JEPPSQUARE / Simon Jepps
The Micro Blog Of Simon E. Jepps

Living With The French ~ Chapter Four


The Trials Of Life

Wednesday 7th April 1993

I woke this morning to find Arnaud already getting dressed. It was a quarter to eight! I was half an hour late! I quickly got out of my bed, ran down the stairs and got washed as quickly as I could. I didn't have time for my Miel Pops this morning and so I just ate a Chocolatine.

When I had finished my breakfast, I collected my bag and coat and got into the car. Arnaud's dad drove us to school. This was a change, in fact today I would find out much more about Monsieur Chasseigne.

Today, I thought, is going to be a brilliant day - a Wednesday!

Wednesdays in France are very much loved by the majority of school children. This is because they have half a day off. However, that doesn't mean there is no point going in - hell no. The work on a Wednesday is tremendous. Even, it would turn out, for foreign exchange students.

The first lesson of the day was Maths.

Unlike my father who is a mathematician, I have only marginal capacity for the subject and to be honest, things like algebra make as much sense to me as backwards Bengali. Still, it is a necessary component in understanding Music and so I do persevere nonetheless.

So the lesson began and once again I noticed how all the work they do looks so complicated. It might sound strange but even though we are of the same age and school year, everything they study is completely alien, like some kind of advanced thesis from another planet! They must be much more intelligent than the English if they have come so far already.

Of course, I didn't do any work, at least not this lesson. Much to my suprise, that will be to come later.

Instead I wrote my diary - not forgetting Blondine! She didn't seem as happy as usual today. She seemed distant... very distant. She had the same sort of look on her face as a clown when nobody laughs. I wanted to go over and put my arm around her to comfort her, but I knew that it wouldn't be possible.

So nevermind, but I really hope I can speak to her soon, I'll only get a week here before the French school holidays begin. I can't honestly expect much even if I do, but it would seem so unfortunate to just leave a romantic dialogue untouched, without even an exchange of good wishes.

I guess I'll just have to wait and hope for the best.

As part of my diary I decided to spend this lesson studying French socialism, i.e. greeting people. I noticed that when different people meet each other they greet each other differently depending on what sex they might be.

I made a list of results:
  1. Boy meets boy = Shake hands
  2. Girl meets girl = Kiss
  3. Man meets man = Shake hands
  4. Woman meets woman = Kiss
  5. Man meets woman = Kiss
  6. Boy meets woman = Kiss
  7. Girl meets man = Kiss
  8. Boy meets man = Shake hands
  9. Boy meets girl = Kiss/shake hands
The number of times I have got this wrong myself should be a world record! To me it seems only natural to gently shake a woman's hand, rather than kiss her cheek. You wouldn't do that in England, the husband would get very upset.

France it seems then, is quite a complicated country to the foreigner, but a tremendously beautiful country to be known. Even the roads are difficult to understand. Paint is spread all across the carriageways, making lovely pretty patterns! I studied all the different patterns quite devotedly and simply loved looking out the windows at junctions.

So that lesson went swell.

The next lesson was History.

Yet again I noticed a sudden increase in the number of pupils in the class. This is because in France they have different classes for each subject.

During this lesson I was once again impressed by Arnaud's intelligence. He answers many of the questions asked by the teacher. Always alert and ready to do anything the teacher asks him. I think they're studying the French Revolution.

Yes and that would be why I am once again nodding off.

Anyway, as it happened, a nightmare exploded in my mind. I had been half asleep all the way through the lesson and during one of my cunning moments where I attempt to appear like having actually arisen from a deeply contemplative appraisal of the lesson at hand, I instead discovered the History teacher was looking DIRECTLY at me, as if she was expecting me to tell her something.

Darn! Caught again! Then, like someone had just hit me round the head with an aeroplane, I realised what she wanted. She wanted me to comment on or explain something about the text!! I froze. I just completely froze.

"Mais... er... mais oui! Mais oui, Madame." I said nervously, trying to pretend all along I had understood whatever it was she had said and desperately nudging Arnaud for help.

To which Arnaud promptly obliged by pointing his finger at some text in the book and saying, "Er... read."

READ?! I thought, How am I supposed to do that? I only know the basics, like geeeting people, asking for the time, asking for directions, or asking whether someone might be free for an evening Jazz dinner and smooch under a moonlight Magnolia. You can't honestly expect me to READ ASWELL?!

Nevertheless... I cleared my throat and began.

"La ville de Paris et tous habitants..." the nightmare just felt worse and worse with each word... "Serant tenus de se toumettre..." er... er... how do you speak French again?! "... sur-le-champ et sans delai au roi..." Of course, I had absolutely no idea what the donut I was reading, but I got a round of applause at the end all the same.

Although many people sniggered whilst I read, I didn't see Blondine laughing. Instead she smiled every now and then, nodding in appreciation. She really isn't like the other girls. She's not just all fun and games, doing stupid things in lessons. She's serious. She actually cares about her future. This made me feel even closer to her.

Of course today is a Wednesday and very soon school will end, but even though we have half a day off, I can't hang out and make friends with Blondine, for we are being picked up by Arnaud's mum straight after.

Still, it's not like I am going back to England anytime soon. And so meanwhile I thought it would be a good idea to leave with her my ingenius ' of your dreams... see you in them...' erm, kind of smile, and thence let the day be a day.

School finished at midday, which is coincidentally what all the school children had planned, and so Arnaud and I were picked up by his mum and taken home to have lunch.

Whilst lunch was once again a bizarre mixture of the most peculiar oddities, it was actually not as weird as I had come to expect, but instead a very nice combination of flavoured meaty pieces and sweetish vegetables.

Thence after lunch there came an exciting treat - an afternoon's outing to an undisclosed location.

"Où allons-nous?" I asked.
"It's a surprise." Arnaud responded.

Arnaud's dad was driving and all the family came along for the ride. Off we went, navigating various rural roads, before hitting some main roads and eventually arriving at the outskirts of an inner industrial region of Bordeaux.

It seemed like a very long way, but it was only a few minutes drive. It must have been all the twists and turns prolonging my anticipation.

Yet arrive we did and to my delight, woe and behold... The Fire Station.

"This is my father's work." Arnaud said to me, panning his hand afront the building.
"Aaahhh..." I replied, with an enthusiastic French accent.

I really have to improve my vocabulary soon, I thought, I don't know how long I can keep these oohs and aahs up before they cotton on.

Nevertheless, all was well and we entered the fire station.

I really had no idea M. Chasseigne was a fireman, it really took me by suprise. We moved forward through some doors and passages until eventually we entered into an enormous garage.

Here, shining with a majestic red-rose aura, were all the fire engines, lined up one by one.

M. Chasseigne guided us all around the garage and personally showed me all the wonderful fire engines. There were many, many engines and all of them had different uses. I didn't realise there were so many different vehicles, I've only seen one or two, back in England. Yet these guys have a complete chess-set of machines, ready and waiting to make their coordinated moves on whatever kind of fire or threat there might be.

It must be a great feeling to have saved someone's life, I thought, I bet he feels like Superman everyday!

We must have spent at least an hour at the fire station, before M. Chasseigne once again drove us home.

This Wednesday had been a very exciting day. Arnaud and I spent the rest of the afternoon talking, playing Chess and just generally having a laugh. It was simply great to have a half day off school!

As evening drew near I went off to bed, and so did the cat - all be it on my head. I drifted off to sleep with the thought, Holidays soon... God, I can't wait!

Open Vault / Alt Pages ⧎

Games Vault

Chess Variants

Many of these PDFs are from an archive created over the years whence originally hosted on previous personal blogs, as such they may show cosmetic detailing of a particular website theme, which is different to that of

Jeppscha'nga ~ PDF
8x8 variant of Chaturanga employing Classical western pieces and also Conkers.
Conqueror ~ PDF
10x10 variant featuring Wizards & Conkers.
Conqueror 64 ~ PDF
8x8 transposition of Conqueror.
Genie Of The Lamp ~ PDF
8x8 variant featuring counter pieces.
Chec Toe ~ PDF
4x4 variant featuring dice, infinite movement & wizardry.
Jepster Chess ~ PDF
10x10 variant featuring an evolved Jester piece.
Siceirawan ~ PDF
8x8 variant featuring a modified Seirawan ruleset.
Ckess ~ PDF ↷
The JEPPSQUARE featured game, whilst not officially a Chess Variant, is played with a Chess-like philosophy and strategical mindset. A two player Checkers variant, featuring a touch of Chess and Indian Chaturanga.

Other Games

SKEIGHT / Simon JeppsSkeight ~ PDF
Quite possibly the best dice game ever conceived! Played like boules/bowls, Skeight is a two-player tactical dice game utilizing eight D20s (twenty sided dice) of different colours, as rolling ballistics. A Jeppsquare favourite.

Wxyzaerds ~ PDF
A majestic, multi intuitive diceword strategy game, for two or more players. The objective of the game is to create highest scoring words through the rolling of letter dice, whilst juggling your strategical providence with the Cobra Paw die. Yet the true magic of this game resides in the creativity of the players, who can create their own Wizard Words and Wizard's Dictionary, opening a whole new universe of magic, chance, chaos and ultimately the wonder of spells.

Krikkit ~ PDF
Download Score Sheet
A strategic dice game for two or more players, based on The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy novels. It is played similar to Yahtzee, but also features a challenging quiz, risky space faring obstacles, extra abilities to outsmart your opponent, and the opportunity to trade in cosmic real estate!

Hippo ~ PDF
A humbling variation of Conkers, played by rolling them across the ground and attempting to maintain a continuum of points accumulation, before all your Conkers are eliminated. This is a simple yet very warming game for all the family and can be played with as many people as you like. I invented this game once upon a time, whence meditating under a Horse Chestnut tree.

Alt Pages

CKESS / Simon JeppsThe Game Of Ckess
A two player strategy board game, played with and like Checkers, only featuring much more indepth tactical challenges. A modest blending of Checkers, Chess and Indian Chaturanga.

JEPPSAX / Simon JeppsThe Jeppsax
A hybrid musical instrument made by marrying a custom styled
Hohner Melodica with a custom configured Seydel Big Six harmonica.

LWTF / Simon Jepps
Living With The French
The short novel, or "diary story", of myself a foreign exchange student,
whilst living with a French family during my childhood in the 1990's.

JEPPSQUARE / Simon Jepps