I have always been told that the best way to learn a language is by immersion. Get in there amongst the locals, try to make conversation, don’t be afraid of making a mistake, have a go and other such worldly advice. I have to say that my French isn’t really too bad, but that can all go right out of the window once you have passed “Bonjour”. Enter stage left a local tradesman, Jean-Luc. (I am in the process of having a new woodburner installed and part of the job requires a new chimney as the old one is too narrow for the fitting. On top of that it needs some work to comply with fire regulations). Jean-Luc is one of those people that you can never work out just how old he is. He looks as if he is 70, has a weather-worn face, a gravelly voice that can only have been developed through at least 60 years of smoking strong French cigarettes, and no doubt endless glasses of wine! Add to that the local patois and I was lost! However, some things are the same in any accent or dialect, and my education in French swearing is now complete. He worked alone climbing up and down the ladder, carrying tiles, mortar, chimney-pot casings, all whilst balancing precariously on my roof! With each expletive I asked him if he was OK but soon realised that this was his way. In between puffing and panting, scratching his balls, and picking his nose, and Hugo sniffing at his crotch and bum (not in any particular order), he told me that he wasn’t twenty any more! Time for another cigarette… !