I had recently sat my 11+, at a time when we were living in Hove actually*, when an old school friend of my Belfast-born mother came to stay. She had married a Belgian and settled in Paris so it seemed entirely logical to the grown ups to say “Why doesn’t GPM come back with us?” and for my parents to reply “What a good idea!”. I don’t recall being consulted about this good idea and so a few weeks later I found myself, as a very quiet 11 yr old, at the start of a 3 month stay with a Parisian family, none of whom I knew. Fortunately they were bilingual as I hadn’t started learning any French at that stage. There was a girl about my age living next door and we became good friends, despite the fact that I spoke no French and she no English. I can’t say that I learnt any French on that visit but I think I did learn the sound of it because French came very easily to me when I subsequently went back to school. Now with 2 children of my own, I cannot imagine sending one of them off to stay with strangers (to them) at the tender age of 11.
*A familiar contraction of the phrase “We live in Brighton, well Hove actually”.