Tuesday, 30 April 2013

So British!

"So British" is a catchphrase, used by the French, to encapsulate all that is glorious about my fellow countrymen and me. Our accents, our stiff upper lips, our sartorial excellence and the furtive, shifty way we speak French.

I like it. It makes me feel as though I am the keeper of secret knowledge, a wielder of the flame of Britannia, a member of a secret club - a club I was apparently born into it. I rather imagine it's how Prince Harry feels every day of his charmed life. "So British" has followed me since I arrived, and only recently have I realised what a strange people we must seem to our brothers and sisters from foreign lands.

Tea, for a start. Trying to convince the French catering department at the school to provide me with kettles to boil water is turning into a Escher-themed tennis match. They simply do not understand why the water has to be boiling. Why can they not simply boil it at 9am and leave it in the huge urns? It'll still be hot by 3pm.

Tea has to be made with boiling water, I explain. Not tepid, warm, or even hot water. Boiling. A sigh, a shrug, and a rueful look at colleagues. "So British!"

Second: scones. We've bought a lot, and both students and staff are going to enjoy them. However, they're having serious trouble deciphering what they are. Are they biscuits? Cakes? What's this on top? Jam? And this? Cream? English cream? Crème anglaise? What do you mean, they're not the same thing? A sigh, a shrug, and a rueful look at colleagues. "So British!"

It is an odd thing to insist on, but I'm also certain that High Tea is going to go over a storm. It'll be bally marvelous, what what. I might even break out the tuxedo.

So: this morning was mostly calm. A few bits and pieces to do in Excel, including a formula I worked out to separate names into two columns rather than one. I could have looked it up on Google, of course, but there's a great pleasure to figuring it out by oneself.

The afternoon was crazytown central. I got the certificates for students who'd taken the TOEIC and they descended, not en masse but in dribs and drabs, to collect them. This wouldn't have been so bad were it not for the other students whom I was trying to help with an article on an explosion that killed three people. Tough to dart between light banter and "So, here we need to stress what killed these people."

Lunch was a rapid, half-hour job, as translations needed to be finished and I had a meeting about another presentation I had to do. My colleague showed me the software and how to use it; it seems very simple and I should be able to rip through it in about thirty minutes on Thursday. After that was big-brained Alexander, whose nationality my friend Adeline could not figure out (Alexander speaks like a villain from a Bond movie; his Russian accent is so beautifully clichéd that I want to record him saying things like "You have a message, Mr Kerr" for my phone alerts.).

Finally, Alexander's article was finished, my door was closed, I was reaching for my keys when -

"Can we have our diplomas?"

"Certificates," I hissed between gritted teeth, and turned, smiled, and opened my door again.

That brought me to my French lesson, where we did negation.

I'm not going to say anything else there because I'll be either sarcastic or mean, and neither is appropriate.

Instead we shall skip ahead to tonight, where I find my privacy invaded by a colleague who desperately needs work done now because she didn't do it earlier.

I caved and did it. It only took thirty seconds, and it made her happy.

I'm a flake.

Tomorrow is a day off! And I'm probably still going to get up at 7! Hoorah for body clocks!