I was born in France, my mother, her mother and father and everyone up and down that family tree were French, therefore something in me must be French, part of my bloodstream must taste of vin rouge and some of my brain cells must be tuned to the sound of the French voice. But non, ce n'est pas comme ça. I do not feel French, vin rouge gives me a headache and the sound of French voices speaking all at once sounds to me like chickens trapped in a cattle truck. The voices of Jacques Brel or Leo Ferré or Edith Piaf, that's another kettle of bouillabaise entirely. I can relate to those, absolument, and the same goes for Matisse and several others in the domains of art, literature or philosophy. I have a penchant for French intellectuals' bushy eyebrows and flowing hair (the men) and the women are beautiful, if too professionally made up. But in front of any French television programme, even those intelligent ones in which luminaries from various fields intelligently discuss serious issues, in five minutes I want to run screaming from the room. Or sitting in a café, listening to men standing at the bar talking in highly excited, combative tones about something or other, I feel like a visitor from another planet.
Complaining I can understand. Maybe that's the French gene in me. I am argumentative and a good complainer. Not for me the Anglo-Saxon embarassment about sending badly cooked food back to the kitchen, letting sleeping dogs lie and not rocking the boat. Those dogs had better wake up when I'm around and the boat rocks and rolls.
A fraught trip back to the hospital yesterday and a painful procedure for my sister to endure (is there anything worse then having tubes and instruments poked up your nostrils?) but things are calmer today. The weather has turned very cold and I didn't bring my winter coat.