I was sixteen when I went to England for the first time, and there was not really anyone my age in my host family, but it was not very different at home.
They had a twenty-year old daughter who had an old red sports convertible in which she would drive me around. Once, on a very hot day, she handed me a kettle full of water and told me to put it in the car. Something terribly embarrassing happened. I understood that I was supposed to pour the water somewhere, found a hole in which to pour it and brought the kettle back into the house.
Yes, that’s right, I had poured the water into the gas tank! She had meant me to actually put the kettle onto the car back seat! The tank had to be emptied and cleaned up and I was the most embarrassed French guest that ever was seen! And she never wanted me to pay the garage bill either.
Besides driving that red collector car, she had a summer job and drove a Wall’s ice-cream van. At weekends, she would take me along to help, and I actually sold Wall’s ice-creams. That may seem quite ordinary to you, but to a French sixteen-year old, it was just an adventure. Especially in those days, when the Pound Sterling had not been broken into 100p’s, but had shillings and pence, all very complicated to figure out, particularly as it was a foreign currency.
She was also busy baby-sitting and would hand me over the business she didn’t have time for. That too, was quite an adventure, as I didn’t know much about young children, and even less about English-speaking children who didn’t understand that anyone grownup could possible NOT speak very good English. But it was fun.
That summer was rich in experience and I am very thankful to that family who taught me so much.
- Terri Dulong, with her My Beloved Paris series gave me the idea of this series.
- My thanks to It’s greg from flickr, whose photo I borrowed as I didn’t happen to have a kettle in my photostream.
- Totally unrelated with this particular post, please read Septuagent post on Bruges and the Zeebrugge-Hull ferry. I appreciated this informative and interesting background to my trip to Yorkshire.