I have a friend (in fact, I luckily have several, all very fascinating and mildly deranged individuals) who, in addition to causing me to run up a huge phonebill this month, used to have a particular habit of asking me to translate random phrases into French. Not regular, useful expressions, mind. Not the sort of things that you would ask an old gent in the street while squinting at a phrasebook. No, they were more along the lines of what you’d say to a judge if you were angling for a ‘clinically insane’ verdict to get you off the hook.
‘What’s French for “Kill the Big Pink Pig?”’
‘What’s French for “Mesopotamian wall hanging?”’
‘What’s French for “Pineapple leaves?”’
(ok, two I made up because my memory’s a little frayed, but the first one is true, I swear)
Which begs the real question;
What’s French for Self-Raising Flour?
Honestly, I’m standing there in the baking goods aisle looking at a range of numerically coded flours, with not one of them hinting it might have a trace of bicarb. Do no French recipes call for self-raising flour? (no, not yeast laced flour, that’s different again). I have several recipes that use this product in my startlingly adventurous and anally categorised recipe book. But I do have bicarb, and regular flour. So for the uninformed, 1c flour: 1t bicarb, and Bob’s your transgender aunt.
Because I don’t want to spend any more of this blog entry discussing flour, that would be much too dull, I’ll do my best to make last weeks visit to the dole office sound as interesting as possible. Despite an extreme moral and psychological resistance to the idea of going on the dole, the only other option is not having any more money in a couple of months or going back to doing crappy time wasting work when I need to be working (even for a pittance, or temporarily for free) towards my career.
I was called up to the empty waiting room, nothing but long corridors of blue doors all firmly shut and not a person in sight.
‘You know, this hall of blue doors setup you’ve got here is pretty creepy actually’ I tell the lady who is processing my dossier, after being summoned to her office by a big red number (Standard greetings are just so passé don't you think?)
According to my existing on-file information, I was born in Bulgaria, which is interesting to discover. But on hearing of my actual birthplace, I was peppered with questions throughout my entire appointment (in that rapid-fire, bullet-like, social services sort of way)
‘And have you lived in Australia’
‘What’s it like there?’
‘Is it better than here? It’s better I guess. Is the quality of life better? Do you like it here? Which is better? Is there an agreement between Australia and England? Can you live in England? Have you tried living in England? I’d like to go to Australia, ça fait rever…
‘Do they have unemployment benefit system in Australia? Does it pay well? (eh?) What’s the unemployment system like? ’
(to respond) ‘A dark hole of despair and depression that serves to crumble your morale into a tiny thousand pieces so that you will be grateful for the first underpaid shitty job that comes your way’
‘Oh, that’s bizarre. Well, it’s not like that in France. Still, you won’t be unemployed long, you need to do x, y, and z and make another appointment when you’ve got the rest of your paperwork ready. Good day’
Well, that was that was quick and painless….and…odd