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Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Report from a beta outpost

My Beta Mum Pal Daryl sent me this yesterday. I couldn't resist asking her if I could post it as a special guest blog.

We have reached a new high - or is it low? on the Alpha-Mum-O-Meter. The French Exchange. How is it that our small school in deepest South-West London gets paired with 'La Top-Notch Lycee' in the Chic 16th 'Arrondissement' close to Le Champs Elysees? ( Our school has circa 20 boys - so they are all put forward to go; our counterparts choose their best pupils from over 100!) So off go our sons (aged 12) on Leg One of The London-Paris Exchange.
There they are at Waterloo ( whisper it) in their school uniform: Clarks shoes that have never been polished, slightly thread bare trousers and their Scottish Wool jumpers ( that have without exception gone on the 30 degree wash rather 'cold wash by hand'), dictionaries in hand.
On the Return Leg, Paris-London, the SW Mums receive a group of oh-so-cool, 'sportifs' french boys dressed head-to-toe in Ralph Lauren! All with fluent English!
The reports came back that in Paris our sons were treated to a three course meal 'en famille' each evening. So beans on toast was no longer on the menu and SW Mums really needed to get their cooking acts together. Never has Jamie been so eagerly consulted. Never have the streets of Streatham, Clapham and Tooting smelt so strongly of home-baking! As a SW Mum who can't cook and also works I resorted to the bread-making machine, hoping that the smell of freshly-made bread each morning for breakfast would convince our young Parisien that I was really a dab hand in the kitchen ( just didn't have the time). I also visited the take- out- a mortgage butcher on the High Street with the hope that expensive sausages might in some small way impress!
On Day 3 our young Parisien asked if he could cook. Am not sure if this was survival instincts kicking in or a form of relaxation. Whatever it was, this young twelve year old made the most delicious quiche followed by gateaux aux pommmes for us all! Poor son no 1 had been previously so proud of his microwave nachos!
There was hope that the French boys versus English boys football match might produce something of a result. Perhaps this was where our boys might shine through. But instead a 3-3 draw it was to be.
In spite of the cultural disparities, I can honestly say that The French Exchange was a success and that there's even talk of the Mums on each side of the channel getting together.
For that I will need a week on a health farm and Pru Leith's cookery course to prepare!

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