Chartlotte Philby's Parental Leave: Somewhere between London and Toulouse, I appear to have become quite drunk

A mother's weekly dispatch from the pre-school frontline

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The Independent Online

So, France was a roaring success... 1.29pm. Our train pulls in at Toulouse station. At some point since leaving St Pancras, arriving at Gare du Nord, crossing Paris to Gare Montparnasse, boarding another train, and emerging on the platform at Toulouse five and a half hours after that, I appear to have become quite drunk.

"There aren't enough seats," the other husband hisses, returning from the car rental office. "I definitely booked a seven-seater. You're going to have to speak to them." Me? "You're the only one who speaks French," he says, rudely interrupting me as I order the children deux jus de pomme de terre. Oh yes, I say, no problem, as he marches me towards a sweaty glass box at the back of the station where I'm met by a comb-over and a set of arched eyebrows.

Sensing the other husband beside me, radiating rage, I decide to give it a whirl; after all, I did study French at school and might have continued to A-Level had it not been for the strange spitty woman who insisted we pretend to be at a "boum" and dance around our desks while making small-talk in a foreign language. Anyway, how hard could it be?

"Bonjour," I say. "Je m'appelle Charlotte. Je voudrais une grande voiture, s'il vous plait." The face stares back at me, unblinking. I cannot be sure if I've spoken aloud. Just then my daughter bounds in, scratching at one of the blisters that have appeared all over her body in the past 12 hours. "Mummy," she shrieks. "In France they eat slugs and frogs, don't they? That is YUCKY."

motherland.net

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