Saturday, 28 April 2007

The last night of the play or Une Nuit Blanche

Last night was the last night of the play and I went along to join in the frivolity afterwards and see what improvements have been made after the extra hours of practise that Antoine and the chief patissier have put in this week.

I decided to walk as, even though it is not a pleasant evening and the sky boded well for rain, I felt far safer to do so than risk the temptation of driving back having partaken of intoxicating beverages.

I took Madame Grognonne to accompany me, I know this may appear a tad foolhardy on my part but if I had to walk home in the dark it was safer to have her with me as a guardian than being shot ,on my return ,having been mistaken by her as an unwanted intruder. Eldest was to stay at home in charge of the other children and I was confident in her ability to keep them safe…providing they do not play with matches.. or open the door to strangers.. or discover Madame Grognonne’s rife collection.. or eat the rat poison under the sink.. It is, I fear a mothers lot to fret needlessly about such harmless happenstance!

I wore my pale lilac satin pumps and wished ,as I picked my way down the lane, that I had on something a trifle less prone to staining , Yannick had been fruitfully engaged all afternoon in attempting to transport his impressive dung heap from one field to another and the lane was ankle deep in fumier. I must suggest he considers building the thing closer to his pumpkin patch next year and save us all such inconvenience. Luckily my quick thinking saved the day yet again and I prevailed upon Madame Grognonne on her shoulders. We proceeded happily alone with me as her rider encouraging her to greater speed with sharp kicks form my kitten heels. It was by no means awfully elegant , but then neither is cow dung in ones diamante shoe buckles. Added to which of course I was perfectly safe to assume none other than Madeline or Claude might espy me thus , and, since neither’s footwear extends further than wooden clogs, I dare say ,I hardly need fear censure from that court in the area of appropriate comportment and sartorial apparel!

As soon as we reached the high road I commanded Madame Grognonne to gently put me down and we continued our promenade towards the village. Several vehicles passed us en route and stopped to offer us lifts but all were happily refused. I was much enjoying our evening walk, breathing the heady scent of spring and feeling the Frisian of the coming storm in the air. I felt it would do nothing for our popularity within the commune to force others to squeeze up in their seats in order that we might be saved the trouble of a bit of exercise, that and the knowledge that Madame Grognonne’s undergarments still bore a strong whiff of sulphur after the lightening incident which at close quarters and in confined spaces can be quite over powering and nauseating for those unaccustomed to it.

On reaching the outskirts of the village the hubbub from the small theatre was clearly audible and vehicles of all description were packed around the building. I say small theatre but , in truth, compared to facilities in an English village you might think it large. It has a “seating capacity of 600 and a stage large enough to host the biggest concerts, all of which are of course necessary in order to accommodate the tradition Festnoz (evening dances) where more than a thousand dancers may whirl away, arms linked, clogs clattering in a complicated gavotte to the accompaniment of the bagpipes, bombards, accordion, fiddle, clarinet and hurdy-gurdy and of course singers.

I sent Madame Grognonne to secure some seats for us whilst I made my way to the stage door to make my “saluts” and wish them all “merde” in the traditional French manner. I have never been quiet sure why the English wish actors to “break a leg” before the performance. English is such a bizarre language at times is it not?

The play went well and all were on top form although during one scene Clothilde got rather carried away and would have had Jean Claude breaches down had it not been for a timely intervention of chief Patissier and a well aimed bucket of iced water! Antoine ( who you may remember played the part of Clothilde the village postmistress) can hardly be blamed for the incident. for it transpired that some witty rascal had craftily tampered with the wine bottles on the stage Thus when Antoine , who as Clothilde is called upon to drink an entire bottle of wine he found a mixture of Burgundy and Jean Jacques famous 97% proof eau de vie in place of the usual fruit innocuous juice.! Understandably he was rather as a inebriated as a result. Fortunately for all Jean Claude seemed to bear no grudges in fact he and Antoine would appear to be closer than ever. A fact that, for some reason I cannot fathom, would seem to annoy Chief Patissier inordinately.

After the final curtain calls and encores, which naturally included several renditions of Breton songs , some of a rather raucous nature. I left Madame Grognonne to tidy away the makeshift bar and sweep the floor whilst I joined the troop backstage for a celebration.

Perish the thought that any might think me callous in my treatment of Madame Grognonne but as I mentioned earlier the odour of Sulphur which pervades her very sinews does not agree with everyone’s stomach and the party was being held in a particularly hot and cramped room. It was fairer to all that oin this occasion she be gently by firmly excluded.

Thus the evening continued, the chief patissier and friends intent on a traditional nuit blanche ( a night without sleep) by way of celebrating their success, and Madame Grognonne empting glasses with gay abandon. I myself, far too aware as I am of the need for my beauty sleep retuned home alone, arriving at 3 a,m having tripped merrily through the misty lanes in the pale moonlight singing happily to myself the words of that gentle Breton ditty “Le Chevalier lavendre” For those of you who’s education is sadly lacking in the fields of French folk songs I have copied the words below and translated them for your ease. I believe, as a footnote, that an English Singer named paddy Roberts released a passable rendition of the song in English..

It is as follows. I hope you will excuse the lack of musical score as I am feeling a trifle fatigued however please feel free to add your own if you so wish ! Bon Nuit ma puce !

Lavender Cowboy(Paddy Roberts)
Yippee-yi, yippee-yayYippee-yi,
yippee-yo, yippee-yay
Which sounds rather silly,
But every hillbilly,
Spends half his life singing that way

He was just a lavender cowboy
With only three hairs on his chest
And he rode on a fillyCalled Daffy-down-dilly
The prettiest horse in the west

Every morning they went out together
While the others looked on in dismay
For he'd round up the cattleA-riding sidesaddle
Because he preferred it that way

He was just a lavender cowboy
Who committed a terrible sin
He went out on a bender
And slugged a bartender
And stole all the strawberry gin

So the posse was sent out to find him
To bring him back dead or alive
And they knew as they went
They were hot on the scent
By the smell of Chanel Number Five

And they found him a-lying unconscious
With blood running all down his chin'
Til they looked a bit closer
And what do you know sir
They found it was strawberry gin
So they shot the lavender cowboy
And they said, as they laid him to rest
"You'll be happier now boy.
You can't be a cowboy
With only three hairs on your chest."
The photograph shows the sonneurs Jean Marie and Pierre Le Coq playing musical accompaniment at his evening performance. However, please note sitting on a wine vat whilst playing a bombard perched on a rickety chair takes years of training and should not be attempted at home.


toady said...

How about the Lavender cowboy song as the school anthem? It's the right hue. Toady

Fennie said...

Why not indeed. In English or French? And the tune - something like, 'The Long and the Short and the Tall?'

(You'll get no promotion, this side of the ocean - the Long and the Short and the Tall....)

(or maybe memory is failing and I'm confusing two songs)

Please can you send me the words in French? Not wanting to show off but it's maybe something we could sing on our Clisson trip in August after the fifth bottle of Muscadet.

Félicitations a tous

sally's chateau said...

Madame Grognonne sounds an angel to me and I have lots of very similiar tasks she could perform down at Le Chateau ! Still trying to sort out the locked front door business, so tedious on such a marvellous day, think I'll go and lie by the pool instead ! (tee hee hee)

The Country Craft Angel said...

Just caught up with your blogs-you are still so entertaining Un Peu Loufoque-don't know where you find all your ideas-awesome...and just a little 'mad' I think!!

I wish I had Mdm Grognonne-could do with her around here for a few days!!

Take good care

warm wishes

WesterWitch said...

Oh lovely - I was there with all my nerves . . .for the actors. It is such fun to be able to share experiences with another person in the acting 'game'. Does Jacofall's drama club have a web site we could all look at. Wonderful too that you can walk freely at night where you live without fear of attack. I would walk to our village and back - but would not walk alone around the towns.

RuthF said...

Do you know it's amazing Pierrre le Coq is a dead ringer for SensibleMan that time he grew his hair, wore a sily hat and clogs and sat on a barrel playing the bagpies. Ah, those were the days - it's back to the referee kit and pinny these days

jackofall said...

Website? Ha! No. Still, there might be some photos lying about somewhere, if I've not deleted them.

Does yours have a website, ww?

lixtroll said...

Oh damn I just tried it at home.