Someone brought in a tub of celebrations yesterday. When I say ‘tub’,
I mean of course those enormous round tins that one used to only be
able to get at Christmas. I’m not blaming their recent all-year
appearance for rising obesity levels, but I am strongly implying it.
(Sort of like Kanye West in ‘Golddigger’).
These perennial Celebrations now have mini Twixes in them. Or so the
box cover suggests- by the time I got to them only Milky Ways and
Bountys were left. (I would very much like it if the term ‘milky way
or bounty’ could enter common parlance to describe people you wouldn’t
usually kiss, but have been known to due to extenuating circumstances.
Like vodka. Or being in a lesbian bar. Or there being no other
Anyway, I hate Twixes. Let me explain. When I was 13, I was young and
impressionable, and was therefore easily convinced that a French
exchange would be marvellously fun. My natural enthusiasm (which some
might see as bullying) convinced several of my friends to sign up too.
I will force my children to learn the piano, torture them with endless
tennis lessons and shove them into incomprehensible Swiss ski-school
classes, but I will never ever make them go on a French exchange.
The French exchange started with them visiting us. This was perfectly
fine. I put my French exchange in my other bed and carried on as
normal. I explained that my little brother sometimes weed in the
playroom, which is why it smelt odd, and that my little sister hid her
pocket money in a tin next to her bookshelf, in case she found herself
short. I pointed out where the junk food was stored, and encouraged
her to join me and my siblings in the brilliant game of hiding from
our nanny. We had quite a good time together, with trips to
Chessington and the swimming pool and Ken High Street and Camden.
Really, I was a very accomplished 13 year old hostess.
Then it was time for us to go to Marseille. I decided to make life
easy for my French teacher by leaving my passport at home, and
reassuring her that they ‘rarely check on Eurostar’. To be fair to me,
they didn’t. I then merrily cavorted up and down the Eurostar
carriages with my friends wondering loudly what would happen if the
tunnel collapsed. I know teachers aren’t meant to have favourites, but
I think sometimes they can’t help themselves.
We arrived at Marseille and I met my host family for the first time.
They seemed exactly like parents, only French. We went to their
apartment, and I put my stuff in my French exchange’s room. ‘You take
the bed,’ she told me. ‘Oh no,’ I said politely, ‘I much prefer the
floor.’ I waited expectantly for her to protest. ‘OK, great,’ she said
happily. Already, my French exchange’s hosting skills left much to be desired.
After school the next day she invited her best friend over. ‘How nice!’ You might be thinking. ‘She wanted to introduce you to her best friend!’ Well, perhaps, but it was more in the way in which the settlers wanted to introduce cholera to the Aborigines. ‘What is your favourite chocolate bar?’ My French exchange asked me. ‘Oh, I don’t know. Maybe Twix?’ My French exchange’s best friend started laughing manically, and popped out to the corner shop. She returned bearing two Twixes, which her and my French exchange ate languidly in front of me. ‘I’m sorry,’ She said. ‘There were only two in the shop.’ Either France has the worst supply lines in Europe, or my French exchange was the meanest person ever. Anyway, the French exchange taught me many things. The absurdity of Stockholm Syndrome, the excellence of baguettes and that really even a Bounty is better than a Twix.