You need what?!

The new school year here in France somehow wouldn’t be the same without a long list of back-to-school supplies.

When I was at school, shortly after the invention of the printing press, the only thing my parents had to fork out at the start of the year was a roll of adhesive film to cover my textbooks. Since I went to a comprehensive school, I sometimes had to make do with present-wrapping paper. Or, one memorable time shortly after their divorce, leftover wallpaper.

It somehow brings Monty Python’s ‘Four Yorkshiremen’ sketch to mind: “We was so poor we had to chop down trees ourselves using just our siblings, chew the wood down to pulp between what were left of our teeth, then press it into paper with our bare hands to make our own exercise books. And still teacher would cane us ‘cause the cover were green, not red.”