Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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“I can’t speak French”

Mon Jun 7 2010

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Yes, the words of a Girls Aloud song and also something I re-discovered on our trip to Poissy last week.  We were in Poissy for a concert performance of Cosi fan Tutte, under the baton of James Gaffigan.  I kind of knew already that my French wasn’t entirely up to scratch and had been palming off all my French e-mails and telephone conversations over the last few weeks leading up to the trip to Megan, (who is perfectly fluent), but like the go-getter I am I decided to give the French a go – and be prepared to face the very embarrassing consequences.  This did get me thinking though.  Perhaps someone should write an idiots Orchestra Tours Manager Guide in the most popular European languages? Perhaps the not-so helpful ‘Computer says no’ staff at the Holiday Inn Gare l’est would have been more helpful if I could have sweet talked them in the language of Lurve???

Here is a list of some phrases I made use of and also some that I could do with some help on…

Parlez-vous anglais? – very very useful. 🙂

Ou-est le deuxieme l’autobus? Nous attends (wrong!) a l’hotel Holiday Inn Gare l’Est et le deuxieme l’autobus n’est pas ici.  Le Premier bus est ici, ma ou-est le deuxieme bus?  Le bus pour Poissy? – The 2nd bus to take us to Poissy hadn’t arrived, (it was at the Gare du Nord).  Cinque minute.  Hooray.  It will be there in 5 minutes.

Tous sont ici.  Oui.  Nous Allons! – Me telling the bus driver everyone is here so we can depart…

Je m’apelle Ceri je travaille pour le orchestra. – Introducing myself to the staff at the Theatre du Poissy.

Vous avez un piece de papier?  (+ lots of hand gestures /charades to make myself understood) – Despina needed a piece of paper to use as a prop.  Luckily enough Philippa came to the rescue with the correct phrase and we got the paper!

Je voudrais un San Pellegrino et la Salade Norvegienne. Mmmm Dinner.  Smoked Salmon, Prawn and Crab salad with no hidden surprises – I had understood the menu!

L’addition s’il vous plait. – The bill please.

Le sac n’est pas. – What a corker!!!  I know this is incredibly wrong but my brain just wouldn’t work quicker. I really didn’t want to take the plastic bag in the supermarket, I wanted to be green, but think what I actually said was “The bag it is not?”

Oh dear my GCSE French teacher would be most ashamed, and I’m not sure what that says for the UK standards of GCSE’s in 1998, as I was lucky enough to be rewarded with an A*.  Perhaps the OAE could pay for me to go on an all-inclusive 2-week French language course in Provence or Reims?…. Ahhhh….

Ceri Jones, Projects Director

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  • Well I think you did perfectly well without me Ceri. You managed the two most important things – beer and buses so that’s all that matters.I’m sure there are many French philosophers who would be very interested in talking to you about whether the bag is or in fact is not…

    Megan Fri Jun 11 2010