And normal service is resumed.

Last week’s misdemeanors firmly consigned to the nether regions of my vast collection of fuzzy, shameful, alcohol-related incidents, I decided to slow down a little in order to regroup and squish all my scattered thoughts back into my brain. This period of reflection lasted roughly, and by sheer coincidence, the same length of time as my hangover. During that difficult time of my life I did nothing but attend class, which was not too exciting until I committed the sin of sins and turned up late for a lecture. In Edinburgh there are as many as two-hundred people in a lecture so no one cares about the idiot who is twenty minutes late because he had to wait for an episode of ‘South Park’ to load. Here it is different; as I have said before class sizes are more comparable to that of a large secondary school so it is impossible to sneak into the back without being noticed. All of this means that something as innocuous as being late for class transformed me into the soap opera character who bursts in on the wedding service to declare that the bride and groom are brother and sister or that the groom is a sheep in disguise: it was dramatic.

By Wednesday I was back to my jabbering, twitchy best which came just in time for a flat party just round the corner from halls. It was an impressive operation with a dj (who turned out to be my flatmate’s linguistics professor), a makeshift bar and about forty guests in a flat that was about the size of Nelson Mandela’s prison cell. They also had a strict policy of collectivisation – all the alcohol went behind the bar to be shared – but had clearly learnt nothing from the failings of communist Russiam which meant that by midnight all my beer was gone and there was nothing to drink but cocktails invented by the ‘bar-tenders’ and a yoghurt carton that my fellow Erasmus student Laura had filled with rum. The party was pretty similar to parties back home, although it did teeter on the edge of turning into one of the late-night Hollyoaks episodes for a while (and not the ones where something explodes, the other ones).

By around Friday the dust had settled somewhat;crazy rumours stopped flying and certain French boys had taken a much needed cold shower – one poor sod probably had to cryogenically freeze his junk – and we were treated to another rubbish French as a foreign language lesson. FLE is potentially the most useless subject since the creation of home-economics, in which we are taught no vocabulary, no grammar, no life skills and not even how to make a cracking vegetarian lasagne. It would be fine if we were just able to doss off but we keep being given ridiculous tasks such as writing a report on our country’s health-service and the relationship between the media and politics. I am half expecting to be asked next week to give a twenty minutes presentation on how flamingo farming affects the sales of pink hair dye.  It is, in the words of Tony Harrison from ‘the Mighty Bush’, an OUUUUTRAAGGE. This week’s essential training was a test on the film we watched in the previous lesson including such nuggets to help us integrate into the culture as ‘What did Xavier do at the end of the film?’. I gather now that my answer of  ‘saw the statue of liberty on the beach and realised it was Earth all along’ will not get me full marks.

On Saturday it was suddenly summer again, not a cloud in the sky and about twenty degrees in the afternoon and I was free to watch international rugby all day. It would have been perfection had Scotland not capitulated like a gang of cow-hearted, yeasty codpieces (albeit to the mighty All Blacks) and, although I try to be mature and supportive towards my fellow Brits,  had the stinking English not played so well. Deciding that I needed a stiff drink having watched my country receive the same treatment as Andy Dufresne in the store-room in ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ or Ed Norton in the shower in ‘American History X’, I joined my neighbours Caitlin, Laura and Molly (who has been angling for a name-check in my blog for a number of weeks now. YOU’RE WELCOME!) for ‘a quiet drink’. The drink was made slightly louder by the presence of a bunch of old English and Welsh guys in the bar who lavished Molly and Laura’s with drinks while I bored poor Caitlin to death with my one thousand reasons that Dave Grohl is the greatest human being who ever lived. We ended up at ‘the Cotton Club’  which, against some stiff competition, holds the crown of Albi’s seediest and most overpriced nightspot and stayed until, dismayed that the old men were not buying me as many drinks as my friends and were saying stuff like “Scotland’s not as much of a shithole as it used to be”, I liberated a bottle of vodka from the bar and wandered home before the bouncer beat me to a pulp.

That’s us up to date, you stay classy…planet Earth.


Categories: Albi, France

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