As the few poor souls that subjected themselves to my last article may know, I became slightly enamoured by Montréal from my short visit.   Indeed “slightly enamoured” could be a vast understatement.   To that end, the notion that I might one day move there, and perhaps so much as live amongst Montréalers, has lodged itself firmly in the forefront of my brain.   Frankly it is as if I am being enticed by a pied piper leaving a trail of maple based confectionaries.   I believe I made my feelings on maple syrup abundantly clear in not only the aforementioned article but also in every public outing I have made since.  Therefore I think it is probably for the best if we just skip past that particular issue.

Now, I have never been one to prepare, despite having spent nearly a decade of my childhood in the scouts.   A perfect example of this lack of forethought being when I moved into my first flat, armed with nothing more than a change of underwear and a four-piece matching cutlery set.   I have of course now learned from these past errors, two weeks of washing the same set of clothes in a basin little larger than a generous coffee cup will do that, and the less said about how I dried myself the better.   This time, I am determined to do things, well if not “right” then at least better.

Starting with French.   If I am going to move somewhere, it is probably advisable that I can fluently speak and understand the local language.   Avoiding at all costs that ancient British custom of expecting everyone to speak Queen’s English and where they don’t just shouting louder.   Possibly throwing in the occasional complaint about “losing the empire.”   But, to return to my story, before I fall too far into lazy, racial stereotypes, I signed myself up for French “Refresher” lessons.   A generous term I thought, given that until I visited Montréal the main extent of my experience was awkwardly hanging around French service stations saying “Paris, s’il vous plait” to any truck driver that didn’t look too likely to harvest my organs.   Whilst that is experience, it is probably not what one would call valuable.

Hitching a lift

I explained as much to the receptionist at the French cultural centre, and to her everlasting credit instead of hitting a silent alarm, she simply smiled and offered to assist my level.   A short wait later, an exacerbated teachers walks into room, has an abrupt conversation in French with the receptionist before finally turning to me.   She gives me one quick look over, before she visibly sighs and motions for me to follow.   It must be said, our woeful disdain for customer service, or even just general pleasantries, is one of the many things I will be glad to leave far, far behind.

I’m led into a small room upstairs, gestured to sit and immediately asked a ream of questions in French.   I wouldn’t say the experience was unpleasant but it was a bright light in the face and a jump lead stuffed down my unmentionables away from an interrogation.   With each question I responded as best I could, though I found having someone wince at each syllable that escapes my mouth rather distracting.   By the end I was no longer sure if I was telling her about my last trip abroad or questioning her mother’s sexual decency.   Mercifully, she decided I had suffered enough and told me that I was only a little bit shit.   Much better that I had hoped.   I was advised to take a beginner’s plus class, why it has the “plus” on the end escapes me, and told that upon completion I might one day be so good as “not shit.”.  With a pitch like that, I was sold.

So here I am, with a considerably lighter wallet, a wealth of textbooks and a bemused look across my face.   All I can say is, I hope this counts as being prepared.