Communicating by telephone is a terrifying experience if one has little comprehension of the language pouring out of the earpiece, iPhone or not.
So when the nice young man at the mattress shop, explained that the delivery guy would phone us to arrange a time for delivery, it sent cold shivers down my spine, even more than did the slushy sleet that tumbled on occasion from the sky.
The prospect of having to telephone the rental car people to enquire why they weren't at the office at the appointed time was no less daunting, but thankfully, one of the other less than gruntled customers waiting in the ice-rain, took it upon himself to phone first. He then helpfully repeated for my benefit an entire chapter of something of which the only words I heard were "trente minutes" and although I have not quite at this stage learned to count to thirty, a quick guess (and a check with the dictionary App) had me thanking him profusely for his assistance, and we stood together silently for a time, wondering awkwardly how to pass the next thirty minutes.
"What is your impression of the current political and economic situation in France?" I ventured, repeating in phonetically passable French, one of the phrases from our favourite language programme that I had learned by rote.
For the next trente minutes I was regailed. He told me in, had I been able to understand, no uncertain terms, exactly what his impression was, and all I had to do was offer the odd "Oui" from time to time to keep the conversation rolling.
Having thus fumbled through two tests, the dreaded phone call arrived, and with it a continuous stream of completely unfathomable monologue. I had heard enough key words to confirm that indeed it was something to do with a mattress delivery, but nothing else.
Falling back on that same language CD, I fired back my most practiced phrase: "I'm terribly sorry I don't speak French".
"TRENTE MINUTES" came the simple reply.
"oui, oui, merci, super, génial, au revoir" I sung into the phone, and in thirty minutes our mattress simply miraculously appeared.