Clucking ‘Ell, is that Eric Cantona?
For the week of my Birthday, my mum, dad and sister had booked flights to Lyon and I was to meet them at the airport. Typically of them, not only were they the last people from their flight to make it to Arrivals, but thanks to my sister having left her passport on the plane, I think that they out-lasted a plane-load of Dutch people too.
Having begun with me narrowly avoiding a role as my sister’s interpreter at immigration, my weekend as Tour Guide went from strength to strength. It was wonderful to show my family my home of the past 5 months, both from a tourist’s perspective as well as being able to share my personal hangouts and friends.
Admittedly, part of this enjoyment came from being able to demonstrate my independence and generally just show-off, but it was genuinely fulfilling to be to be able to help my parents for once. I may have turned 21, but the desire to earn your parent’s pride and praise is seemingly constant. I had taught them some basic words, and to their credit, loud but well-meaning ‘thank you’s and ‘sorry’s were at a minimum, if not absent entirely, and all three regularly broke out their heartiest, Brummiest merci or pardon to great effect.
Having my family here also helped to drag-out what might have otherwise been just one regrettably-drunken night out into the blowing-out of candles on two different cakes on three respective occasions (one of which being a misinformed-Pancake Day celebration some two weeks premature – as if one needs for an excuse to eat crêpes in France).
When all of the excitement of my birthday had seemingly passed, we took to the streets to celebrate that of a friend. Unable to get into a small jazz club, we headed south toward a bar that we thought might offer a similar experience: Jazzy’s Corner. Sitting in a booth in a private-looking room after finally being buzzed-in, you could practically smell the group’s awkwardness and uncertainty, although that might have been sweat from the cheesy ex-cruise ship entertainer in the other room. An hour of said cheese and a few pricey bottles of wine later, we made our way toward the door, amused by our bizarre experience. However, while waiting for our female companions to finish their tuneful rendition of I Gotta Feeling, my eyes were drawn to a clapping bearded figure across the room. I turned to my friends, asking them to regard what I thought was a dead-ringer for the most successful French export to Britain after Ferrero Rochers and the Renault Clio. While searching google in order to compare our lookalike, and were swiftly told by the owner that if we wanted to take pictures, we were to ask Mr Cantona nicely. The excitement practically burst from our chest, and we eventually made our way over, giggling like schoolchildren.
Although he was perfectly polite, we did not want to overstay our welcome, and so left after a few photos before the King felt the need to practice any martial-arts he may have picked up in his 46 fabulous years. In all seriousness, he was even kind enough to wish my friend a Happy Birthday, and reach to to me at the back of our small crowd in order to shake my hand, which I thought was a nice touch (if you’ll excuse the expression).
In brief, a week which had started with me seeing a chicken taking an unsupervised stroll down the street (a story which had previously looked set to take centre stage) and culminated in a handshake from Eric Cantona, happens to have also been one which saw the 21st anniversary of my birth…
It’s no wonder I love France.