Tell you something: I will know where the library is.
Say what you will about the Scottish education system – including “Scientific Study hints all French people not actually called Pierre” – but there is one thing, at least, that really doesn’t worry me. When I reach Paris, suitcase and guitar in hand, Ryanair lunch festering in belly and bottom lip quivering like a molested camembert, I will stumble off that plane and I will unleash the summated force of six years’ British schooling on the nearest local. Within a matter of seconds, I will know where the damn library is.
After that it may not be so smooth. A transient belief that I had gleaned anything beyond la bibliotheque from a loose attempt at French Higher is now disappearing down a baguette-shaped tunnel of horror, and it seems laughable to remember that I genuinely used to think myself au fait with the back streets of Paris on the basis that I once drank wine from a stolen ice-cream cup outside the Louvre.
So the scene is more or less set: my name’s Andrew, I’m headed face-first for the most comprehensive cultural carnage I’ve ever imagined, and it’s getting close to the wire. Ho hum.
Between now and the abovenoted Ryanair lunch, I will attend a week of intensive French language training, funding made available by the notably great and kind Edinburgh University. I will sign my name at the bottom of an Erasmus Grant contract, confirming a great deal of money made available by the remarkably wise and benevolent European Union. I will throw everything I own in a very small rucksack, and make the lot available for the amusement of the refreshingly sociopathic Ryanair baggage handling department.
These things and more await me. Scared out of my wits? Absolutely. Would I pull out for all the cheap wine in the world? Not a chance. A year from now, I intend to look back on this point as the best decision I ever made; as the moment the world fell out from under my feet, and I caught it all, as much as I could hold, before we hit the ground.
Until then? So help me, I will know where the library is.