Dutch courage* and Belgian waffle

This morning I was awoken by the sound of my hotel door opening. As somebody entered furtively, I found myself shouting “désolé” without even thinking about it, and at this point the Dutch cleaning lady replied “sorry” as she retreated. “Pas de problème!” I added as she went about her business elsewhere, and it was at that point that I remembered I was in Amsterdam. My second thought was that it was a mildly bizarre state of affairs that an Englishman (me) was shouting in bad French to a Dutch woman speaking English, but it also confirmed that I now instinctively apologise and make excuses in French. This is progress of a sort, though why I was apologising in the first place is beyond me – it’s not like she was opening the door to some hardcore Dutch door action, just a sleepy idiot waffling in a tongue unfamiliar to everyone in the room including himself.
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I am now back from Amsterdam where I’d gone for the second time in as many months to watch Belgian singing sensation Stromae and interview the delightful gentleman. I shall save the info for the piece but I’m very excited about writing it up and hope it lives up to my own high expectations. I’m about to run off to my French lesson, though I thought I’d get a blog in before I went, as we are on holiday in Spain (and Tangier) from Saturday and will not be blogging at all with any luck.

The course is going well, and I feel like it’s opening up new things up to me, very slowly. My listening is getting better, as is my confidence, and I seem to be soaking up new words at a better rate than ever before, though that’s not saying much. Each time I say something positive about my learning, it’s as though I have to qualify it by knocking myself down again as some kind of insurance in case it’s not up to much. So fuck it, I’m speaking French like a native now. That’s not true. Nevertheless when I was listening to Stromae perform last night, I was delighted to discover I could understand a lot of what he was singing about. Though he does annunciate well.

I’m a bit tired for French to be honest, which is obviously the punishing jetlag travelling from east to west. Still, it’ll probably do me good, and I like the way our teacher Claudine calls Hirotaka – the Japanese guy I sit next to – Erotica. And that’s my final thought for a while.

Happy holidays and bon voyage (to me)

*There was no booze involved in the making of this headline

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