My food week isn’t going well. First it was interrupted by Baby Sarkozy (Giulia, not Dahlia after all) and then my computer refused to let me edit photos so I couldn’t do my Paté de Pommes de Terre article. And let’s face it. I’m not a foodie. I could happily live on muesli and chocolate – actually, I already do just about! So another non-food post for you.

Last night I went to the cinema for the first time in France. It’s taken five years, but I’ve finally got round to it. Ruadhri wanted to see the Smurf film. He doesn’t ask for much, bless him, so I steeld myself and said I’d take him. And it was brilliant! Rors was squealing with excitement through quite a lot of it. I didn’t quite go that far but I laughed a lot and was thorougly enteretained in Boussac’s little occasional cinema for the whole evening.

Ruadhri really loves the Smurfs – or rather the Schtroumpfs, as they’re called in French. He is addicted to the comic books (bandes desinées) about them. So now, having seen the film too, I decided it was time to find out more.

In case you didn’t know, Smurfs are fictional characters with blue skin, white trousers and white hats. They live somewhere deep in the forest, and travel long distances by stork. They began back in 1958 as a comic strip in Spirou magazine, drawn by Belgian cartoonist Peyo (Pierre Culliford). Soon they got their own comic, and then books and films, and then the merchandising machine swung into action. You can now get Smurf toys, figurines and games.

I’ve had a browse through the books. The stories are straightforward with lots of action. And they use the word ‘Smurf’ a lot – as a noun or a verb. You get sentences such as: ‘This time I’m going to smurf. I know it!’ and ‘It’s going to smurf us like a mouse’. Sounds confusing? Probably, but the pictures give an idea of what’s going on. The French version has an advantage over the English as we get the distinction between ‘schtroumpfer’ (verb) and ‘schtroumpf’ (noun). That probably helps the kids work out what’s going on a bit easier. And there was I in my books, trying to use as varied a vocabulary as I could!

Anyway, Ruadhri loves the books and I haven’t noticed him saying Smurf all the time. So I’ll let him work his way through the series. They’re the first books he makes a beeline for at the library. Closely followed by Scrameustache, another comic books series (but I’ll save that one for another day).

The Smurf books have been translated into 25 languages, and more than 25 million copies have been sold. Now I could do with sales like that! And now there’s the film too.

However, see this article for another viewpoint on the Smurfs as racist and anti-Semtic. Who’s right – Ruadhri or this professor?