I just couldn’t get ahead

1. An unusual number of idiomatic expressions are identical in French and English. I can’t figure out why this would be. English and French were pretty closely interrelated at one point, but they’ve been going their own ways for centuries now. Are the French adopting and translating English expressions because English is so internationally dominant? Here are a few I’ve come across so far:

    Le portrait craché – the spitting image
    Des bâtons dans les roues – stick in the spokes
    Dans les tuyeaux – in the pipeline
    Tout est bien qui finit bien – all’s well that ends well
    Au peigne fin – with a fine tooth comb
    Poigne de fer – iron fist
    Sonner creux – ringing hollow
    Souffler le chaud et le froid – blowing hot and cold
    Attrape-touristes – tourist trap
    Attraper la mort – catch your death
    Eu vent de – got wind of
    Profil bas – low profile
    Lune de miel – honeymoon
    Quand la poussière est retombée – when the dust settles
    Mordre la main qui nourrit – bite the hand that feeds you
    Marché aux puces – flea market

This seems weird to me. It’s weird, isn’t it? Fortunately there are still plenty of French idiomatic expressions that are pleasingly insane in English, like “gueule de bois” (“wooden face” – to have a hangover), “faire choux blanc” (“making white cabbage” – to come up empty or hit a dead end) and “tirez les vers du nez” (“pulling worms from the nose” – to get information out of someone).

2. About six months ago, my energy supplier increased my rates, so I went to a comparison website, found a quote for £20 less a month than what I’d been paying, and switched providers. BOOM. Get me, right? Like a proper thrifty grown-up!

Yeah. Last week my new energy providers asked for a meter reading, and then based on this reading decided they’d been CRAZY undercharging me and raised my bill by £100 a month. I’m not sure how this is possible since I live alone in a one-bedroom flat and don’t own a television or a stereo or a washing machine and haven’t been running a hydroponic growing operation on the sly. I’ve had to switch providers again because paying £146 for electricity every month would make it very difficult for me to also eat, but I’ll be stuck paying their exorbitant final bill and an extra fee to get out of contract. They got me pretty good there! Nice one guys! Hopefully this will teach me to read the small print in future, especially the bit where it says in tiny tiny letters “WE ARE GOING TO FUCK YOU”.

3. I’ve been reading a trashy true crime book called Blood on the Altar (insert heavy-metal guitar riff here). It is delightfully terrible. It’s about a murder that took place in Italy, and the author is a British guy who is such a slavish Italophile that you start feeling embarrassed for him. He goes on and on and on about the bravery and resilience and warmth of the people in this particular rural bit of Italy to the point where I get the feeling that these colourful rustic noble simple folk are probably rolling their eyes at him behind his back. He tries to tie the murder in with the overall history of the region, which I understand, as entrenched government corruption played a large part in botching the investigation and you’ve got to fill 200 pages somehow, but then he wanders off into just describing the local area, including cuisine and museums and landmarks. Certain parts of the book are a straight-up travel guide. Like, dude! Dead teenager, remember? Stop talking about salami and let’s try and focus here.

He also does that thing that true crime writers do where they try to convince us and themselves that they’re fulfilling some greater good instead of just pandering to bored women (hi!) who want to read gruesome details about murders. This dude apparently felt a “connection” with the murdered girl after seeing the news coverage and started feeling like he was “mourning her himself”. OK WOW, no you didn’t. This girl had parents, you presumptuous twat. You started feeling like you smelled a book deal.

When he does get around to talking about the murder and the investigation, he switches arbitrarily between past and present tense, sometimes in the same paragraph. I think this is meant to provide a sense of immediacy or to be artsy or some shit, but it comes across more like clumsy editing.

It’s truly, truly awful. I’m enjoying the fuck out of it.

4. I love it when The Kids in the Hall go Full Weird. I came across this sketch recently and scream-laughed all the way through.

WHAAAAAAAAT.

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