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dimanche 28 février 2016




This week I'll ask you a question,and I hope my inmail box will get crammed with your answers.
Come on, relax, it's neither a spoof question nor a tricky one ! Yet, it is far from being innocent...
Once I have read your answers, either I'll get relieved to find out " I am not the only one who...", or I'll feel ashamed to be so cowardly.
So, here is my question :
What is the scariest and most dreadful place you have ever been to ?
I already guess some of you will answer " the catacombs, the sewers or the scenic railway ", whereas the most adventurous backpackers will mention bone-chilling destinations in the world.
Anyway, in the meantime let me cherish the hope that some of you will strengthen and share my belief that the most frightful place to visit is undoubtedly .... a dental surgery !
Come on, don't laugh at me ! I'm not wimpy, but when it comes to making an appointment at the dentist, I get in a tizzy.
Just thinking about it makes my heart drop to the pit of my stomach !
Even though my dentist is awesome (I've known some quacks), and does his best to ease my anxiety, stepping into his surgery is just like being dragged to a scaffold to be hanged. I'm not kidding !!
I've already thought of asking him for laughing gas or full sedation, but up to now I have strived to put up a good show ! ( hum, more or less..).
Yet, as soon as the high-pitched sound of the drill goes off, I get shivers all along my spine. I turn into a bundle of nerves and I cling to the arms of the dental chair so tight that there must be my handprints on them
(not so flattering and glamorous as on Hollywood Boulevard, unfortunately !).
So, last week when I woke up in the middle of the night with a nagging toothache, I immediately knew the time had come to call my
" executioner".
While dialling his number, I secretly hoped the line would go dead, he would be off duty, or too busy to squeeze me in. Lost illusions !!
The secretary gave me an appointment for the very day !
I checked my calendar ( you remember the funny one I told you about in chapter " Party Time"): it was Tooth Fairy day !
What a coincidence !!
All the more striking as when the dentist x-rayed my gum, he found out a tiny chip of baby tooth abandonned there to its fate ages ago by a
so-called professional ..
Before I got a chance to decline the treatment and say I would not open my mouth without a lawyer in the room, the dentist had numbed my jaw and pulled out the minute pain trigger.
Phew !! I rinsed my mouth, wiped my clammy hands, and to act as if nothing had happened, I asked jokingly :
" Today is Tooth Fairy Day. Do you think if I put the little piece of my baby tooth under my pillow, I'll get a present tomorrow ? ".
My dentist is reserved, but quick on the draw, and he answered mischievously :
" Just in case the tooth fairy should be too busy to come round your place, let me give you a present in advance : an autograph from the kindest dentist in the region ! Look ! Just at the bottom of my bill ! ".
Jeez !! At that moment, a definition of the word 'dentist' I had read on the web flashed through my mind :
" A dentist is a prestidigitator who, putting metal in your mouth, pulls coins out of your pocket ".
Now you know busy bees can be yellow bellies, so, when you answer my question about the scariest place you have been to, don't feel ahamed, let yourself go !!
Today a clue about the title because the pun can't be translated into French :
to have some teeth : avoir du mordant (fig)


dimanche 21 février 2016




When I started this blog, my main goal was to make learning English fun. I had bad memories of deadly boring English classes at grammar-school. I never played truant, but attending those classes was a real drag ! I was fed up with grammar rules, irregular verbs to learn by heart, phonetics, and so on...
But in those days (listen, I am not speaking about the Middle-Ages, but the early sixties) a foreign language was taught as a subject, not as a way to communicate.
Thus, I wanted to wipe out any conscious or unconscious traces of those years of hard labour which made most of us so awkward when it came to speaking English !
So, I try to entertain you (and I hope I do) and to help you increase your English speaking capacities whatever your level is.
My motto is :
 The richer your vocabulary, the more fluently you can speak !
Anyway, don't get me wrong ! Given that English is not your mother tongue, it is obvious you won't always find the right word to express yourself.
Whenever it happens, don't get flustered and lose your train of thoughts ! Just keep calm, breathe deeply, and try to find out either a synonym or a simpler way to explain. Sure, you'll get out of it !!
I know what I am talking about because years ago I experienced such an uncomfortable situation. Let me tell you.
It was the very first time I was staying with an English family for a whole month.It was a daily ordeal ! Even to ask for some more bread or some salt, I had butterflies in my stomach !! I could not even recognize my voice ! It sounded as if I were hoarse or bleating like a sheep !
To crown it all, the family had a basset and in those days I was scared stiff of dogs.
That "good boy" (as the lady called him) was over the hill and had a nasty temper (due to rheumatism ! My foot !!)
I guess he felt my fear and tried to increase it by growling at me whenever we were in the same room. Even when his "mum" scolded him ("naughty boy" was the worst humiliation), the cheeky four-legged sausage kept humming his war tune at me !
Well, one evening we were having dinner, and while the lady had gone to the kitchen to fetch a jug of water, I started dealing with my veggies...
A lot has been said about English flashy green peas, but not enough about English boiled potatoes ! They are strong-tempered, and cutting them can sometimes turn into a merciless fight.
So, there I was, when suddenly the blade of my knife slipped on the hot potato and sent it straight into the dog's basket. Immediately the growling went off ! For once, with good reason ! Sure, being hit by a boiling hot potato was painful !
But when the lady came back from the kitchen and heard her little devil, she flared up and said that enough was enough, and that he would spend the night in the kennel outside !!
I wanted to explain it was my fault, but I started to go off road in my thoughts, searching for the words " lame de couteau " and "déraper". Of course, in vain !
I was faced with a tongue-tied feeling of hopelessness !
I let the alleged culprit be dragged outside, whereas I could have said :
" There is one hot potato in his basket" or " A potato has flown into his basket".
A bit weird, but then I could have drawn in the air the flight of the potato from my plate onto the basket tarmac. It would have saved an innocent !
Psychologists would say it was a "subconscious deliberate mistake". To avenge Joan of Arc ? Why not ??
Anyway, remember my mishap, and when stuck for words, think it is a matter of life or death, rummage in your toolbox and take out your survival kit !!
The sky is the limit !!

dimanche 14 février 2016




  Thanks to your sharing this blog with your relatives, your friends and whoever you have felt like, I have been offered two jobs ! Don't get me wrong, unpaid jobs, but yet, with quite a few attractive perks ..Incredible, isn't it ? Let me explain.
   Some days ago I had prepared some sauerkraut with Breton pork and sausages ( the best in the world) for a family gathering, and I thought a cherry plum tart would match that hearty dish pretty well.So, I went to my favourite cake shop to order it.
   As soon as I stepped into the "sweet temptations palace", the confectioner greeted me with a " Hello, Mrs Perky, how are things today ?".
   I was flabbergasted and it took me a few seconds to answer "Fine, thanks, but how come you know my pen name ?".
   "Hang on a sec", he replied. He rushed to his back shop and came back with his laptop.A few clicks and the photo I had posted in chapter fifty ( PARTY TIME) appeared on the screen !
   As I was goggling at him, he explained.
   "You see, some friends knew I wanted to brush up my English before my trip to Oxford to visit my son and my daughter-in-law, so they told me your blog could help update my vocabulary.So, I decided to give it a try, and, since then I have been a loyal reader. Yet, I sometimes have to rack my brain to understand. I know you have given your email address, but if I sent you emails whenever I got stuck on a word, your inbox would get crammed in the blink of an eye ! ".
   I was thrilled to bits !!
   Then, he added with a smile : "When reading your blog, I have noticed you have a sweet tooth,so could you do me a favour, Mrs Perky ? I'm thinking of creating a new macaroon wedding cake and I was wondering if you would mind tasting some samples ? ".
   Jeez ! Macaroons are my guilty pleasure. I was elated and about to jump for joy, but I thought some restraint would conceal my greed !
   "  Let me think it over ", I stammered.
   " Don't worry ", he replied, " the shop will be closed for holidays till February 21st, so you have plenty of time to make up your mind. Anyway, don't feel pressured ".
   I left the place already looking forward to the end of February. No need anymore to fend off my longing in case of a sweet-tooth attack. I had to say good -bye to my New Year resolution to slask the intake of the sweet stuff. But it is for a good cause !!
   To celebrate my future promotion, I went to my usual haunt. The bartender greeted me cheerfully, and guess what !.. He asked me if I could do him a favour? He wanted to launch a  new line of espressos, and was looking for a " Guinea pig " as he said mischievously !
   Good Heavens ! Sure the local shopkeepers had sent the word round !
Anyway, that bartender is such a nice guy that I could not refuse. I just asked him for fun if it would be a fixed-term contract or a permanent one !
   The café is open seven days a week, so I have already started my taste tests there. Up to now I have tasted several different macchiatos (always served with some sweet stuff). I love that job !! The only snag is that sometimes I have sleepless nights ... but I have read on the Net that " sleep is a symptom of caffeine deprivation ", so..
PS : Before starting my second job, if you have any tips to prevent cakesickness, I would appreciate ! Thanks in advance !

dimanche 7 février 2016



Last Summer two friends of ours came around for dinner and spoiled Canaille with a dog toy. Actually it was a little piggy grunting when squeezed.
Toys usually last maximum one day before Canaille totally destroys them. But that time it was love at first sight ! He didn't chew it to bits the first day he got it which by our dog's standards meant it probably got a long toy lifespan ! He went crazy fort hat toy. We even wondered if our little rascal didn't enjoy irritating us with the squeaky noise...Anyway,it entertained him for days, till, as scatterbrained as his Mum, he left it one evening in the garden.
The next morning, as I was opening the shutters, I caught sight of the fox (one of our permanent residents) fleeing away with the pig in its mouth ! Too bad !!!
To compensate for the loss, we went to the local groomer to get a similar toy. No squeaky pigs there, but a  cute little squirrel making a funny giggle when touched.
First Canaille turned up his nose at it, but after sulking a little in his basket, he let himself go and make friend with his new playmate.
And there we went again !! No "oink, oink" anymore, but " hi,hi" instead ! Sometimes a bit nerve-racking, but we ended up ignoring it.
Soon the squirrel and our dog ( could be the title of a tale) became lifelong friends.Where there was one, there was the other. Even when going somewhere by car with us, Canaille always managed to smuggle his buddy onto the backseat !
Now, see what happened one day ...
We were on our way to the supermarket when we saw a schoolboy hitchhiking. As it was pouring down, we decided to pick him up.
The poor guy had missed the schoolbus and would certainly get a detention for being late. We offered to give him a lift to his grammar-school.He thanked us profusely, and was about to get in when I told him that it would be safer (hum,Canaille a watch-dog ?My foot !) and cleaner ( our dog is a lap dog) to sit int the front seat. Then, I got into the back and we set off again.
The schoolboy was not an experienced hitchhiker and thus, not used to small talks. To break the ice, I asked him which form he was in ( spoof question, isn't it ?).Hardly had he answered when I realized I was sitting on Canaille's squirrel.I moved a little to take it, and what was to happen happened : the damned giggle went off !!!
The poor shy boy turned round and stared at me !
I was so embarrassed that the only words I could splutter were :
" Don't worry, it's the dog !"
The boy looked all the more flabbergasted as Canaille doesn't look like a performing dog !
I immediately realized the misunderstanding, and to put things right I added :
" Sorry, it's not the dog who has giggled,of course ! It's the squirrel ( still under my bottom !) ! ".
That was the full monty !
At that precise moment I think our hitchhiker had only one thought : get out of the car at the next traffic light and take to his heels !
I didn't know whether to cry or to laugh, but you can't change how you are made ...
I got a fit of the giggles.
Fortunately my husband made up for it, and while I was trying to get serious again, explained the whole matter !
I wanted to apologize and say that sometimes squirrels drive nuts but I held back. That pun might not have been welcome ...

                                                Canaille loves squeaky music !