It Happens

La Grande Horizontale, c'est moi!  No no no, not in that sense. The sciatica that was making me grincheuse turned into a herniated disk, and I have been flat on the floor for four days, and flat with upright intervals for two.

I haven't been out and about noticing the niceties of French, and in my enfeebled state I've been reading English books instead of the many French ones waiting on my shelves.

However, the upright intervals are more frequent and things are steadily improving, so today I tried to make a couple of phone calls in French, and found to my horror that I have already gone backwards in fluency!  I was making an doctor's appointment and the receptionist offered me quinze or seize and although I knew quinze was fifteen, or three pm, I suddenly for the life of me couldn't grasp what seize was...she had to translate it to the non-twenty-four-hour mode and say "Four."  I felt so daft after all the times I've had Ikea and Darty on the phone giving me their delivery windows between this hour and that, and I've understood.

Then--on a roll, feeling I was getting things done after all the inaction--I called the person who is in charge of administering the practical aspects of life in our apartment building to ask why, all of a sudden, the door to the little room in the hall where one puts one's rubbish is locked, and the numerical code to unlock it doesn't work; only I couldn't summon up the name for that little room, or the word for rubbish.

She patiently explained to me that I meant the locale poubelles, which of course I knew reallylocal or locale is little room, workshop, premises, and poubelles are dustbins (or garbage cans); and she grasped what I meant as I babbled various attempts to say "rubbish" (since there's not much else one would put in the locale poubelles, after all). I felt like what used to be called a blithering idiot and can only put it down to the medication (not that I'm on anything strong) and to my recent isolation from the general French chatter one hears every day just going about one's business.

Household rubbish is les ordures, the dictionary reminds me. Yet another example of the everyday French word sounding more lofty and high-falutin' than the English--of course we could say "ordure" if we wanted to, but trash, rubbish, and garbage seem better to fit the bill.  Of course there's probably a much more basic French word for "rubbish"...and I don't mean merde.