After the trauma of last Sunday a slightly quieter week was always on the cards and luckily for me I count relaxing and doing nothing as two of my greatest strengths. It was more than a little fitting that my laptop finally lost patience with all the illegal television I have been watching and ground to a halt half way through a ‘Sopranos’ episode called “Watching too much television”.

This is not to say that I have been neglecting my duties as (in my eyes) the posterboy for European integration among students. I prepared thouroughly for all my classes and sat with rapt attention during most of the lectures. Unfortunately however I still feel slightly detached from the whole process, like a semi-interested spectator at a sporting event. Classes for me are like the ryder cup; I understand enough of what is going on to follow the general narrative, but I am not really interested enough to delve any deeper into the inner workings and details. I worked on this analogy for so long that I went into my lecture on the ‘Conquistadors’ convinced that Francesco Molinari discovered Cuba.

My academic high point was that I was able to impress my theatre class by telling them that I had been to the Globe theatre to see a Shakespeare play, although having only been given a description of how ticket prices worked in the sixteenth century they shuffled their seats nervously away from me on discovering that I watched ‘Titus Andronicus’ from the standing area (a privilege the most unhygienic of peasants once paid for with a turnip I believe). They were also less than thrilled that they actor who played Aaron was in ‘Dr Who’ the following week (MASSIVE GEEK ALERT NUMBER 2).

Also this week I was finally able to start playing rugby. The standard of the university team is, to be kind, not the highest level I have ever played at. This gave me ample opportunity to show off how effective my average skill set can be against weak players. One slight problem was that I decided, having learnt a few bits and pieces of French rugby vocabulary, to dole out some constructive criticism to one guy who seemed to think that he was Jonny Wilkinson, but was actually about as useful as the great man that time he dislocated his shoulder and knee in the same match. Unfortunately, crippled Jonny Wilkinson turned out to be the team captain, which means that I may find myself playing out of position, going through some kind of nightmarish initiation or both. This said it was great to be back and there is something revitalising about being smashed around for an hour and a half that I cannot quite fathom.

On Thursday, out of sheer morbid curiosity, we went to check out the student bar across the road from the campus. I am now at the stage that nothing about small town nightlife could shock me but ‘L’Estabar’ gave it a good whack. It looked like a mixture of ‘Buff club’ in Glasgow (it’s as bad as it sounds for anyone who doesn’t get the reference) and ‘Tortuga’ from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’. The strange combination of garish discolights, sand on the floor and upturned barrels as tables unnerved me slightly, but for once drinks were affordable and the mystery about Esatabar’s popularity was solved. The sand on the floor was what confused me the most; I can only imagine it will serve the purpose of cat litter if someone drinks too much and blows chunks? We decided to leave before I could find out if the sand had any purpose because our group included five girls in a bar which was composed of around ninety-five percent drunk French men: I swear they were forming a circle around us like sharks around seals.

This week has also been interesting because I have learnt that I am still not entirely at my ease about some aspects of living with girls. My only previous experience in co-ed flats was for a month this summer, although my female flatmate’s presence was limited by the fact that I was squatting in her bedroom. The aspect that still makes me nervous is (and I have put a great deal of thought into how I can put this delicately) ‘dropping off the kids at the pool’. Not wanting to seem uncouth I have restricted myself to doing this when no one else is home ,or at the dead of night. This week I decided that I was being stupid and paranoid and went to drop off aforementioned kids safe in the knowledge that there was lots of noise going on to cover up the sound. Me being me everything went silent just at the moment I dropped off, not just the kids, but, from the sound of it, a kicking and screaming Colin Montgomery.  It felt like an embarrassing moment for me but perhaps I was being too self-conscious and have just blown the whole issue way out of proportion by blogging on it.

Anyway on Saturday, with no game of rugby, I agreed to take part in the Albi ‘Ekiden’ marathon relay, which was a huge event with three hundred teams and television screens and seemingly the whole town in attendance. Needless to say, I made a bit of a mess of it. I was picked to run the final leg for my team, a seven kilometre course that involved running a lap and a half. I, thanks largely to my own tiredness and an unhelpful steward, ended up missing the turn off and running ten kilometres, getting my team disqualified. Being Mr Silver-lining I took solace in the fact that my teammates and the organiser were not annoyed and that I completed my ten kilometres in around thirty-eight minutes, which is not bad for a lump like me.

Latest mishap firmly behind me, I paid my second visit to the cinema to see the French dub of ‘Wallstreet 2: Money never sleeps’. Quick review; ‘Money never sleeps’: the same cannot be said for the audience.

Right that’s 1000 words so I’m going to shut up now.



Categories: Albi, France

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