ASmileADay #10

Okay papa, you win.

You think they’d learn to speak English. ( ‘Allo ‘Allo)

Travelling in France circa 1970 with my father was a challenge to the state of entente cordiale between England and France.

Dad learnt French at school. He remembers some of it perfectly.

‘Je suis une bicyclette.’

The fact that his English friends and family didn’t find this funny escapes him

Try it on a Parisian waiter…you can imagine!

Never daunted by setbacks my father continued to talk to the waiter in English, only a little louder, more slowly and (cringe) with a ‘French’ accent.


Allo ‘Allo has a lot to answer for.

Fast forward to the present day.

My phone rings (in France)

A blocked number and lunchtime. Can only mean one thing.

I put on my best English accent (I have a few)



Madame Helene Ducal?

Oui. (oops)

Sigh of relief on the other end.

Lady from ORANGE continues at breakneck speed.

I wait and then: Do you speak English? I’m afraid I only understood half of what you said.

Exaggerated sigh from Madame Orange.

Ah oui, Madame. Si…je…parle…lentement…vous…c-o-m-p-r-e-n-e-z?

Her accent however did not change.

So, papa, I give in, you were right.

French and English are the same language you just have to speak more slowly to foreigners 😉

And if possible accentuate the accent.

On this occasion I gave in and told the nice Orange lady that I already had a mobile phone that works just fine.

An English one…

What have I done!

Orange lady to colleagues: If you get an English client just speak very slowly and they understand.

Entente cordial –1

Customer relations..0

One Response to “ASmileADay #10”

  1. Dave S

    Nice to know it works both ways Helen!
    My father used to be most proud of his Esperanto skills that he learnt as a schoolboy. The only phrase he ever remembered? “La knabino estas sub la tablo”
    The girl is under the table…
    I don’t know how he came to remember this and never had the courage, or the desire, to find out.


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