Hope you and yours are well.
Here in the middle of nowhere, rural northern France, at my house there is a new baby. I went to see my friend Annette a couple of villages away and came home with a kitten called Tigger! Annette has 10 cats who all live in the house, she really is a crazy cat lady. But the latest accidental batch of 5 kittens was a bit much even for her. So, my lot – Winston, the biggest cat in the village, Shadow, Loulou, Fatcat and Marie-Antoinette, have a new sister. Tigger is part Norwegian Forest cat, don’t ask me how this breed ended up in a tiny village in Pas-de-Calais, I have no idea.
Bread Man is smitten with her. On Thursday, he stopped for a chat and to tempt me to buy one of his new cakes, crumble pomme, poire et speculoos. It’s no wonder I am on a permanent diet these days.
“It’s magnifique” he said beaming at me “Madame Bernadette says this is the taste of autumn. And it goes very well with a cup of coffee…”
“Would you like a cup of coffee?” I asked him, though he rarely says yes as he dashes from house to house, village to village, dropping off baguettes and country loaves, croissants, pastries and cakes. Since he is a bit of a chatterbox, he’s always late for the next customer.
“Another time” he said and then broke into a grin as he could see Tigger swinging from a curtain in the window behind me.
“Ok, 5 minutes for a coffee” he said, getting out of the van.
It turns out that Bread Man is a cat whisperer. He came into the house, picked Tigger up and she went from bouncing off the walls to being a little angel who lay quietly, purring and stretching.
“’Ow you say mignon?” he asked, he loves learning new English words.
“Cute or sweet” I said.
“Ow you say this” he said pointing to Tigger’s oversized ears.
Ears is a surprisingly difficult word to say for a Frenchie. I tried breaking down the sounds. “Ee ars” didn’t work, he sounded like a Yorkshireman insulting someone.
“My dad used to call them lugholes, when I was a kid” I told Bread Man. My dad was a Cockney (a native of East London, they had their own dialect and never pronounced the ‘h’ sound– think Mary Poppins’ chimney sweep friend, Bert) and liberally used Cockney slang when he talked.
“Lug’oles” said Bread Man in the most perfect Cockney accent since he has trouble with “h”.
So if you meet a French Bread Man who looks like Super Mario in a beret and is starting to speak English well enough to throw in a Cockney word now and again, you’ll know where he learned it!
Wishing you and yours well.
Bisous from my little pig sty in the middle of nowhere, rural northern France…
Janine Marsh is Author of My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream – ebook, print & audio, on Amazon everywhere & all good bookshops online, and My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life
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