Any hopes we may have of being mistaken for a real French person have been terminally dashed by glaring gingerness. On the bright side, our redheadedness has Irish heritage which means we can automatically remain European after Brexit shenanigans have been finalised – thanks to my mother’s Irish origins. Luckily, the French have lost their view from medieval times that gingers have “le poil de Judas” and these days just find it amusing that to us freckly folk, sun cream is as essential as a good baguette.
Once an impossible dream, running took hold at the age of 41 and instant addiction followed. This enthusiasm nearly resulted in lost friendships through boring people rigid about the state of my feet and improved split times, and also by a tedious reduction in alcohol intake. (Although running and drinking in France are not mutually exclusive – a glass of red is offered at mile 25 of the Paris Marathon.) Luckily, I found a long-suffering running partner with whom I compete for oxygen as we run-chat four times a week.
The emperor of the vegetable family – in all its glorious forms. Anxiety grips the household if there is a shortage and they are the only produce from our veggie patch which aren’t shared out among friends. My daughter has also been afflicted with onion-love (my son doesn’t believe in vegetables). But it’s normal to have food obsessions in France so there is no disgrace. I just smell a bit like a kebab van, although this affection hasn’t yet graduated to wearing them round my neck like Onion Johnnies did a century ago.
Little dabbles in radio journalism, translating and proofreading mean relentless fiddling with words. Two little French ones still sometimes get muddled: “le” and “la”. A friend once drily explained that all positive things were masculine (e.g. le vin) and all negative things, feminine (e.g. la taxe). The Académie Française doesn’t operate to these rules – their method seems to be based on sadistic randomness. My favourite French word right now is “quinconce” which means “offset” – a tricky one to insert into everyday conversation but fun to pronounce.