Tuesday, 8 May 2007

The triumph of Madame Grognonne

The soirée at the salle de fete last night, held as I am sure you will recall, to celebrate the election of Nicolas Fartoocozy, was a far greater success than anyone could have anticipated bearing in mind the entire event was organized by Madame Grognonne with the help of the Fahide family, who are the couscous sellers from the local market . I believe I mentioned them yesterday.

We were all absolutely dumbstruck when we entered the hall expecting nothing more than the ubiquitous red white and blue bunting and the odd Tricolore and the rows of trestles and benches set out comme d’habitude . However, with the help of Fatima and Abdul Fahide , and it must be said their many, many generous relatives, Madame Grognonne had secretly transformed the interior of the village hall into an Arab Harem, the walls and floors draped with carpets and exotic fabrics and furniture replaced by low tables and cushions on which the guests reclined. This was a little awkward at first for some and old Madame Dubois found it a tad uncomfortable with her wooden leg but once she had removed it the villagers realised that it would not be frowned upon to remove their sabots and everybody relaxed considerably and entered into the spirit of things with their usual Bonhomie. There was a bit of a contretemps between Jean Claude and Pierre Yves as to whose Sabots were whose at the end of the evening but apart from that the whole thing went off without any unpleasantness at all which is almost unheard for a village get together !

From the ceiling hung vast elaborate mousky lamps their stain glass panels casting a colourful glow on the proceedings beneath, I believe Fatima’s Uncle borrowed these and many other of the exotic trucs used for decoration from his cousin who runs an export business in Marrakech and had them transported by horse and cart all the way across France especially for the party. Claude ,the village carpenter, had constructed arched doorways and columns and these were painted with traditional hexagonal patterns in turquoise, red and gold by Mohamed Fatima’s cousin . Unfortunately he got a trifle carried away with his allotted task and had covered the entire west wall, half of the floor and the urinals with incredible mosaic patterns before any one noticed. I am not sure what the Mayor will say when he realises these are now a permanent feature , but they certainly made the entire place look awfully authentic.

If luck is with us, I don’t imagine it will be possible to return the Mayor to anything resembling a fully sober state before next Tuesday so at least we shall have a week to consider how we should best approach the matter . He made himself rather over familiar with the Turkish Raki last night, something which I fear he will regret volubly, once of course he has regained his power of speech. I know Raki is not precisely Arabian but Madame Grognonne felt it was slightly more in keeping with the spirit of the theme than the draft cidre the mayor usually imbibes at functions.

By way of entertainment Fatima’s sisters nieces, aunts and two of the local girls performed a traditional dance, which I believe was called the dance of the seven veils, a pleasant change from the gavotte. With hind sake it might have been kinder not to have included Veronique and Matilde in the group as they insisted in dancing comme d’habitude in sabots , and not being used to t he steps trod on them other girls toes once or twice. I am sure that Fatima’s relations will eventually regain the ability to walk without limping but even so they will be feeling sore for a while until the swellings go down.

I did feel someone could have lent the poor women overcoats and balaclavas bearing in mind our salle is not, by any standards, warm at this time of year and is positively arctic if the windows are left open. I do realise that the climate of their native country is considerably hotter than ours but gyrating in nothing but, what to all appearances seemed to me, to be a small collection of chiffon curtain off cuts cannot have been awfully pleasant for them on a cold damp evening in Brittany. The Veterinary Surgeon did volunteer to give them a rub down with horse liniment afterwards to warm them up again but very sensibly they all declined.

Fatima has promised to teach Myself, Eldest and Madame Grognonne the intricacies of something called “the fan dance” which I thought would be a splendid piece to perform at the new Year Soirée Chez Nous this year. thankfully our home is more than adequately heated so we shall not all catch our death of cold! . I was somewhat taken aback when Antoine expressed a fervent desire to be allowed to learn the dance with us as I really do not see that he has, in truth, the build for it( although between you and I he would probably look more fetching in the dancers ensemble than Madame Grognonne will. Chief patissier was a trifle upset when I declined Antoine’s request but Fatima promised them both they could try on the costumes later which appeared to cheer them up no end.

What with the eating, drinking and spectacular entertainment we all agreed it had been a formidable victory for Madame Grognonne and a real feather in her cap. Sadly, Nicolai Fartoocozy did not enjoy himself and spent the entire evening sulking and looking disagreeable. However Fatima, Abdul and all their many and numerous relatives along with Madame Grognonne, and the village Pharmacist, and his daughter who had travelled down from the coast especially for the occasion, all seemed very determined he should not be allowed to spoil the fun and took turns in repeatedly proposing jolly toasts to his health and success, which meant of course that he was forced to down copious glasses of Raki and Algerain red wine at a frightening speed , not as it turns out a particularly wise combination.

Poor Nicolai has rather a sensitive palate and can only drink very mellow well rounded Bordeaux and then only with the greatest of moderation. It appears, according to the doctor with whom I discussed the matter afterwards, that he has quite an unpleasant reaction to strongly spiced foods as well. I doubt any real harm has been done, and it is highly possible that Nicolai will suffer no permanent damage as a result of his sudden illness last night, although Madame Grognonne has it from his housekeeper that he was up half the night vomiting and she strongly doubts that, despite her best efforts to remove the worst of the stains, he will ever be able to wear his dress suit again

So finally, apart from the guest of honour being unexpectedly hospitalized and the mayor being confined to his bed for a week we all had a wonderfully thrilling time and it has turned out very well indeed for all of us. Madame Grognonne has been approached by several prominent individuals in the community to cater for forthcoming functions, Fatima and her sisters cousins and aunts have agreed to set up an association teaching what I am given to understand is called belly dancing and I have managed to source a supply of exceedingly well priced exotic Islamic decorative items for the redecoration of my boudoir, plus Madame Grognonne has struck an deal with Abdul for an annual supply of couscous at wholesale prices!

I think one can safely say the event was an unparalleled success and will be remembered fondly by us , except of course Monseuir Fartoocozy and the mayor.


The illustration shows Fatima and the girls taking a well deserved rest between washing coffee cups and performing the dance of the seven veils. You may notice a couple of the girls have kept their white Breton blouses on under their Arabian dress, these Veronique and Mathilde luckily you cannot see their sabots which somehow detract from the elegance of the outfits..


Frances said...

What an honor to be first to offer my compliments to you for your reportage on this very important evening.
So many veils, so much music, so much between the lines, so many more days and nights to read about.
I do hope that we will be so lucky!

sally's chateau said...

Rather similar shananigans here but not as exotic, but then we are not blessed with Madame Grognonne sadly.

Pondside said...

Can't wait to get the latest 'People' magazine from the store! It's sure to have a big spread on Mme G's success fou! I am sure that all things Arabian will once again be all the rage and we'll all be lounging on leather camel saddles around hammered copper tray-tables, blowing on the bubble pipe and eating halvah!

Inthemud said...

The decadence of it all. Mne G really excelled herself! Shame about Fartoocozy, but oh well!

Liked the thought of Mne taking off her wooden leg! And all the belly dancing, I used to do belly dancing at a class, never very good though!

Un peu this was just brilliant as usual!

Suffolkmum said...

Love Fartoocozy's discomfort at all the Arabian shennanigans. Perfect. Mme G rose to the occasion, as ever.

Eden said...

Oh your poor mayor's sore head. Perhaps he will take the best decisions of his term in office during these hazy days of recovery, before full sobriety sets in (chilling thought).

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Taking off one's wooden leg at Parties is always a good ice-breaker - don't you think?

ChrisH said...

Brilliant stuff, Un Peu.


testing testing testing one to three oh S+++

Her on the Hill said...

What are you testing, pray, Un Peu? Have I missed something?

I am fully expecting an invitation to the New Year Soiree Chez Vous, so tell Mme G to get practising - and to purchase a fan the size of an elephant. Otherwise she may find herself irksomely cleaning up vomit again...

By the way, fancy an icecream and a stick of rock on the pier in Brighton with me? (we were probably hanging out at the same cocktail bars!). Do you remember Quodrophenia Alley - that little cut through near the lanes where they shot the film? Usually full of dog shit and stinking of piss...?

LittleBrownDog said...

Lovely, lovely blog again, Un Peu. You had me chuckling into my Algerian red well into the night (and I love the idea of Nicholai Fartoocozy - suits him to a T).

Tattie Weasle said...

A triumph! What more can one say - I feel a little like the Mayor and so will.....later!

Withy Brook said...

That was absolutely marvelous, Un Peu. Mme Gregonne surpassed herself. I really can't help feeling just a little bit sorry for Fartoocozy and the Mayor.