Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Un Peu Loufoque and Henri's return

Henri has returned this morning, appearing in the kitchen unannounced and surprising Madame Grognonne from behind whilst she was in the middle of preparing the breakfast tray for Chief patissier and myself. As a result Chief patissier’s cafĂ© was cold and his pan au chocolat a trifle on the hard side but thankfully my tea did not suffer. He has for some bizarre reason cropped his hair exceedingly short and dyed it an arresting shade of red, which is a trifle startling at first sight but I am sure one will grow accustomed to it, eventually.

After a long discussion in the study with Chief Patissier, to which I was not privy, they have or so it would appear, come to an agreement. Henri is to have an official place in our household and a livery of sorts, to which he has conceded , providing the coat has a high collar and the hat a large brim. Poor man he is obviously so painfully shy that he does not wish to be recognised. Although quite frankly I doubt whether even his dear mother would recognise him with his present coiffure.

We shall accord him board and lodging and a small remuneration annually and in return he will have sole care of the horse, stables and upkeep of the governess cart and help with any odd jobs that might occur around the estate. For some reason I can not quite fathom, he now wishes to answer to the name of Jacques, I do hope nothing in the hair dye has addled his brain, one must be so careful with those chemicals. Chief Patissier also informs me he has discussed the husbandry of horses with Henri, who is now Jacques, and together they have agreed it is highly possible he may be administering too much horse liniment and that in future I shall not be required to purchase quite so much Absinthe, which is a relief as I am not sure how much our local bar owner has remaining secreted in his private hoard in the cellar!

Madame Grognonne tells me that, although the missing horse has not been found, rumours are rife that he was last seen travelling towards the Belgium border with a band of Romanian gypsies disguised as itinerant clock makers and that the two Gendarmes who called chez nous yesterday are in hot pursuit. It appears also that Henri’s sister has fortuitously received a letter from Henri which releases him from any suspicion regarding his part in the missing horse vanished.

The letter is postmarked Paris, and dated by coincidence on exactly the same day as the disappearance of the horse. According to Madame Grognonne the letter advises Henri’s sister that he has left the stables at St Juste and is making a new life for himself as a juggler in a travelling circus. This is all very odd as I know perfectly well he is at this very moment mucking out my stables. I informed Chief patissier of this new information which he appeared to find highly amusing.

There is however no news of my missing oils but I have chief Patissier’s word that he will send for extra supplies from Paris and I shall be able to resume my painting as soon as it arrives. Meanwhile , since I cannot continue without Titanium white , I shall have to bide my time. It really is frightfully frustrating, I have nought to do but sit and stare at my completed canvases as they dry in the studio, and there is nothing quite as dull as watching paint dry. I suppose if I get too tiresomely bored I may always entertain myself by moving my contemplation down to the salle to regard Chief Patissier’s portrait for a change of scenery. I am at present trying to avoid the salle as I have an unaccountably strong urge to get my brushes and turpentine out and smudge his nose a trifle. If it was not for the fact that I am sure he would notice I am certain I would not be able to curb myself. I understand it may take as long as twelve whole months for a canvas to dry completely, which, I think you will agree, is an unthinkably long time to expect a person, no matter how well bred, to restrain her urges.

Our anniversaire of our nuptials did not go quite as expected yesterday what with the being shot at before breakfast and then manhandled onto the bed by my husband when I least expected it. However Chief Patissier was obviously touched by my wedding Anniversaire gift to him and it seems to have quite softened his heart, not only did he kiss me fleetingly on the forehead at breakfast but he has promised to take me to the Opera in Rennes as soon as something suitable appears on the programme. I am rather hoping to see Bizets Opera Carmen, The story of a fickle Spanish factory girl of loose morals who ends up stabbed to death by her lover having rejected him for a bullfighter which I think might be positively tranquille after life chez nous over recent weeks.
The illustration today is “Offering the Panal to the Bullfighter” and was painted by Mary Stevenson Cassatt in 1873.You probably don’t know this but a panal is a sweet honey biscuit which when dipped in water makes quite a refreshing drink. Why they can not merely make a drink from honey and water in the first place and serve the biscuit separately is a mystery but then the Spaniards are strange people. It rather reminded me of the story of Carmen, although she was of course interested in him dipping something quite different in her honey pot little strumpet that she was!


Pondside said...

Hello Un Peu - you're not alone in the ether! I can see blogs or the chat room, but not in the same hour and not on a regular basis. Feeling quite lost.
So glad that things are settling down in the Loufouque household. Poor Henri or Jacques, doesn't he know that hair dye is addictive? He'll be dying it forever now, or touching up roots. Tell him to stay out of Sally's swimming pool as his hair might turn green and then he'd get attention for sure!

sally's chateau said...

A wonderfully entertaining blog as ever, I do hope that Un Peu is attracting the wide audience that she so deserves, I think it would be marvellous as a series on the radio so if there are any literary agents out there following her adventures grab her while you can ! I think I should add however that the pool at Sally's Chateau is a salt filtration one so avoids the instant 'green' look that is sometimes the result of plunging into a pool full of nasty chemicals. You may wish to pass this on to Henri.

annakarenin said...

loved the Carmen bit at the end once again am left in stiches.
Sally is so right these really need to be somewhere but unfortunately with radio we would loose the piccies bit which I do love.

annakarenin said...

p.s If you are wondering how I have managed to visit again so quickly it is because I am playing midwife at the mo % kitties born safely but feel there is still atleast one more to go been up since 2 o'clock but they are cute and a darn sight less messy than pups when they arrive.

annakarenin said...

sorry 5 not %

The Country Craft Angel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Country Craft Angel said...

The others are right-Your adventures would be great serialised!! You are so talented.
BTW I love Carmen.

warm wishes

Frances said...

These adventures grow more and more cleverly intricate!
Would it be possible to let us in on some of UPL's beauty tips?
From your reaction to the startling change in Jacques' appearance, clearly you are someone who is interested in putting a good face to the world.
Please do tell us how you do it, of course beginning with your having a clear conscience and pure heart.

muddyboots said...

oh my god, l see that l just can't take time away from these blogs, there is just tooooo much reading to catch up on! missing horse, just check gordon ramsey doesn't serve it up.

Fennie said...

I think I stopped once at St Juste, left the party partaking, as it were of a coffee and wandered off to see the megaliths, if it is the same place. The Liths weren't really very mega, which was rather disappointing, nevertheless they would be a good place to hide a horse. Oh look a spider has just run over my laptop. I wonder if it crawled out of that picture (who posted it?) the other day.

Suffolkmum said...

They WOULD make a great radio serial. i love Carmen too.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

A fleeting kiss on the forefead . . . good grief - such passion!