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Saturday 14th November 2020


Listening to the always excellent Drunk Women Solving Crime, whilst out on a run with one of the Drunk Women (though I was disappointed to see she was sober) and guest Tom Allen was talking about pat ways to start essays at school.
It got me thinking about my French O Level (yes, I am that old) and the fact that our teacher made us all learn the same sentence to start our exam essay with. 
It was (from memory, so forgive me if spelling is off) “Un jour pendant les grandes vacances, Jean a dit a son ami, "Puisque les temps c’est tourne au beau, pourqois ne pas en profiter.” Apologies Francophiles for the mistakes, but what you are doing with French people is disgusting and you should be arrested.
I made up a song to remember it by which went “Jean a dit a son ami - Hello, Hello. Jean a dit a son ami - Hello Hello Hello. Puisque les temps c’est tourne au beau, pourquois ne pas en profiter, oh! Hello Hello Hello.
John said to his friend Fred - Bonjour, Bonjour- John said to his friend Fred - Bonjour Bonjour Bonjour. Cos it’s turned out to be such a nice day, why don’t we make the most of it, hey?- Bonjour Bonjour Bonjour”

It’s sort of a testament to the teaching of my French teacher that I still remember the sentence (at least phonetically) around about forty years later. I used the phrase in my best man’s speech for my friend Mike “Devon” Cosgrave, who is half French and the Gaulish element of the wedding party were certainly impressed. It was a nice day too, so I looked like a genius. (I didn’t do the bit about the grandes vacance, I’m not an idiot. And I didn’t do the song either).
As I ran though I thought this was a pretty dumb move on behalf of our French teacher. Presumably the same person marked all the same papers and whilst they may have been impressed by the first essay they read using that sentence, they would surely realise pretty quickly that we’d all (at best) just learned that off by heart. Probably the less impressive story that followed would also demonstrate that.
I only got a B in French (8 As, 2Bs and a C - proper hard O levels and the C was fro Additional Maths which was almost an A level) and I am confident that that is why. Not because I was only mediocre at French.
Surely she should have taught us all an individual sentence so that we wouldn’t look like a load of Gaulish parrots. What is French for parrot? I don’t know.
Is that impressive teaching, to provide me with one of maybe a couple of dozen things that I clearly remember from school? Or is it terrible teaching? 
And how many times will I get to use the phrase in real life?
Probably only that once. And I got lucky with the weather. Though to be fair it got one of the bet reactions I’ve ever had on stage. So I am super confused about whether the teacher did well or badly here.
I can’t speak French apart from that though, so maybe badly?

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