A few weeks ago, I went for a teaching job at an institute of higher education situated in the outskirts of Paris with absolutely no anticipation of getting it. Yes, you’ve guessed already, I got the job. I had no fear given that I stood zero chance, and with nothing to lose the words flowed out of my mouth and to the surprise of at least one person in the room, they actually made some sense. Half an hour later I got the call while I was on the metro asking if I’d be interested in working Mondays. And so it came to pass that I was set free in a classroom to teach geniuses in all things I’m not so clued up in – physics, construction, thermodynamics – in the rudiments of the English language. It has been a success so far, though there are many weeks to go yet until the end of term. Tomorrow I will be teaching them how to knock up a winning CV, and we’ll be playing a game where they have to explain words that I almost certainly couldn’t like “entropy”. I’m now wondering if I should have used words like “banana” instead.
As well as starting a new job, we’ve also moved into a new place. I try not to believe in bad luck when it happens to me, but I’m always the first to mention when we have good luck – which we certainly have in renting this place. It all started with a casual mention of the fact we needed to find somewhere new to live one night in a Moroccan restaurant, and then through the friends of those friends we’ve managed to land what could reasonably be described as a dream home, certainly to a peasant like me. I always thought I’d be distraught to leave the 11eme, and yet now we’re here I’m happy to tell it to whistle. That’s not quite fair – it will always have a special place in my heart. Our last flat was cozy if you like, and much befell us, good and bad; in fact, I’ve probably never experienced highs and lows like that in one place, and if you’re wondering what I’m talking about then where’ve you been the last four years? Feel free to go back and read the 100+ entries I’ve written – that’s not a recommendation, it’s just stating the fact that you are entitled to do that if if floats your boat because the internet is free.
The quartier is posher than we’ve been used to, and we have what seems like double the space to move around in. There aren’t many cats in Paris, at least not of the outdoor variety, but if we had one we’d definitely have enough room to swing it. The street is full of boulangeries and fromageries and Italian delis, the neighbours are respectful and classe moyenne and don’t have parties sauvages every single night, and the street bustles with activity, from cyclists and pedestrians to animal rights activists demonstrating, and En Marche! canvassers out handing out free balloons to children (and adult babies like myself) trying to convince people to vote for Emmanuel Macron. The chances of anyone from the Front National being stood outside our door telling people to be racist is slim to none, which is obviously a good thing unless they’re tied to the pavement and a steamroller is careening down the sidewalk.
When life is this good it’s easy to understand how you turn quickly into a smug and complacent bourgeois, though nothing is that easy in reality. We’ve been somewhat insulated from the shitshow in the world at the moment because we’ve been too busy to really pay too much attention. Life is sweet and then we have another three monthly scan to worry about, and the very real possibility of a Le Pen government in May. I’ve spoken to French people who shake their heads and say « ce n’est pas possible !” » and yet I remember myself – not to mention all those serious politicos and commentators – saying the same thing about Trump and Brexit. I’m hoping that 50 years on from the Summer of Love, 2017 won’t be the Summer of Hate, though if somehow Le Pen did get in, the chaos would make the demonstrations of the soixante huitards look like a nursery uprising. I hope the divisive, moronic and blatantly racist administration in the US – and the myopically populist one in the UK – will give voters here (and in the Netherlands and Germany) pause for thought about where they cast their crosses. You’d think this would go without saying wouldn’t you, but it bears repeating. Voting for right wing demagogues is never a good idea.Follow @jeres