Joel is flipping through TV channels as I type, commenting, as always, on the real sync between what the lips say and what the voices say. Sometimes I flick through the channels and can’t find anything that isn’t dubbed. It drives me mad, though the voices themselves are a source of entertainment. There are masses of American TV shows on French television, but the dubbing is so distracting I don’t have the patience to watch. Joel, who grew up watching dubbed TV shows and is perfectly bilingual, finds them fascinating. (I guess he’s even tri-lingual, if you count American and British English: the other day he noted the difference between a UK ‘shag’ and a US ‘lay’…) Anglophone actors have their own dubbers, people who make livings out of being the voice of, say, George Clooney or Kate Winslet.
We’ve just finished katsu-don, one of my super-favourite dishes which Joel hadn’t made since we’ve been here, until now. It’s a Japanese rice dish with lots of onions and fried, breaded pork cutlets. He asked Elie at the restaurant to deep fry some cutlets for us, so even though it’s not Thanksgiving here, we’ve had a special dinner. We’re not celebrating anything, other than the fact that I’ve finished re-painting the living room. It’s white now, instead of the really bizarre shade of mustard that I thought, when Mika was painting the apt back in August, would be sort of buttery and subtle. I’ve never painted anything white, except the furniture we find, so choosing plain, harsh white is like a sort of breakdown, an inability to make a choice. It took me three days, give or take some teaching hours. I think we’re happier with it, but we’ll have to see over the next few days. When Joel told his sister and his mother that I was re-painting a room (this is after one of the waiters moonlighted for a month painting it in the first place, remember), there was absolute silence.
When I was in the middle of painting, Paula from downstairs showed up. She’s Irish, and in a wonderfully amazing coincidence, went to the same school as me in Dublin, the Sacred Heart Convent at Mt Anville. What are the odds on that? Admittedly she must have gone some 20+ years after me. She is married to an Italian, who speaks perfect English with an Irish accent. Hearing him makes me wonder how much of my accent and intonations Joel has picked up, though of course he lived in England for 30 years, whereas Giorgio has never lived in Ireland, not that you’d know it. Paula brought Ted some cat biscuits. Hmmm. No one’s brought us any biscuits yet. Misanthropic as Ted is, the inhabitants of this otherwise pet-less building seem to have taken him to their hearts. Paula has two small boys, and when you pass by their front door, I often overhear their two little Irish accents screeching things like, ‘Mum, he’s got a knife in his mouth!’
Earlier in the day, there was a knock on the door and it was the postman, with a pile of 2012 calendars. When I said I didn’t want one, he patiently explained that it was a tradition here in France for the postman to give people on his round a calendar for Christmas, and that they gave what they could in return. He must have a key for the building, as the postboxes are inside. I came over all London, however, and said, where’s your ID? He was a bit embarrassed about not having it on him, and gave me his Carte d’Identite, which all French people carry at all times, and even took off his little cap to show me he really was the person in the picture. I told him in England when people came with Christmas wishes they did it the week before Christmas, and that I didn’t have much cash on me. Well, it was like watching a French TV show. What I heard him say, politely, was ‘Oh yes, I thought I heard a petite accent,’ But it could have been dubbed, because what his face looked like he was saying was, ‘Cheap foreigner.’ I gave him four euros. I guess he really was the postman, unless he’d mugged a genuine postman for his blue and yellow LaPoste jacket and cap.
Still no word on The Novel. I think I actually quite like waiting for word. I have a purpose without having to do anything specific, which suits me just fine.