Friday, May 25, 2007

May: the lucky month

Antonia believes that this month is this year's lucky month. This is largely because she's had her first two articles published, her exhibition opened and visited by lots of people, and her dissertation is making good progress. Pretty good going, it's true!
Until Tuesday I was a little sceptical about this lucky business. For a start, it only seemed to affect Antonia, and secondly it appeared more like the successful end of several big projects than 'luck'.
However, on Tuesday morning I sat down with my dissertation and just as I began to work, my phone rang. I didn't recognise the number, but when I picked up it turned out to be Isabelle, a lovely girl who I happened to meet at a party earlier in the year, who did an Art History degree at the Courthauld, has a boyfriend as English as they come, and is currently working on a master's here in Lyon. When I met her she was looking for a viola player (what a surprise) because she wanted to form a quartet…and it so happened that I knew Rebecca, so I put them in touch with each other and they've been quartetting every week since!
In whatever time she has spare, it turns out that Isabelle also works for a company that make audio- and video-guides for museums. On Tuesday she desperately needed to find someone with the time to translate 70 minutes (14000 words) of French audio-commentary into English…by next Friday! The place in question is a Roman archaeological site in the North of France.
Now, as most of you know, at the end of April and beginning of May I 'deposited' (as the French like to say) 8 or 9 copies of my CV, carefully translated into French, together with wonderfully phrased covering letters (thanks to my flatmates) in various shops and cafés that were advertising job vacancies. Apart from a letter from the tourist office several weeks later simply informing me that they had no job available, I heard not a squeak from anywhere. This is not very surprising, as the French are very insistent on one having a) very specific vocational qualifications b) experience (i.e. 101 internships) and c) lots and lots and lots of motivation that will make you want to go back and nag the place every day for a week until they give you the job, oh and d) perfect 'presentation' which is their way of saying you must be beautiful.
I had pretty much given up, then, on the idea of making my rent money for June and July, or of working in a real French job…but then this came along, out of the blue, from somewhere I'd not even waved my CV past (because I didn't realise it existed…) and it is far more interesting, far better paid, and far more useful to me than any of those other jobs would have been. Hooray!
No sooner had I accepted the job, than I told Antonia. First of all she says, see: May is the lucky month. Then she says, hang on a sec, what's the company's name? And yes, it turns out that the world really is tiny, because the company is run by her Godfather.

In France, as elsewhere, it's not what you know that counts, it's who you know!
(I may disappear for a few days now: 14000 is a lot of words!)

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