Monday, 5 October 2009

Like a square peg in a round hole - a modern bedtime story

So sang Be bop Deluxe in the mid 1970’s. On Saturday evening I attended my first outing or “sortie” with an online social club that I joined some months ago, .
I knew that it was going to be tough, as I would not know anyone who was going, but it was another step to try and increase my circle of French friends, and this event was only 8 minutes walk from Chez Rigsby.
Contrary to instructions, the organiser was not at the door of the pub, greeting people, and the pub was still open to the public, so I had no idea who was in the group and who were innocent bystanders. 31 people plus some of their friends were expected.
There was no one that looked like a dwarf, which was how some naughty people had described her. She's the one with her eyes shut, red hair, clutching eh micro.
I propped up the bar and ordered a beer. The bar was tiny. Just room for the bar counter some bar stools and a floor area of about 20 square metres. There was a dj booth in one corner and 2 microphones on stands.
By the time I finished my beer (very slowly) there were about 15 people out on the pavement. Nothing much seemed to be happening and most people seemed to know eachother.
I ordered a Ricard and shuffled my feet a bit to get the circulation going. Eventually (about an hour and a quarter after I arrived) a woman set herself up at the bar with an envelope and what looked like a list of names. People started drifting towards her and handing over money, so I went over, gave my club pseudonym and paid my 15 euros (there was to be a buffet too). Then I headed back to the bar and the dregs of my drink.
Some women started pestering the dj and they cranked up their computer etc and the music started accompanied by videos with the song lyrics appearing on the television above the bar.
Eventually the organiser told us that the food was upstairs and that those who had paid could make their way up to it.
I was starving but I didn’t make a wild dash for it. This was mistake number one, or number 2 if you count me turning up in the first place.
The stairs were hidden round a corner at the back of the room, they were rickety and steep, and of course the stair light did not work.
We stumbled up and found an even smaller room, with food on 2 tables, cutlery, glasses and some wine bottles on another table and 2 empty tables.
All the tables had chairs around them.
By the time I had joined the French queuing system and had realised that most people were just pushing into the tables and getting their food, the easy seating at the empty tables was gone.
Clutching my thin wobbly plastic plate with its pate, crisps, quarter tomato, meat terrain, piece of pork, piece of tender beef, bit of Toulouse sausage and some coleslaw and the end that I pulled off a baguette, I was “lucky“ enough to get a table in the corner of the room, ie completely blocked in, at the cutlery table.
The noise of chatter, combined with the singing from below made communication unlikely even with the other 3 people at the table. Listening to them speak, was like listening to an LP played at 45rpm, and of course they were speaking French. Not even real French, but abbreviated words, slang.
I’ll just finish my food and then go, I thought glumly.
Still there was a bottle of red wine on the table, even if one third of its contents had suddenly evaporated.
I did my best and tried to engage in conversation, but it was almost impossible to hear what they were saying.
The lady directly opposite me managed to get a lemon meringue pie and an apple tart, so I had a big piece of both.
Then it was time to go downstairs to join in the fun.
Another beer, back in my place at the bar, the French ladies showed no fear in belting out songs into the micro. (Pronounced meekroe).

I looked through the 60 or so pages of the song catalogue which was on the bar next to me. I could only find two songs in English. Tom Jones “Sex bomb” and I had no intention of getting drunk enough to attempt that one, and a happy, clappy religious/ spiritual one which I might have heard many, many years ago.
I would not be singing. The age of some of the songs was pretty impressive. Of course Edith Piaf was strongly represented. I remember a Maurice Chevalier song appearing with the date 1957 beside it.
Some songs had familiar tunes (3), but of course the words and title were not the same.
Most people would not argue (the French excepted) that pop music is not their strong suit. In fact it is dire, really dire. There are of course exceptions, but I cannot think of any at the moment. They may have many talented musicians, but putting together a decent, catchy song is all but impossible for the vast majority of them.
Did I mention that the music was loud? Once again there were at least half of the group stationed outside on the pavement, puffing away on their ciggies.
I took a few photos, just for the blog. There were a few songs where the men got a look in (why, oh why?) and a couple when about 30 people took the floor at once. I was not in a position to record such a shot. Although someone did go behind the bar to give it a try.
I stuck it out until about 11.30pm and then slunk off into the night. Conversation was still impossible, unless I went outside with the smokers, but they all seemed quite happy in their little groups.
You may think that you are making progress in your adopted country, but then you encounter a situation that suggests that your grasp of the language is negligible, you don’t understand the culture, and you will never, ever fit in. Still faint heart wasn’t built in a day.
My ears were still ringing at 4am.
Perhaps an outing with less people at it and no singing, now where’s the list of events……
Gentle reader there are always two sides to every story. In the spirit of balanced reporting, here, in French is the feedback on the event received by the event organiser.. Personally I think that they were rather holding back on their enthusiasm. Read it and weep. With laughter of course. Perhaps they get out much.

Commentaires sur la sortie...

je suis encore etonné que le soleil est osé se montrer ce matin quelles voix ,faut vite faire des stages , sauf nath qui a assurée sur piaf

Merci Nath pour avoir organisé cette soirée très sympa. Heureuse d'avoir pu brailler, miaulé, hurler avec vous... toujours aussi givrés Bises à tous et surtout à la Gentille Organisatrice

Merci didelina ta sortie etait genial a recommencer

Merci Nathalie : belle soirée pleine de convivialité et de joyeuse bonne humeur ! MBénédicte

ce matin ,j'ai travaillé en silence et ça leur a fait des vacances!!à quand le prochain karaoké m'ont ils dit merci à nat pour cettte super idéemerci à jean eric et sa femme pour leur acceuilsuper soirée ,super ambiance ,super voix surtout les filles......prochaine fois ,provision de cacahouettes pour les mecs mais enfin ce qui rassurent c 'est qu'ils n'ont pas l'air castré!!!!! ouf!!!!!

Merci Nathalie pour cette super idée : le karaoké ! Une très bonne ambiance. Je me suis beaucoup amusée et je n'étais pas la seule. Félicitations pour ta voix !!

merci à tous pour l'ambiance, la bonne humeur, les voix géniales!!!!!!!!!!!!!! heu je plaisante pour certain d'entre nous je ne dénonce personne!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!hihihihi les mecs !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! merci pour l'accueil du flamand un grand merci à coco et à jean éric bisous à tous et j'espère qu'on recommencera bientôt!!!!!!!!!!!!

J'ai encore passé une bonne soirée , ambiance de feu ,j'ai eu grand plaisir a retrouver toute l'équipe .....merci Nat , on va s'entrainer pour la prochaine !!!!!!bise a tous

Ah que ça fait du bien ce genre de soirée !!! Tu as encore tapé dans le mille nath, bravo !!! Et tu nous refais Piaf quand tu veux, c'était la grande classe ! Merci donc à toi et à tout le monde pour cette bonne humeur qui met du baûme au coeur !

delire, delire ta soiree nath, merci, mais bon il ya en a quand meme deux a baillonner absolument!!!

Bravo Nath pour cette soirée consacrée au chant sous toutes ses formes , pleine de délires et de bonne humeur. Une nouvelle fois, l'ambiance était au rendez vous. Je croyais que le chant calmait les fous, là c'était bien l'inverse et c'était parfait !Et chapeau bas pour ta prestation, tu nous as tous scotchés.. Magnifique !!Merci au Flamand de son accueil pour cette soirée délire

merci à Didelina pour cette super soirée.

sortie trés sympa ! j'ai chanté et dansé parmi vous tous avec un grand plaisir ,nous n'étions pas qu'entre nous ..les ''amiez''...mais cela a permis d'entendre d'autre jolis voix .Merci à l'organisatrice qui n'a pas choisi ce thême au hasard ,non ?

on a mis le feu au café ! c était du tonnerre ! a refaire sans modération ! merci nathalie pour cette soirée ! bises a tous

et encore une sortie de réussie en votre compagnie qui n'est décidemment pas triste!!!! félicitations à tous les chanteurs en herbe et bravo à nath. tu m'a littéralement scottché en chantant du PIAF. merci au restaurant le Flamand de nous avoir si bien accueilli.heu.....c'est quand la prochaine!!! bisous à toutes et à tous.

woodstok n est qu un radio crochet compare a nos talentsceci dit j ai passe une super soiree (comme d hab )avec les amis merci nath pour cette excelente idee

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to send me your comments or suggestions