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One of my sidelines has become working in a charity shop once or twice a week. Today I noticed a group of young men and women coming in together, one carrying a clipboard and a pen. They were looking all around the shop.
All sorts of possibilities ran through my mind. Mystery shoppers? No, far too obvious. From the local council? No, they were a little too young. The young woman who seemed in charge approached me while the others gathered behind her. I smiled. She smiled back. "Can I help you with something?" No response. She gestured to one of the others, a young man who took a deep breath and told me, haltingly, that they were a group of French students studying all the charity shops in the area, and could I do a keeezz. A what?! Two pages of paper were put into my hand. "Ah, a quiz!" "A quiz" they all chorused after me.
It was a questionnaire. The questions were translated into English but in all honesty the French was easier to understand. Two pages of questions about how the charity shop functioned. It wasn't easy. The students had no English whatsoever apart from the initial set speech, but I did my best and went on with my work, sorting books.
I know, I know, I have the best job in the place. Do you know how many different ways you can sort books? I haven't come to the end yet, I read far too many of them along the way.
I digress. Suddenly I was interrupted by one of the French students who handed me a huge bag of sweets "pour vous remercier".
A bag of Bêtises de Cambrai, apparently a speciality of Cambrai (along with cambric). A "bêtise" means a mistake or a foolish thing, and legend has it that an apprentice sweet maker in the 18th century made a mistke in a recipe which resulted in these sweets. And the sweets sold well and were an amazing success. An alternative tale is that the name refers to the the way local men would waste their money after the cattle fair, buying silly things and among them these boiled sweets.
So, who wants one of my hard earned foolish mstakes? They taste very like humbugs.