Saturday, 15 October 2011


Three and a half years after starting at the french school, Trefusis Minor can now pass for a natural born têtard, slipping in and out of French and English without skipping a beat. All the tears and 'don't leave me Mummy's are a thing of the past, and he now reads more fluently in French than he does in English.

At home, only Mr Trefusis is permitted to speak french to him: if I offer a few words, or join in if the conversation round the supper table is in french as it often is, I get a look of withering scorn mixed with pity - 'Please don't try, Mummy, it sounds really horrible: tu vas casser mes oreilles.' he says. If Mr Trefusis sticks up for me (as he mostly does) and tells Trefusis Minor that my french is perfectly good, if strongly accented, Trefusis Minor will concede, begrudgingly, that I don't sound as bad as his English teacher, who really does 'break his ears'.

Anyway, the gallification of Trefusis Minor extends to extra-curricular activities too: after-school clubs are called 'Atelier' which makes them sound impossibly grand, quite as if he's going to come home and start pinning a toile on me for a couture frock. Hope springs eternal, I suppose.

But it's true, isn't it, that everything sounds more elegant in French - last term's Atelier was 'Jeux de Societé' which sounds like experimental sociology but seemed to mostly involve learning how to play Connect 4 and Draughts. This term, his favourite atelier is cooking: does he come home with the droopy peppermint creams, rock buns and butterfly cakes I remember learning in cookery as a child? He does not. So far, he has learned how to make a clafoutis, madeleines, financiers, and some kind of small savoury tart. I fully expect him to be working his way up to a croquembouche, or to suddenly appear with a selection of tiny macarons to rival Pierre Hermé or Ladurée.

I think this should be greatly encouraged - if he keeps it up, he'll be able to make the Tiniest Trefusis' birthday cake - in a few years, I might even be able to earn back the school fees by hiring him out for dinner parties.


Wonderman said...

Nicely written posts Helen - and I couldn't help noticing your recommendation of the Ford Madox Brown since I wrote something about it myself recently. You can find it on my blog under Seen in a Different Light - if you care to take a look.
Best regards.

Lady Jennie said...

This made me smile. Now if only I could get my children to read as fluently in English as they do in French.

Alison Cross said...

No baking at school here ;-(

I have witnessed P7 painting and cannot begin to imagine the carnage they would wreak with butter and flour.

I *think* he might gain access to an oven when he's nearing his 14th birthday at school - looking foward to a triangular swiss roll in 2014 :-)

Ali x

Anonymous said...

Gallic cooking trend = great. Wish it were the case with my bilingual offspring. All I get are the insults and my French is indeed appalling (particularly and conveniently when it comes to employing French gardeners and builders)

Jennings and Gates said...

So funny. Thanks for the wonderful post.