An Unusual French Lesson, Alleyn’s School, c5 June 1978

I had a strange Alleyn’s School memory flash this morning (26 April 2017) while walking between meetings.

It must have been triggered by a conversation over the weekend in which a French gentleman named Bertrand was mentioned. I started to refer to the gentleman as Plastic Bertrand, unwittingly. (Yes, I know Plastic Bertrand is Belgian).

Then the memory flash. Summer 1978. A few weeks before our French ‘O’ level.

Our French teacher, the late lamented Trevor Tindale, had clearly become aware that the song “Ça plane pour moi” by Plastic Bertrand was riding high in the pop charts.

Naturally our ‘O’ level chances would be enhanced if we understood the idioms in the lyrics of that song. Also our grades might be enhanced if we thought carefully about improving the lyrics’ dodgy grammar and Franglais.

So we spent a few minutes in class deconstructing Ça plane pour moi.

Please don’t quiz me now on all the nuances of all the words and phrases. I don’t want to shame other less able students.

But still I should in all modesty report that I’m pretty sure I still know what “wham, bam, mon chat splatch” means. I can also make a pretty good fist of translating, “you are the king of the divan”.

I’m guessing c5 June 1978, as the song didn’t reach the top 10 until the preceding (half term) week and I’m fairly sure Trevor didn’t lighten the tone of the class this way just before the ‘O’ level.

If anyone else remembers this happening, I’d love to read some comments on it.

To jog memories further, here is a video of Plastic Bertrand singing the song with the lyrics all over the screen: