Mum says it’s about time that Uncle Hugh improved his French. Mum has been having lessons for a long time now and she meets with her friend Stephanie at least once a week to practice speaking it. Uncle Hugh has NEVER had a lesson. He simply refuses. He says he studied French when he was at school and that’s enough. Mum says that he can’t possibly remember all of what he studied forty years ago. Mum says it’s a ‘man thing'.
I don’t know what a ‘man thing' is. It must be something only men catch – like a virus. Mum says that refusing to ask directions when lost is also a ‘man thing’, as is dropping wet towels on the floor instead of putting them back onto the heated towel rail, as is taking off socks and then smelling them (something I can definitely relate to). Perhaps this ‘man thing’ is not a virus. Perhaps it’s a mutated gene or something?
Anyway, I’m digressing. Uncle Hugh has lots of French friends. He’s that type of guy. People like him. But mum says his French is crap and that it’s caused lots of problems in the past. Uncle Hugh says he gets by well enough and that he speaks ‘fronglay’ (whatever that is) and that his pals understand him well enough. “Yes but you don’t always understand them” shouted mum “...look what’s happened in the past.”
Here are a few things that have happened because of Uncle Hugh’s crap French:
1. Telling mum he was going to Biarritz for the day in his flying car with Le Fred and his other friend Laurent. It turned out to be Santiago in Spain and it was for a week. When he got back mum said his underpants had seen better days.
2. Telling mum that they’d been invited for a quick coffee at his friend Denis’ house at teatime because Denis wanted to show them photos of his new flying car. It turned out to be a ‘grand repas’ with forty people to celebrate Denis’ wife’s 50th birthday. Mum turned up in her shorts and flip-flops - no card or present, just a very red face. Luckily, Denis and his wife thought it hilarious that Uncle Hugh had got it so badly wrong.
3. Turning up at the WRONG airport on the WRONG day - to pick his friend up from a trip to Paris.
4. Delivering a birthday present to Denis’ dad on 13th November. Uncle Hugh thought it was his 75th birthday. Denis’ dad turned out to be 77 and his birthday was on 24th June. To this day they have NO idea how Uncle Hugh got that one so badly wrong, but it caused much merriment and continues to be a subject brought up at their dinner table, or at weddings, funerals and such like.
5. Finding out that he’d agreed to purchase the field next to us from the farmer who owns it. Uncle Hugh thought he’d simply said it was ok by him if the farmer built a barn on it. That was a difficult one for mum to get him out of whilst remaining friends with the farmer. The farmer ended up with a bottle of single malt whisky and a firm promise that if the credit munch went away Uncle Hugh would definitely purchase the land.
Nowadays, mum checks and double checks everything that Uncle Hugh tells her if the arrangements were initially made by his French friends. It goes like this
“Are you sure they said Thursday? You definitely heard ‘zhurrdee’?”
“You’re sure? You heard ‘zhurrdee’?”
“And definitely 1 ‘o’ clock? You heard ‘trezzhurr’”
“You’re sure? You heard ‘trezzhurr’?”
Despite all that, she always ends up ringing the French person who made the arrangements and double checking with them.
I think Uncle Hugh should take lessons. After all, if he can agree to purchase something without realising it, he could agree to sell something without realising it couldn’t he? I mean, mum could get home one day and find me gone! Sold!
Yep, I think it’s about time he took this French thing seriously. I’m having lessons from Claude the Yellow Labrador aren’t I? And I’m just a dog. So there’s really no excuse is there? If I can do it, so can he.
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