January 27, 2010

A LESSON IN FRENCH

CRABTREE RIDES AGAIN


One of our favourite TV programmes from years gone by is "Allo Allo" which ran for 10 years between 1982 and 92. So much so that we have bought the whole series on DVD and when we need cheering up on a grim winter's evening we put it on and have a good laugh. It never fails.
.
For those that are not familiar with the programme, Officer Crabtree was the idiot Englishman who believed he could speak French, masquerading as a French police officer.






Nick has become an expert at what we have called "the Crabtree".

.
I will explain : our French teacher once told us that the English and French languages are often very similar so if you don't know the word in French try saying the English word instead but with a French accent. Nick has become this theory's greatest fan.
.
One of his classics occurred that first Christmas week in Le Grand-Pressigny in trying to buy a cabbage on the market. He couldn't remember the French word for cabbage so he took our teacher's advice and said "un cabbarge s'il vous plait", emphasising the arge to make it sound as French as possible. The stallholder immediately knew what he meant and without a hint of amusement or bewilderment reached over and handed us a cabbage.
.
This is surprising since the real French word for cabbage sounds nothing like cabbarge - it's chou.
.
During the same week he performed another version of the Crabtree - "saying the wrong word".
.
We were in the PreHisto one afternoon, taking a break from the DIY and the landlady was enquiring how well we had settled in. It had been bitterly cold and she asked if we had any heating. (We think that's what she asked, anyway.)
.
We were very pleased with our beautiful new wood-burning stove, the poêle, so Nick proudly announced that yes, we had a new "poulet" which was heating the whole house !!
.
She and several of the people at the bar burst into laughter and it took us a while to realise his mistake.
.
.
(Photos from a Google source, not by me.)
.

13 comments:

  1. Hi Jean
    I wouldn't dare try that method...call me chicken if you like.
    Really funny experience.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jean,
    I'm interested in your "a grand view". Is that an early pre-war Citroen? Yours or just something you saw?
    Leon

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ken - never a dull moment, eh !

    Leon - the car just came into the village and parked up in front of me and I happened to have my camera with me.

    I don't know what it was but the front was divided into two halves and looking at the original photo it said something like Chataigne on one half and Brader on the other, if this helps.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes, that has worked well for me - the Frenchifying of an English word. Also - in reverse - when someone French is jabbering away and I hear a word I almost recognise

    ReplyDelete
  5. FF - we have found the language thing frustrating but fun. Always good for a laugh though.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Good moaning ... I was just pissing by ;-)

    When kids were small, we used to enjoy holidays on the French canals and rivers. On one occasion, we were moored overnight in a tiny marina in Brittany. My husband (dark hair, moustache and jaunty breton style sweater) was returning from the breakfast baguettte and pain chocolat run when he was stopped by an English chap from another boat. In his best Franglais, this man asked:
    "Eggscuse me, M'SIEUR. Where did you get ZE pain, bread, um". Husband was just taking in the allo-allo speak, when the chap's wife appeared on the deck and said "What are you doing? Why are you speaking in that stupid way".

    Capitaine Crabtree announced (without a blink), "But he looked French, y'know .. the stripey sweater and the moustache".

    Husband decided that it was best to keep his gob shut at that moment and just to point back along the road to the boulangerie.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Mad - we've all heard them - they're usually the loudest voices, too !!

    I know it's sad but there's something about Crabtree that creases me up every time........

    ReplyDelete
  8. Jean, "It is I, Leclercq!".

    I looooove 'allo-allo'. Over the years we've had many re-runs here in Belgium, but I still watch them as they are so funny.

    You certainly know that 'allo-allo' is based on a drama series called 'Secret Army' set in Belgium about the Belgian and French resistance helping RAF pilotes to return to England after they had been shut down over the continent during WW2. We loved that series too, but of course allo-allo is much more fun and officer Crabtree is a real star !

    P.S. The café at the Grand'Place in Brussels where the orginal series was filmed still exists.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Martine - "leeson very carefully - I shall say zis only wuurnce" !!

    I didn't know that Allo Allo had its origins in Belgium - fancy that !

    ReplyDelete
  10. Jean,
    I went to my local DVD/CD shop to hunt out Allo Allo but it was too expensive, so I checked out youtube.
    Can't stop laughing..........
    Leon

    ReplyDelete
  11. Leon - it's funny because it's that old-fashioned, silly kind of humour - much more palatable than the smutty, poisonous stuff that goes for comedy these days.

    Good grief - I am sounding more like my mother every day !

    ReplyDelete
  12. I vill say ziss only once...(my favorite line from that show) your Crabtree stories are hysterical

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anon - mine too. Closely followed by "you stupid wooman"!

    Mind you, this is something I usually say to myself, when I have one of those senior moments !

    ReplyDelete