Tales of of British Street performer

10,000 copies of Expatriates Magazine are now delivered to 206 establishments across Paris/IDF every month. Want to advertise in the next edition?, download the media pack or contact us here

Download File

Rotating Ads

Place your ad here
Share Button

Being born an English speaker sometimes seems more a curse than a blessing. Especially when you become an expat and realise people of every other nationality seem to be able to speak five languages by the time they’re out of nappies – while at 32 you still aren’t quite sure about the difference between “your” and “you’re” in your own one.

I was terrible at French at school. By the time I was 16, and about to take the last exam I ever faced in the subject, I had a vocabulary that consisted of: asking for the toilet, ordering a beer, – and every swear word in the dictionary. Luckily for me, I earnt a B in my GCSE.

With that I waved goodbye to what I thought would be the last time I would ever use the language. But that was until my partner got a job in France. Mince!

It took about a year before I got to the point where I was able to perform my shows in French as well as in English – and, more importantly, to the point where waiters wouldn’t sigh and resort to English whenever I tried to order a ‘thé vert à la menthe’. Though I must admit, I still can’t pronounce ‘infusion verveine’ to save my life.

The problem comes when French catches me by surprise. A random conversation in the street. When the gardienne of my apartment tries to tell me I’ve had a parcel waiting for me for weeks. The greatest challenge of all though, comes in my shows when I meet that nemesis of the street performer – the heckler.

Heckling is the greatest fear of anyone starting busking for a living. But, after performing for fourteen years, I thought I had faced the worst the street could throw at me. Until I found myself facing a heckler in a foreign language. To be specific, a man dressed in a leather jacket and a pair of old boxer shorts screaming at me in French.

After a few minutes of failing to sooth him with my passably basic French, I am in danger of losing my entire crowd – and thus my earnings for the show. Then I realise I actually have an advantage over him. It has been an effort to learn his language, but this man clearly had the same level of English as my 16 year old self.

So I could safely tell my crowd in English “Please, I know it’s hard, but if you ignore him, he will leave” and carried on as if he wasn’t there. Obviously my words would have made an English speaking heckler stand his ground, but the man did indeed get bored and quickly leave.

Thankfully for most expatriates, having to deal with a semi-naked man like that is not part of the job description. But it goes to show that those of us who do make the effort to learn another language, can’t help but have the edge over those who don’t. Très bien!

Want to nominate someone else for Best of Paris? Let us know

Who do you nominate?:*
Which Category?:*
Reason for Nomination (we may print this):
Your Name (optional):
E-mail (optional - if you want to be notified when your nomination has been added):

15 tickets to give away (first come first serve) to Paris Talks conference on Monday 26th 2018

We are delighted to have 15 tickets available to give away to the upcoming conference Paris Talks. About Paris Talks The Paris Talks conference will address current and future innovations in Education, Technology, Science, Art, Design, Religion, Economy and Environment and the impact they will […]

ESCP Europe – The Bachelor in Management (BSc) – 3 years, 3 languages, 3 European campuses

Three years, three languages, three European campuses, to complete a multi-cultural, interdisciplinary Bachelor in Management (BSc). The first step towards a successful international career. ESCP Europe, the world’s first business school, was founded in 1819. […]

Paris Writers Workshop 2018

Enjoy the rich cultural heritage of Paris and meet members of the international writing community, during a week of master classes, panel discussions, readings and agent consultations. For details, testimonials, general information and registration materials, […]

Use our IG hashtag #expatriatesmagazine - We print our favourites

Something is wrong.
Instagram token error.

Best of Paris 2018

  • Best of Paris 2018 - Click HERE to see all the available categories
  • Add a Link to your nomination HERE
  • Want to nominate someone? Visit HERE
  • Voting for Best of Paris 2018 runs from September 15th to November 25th.
  • Send a Video to support your nomination HERE
  • Have a question? Check the FAQs
  • Join 180 establishments and make Expatriates Magazine & Best of Paris available at your establishment HERE
  • Have you been nominated? Download the Nominated Best of Paris 2018 Web Badge  Download Badge

Random Listing

  • Paris Attitude
    Looking for the perfect Paris apartment rental? For your expatriate needs, Paris Attitude has selected 6000 furnished apartments covering all…[Read more]
About Owen Lean 2 Articles
British Street Performer, Owen Lean became the Bachelor of Magic when he graduated in 2006 with the worlds first degree in street magic. Making the front page of the Irish Times, and several other national newspapers. A year later his house burned down and he lost everything he owned, ever since then he has traveled the planet, performing his unique comedy magic show on the worlds street, taking away peoples fears and "Entertaining those without even the remotest interest in magic" - The Irish Times.