Sunday, 6 May 2007

Madame Grognonne and the unexpected revelation


After one’s rather delightful audience with the King of Spain yesterday and an exceedingly taxing but temporary incarceration in a mental institution it was with rather a bump that I awoke this morning to discover that yet again we have a Polish Émigré at the kitchen table.

Fortuitously Chief Patissier was working today, some international emergency in the world of biscuits I believe, so I was saved, at least, from having to distract him from our small Slavic visitor . It being Sunday he had arrived to tutor Eldest in his mother tongue. I deemed it vital to be in attendance in order to keep an eye on Madame Grognonne who, on the occasion of his previous visit ,devoted a great deal of the domestic budget on filling him with Kolachky biscuits and vodka with the unfortunate result that we were obliged to live on cabbage soup for an entire week !

This Sunday ,Alexi Vlodaflodavodavitch , was armed with a brown leather satchel bursting with papers and photographs of his homeland and intended to concentrate on the culture of Poland, which was a quite a relief as last lesson he covered verb usage and Madame Grognonne was so engrossed in perfecting conjugations with him in the hayloft that Chief Patissier had to go without his bacon for breakfast and was not amused

Personally I am of the opinion that a great deal of the somewhat slurred and repetitive use of some syllables in linguistic structure of the Polish . is related closely to their consumption of strong spirits . Without large quantities of Vodka I fear it is probably unlikely that anyone would be able to succeed in pronouncing their names let alone even half the vocabulary . This raises the question as to whether the vodka was developed to aid with the pronunciation of the language or that the language was developed in response to an over consumption of Vodka? Ah semantics are so interesting I find!

As if to prove my point Alexis Vlodaflodavodavitch, who had the appearance of being already slightly intoxicated even at that early hour, had with him an entire case of Kirsch, which it appears he had presented to Madame Grognonne, although I can not fathom what she had done to deserve it! Evidence showed that they had already made considerable headway into one of the bottles and he was most offended when I refused to partake of a breakfast glass with him, preferring instead to drink my tea as I am accustomed.

There was a time, not so very long ago when I could count on being gently awoken from my slumbers by Madame Grognonne bearing a silver tray laden with all the necessities for providing a lady with a invigorating cup of breakfast tea in the comfort of her own bedchamber . However of late, this pleasant routine appears to have been replaced with my having to search out my housekeeper and invariably sit and drink my restorative cup in the company of rude labourers and common immigrants. I thought perhaps I might have a small glass of eau de vie after all as a restorative . I reached for the bottle just as Madame Grognonne chose to leap to her feet and remove the receptacle to the dresser and thus forcing me to pick and tut at a fictitious stain on the oil cloth on the table, much to her amusement.

Intent extolling the literary skills of his compatriots , and somewhat riled by the sudden removal of the bottle, Alexis Vlodaflodavodavitch strode about our kitchen, arms flaying reciting extensively from Józef Ignacy Kraszewski in a bellowing voice. I prayed fervently that we might be excused a rendition of all Kraszewski’s 29 novels on the history of Poland as really I felt it was too much to expect even of me. I was also anxious that Alexis Vlodaflodavodavitch elaborate hand gestures might result in his inadvertently smashing the large glass lampshade that hung above us all and consequently found myself ducking uncontrollably every time his arm swung upwards towards the ceiling. It would have been far more agreeable had Eldest taken up stamp collecting.

On a more positive tone Chief Patissier was very taken with his new books and spent all last night locked in his study reading them, He seems to have quite forgotten his tiff with Antoine, for he woke me extremely early this morning in a very excited state, to tell me that he would not be home for luncheon today as he fully intended to seek out Antoine and show him his new book on Sodom. I was quite surprised as I had no idea that Antoine was so interested in Geography. I felt quite humbled as I realized that I knew little in truth about the lives of those around me and swore to make it my mission to discover all I could In future and set upon Alexi Vlodaflodavodavitch as my first subject.

Meanwhile, Madame Grognonne (whom I noticed, had not deceased from smirking at me ever since she had removed the spirit bottle from the table) in her habitually clumsy manner tripped over the Poles satchel , spilling the contents untidily over the floor . Eldest assisted him in gathering the photographs which had cascaded out and asking him enthusiastically about each. This fortuitous happenstance thankfully served to distract him from his monotonous monologue, for which I shall be eternally grateful.

As you can I am sure imagine in a Maison comme Chez Nous, our kitchen, and therefore its table, is rather large compared to your more humble abodes, but none the less, we were forced to huddle around the Polish Émigré’ in order to see more clearly the photographs and drawings to which his detailed descriptions pertained. Madame Grognonne I felt sitting just a little closer than strictly necessary, whilst Eldest and I wisely choosing to lean back slightly to avoid the somewhat intoxicating fumes from his breath.

He had produced from his voluminous and rather short felt trousers a flask from which he proceeded to drink heartily , clutching it to his breast between sips, whilst extolling ever more loudly the virtues of various sites and features that he thought might entertain us. . After several minutes of his descriptions, interspersed with gulps of spirit, he was beginning understandably to become a tad emotional, as were we all. I found this whole experience a trifle vexing as , by this time, I would have quite willingly indulged myself in a glass of spirit if only I could have removed it sufficiently from his iron grip to take possession of the bottle for even a short time.

I entirely blame myself (and lack of breakfast) for what happened next. From amidst the pile of photographs and sketches of famous Poles and their habitats under which my day was being slowly but mercilessly drowned, I clutched at random at a small pastel portrait of a young woman from the pile and begged Alexi Vlodaflodavodavitch, with what I hope passed for jolly enthusiasm, to divulge all concerning the enchanting creature. In truth she was far from enchanting but I hardly thought it worth the risk to say so.

Had I had any real interest in the young woman’s identity I may have taken her to be his sister, or failing that a cousin, or possibly a maiden aunt on his mother’s side, or even possibly a rather effete Uncle, one can never tell with foreigners can one? . However it transpired she was, or rather is very much so still, Madame Krisha Vlodaflodavodavitch, wife of Alex Vlodaflodavodavitch ,and mother of several little Vlodaflodavodavitch of varying sizes and sexes all of whom happily alive and well in their hometown of Czenstochowa and awaiting with open smiles the joyful return of their Papa.


Quelle Horreur ! Alex Vlodaflodavodavitch, married !

Even allowing for the bizarre, nay unpredictable behavior and social mores of foreigners, for a married Gentleman present unmarried ladies with lavish gifts of flowers and alcohol, particularly of the home made kind is reprehensible ! But a married gentleman who conceals connubial status in order to spend an entire night in a hayloft raffishly conjugating verbs with my housekeeper is a cad and I will not be entertained under my roof!

Sending Eldest to the furthest wing of the house I stood to my full height and pointed at the door commanding with all the dignity I could muster that he depart la maison immediatement! Sadly the magnificence of my performance , was somewhat overshadowed by Madame Grognonne picking him up bodily by his finely embroidered felt vest and slightly shrunken trousers and throwing him out of the kitchen door, hurling his satchel and a string of gros mots too indiscreet to repeat here, after him .

Madame Grognonne evidently far from amused at having her emotions thus trifled with, nor it appears her conjugations either, informed me, as she threw the remaining bottles of alcohol after the retreating figure of Alex Vlodaflodavodavitch( with commendable accuracy I must say) , that she bitterly regretted that we had sold the cattle castrating implement at the vide Grenier not two days before.

I wonder if it is too late to divert Eldest’s studies to the arts and introduce her to water colour painting? I suspect we have all really had enough of Polish to last us for some considerable time!

……………………………………………………………………………



The illustration is a copy of the portrait of Madame Krisha Vlodaflodavodavitch which her swiftly retreating husband abandoned on the Kitchen table in his hurried departure. Since he has not returned to collect it Madame Grognonne intends to keep it to tear into strips and use it to light the fire.

57 comments:

Woozle1967 said...

I have to have 2 cups of tea before 8am otherwise the day is b*ggered!!x

Frances said...

Although I realize it not quite UPL terrain, is it not possible that the election results might somehow be entwined into a future blog?
Is it possible that any election could change France?
Please note that I do not myself offer an answer.
xo

Pondside said...

Quel horreur! A married man! Thank God you were able to save Mme G.
So, like HRH, you not only awaken to the skirl of pipes, but you have been in the habit of having your tea brought to you in the morning? (Having just seen The Queen I am completely au courrant regarding all facets of HRH's private life)

toady said...

UPL these are really fantastic. I really think you should contact somebody about getting them published or I can see [hear] them as monologues on radio 4 at 11 at night. They deserve a wider audience. Toady

muddyboots said...

bonjour, kings now poles what will we have a demain? how far are you from civlisation & is there something strange in the water. great story mind you!

snailbeachshepherdess said...

I agree with toady, I can 'hear' these stories so clearly and we have ditched The Archers in favour of the MMe Grognonne chronicles! The very thought of MMe picking the little man up by his vest and throwing him out had me hysterical. Keep 'em coming En Peu you have a fan club over here

ChrisH said...

I'm sure I know Alex...

Eden said...

Glad you have left the CL thing well and truly behind you and are getting on with what you do best. Love your wild tales. Feel sorry for the poorly conjugated M.Gr.

The Country Craft Angel said...

YOu are mad UPL, but very sharp! Ditto Toady and Snaibeachshepherdess

warm wishes
x

Blossomcottage said...

I'm with toady, get them published and on the radio, would be great, how about a film that would be even better.
Blossom

Suffolkmum said...

Absoultey agree, I can 'hear' these tales too, they certainly deserve a wider audience. Brilliant stuff.

muddyboots said...

you've been tagged old gal!

muddyboots said...

ok, good job wine hasn't sent me to sleep [muscadet serve et maine] or something like that. listen very carefully l vill say zees only vonce.
1. write name on blog [muddyboots]
2. copy my website addres
3 highlight me [muddyboots]
4. click on link
5. paste address into box
6. voila. bobs yur uncle..
it should work
it took me a while to understand the instructions like.

sally's chateau said...

I am sooooo in awe of you.... as always a truly witty offering for our pampered palates xx

Tattie Weasle said...

Oh I have missed this - I shall have to print them all off and hoard them so I can be much amused even when the electricty fails - however, if it does fail I can always use these little musings as tapers for the candles....!!!!!

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