I'm somewhere between elation and terror, so I'm going to close this blog here, take a dram, and prepare for my interview.

If you're slightly perturbed by the abruptness with which this blog has finished, permit me to recommend you a blog by a schoolmate, Sophy - who's in Vienna - and another German assistant +Joanna Ford, who I don't know personally but writes with the elegance and easy wit that is so often lacking from this blog.

I'll see you all tomorrow.

EDIT: Sophy, not Sophie. I'm an awful person.