Thursday, 20 March 2008

Piano Lessons

One of the pleasant aspects of not giving piano lessons is realising how enjoyable they can be if you just take on one student and that person turns out to be actually very good. I get picked up, driven out to their house in the country, plied with wine and nibbles, paid for my input and guidance and then dropped back home. It's a far cry from my student days in Manchester when I'd take a bus off to teach a collection of largely unmotivated teenagers, arriving home far too late to do any serious practice of my own and without sufficient funds to at least pick up a halfway decent bottle of Chateau Castrol from the corner shop. This student was an offshoot from my choral conducting job, another expat pursuit and one which further bears out the difference in the British Expat community here in France compared to the lager louts we seem to have exported to Spain and Portugal, where you only seem to find a good sing-song around bars showing In-ger-lund matches on satellite TV. How the locals must curse our existence down there and how fortunate we are to be living in a country where we're greeted with courtesy and, for the most part, intelligence. A lot of it is probably down to our behaviour: treat your environs with respect and respect will be shown to you. Maybe France also attracts a different kind of expat; those who wish to integrate are welcomed and those who don't at least have the good sense and manners to stay holded up in their converted barns, only torturing the locals with their school French once a fortnight when they realise they're out of Marmite.

So Sarko is off to visit Queen Betty, if only for a day and a night. I trust he'll be briefed on etiquette and told to keep his Blackberry in his pocket whilst in Royal Presence. I can't help but feel it's a move to make himself look more statesmanlike in the eyes of his now disgruntled followers. He had everything going for him last May but seems to have blown a considerable amount of goodwill and support in a virtuosically short space of time. Still, like I mentioned yesterday, never write the man off...

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