We escape lockdown corona crisis in France

And so we enter the event I am calling ‘The Second Fucking Time I’ve Had To Flee A Country On The Year Abroad.’ (TSFTIHTFACOTYA for short?). It’s all happened pretty quickly. On Friday I sent an e-mail to the company I was supposed to work for in Beaune, in which I (oh, innocence) wondered whether […]

Corona-vacances : she may be small, but she’s shut down France

You’ve probably noticed by now how it’s all gone a bit Exodus, that the newspapers have become great harbingers of doom, and that the world’s generally on an off-day. Coronavirus (for it is she) has spread to France, which is now the 2nd most infected country in Europe, and the ENS has closed. Plus no […]

The Twelve Labours of Hercules, updated for the 21st century by French administrative staff

According to internet sites of varying reliability, it was Napoléon Bonaparte who first said ‘If you want a thing done well, do it yourself’. Though presumably he said it in French. Such a statement makes sense within the context of French administration, a vast and knotted series of systems designed to never let anyone into […]

On not doing anything

(Disclaimer: Noting that anyone with a bit of free time is pretty lucky, and that many people, from CEO banker wankers to security guards on night shifts, don’t usually find themselves unexpectedly back in the suburbs due to political crises in South America, with too much time and an excessively restful sleeping schedule) Having cut […]

Two poems from Wendy Cope

As I attended the kind of school where you call teachers by their first name, it should be of no surprise to you that there are printed-out poems in the staff loos, for reflection during excretion. This was where I came across Cope’s most famous poem, the Orange: The Orange At lunchtime I bought a […]

L’Albatros/ the albatross (Baudelaire)

As if a) writing a blog, and b) writing about poetry FOR FUN wasn’t bad enough, today I present to you: c) me writing on my blog about a poem in French. Really, I get it if you just want to exile me to the special jail to which all pretentious Francophiles (indeed all people […]

How to become fluent in any language – in just 3 easy steps !

What is the internet trend that most annoys you, Flora? Glad you asked. After Men Explaining Things To Women on Twitter, and People Oversharing Online, I do find my fists clenching at one particular theme of clickbait content: Youtube videos and blogs with titles such as ‘How I learnt Italian in 1 month!’ or ‘How […]

Dream Song 14 (John Berryman)

Two mystery messages arrived in my university inbox today, passed on via two of my close friends studying languages at Clare. They read: I thought of Dream Song 14 almost immediately. Well, after trying to remember the title for half an hour, and emailing my Dad with the subject line (‘Poem about boredom with a […]

A weekend in Cochabamba

La Paz is great. Really, it is. Unless you count the noise and the pollution and the cars honking and the graffiti and the 3,600m altitude and the occasional whiff of urine – then you might decide you need a holiday. Ingredients for a successful break usually include some or all of the following: food, […]

Lake Titicaca and the birthplace of the Sun

Again I found myself awake before 6am – but this morning I was on time. Guided by the light of the Inca Gods and the services of Vicuña Travel and Tours (‘Follow me in the social network’), we were soon bumping up and down the roads of La Paz. Three bus changes and a certain […]