We were both looking out of the kitchen window and having a good laugh at a very drunk man on the other side of the ringroad, stumbling and falling all over the place. But, when he then tripped, and fell down the stairs leading to the subway I knew this wasn't good. My vivid imagination and knowledge of this kind of thing, coming only from watching various TV programmes, meant that I now associate falling down the stairs with being something potentially fatal. Well, it often is in the movies, anyway. Man and woman have argument at the top of stairs. Man grabs woman's arm, woman loses her balance, falls, and dies.
We both raced out of the house and across the road to see if he was okay. Or dead. He had actually only, miraculously, fallen down the first four stairs and was still breathing. He was clearly absolutely plastered. He had also, impressively, managed to prostrate himself on his front, spread across all four steps, so that he had his feet, legs and arms all on different steps. The kind of thing that you'd probably fail to recreate when you're sober. He was face down, and barely moving. His huge nose looked like it had the texture of plasticine and was squished against a step. It didn't looked like it was broken. In fact, I couldn't see any blood or scratches on him at all.
I gave him a good shake and slapped his back a few times but he didn't stir. C meanwhile tried getting help from the neighbours but nobody appeared to be in. Instead, she then flagged down a car and asked for help from a young couple. All done in French of course, but she said her French somewhat failed her at this time of emergency. What she said translated as something like this: "Please. There is a problem with a man. In tunnel. Over there. He is fallen down. Can you call an ambulance?"
Within 10mins an ambulance and another car had arrived and 5 people were helping to pick him up and load him in. He didn't really seem to know what had happened and just kept repeating the words "je suis tombé." Yup, you certainly did. Before they left, I made sure the crew didn't forget the crucial accessory that had fallen out of his pocket: his packet of fags.
And so, conclusive proof that we have what language experts would call 'survival French.'