I've mentioned this before, but it drives me crazy. And it's happened to me twice during the last couple of days.
"What is it that tests the patience of the ever-patient and saintly TBNIL?", I hear you cry.
It's simple. It's this:
French people who insist on speaking to me in English despite the fact that a) they can't string a sentence together and b) I can speak perfectly good French thank you very much for not asking.
This morning, I bumped into my neighbour as we both left for the Métro station at the same time (i.e. late). She's a lovely lady, a certain age, college lecturer, teaches accounting to 18 year olds.
"I study English in Oxford" she announced.
"That's good. At the university or at a language school?"
"Huh?" she looked at me quizzingly. I asked her the question in French.
"Ah! I do language school. It was Oxford"
And so the conversation went. I spoke in English, then in French and she answered me in something vaguely resembling English.
Earlier in the week, on Tuesday night in fact, I was getting ready to leave the bar (I was in the toilette having a strategic wee).
As I stood there pee-ing, a guy came over 'to chat', as one does in Paris, apparently.
"Where from you?" he said, in a charming French accent.
"Angleterre. Je suis Anglais", I replied. With my charming English accent.
"What you do Paris, here? Me, from Montréal".
I finished my business and moved to the basin to wash my hands.
As he was obviously French and not Québecois, I asked him where he was from originally. He said Britanny. In fact he said "I am Bretagne. How you say een eengleesh I am Bretagne".
Every time, I spoke to him in French (and good French, even though I say so myself) he answered in dog-English. Turns out that he was actually from the small village in southern Britanny where I had spent childhood holidays.
The conversation could have been funny, interesting and nostalgic for both of us, had I been able to continue listening to him massacre the English language. Alas, I couldn't and had to cut it short.
I don't really mind helping people to practice their English but, to be frank, it's all a bit too much at the end of the night or first thing in the morning.
And especially when I'm taking a leak.