An Inauspicious Beginning

Last week I began a series for 3WW about the fictitious adventures of an Irishman in France. You can read last week's episode here. Hopefully, a new episode will appear every Wednesday on this blog.


It wasn’t until the train had left that the full extent of the folly on which I had been about to embark hit home. It had been easy to convince four young students that everything was under control; so easy that I had even succeeded in convincing myself! But as the train moved slowly away, plunging me into the darkness of a small village in the midst of nowhere, I felt very different. I looked at the small scrap of paper in my hand and wondered what the next few hours would bring.

I left the station, realising that my first priority had to be to find someone who knew English. I had always been told that the whole world spoke English, so I anticipated little difficulty with this. However, the few early shift workers waiting at the bus stop were evidently not very French, and they knew no English. I showed them my paper.

“Monsieur Demille…?”

Thank God, he was well known. Several arms pointed in the direction I was to go. Hoping beyond hope that only one Mr. Demille lived in this village, I set off.

It had all seemed so simple just two days earlier. I would arrive at the train station and walk straight into Gérard’s welcoming arms. How could I have been so naïve?

I arrived at the end of the street which had been pointed out to me. In front of me was a large square and opposite, a large mansion like building with the word MAIRIE chiseled across the top. I let out a long low whistle. Who would have thought Gérard would live in a place like this. A young lady eyed me suspiciously at the whistle, and had I been a little quicker I would no doubt have seized this opportunity handed me on a plate. But we hadn’t slept all night, and I was beginning to feel it.

I slowly made my way around the square. The clock tower which rose high over my head chimed 5.30. Where was I going to find help at this time of day? I continued wandering around and soon found myself in a narrow street with rows of terraced houses and the odd shop in between. My spirits rose at the sight of a building sporting the famous Guinness sign. The inscription over the top read “Irish Pub.” But, of course, at this early hour the shutters were firmly closed. Still, it bode well and convinced me that all was not lost.

Slowly, people began venturing out into the streets. I saw a door open in a side-street and some people came out carrying a world-famous French baguette. The smell was irresistible and I went up to the door but for me it remained resolutely closed.

A tram rolled by somewhere in the distance and once again I made my way towards the village square. Passing in front of the post office I saw a telephone box. I slipped inside and flicked through the phone book. Thank heavens, there was only one Demille in this village. That was a stroke of luck. I heard footsteps behind me and turning round I held out my paper and stammered “English!”

“Ah, Engleeeeesh!” from a man who tapped the side of his head in a somewhat ambiguous fashion as if that explained everything. I had better luck with the next passer-by. He looked at my paper and took me by the hand, leading me to a large notice board in front of the mansion. On it was a man in full official regalia standing in front of a French flag. “Meeeester Demille!” the man said.

I was struck with horror. Gérard’s father was the Mayor of this village and the address he’d given me was that of the Town Hall.

I shall pass over in silence the events of the next two hours. They are far too distressing to dwell upon so soon after that fateful day. Suffice to say that as I redescended the steps of the Town Hall at five past nine I swore that Mr. Demille would hear from me again. I would stay in this town and one day I would make him swallow his words. I would prove to him that Irishmen were not all those things he had screamed at me in his oh so incomprehensible French.


Impressive writing! I'm waiting for Wednesday next.

19 September 2007 at 22:37  

I had always been told that the whole world spoke English, so I anticipated little difficulty with this.

This reminds me of my own time in France. I was living in Spain at the time, and the family with whom I was staying swore that everyone either spoke English or Spanish and I would have no problems getting by: to say they lied would be putting it mildly :)

I like the way this is developing.

19 September 2007 at 22:43  

definitely left me wanting more!!!!!

20 September 2007 at 02:23  

I too look forward for the next episode1

20 September 2007 at 17:36  

I agree. I enjoyed the description of the town and his explorations of it. Enjoyed the whole thing. Looking forward to the next installment.

21 September 2007 at 00:23  

Oh, the visuals! Good job.

22 September 2007 at 00:43  

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