Life, Living, Becoming...
Gerry Coughlan

 Parlez-vous Français?

We did French which the Head Brother spoke fluently. One afternoon he came into the classroom with a lady. Jaysus, we were stunned but stood up.. and stared... a real woman. Miss Driscoll in her track suit didn't count. You'd have thought we were prisoners!
Boys, please say "Bonjour" to Mademoiselle Iforget. She has kindly agreed to take you for French lessons for the next few weeks.
Bonjour, Mademoiselle
we chorused.
Bonjour she replied and smiled sweetly.
These French women were classy but wily. You couldn't be too careful. They may have invented French Kissing and thanks very much to them for that, but French Letters weren't exactly condoned by the Catholic Church. You could only get them on the Black Market and none of us had managed to find the address of that elusive place yet!

The Head Brother bid her Au Revoir - the big show-off - and we were alone with her.
Now all joking aside, this lovely lady did have a glass eye but in no time at all we fell under her spell. She was enchanting. It was all in the accent.
She thought it would be a good idea for each of us to write our names on the board and say them out loud. She then attempted to translate the name into French. Who were we to argue? Anything was better than opening the dreaded textbook.
Now I can't remember who went first or when it all got out of hand but twenty minutes later the sniggering started and the Head arrived back in the class to see how it was going. Mademoiselle explained what she had asked us to do and he nodded looking back at the board. He stared at the board and then looked back at the class. He apologised to Mademoiselle Iforget.
Would the following boys please stand and wait for me outside my office:
Georgie Best
Johnny Giles
Gary Glitter
Terry Wogan
Ken Dodd
Clark Kent...

the names of the footballers, singers and heroes we had given ourselves continued as every boy in the class skulked off to his office.
We never got a hiding over it but we all had to write an essay in French telling Mademoiselle our real names and writing all about ourselves.

We were terribly ashamed of ourselves and never messed around in her class again.

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