This weekend was mostly spent trying to sort out the spare room in preparation for a French invasion. Rory’s school are participating in a student exchange and, despite me thinking he wouldn’t be keen, our son was well up for it. I suspect this may be partly due to the following:
a) the trip is a joint affair with the local girls’ grammar school.
b) the age group is 16-18
c) the host school is located in the balmy south of France.
Rory will be travelling via Eurostar and TGV in March to stay with his French counterpart but before I can even get my head round this, I have to steel myself for a young man, aged 17, coming to stay with us. I shall keep his name private: don’t want the poor soul googling himself in the next few days and discovering his host’s mother is one slice short of a baguette. In any case, Dougie seems unable to keep the boy’s name in his head and keeps referring to him as Jean-Pierre and imagining him hanging out of the bedroom window wafting the smoke from his Gauloises.
The two boys have now begun to MSN/Facebook chat/message each other and this is providing some useful information. His favourite foods are ‘meat, vegetables, raspberries and cornflakes.’ My question as to what he would like in his sandwiches on the days they go on trips, elicited the response ‘chorizo’.
‘Jean-Pierre’ will stay for a week and most days he will go on organised visits with his French group, Cambridge and London being the highlights. However we still have a full weekend to fill and I haven’t the faintest idea what to do with him. He lives on the south coast of France, near Marseilles, so surely has access to some very chic resorts and picture-postcard Provencal towns. Not sure Skegness will cut the mustard but possibly the empty vastness of our North Norfolk coast may appeal? Or do I just leave him to sleep, like my own son, until the vaches come home?
I remember being offered the chance to go on a French exchange when I was at school and declined as I was too scared. Dougie, however, exchanged with a German boy, Wolfgang, in 1978, when he was 14. It was all going swimmingly until the weekend during Wolfgang’s stay in Edinburgh, when Dougie’s parents invited another Scottish lad, his parents and accompanying German student for a meal. The four boys amused themselves in the garage playing with the Scalextric track while the four adults sat demurely having tea. Dougie tells me the German boys were ‘being annoying’ and things became a little heated. Wolfgang trotted back into the living room where the adults were sitting and asked,
“What means ‘Fuck Off’?”