Parlez-vous Deutsch? – By Rosemary Bach-Holzer

As a language, German doesn’t do it for me. I think it’s both ugly and guttural. I didn’t speak German as a child despite growing up in a household consisting of one parent originating from north London and the other, Berlin. I might look upon it more favourably if I could speak it. I’m just miffed because I can’t. My vocal dexterity is fair to some my written German is non-existent I can write my name and that’s your lot. Although, funnily enough, I find songs sung in German aren’t half as assaulting on the ears… now if I could just get German-speaking people to go around singing all the time. Would make for some interesting moments at the petrol station, supermarket and bank. Asking to deposit £100.00 in a verse from Like a Virgin.

Now French. French is a pretty language. While holidaying or living in France, you can get away with pointing and arms gesticulating only up to a point. You can do the honking goose thing only so far. Sooner or later you are going to have to speak their language. The French are known for being unforgiving if you don’t speak French. Doesn’t matter if they can speak English. You’re in France. You speak French. The majority won’t speak English. They’ll have needles poked into their eyes before they do. They’ll eat their own regurgitated toenails before they converse with you in English… you get the point.

How did I fair in France? Not bad. Explaining you have ME in a foreign language managed at times to reach pantomime level.

“Vous avez… moi?” My French was ambling along quite well as long as we steered clear of medical terms but tragically it’s all forgotten. Nowadays I sound more like that idiot policeman from ‘Allo, ‘Allo.

“Crabtree! Have you seen René?”

“Yes, on the red. I pissed him in the car a short tomb ago.”

When it comes to food the French are enthusiastic. Enthusiasm isn’t something I have in great quantity as enthusiasm takes energy and that’s something I do not have to spare therefore I have to prioritise. Shall I use up today’s parcel of energy on – writing? Cooking? Cleaning up cat sick? It’s a tough call. French food. Snails lightly sautéed in butter and garlic. Meat dishes. Fish covered in a dazzling sauce. Pizza. Ready-cooked from the freezer section of the local supermarket. Oh yes, they can cheat just as good as anyone else.

What about cakes? Can the French make cakes? Yes, delightful little delicacies. I still have dreams of a particular perfect little square of thick creamy chocolate goo atop a base a bit like soggy digestive biscuits. Delicious. However, as they cost the price of a three-course meal it’s best not to get too infatuated. Wasn’t even in Paris. How much would they cost there? Too terrifying to think.

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Rosemary is a published writer and author and has been published in various magazines.

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