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Alarm clocks, of some form or other, become a more and more essential item as the week progresses. The alarm sounds are a personal choice and reflect the character of the user. For instance Mrs Philo’s alarm resembles a blend of a Summer dawn chorus and a Mendelssohn concerto. Mrs Mehta’s, on the other hand blends Beethoven’s 1812 with an Audi car alarm. Both are effective in assisting the room mates in starting their morning.
Mr Gaskell and Mr Farinha, in contrast, have learned the hard way the difference between the snooze button and another night’s sleep.
As I ambled along the corridor I could hear the various sounds emanating from the rooms. The muffled weariness of the children, the ever joyful sprightliness of Mrs Mehta and a blood curdling scream from Mr Gaskell who obviously still hasn’t mastered the shower settings yet.
It was a return to the normal routine this morning with the children filing in to create/build/construct/make their lunchtime baguettes. Although practice has seen their understanding of the task improve tiredness has had a detrimental effect on their performance. Morgan spent a good 20 seconds spreading butter on his baguette before realising that the butter he thought was on the knife was now residing on the floor!
Breakfast eaten/thrown in the vague direction of their mouths, the group boarded the bus for our final trip into Paris. Obi Lynne’s Padawan, Captain Drake, had once more ensured that the start of our journey was traffic free but sadly even their joint powers were unable to prevent us eventually being caught up in a Parisian traffic jam. Once again we were given the opportunity to witness the wonders of Paris’ traffic. I love Parisian rush hour traffic. It is an observational writer’s dream. Firstly, the name “rush hour”. Did the inventor of the term realise the irony of his phrase? The one thing no-one in Paris traffic can do is rush! Secondly, indicators. All cars have indicators. In Britain drivers move the indicator stalk up and down to show which way they wish to turn (unless of course they are a BMW driver, in which case they use the indicator stalk to hang an air freshener from). In Paris indicators are used after the event to remind the driver who has just been cut up what has happened and why his passenger now has their face pressed against the windscreen. Thirdly, motorbikes/mopeds. I would like to say that they appear to follow a different set of road rules, but alas they appear to have no rules what so ever. We were all astounded to watch one biker/moped rider/organ donor, so appalled by other traffic blocking his way that he chose to mount the curb and ride, at speed, along the path scattering pedestrians as he went. A reminder of the old traffic safety campaign ‘keep death of the road……. drive on the pavement’!
The children were kept entertained by yet another quiz and Mr Farinha once more impressed/worried us with his encyclopaedic knowledge of chick flicks. No man should really admit to knowing that Robert Pattinson, who played Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter film franchise, was also the star of Twighlight and that it was a really awful movie!!
We arrived at the foot of Montmartre and gazed up at the Sacre Coeur glinting ethereally in the beautiful Parisian sunshine. Or at least, that is what the staff members saw. The children just saw more steps! Mr Mander saw the tarmac and learned that, no matter how tired you are, tying your shoelaces is well worth the effort. He was helped up by a concerned shop keeper who dusted him down and then attempted to sell him an Eiffel Tower key ring. If it had been shiny bracelets he may have been interested!
On reaching the top a quick comfort break was followed by a discussion about the price charged to use the facilities. In total the group had paid ten euro. Mr Gaskell pointed out they had paid ten euros to spend a penny. Kaysie added ‘We could have had a crepe for that!’ Mrs Mehta at first looked shocked and then made a note to check herself in for a hearing test.
Having viewed the magnificent basilica itself and taken in the awesome views of the city (this time an uninterrupted view for Mrs Philo) we quickly made our way around to the artist’s square. As is tradition on these trips many of the children wished to have their portraits drawn by one of the many street artists. As is also tradition Mrs Mehta set about securing a fair price. The artist started at thirty euro but, with a mere waft of Obi Lynne’s hand he soon agreed that a: ten euro was a reasonable price and b: following this he must travel to the Dagobah system and search out Yoda.
While the artist worked his magic the other children had time to peruse the wares of the surrounding shops. Juliet at last found the beret she had been longing for. Miss Drake secured 2 cat place mats. That is placemats with cats on, not placemats for her cats! Yet more Eifel towers of a variety of sizes were bought, alongside numerous small artworks. During this time Mr Gaskell was accosted on several occasions by the same artist desperate to draw him. His final attempt at persuading Mr G was “I’ll make you look handsome!’ To which Mr Gaskell replied “You’re an artist not a miracle worker!’ and the conversation stopped.
The children also had the opportunity to purchase crepes, ice cream or that most traditional French culinary delight…. Starbucks! Or, in Kaysie’s case, all of the aforementioned. She is quickly earning the acronym WMD – Weapon of Mass Digestion.
Lunch was taken on the steps of the Sacre Coeur where we enjoyed our baguettes and Mrs Warriner tried out a new beauty treatment, the salad cream face pack! Opening a sachet with your teeth always has inherent risks. We rejoined the coach and travelled the short distance to the Stade de France for a guided tour of the arena.
Sebastian, our guide for this tour was enthusiastic, knowledgeable and a little eccentric and he kept all entertained quoting facts and regaling stories about the stadium and the people and teams that had performed or played there (think a French Mr Stevens). He was a keen rugby supporter and quickly sort revenge for France’s dismal loss to England in the recent six nations championship by locking Mr Gaskell up in the stadium’s own prison. Mr Gaskell had the last laugh though:
Sebastian: you are charged with the crime of being disorderly. What is your name?
Mr Gaskell: Carl Thornton
The final part of the tour saw the staff seated in the VIP section of the stadium as Mrs Mehta was suitably promoted to the position of French President and Mr Farinha to First Lady (we did warn him about the chick flicks!)
Returning to the chateau we quickly ate before the children were whisked away for the final evening event, a campfire. Here they would sing camp songs and toast their marshmallows – if they stood to close – but I was afforded a little time to myself and so can say little about it except as they all returned smelling like Arbroath Smokies they appeared to have had a fantastic time.
As they head to their beds for the final time, the children are sad that their time in Paris is coming to a close. As the adults head towards their beds their feelings are slightly different/polar opposites. All good things must come to an end and tomorrow we head back to Rugby and the warm embrace of our loved ones. Wish us godspeed.
Ever yours

Hugh Jabellie.

4 Responses to “Paris day 4 – It’s a fair cop”

  1. Evie's Mum says:

    After such a busy week, hoping you all got a good night’s sleep before embarking on the long journey home. Looking forward to hearing all the stories of the Parisian adventure and learning what exactly it was in the Stade De France tour that was keeping everyone so very fascinated (refer to Twitter Photo). Eva and Evie’s faces say it all, although Bella was quite clearly listening to something entirely different!
    Remember Evie, you need to be at Ashlawn School for 6pm, so get the driver to put his foot down (safely of course!). See you all soon and roll on Paris 2018 when you’ll have Georgie to contend with. You might want to start preparing now…

  2. Mrs Duynstee says:

    Well done Mr Thornton – a thorough insight into the events! Well done Mrs Mehta on some good ‘ole fashioned bartering. You might be needed by the Brexit team! I recall the excitement of the portrait sketching…a couple of years ago a pupil called Shannon sat and had a drawing not realising she had to pay. Whilst been told to sit still she still managed to communicate her dilemma (she had no money left!) A kindly Mr Robinson came to the rescue – but not before leaving her to endure a 20minute sketching session with a shear look of panic! Despite this the drawing was lovely and I’m sure there will be many 2017 pupils trundling home with these lovely gifts. Campfire you say? We have envy! Enjoy the last day 😊

  3. Mrs Duynstee says:

    ‘being told’
    Before any Yr6 grammar boffins spot the typo! Don’t you just love predictive text (and small screens!)
    Keep us up to date on your return journey 👍🏻
    P.S We are all pleased that Miss Drake recovered from her tummy upset – was it the dreaded snails?

  4. Evie's Dad says:

    Wow… what a fantastic trip! A huge thank you to the staff for their hard work (and no doubt fun too). It wouldn’t be the same without the wonderful anecdotes and wry observations from Hugh Jabellie. A veritable credit to the tricoleur… stroll on Paris 2018👍😀
    Evie’s Dad

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