Sunday, 29 April 2007

Alexi Vlodaflodavodavitch comes to call !


I slept fitfully last night and what little sleep I had was filled with anxious dreams wherein Chief patissier was fighting with Antoine for Jean Claude’s bombard whilst standing on an up turned barrel. The three of them were treading on the bagpipes which kept changing into a highland cow with a metal bucket on its head the way things do in dreams. The noise cacophony was so loud it woke me up and it was then I discovered that the kafuffle was in fact a rather unpleasant combination of heavy thunder and the Chief Patissier’s raucous ronfler (snoring) .

For the second morning in succession I have awoken affected with a most irksome pain in my head, caused in part by the terrible metrological weather patterns with which we have been experiencing. The high pressure brings thunder and rain but with no lightening since the day of Madame Grognonne’s accident and I feel if we do not have some soon my poor brain may explode. My entire being is charged with electricity sufficient I joked weakly, despite my immense discomfort I do try to put on a brave face, to power all of central Brittany . Madame Grognonne suggested I try pushing my fingers into the socket in the kitchen and see if I could revive our own failed power supply. I do try and retain a sense of humour about me even at the most difficult times but I found this rather unfeeling of her.

Gilles the electrician has promised to return Chez Nous this morning to repair the water heating system so tonight at least I hope be able to bathe in comfort.

We are expecting an important visitor this morning a Polish émigré who has been engaged to teach Eldest the rudiments of his native tongue. I myself, of course, speak some Polish but my vocabulary is rather limited to simple phrases such as “Sprawiać przyjemność “( please) , “Dziękują” ( thank you) and Kopalnia jest wielki jed z lodem”(Mine is a large one with ice). All of which I learnt from a Polish air force pilot in my youth.

None of us were in the best of humours this morning. Chief patissier seems to have had some disagreement with Antoine after the play and they are sulking like school boys and I ,of course am feeling justifiably delicate due to my headache.

Neither of our tempers were helped this morning by Madame Grognonne who insisted on crashing and banging around the kitchen preparing Kolachky biscuits for our visitor using so she assured me traditional polish methods. This may be true but I can not be persuaded that they truly required the use of 12 saucepans an bullwhip and a litre of vodka in their preparation.

Having heard of our new tutors antecedence , Madame Grognonne, has unearthed a Polish recipe book from goodness knows where and is busy translating it into French with the help of a Finnish dictionary and a great deal of guesswork. I did hope, Alexi Vlodaflodavodavitch, for that is his name , is feeling hungry as , peering over Madame G’s shoulder, I noted the recipe stated the quantity should be sufficient for 250 biscuits. Before I could suggest she might consider reduced the quantities slightly Chief Patissier, appeared in he kitchen and sniffing the aroma of cooking, stormed out in a huff saying that foreign patisseries have no place in our lives. Regarding the state of the kitchen I must say I quite see his point.

My ill temper was further enraged by youngest bursting into the bathroom to clean his teeth whilst I was cogitating there and slamming the door behind him. As a result of which he and I were locked in there together for an hour before Madame Grognonne deigned to answered my cries for help. Youngest, ever resourceful, filled the entire duration of our incarceration perfecting his high pitched dolphin calls which I am sure would be extremely useful if we ever needed to call a dolphin. Since we are an hour from the sea in every direction I think it is hardly likely we will ever have to utilize this unusual skill too frequently. His persistence did not improve my headache one small jot !

At the pre ordained hour our new Polish friend Alexi Vlodaflodavodavitch arrived bearing with him a bottle of his very own eau de vie made from cherries to his own recipe and together with a map and photographs of his homeland. At the sight of the bottle, I was unfortunately reminded of the German Rhubarb wine incident and forced to leave the room hurriedly and take refuge inte h lavatory, which I do hope he did not find too rude of me.

Alexi Vlodaflodavodavitch was dressed for the occasion in his national costume, which appears to consist of a great quantity of very colourful felt garments all highly embroidered , which bearing in mind the nations propensity to imbibe alcohol and the absorbent qualities of felt can only have be viewed as an act of sheer genius on the part of their costume designers I feel! He was overwhelmed at the sight of Madame Grognonne , whom he had never seen before, her hair in a scarf and face powered with sugar and he quite swooned when she presented him with her Kolachky biscuits. He embraced her firmly, calling her his little” BARYŁECZKA”, I can assure you I do not jest when I tell you it is a rare fellow who can call Madame Grognonne a little dumpling and live to tell the tale!

On hearing Alexis Vlodaflodavodavitch’s arrival ,Chief Patissier returned briefly to meet him and introduce himself. Alexi on seeing the master of the House return, promptly leapt to his feet kissed him enthusiastically on both cheeks, extolling the wonders of Madame Grognonne’s mouth watering Kolachky as he did so. Chief Patissier was unmoved by such unmanly emotions and promptly left for second time that morning slamming the door behind him. Ah me!

Our little émigré told us a lot about his countries long and proud history, of his great sadness at having to leave it and the atrocities that its greater neighbors have over the centuries inflicted upon it. We were all greatly moved as we sat and watched him crying into his vodka.


When I kindly suggested Alexi Vlodaflodavodavitch stay to lunch Madame Grognonne was uncharacteristically animated and whisked up a splendid repas of Bortsch. Indyk Nadziewany Rodzynkami and Kasza within minutes. Alexi Vlodaflodavodavitch produced a third bottle of his cherry liquor from his knapsack and the children laid the table so that we might all continue our education over lunch. I felt a little demoralized when Chief Patissier returned briefly saw Alexi Vlodaflodavodavitch sitting in his pace at the head of the table and marched off again slamming the door so hard this time that glass fell out , thus making it plain to all and sundry that he cared naught for my pain at all!

I fear that at this her first exposure to the new language Eldest did not learn a lot in the way of Polish . although she can now say ” Mijają przecinać sprawiają przyjemność moje szkło jest puste “in quite a passable accent. When she will have cause to use it other than here at home I am unsure.

The meal over and my poor head reeling I set Alexi Vlodaflodavodavitch to mending the door whilst Madame Grognonne and the children commenced washing the dishes. I decided it wise to retire to my room and lie in the dark and rest.I had had, I felt, quite enough of the entente cordiale for one day.
……………………………………………………………………………….

A precise translation of “ Mijają przecinać sprawiają przyjemność moje szkło jest puste “ is difficult due to regional diffeneces in pronounciation and the use of patios in the language. However roughly it means, in terms, “Would you kindly pass the Vodka comrade as my glass would appear to be empty”. The illustration above is of Polish dancers, in traditional dress similar to that worn by Alexi Vlodaflodavodavitch. Obviously he was wearing the mans costume.

8 comments:

jackofall said...

I do imagine that the use of patios in the language would make things quite difficult; I must admit to having heard of floors in the argument, but patios in the language?! I rather think you meant 'pigeon', my dear.

And, yes, my head is fine at the moment, thank you for asking, I can honestly say that to the both of you. Have you seen the potato peeler? I feel a brew of poteen coming on.

Frances said...

Hello from New York, and so many thanks for this imagination that you bring to us.
I once travelled to Brittany from Paris on a train (my first and, sadly, only trip to France.) A lady sat down opposite me in the carriage. She carried a basket sort of container, and the basket sort of container was a duck.
I am the first of my family to travel abroad, and at that moment, I truly felt that I was surely somewhere else.
Your style is amazing. I do not have the time to properly read and appreciate what you are creating, but even so, I know what I do read is marvelous. C'est magnifique!
And you claim to be dilexic.
xo

toady said...

Picky Picky Jackofall! We always speak a different language whilst sitting on the patio. Doesn't everybody? Disappointed that Alexei was wearing the male costume though. I'd love to have seen him in the skirt. Toady

ChrisH said...

Ooh that eau de vie - that's a killer! Chris - recovering from a weekend of excesses with the Ace Gang.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

How can you do that after a migraine for goodness sake? Total hysteria once more in the hills of Shropshire.

Inthemud said...

Wonderful Blog!
Hope your head is better today,what with snoring and combined with being shut in bathroonm enduring dolphin noises,no wonder your limits were stretched! Interesting polish translations! What a day you had!

KittyB said...

I for one am interested in the story of the polish air force pilot.

Suffolkmum said...

Yes, how can you write like that with a headache? Brilliant stuff. Loved you being locked inthe bathroom with the dolphin calls. And do tell us about the Polish airman (Jackofall can look away).