Jo Haywood is Yorkshire through and through, but now she’s ready to channel her inner Bardot
Am I too old to become French? I’m only 43 (my equally elderly friends will love that ‘only’), but I understand you have to start being French at a relatively young age if you want to pull it off with any real conviction.
I’ve read a lot of Colette and smoked a Gitanes (just the one, but I can still taste its acrid ‘essence de Tarmac’ more than 20 years later) but I’m not sure that actually adds up to very much in my quest to be a properly qualified French person.
In fact, I’m pretty sure that being a fortysomething, beige-looking Yorkshirewoman who has enough trouble stringing an English sentence together without tackling the acute and grave tics the French insist on scattering liberally across their vocab like grammatical confetti will pretty much make my application null and void.
And it’s probably best not to even mention my sense of style, which basically begins and ends with attempting to wear matching flipflops (so many pairs, so little time to find two that look vaguely related).
It’s fair to say my quest looks set to be a bit of an uphill struggle. And when I say uphill struggle, I obviously mean in the same way that attempting to become King of the Mountains in the Tour de France while giving Christopher Biggins a lift on your handlebars is an uphill struggle.
But I still want to give it a go. I want to look effortlessly chic (even if it takes a lot of effort); I want to speak a language that makes everything sound vaguely sexy (you could probably say ‘the elasticated waist on these slacks is a godsend when you’re feeling gassy’ in French and still sound like Brigit Bardot); and I want to look supremely confident, maybe even a little arrogant, when I haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about (that’d be 90 per cent of my time sorted in one fell swoop).
Oh, and there’s also the art and the literature and the history and the architecture and the food and all those other less shallow reasons for wanting to become French. I suppose they’re quite important too (although not as important as looking hot and sounding cool).
So, it’s decided. I’m going to become French, despite being too old and about as qualified as a Yorkshire pudding.
It just so happens I’m going to Paris in a couple of days’ time (she says nonchalantly, as if deciding on a whim to pop over to La Ville-Lumière – yes, that’s your actual French right there!) and will report back on my return.
You never know, I might even be a tiny bit more French by then. Or I might just have bought a beret.