Chere Julie, dear Jules.
Single girl, 22, seeks penpal. My interests are watching television and dress designing and I does alterations to clothes. I got two sisters and a cat. I am looking for someone with similar or different interests who I can write to.
Contact number: 12750.
Jules Lablagues xx
Ivry la Noce,
Dear number 12750,
I read your advertisement for a penpal in an old copy of the Brineham Herald that I found in a motorway service area. It was a month old and you are possibly no longer interested in entering into correspondence with someone but I thought I would write to you.
My name is Jules and, as you can see by the stamp on the envelope, I live in France. I am French, 27 years old, and I enclose a photograph of myself that was taken recently. The chateau in the background is where I live. My family have lived here for many generations. I live here with my parents and I have two brothers and two sisters. My grandmother, who is very old, also lives here. We have no pets as my father hates animals unless they can be eaten.
My interests are cooking and reading. I also write sonnets. I graduated in English Literature and I am, at present, working on my thesis: To be or not to be: Was Shakespeare the first existentialist?
I hope this brief description of myself interests you enough to make you want to write to me although I find myself far from interesting.
13 Beach Street
Thank you very much for your letter. It was very interesting and I'm not just saying that. I hope you don't mind but I let my sisters read it too and my mum as well. They've never seen a letter from a French person before and they wondered what it was like. They thought your letter was really interesting. My dad said I shouldn't tell you too much about myself until I knows that you are genuine because he read about someone in the newspaper who wrote to someone for a long time and then found out that it was all a lot of lies but by that time she had lost all her savings. My dad says I should find ot more about you and what your intentions are.
If you can tell me a bit more about you and your family I will be very grateful and I will tell you a little bit more about me.
Jules Lablagues xx
How very kind of you to write back to me so promptly. Your letter was a pleasure to read but your concerns about my authenticity are completely unfounded. You are right to question the background of a potential correspondent but I assure you that my intentions are nothing but honourable. I wish to improve my English while engaging in an exchange of cultural knowledge and experience.
You asked to know more about my family. My brother Pierre is 33 years old and makes model aeroplanes. He is very good and goes to many meetings where he flies them. He holds the French speed record for model aeroplanes.
Jacques is 29 years old and one day will be a psychiatrist. It is a very long study. First he became a medical doctor and then he started to learn psychiatry.He is going through regression therapy right now and acts like he is three years old. Soon he will remember and re-experience his own birth. My mother has already bought a big box of disposable, adult nappies and some baby-bottles with teats.
Odile is 25 years old and is making a private study of all the world's religions. She has tried more than twenty and made copious notes about her experiences with each one. At the moment she is a follower of Kelpi, an obscure God who is worshipped by less than a thousand people in a remote, mountainous region of India. For this she has to carry a small bell with her and, counting every step, she has to ring it every twenty paces. If she sits down after eleven steps she has to keep this in mind and when she gets up she has to complete the cycle of twenty before ringing the bell.
My youngest sister, Genevieve, who is 22, is a painter although nobody has seen anything she has painted since she was about eighteen years old. She paints every day from morning until night but never shows anyone what she has done. I know that when her paintings are dry she puts them in a big trunk with two padlocks. She has already filled two trunks. She paints images from her dreams and insists that they are too personal to show to others.
My father is a director of several companies in Paris so he is kept very busy with meetings.
My mother stays at home and organises the household. We have a woman who comes in twice a week to help with the cleaning and a man to help with the gardens but we have no cook. We are not rich and have to do may things for ourselves. I do a lot of cooking when I am not working on my thesis about Shakespeare. I learned to cook while watching the chef at my cousins' house in England. I cook, mostly, English food - steak and kidney pie, roast beef, boiled cod and things like that. I make a lot of steamed suet puddings.
My grandmother sits by the fire and knits scarves for the prisoners in the Bastille. We do not tell her that the Revolution is over and we give the scarves to the church.
I hope I have been able to quell your father's fears as I would like to exchange letters with you but I respect his wishes if he considers me an undesirable correspondent.
With all respect,
13 Beach Street
I showed your letter to my dad and he said it was alright for me to write to you. He says that you sounds like a nice young man.
What a coinsidense you and me having nearly the same name. When I got your letter I said to myself thats a coinsidense. Thanks for your letter by the way. Your family seems very interesting apart from being French I mean. I only got two sisters and they are boring. They don't do nothing. Sharon used to work in a factory but it shut down and Kirsty works in a pub sometimes. I does alterations to clothes but I wants to be a fashion designer one day. I likes designing dresses best. My ma does cleaning down at the social club and my dads been made redundent.
We lives in a terrace house with three bedrooms so I has to share with Kirsty because we are the two youngest. I'm 22 Kirsty is 24 and Sharon is 26. My dad says we came along as regular as buses. I wants my own place but I can't afford it yet. If I was to get pregnant the council would find me a place and pay the rent but I dont even have a steady boyfriend. My mum does all the cooking and shes really good. You and her would have a lot to talk about. I bet she could show you a thing or two.
Your really good at writng English and apart from a few mistakes you wouldnt know that you was foreign. English was always my best subject at school and I used to win prizes for spelling. You must be really clever to go to university. I only got 3 GCSEs (Es) and they tell me I'm the bright one in the family. They are always saying that if I had only studied harder I could have done A levels. I dont know about that. GCSEs were bad enough.
Sharon is sort of engaged to be married but her boyfriend Kevin cant find a proper job and he hasnt asked her yet. Sometimes he helps his mate with window cleaning and I think he fixes cars. Sharon and Keith been together for more than three years now and the wedding dont get any closer. Sharon says that she will be an old age pensioner before she is married. She wants me to make her dress when the time comes. I got lots of ideas already but you dont want to hear about things like that.
Kirsty has this on-off thing with Dave Roberts whose about twenty years older than she is and is married with three children. I dont agree with it myslf. Theres lot of single blokes around I tell her why not stick to them. I'm a good one to talk with no boyfriend at all. She says that she loves Dave and that he's going to get a divorce. He's been saying that for ages. I tell her that she's playing with fire. If he'll leave a wife and three kiddies than it wont take much for him to leave her and then where would she be.
In the evenings we usually watches telly. Do you have a television? You didnt mention it in your letter. You probably do. Do you get Coronation Street? Tell me if you do and I will send you some cuttings from the TV magazine about what goes on when they are not filming. You wouldnt believe some of the things. Sharon collects picture of people in the show and I bet she's got some spares I could send you as well.
My dad used to work in the car factory but he got laid off during the recession. They gave him £10,000 redundency money. It might seem like a lot but like you we are not rich. After paying some bills and buying another car dad put the rest of the money in a savings account for a rainy day. Its nice to know its there even if you cant spend it.
Oh I forgot. We got a cat called Shaky. He smells really bad but everyone loves him. We are always pushing him away when he tries to sit on our laps because he leaves a smell behind. It is really vile. Think of the worst smell you know and then multiply it by ten and youll get an idea of how bad it is. Once we sprayed him with perfume but he went into a sulk for two days and refused to eat and stayed in the house for two days and the perfume didnt really take away the smell. Usually he's gone most of the day and we keeps the windows open to air the place out.
I got a friend who went to France once. She said it was really nice and interesting. I would like to visit France but I dont have a passport and I dont speak French. Its probably really expensive. I've seen pictures of France and it looks very interesting.
Its really easy to write to you. It seems like I know you already. Please write back and tell me more about your family and what you watches on telly
(To be continued)
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