That’s right, Readers.
I was facing my fearsomest of fears and signing up for French classes.
It mightn’t sound like that big of a deal, but for me it was terrifying.
You see, I studied French in school.
And while my first three years were pleasant enough, once I reached the Senior Cycle, I spent two whole years in hell.
Myself and The Bessie still claim that it was the torture ensured in this class that bound us together.
Foreign Languages are not my strong point.
If you have a flair for English (and then go on to study journalism in college), it’s tough to persuade your brain to regress and think like a simpleton in another language.
I sailed a long in all my other subjects, but languages….urgh!
She took pleasure in humiliating myself and The Bessie.
She was vindictive.
And I was a nervous, shy mouse-girl in school, who liked to remain invisible.
The woman was terrifying.
Tall and thin, flowing scarves, well-cut clothes, piercing glares, dangerously soft voice and clicking heels, so you could hear approaching the classroom in the manner of the wardens on The Green Mile.
She was a total Fracophile.
And she also only had time for the best students.
Myself and The Bessie had ended up in the highest French class (it still remains a mystery) and sat in the same room as girls who were all at least a year older than us, most of whom were super geniuses and had done French Exchanges during the previous year.
It was horrendous.
After a couple of months, Ms O’Kennedy singled out the few less impressive students (including ourselves) and made it her mission to get rid of us.
Three of them dropped down.
Myself and The Bessie struggled to hold on.
We endured the tonnes of homework we couldn’t understand.
We endured being always given the harder questions to answer in front of the class.
We endured the snide comments, the eye rolling, the smug grins of our classmates and the evil smile of the teacher as we got yet another question wrong.
Our one saviour was Our Good Friend Gillian, who was a French genius and used to help us out with our homework when she saw us falling to pieces.
Eventually, we made it through the two years and vowed never to speak the language or visit the country ever again.
It was so serious a vow that it took me a while to admit to her that The Boy was half-French (she’s still a little suspicious of him).
Eventually she gave me her blessing and I was allowed to fall in love with him and with Paris.
Anyway, I decided a few months ago that since I’d committed myself to The Boy for the long-term, I should make the effort to learn French properly (or at least master basic conversational skills) as a nice gesture to him.
So after weeks upon weeks of psyching myself up and changing my mind, I found myself outside the French Institute in Dublin City.
I spent 25mins standing outside willing myself to go in.
THAT was how horrible those two years of persecution and belittling by an egotistical French-wannabe bitch were.
I was actually shaking at the thought of going in and speaking French to a French person.
(The Alliance has a strict policy of only speaking French).
When it got to the stage that my toes were threatening to fall off, I took a deep breath and practically ran into the building before I could change my mind for the millionth time.
The oral assessment actually went well.
I even managed to crack a few jokes, if mostly about be tomato-resembling face!
The examiner was nice and kept a straight face as I tripped through sentence after sentence of bad grammar.
The best bit was when she recommended me for one of the mid-level classes!
And considering how high the standard is, I was unbelievably chuffed!
My school teacher had convinced I was the worst person ever at French and here was an actual French person telling me I was pretty decent!
And so I start class on 7th February…