Saturday, 26 May 2007

Un Peu Loufoque and the surprising package


Immediately after Breakfast today the carrier arrived from the railway station bearing an extremely large parcel wrapped in Hessian and oil cloth and tied securely with rope. Madame Grognonne and I both vociferously denied having ordered anything of such dimensions however the carrier was adamant it was for Le Chateau Loufoque and it did indeed, on closer inspection, have a label adorned with our address and the name of the Chief patissier in person, thus we conceded defeat and let him in.


It appears to have been sent down form Paris and at first I thought perhaps it might be nothing more than a new canvas for my studio, yet , bearing in mind the size and considerable weight and Chief Patissier’s present mood decided this to be unlikely. It stands a good three metres tall and appears to be in some sort of frame but whether this is merely protection or instrumental to the piece is impossible to say , secreted as it is, within its burlap shroud.

I hazarded a guess that perhaps my husband had purchased a replacement mirror for the salle. The last over mantle having been sadly destroyed recently as a result of a freak accident when youngest became distracted whilst practising archery in the jardin. . His arrow over shot the Butts and hurtled through the open doors from the garden grazing Madame Grognonne’s right ear and knocking the nose clear off a bust of the Emperor Napoleon before lodging itself in the centre of the mirror and shattering the glass. We were terribly fortunate as another centimetre to the left and it would have decapitated the roses in the epergne.

All day we busied ourselves about the place , Madame Grognonne going about her household chores and I following close behind her with paints canvas and easel, at various times finding our occupations sent us unexpectedly into the study for a swift prod at the package but to no avail. The children, fetched from school in the governess cart, were equally enthused and enthralled by our mysterious package. It was all the more intriguing, arriving as it did only a short time before the anniversary of our nuptials.
Regrettably, we all were forced to curb our curiosity until well after eight in the evening when the sounds of the motorcar on the drive alerted us to Chief patissier’s return.


In that most annoying manner of his , my husband ,protesting tiredness after his long day at the biscuiterie,, ignored the children’s pleas to open the package forthwith and wishing them, “bon nuit” sent them disappointed to bed . Indolent to the extreme he stretched his legs out on the chaise and proceeded to ask me about my day, to which I responded with false jollity , knowing full well as I did that he knew full well that I knew full well that a better part of my time had been divided between painting Madame Grognonne at work and hazarding wild guesses as to the contents of the mysterious delivery.

Unbecoming though it is to say such things, it is at times like this, when he is being so deliberately tiresome with the sole purpose of irking me , that I could quite happily beat the man to death with a poker without pausing to give my actions a second thought. Madame Grognonne as loyal as ever has made it perfectly plain to me on several occasions that , should I ever fall prey to such a temptation, she would happily dig a suitable grave for his body in the hot beds under the melons where she assures me it highly unlikely anyone would search.

After dinner Antoine arrived unexpected ly , he and Chief Patissier having apparently repaired whatever rift had marred their friendship earlier in the week, and yet more cognac was imbibed whilst still no mention of the parcel being made. I was just approaching a state wherein I was seriously considering whether the melon beds might be big enough to contain two cadavers, when suddenly they disappeared into the study and shut the doors behind them, ordering me not to enter under any circumstances as they needed to attend to something in private

There was a great deal of banging and huffing and panting to be heard from inside the room and not a little groaning and gasping, so much so, that I did wonder should I fetch Madame Grognonne to help them in whatever they were doing. However this proved unnecessary and after sometime the doors were flung open to reveal the two men rather red faced and sweating from their exertions, standing amid a pile of discarded wrappings and holding between them the now unveiled parcel that had caused the household such pent up excitement today.

There before me stood unveiled my wedding anniversary gift from my husband. A life size portrait of himself in evening dress.

I must admit to being more than a trifle disappointed. I had been hoping rashly that the occasion of our anniversaire might have been considered important enough to warrant some pretty bijou from my husband, diamonds perhaps or emeralds to match my eyes. I might even have accepted with gratitude a long string of amber beads or even pearls which are quite the fashion these days so I am given to believe. Be that as it may it really would have been childishly churlish on my part to appear anything but delighted and grateful. To say nothing seemed the most prudent path.

Luckily having consumed sufficient alcohol to slay an elephant my dear husband was totally oblivious to any feelings of dissatisfaction I might have been harbouring and mistook my silence for shocked delight. I went to bed soon afterwards overcome as I was with a headache which was interpreted as understandable over excitement at his magnificent cadeaux.

The portrait is to have pride of place over the cheminee in the salle. I fear that unless I can persuade Youngest to engineer another mishap with his bow and arrow it will, for the remainder of my married life, gaze down on me, a daily reminder of my own artistic ineptitude and that after so many years of marriage to him my husband did not feel I merited diamonds. Needless to say I shall not be executing my own planned portrait of Chief patissier.

……………………………………………………………………………………………

This is the portrait by Tamara de Lempicka, of Chief Patissier’. I understand that they met in Paris and that he was so impressed with her he commissioned this portrait. She is, I believe from all I have heard, a woman of somewhat dubious moral character and part of the Bohemian set. Regardless of what I may think of her personally, I would be the first to admit that she has captured a look in Chief patissier’s eye that I know all to well. It is indeed an extremely good likeness. I would be far happier if the woman had been less adept with facial features. The mere fact that she is able to portray noses is salt in my wounds.

9 comments:

The Country Craft Angel said...

Un Peu.

I have laughed and laughed at this-I am so sorry, you must be distraught at not being worthy of diamonds. But what a gift....and what a story...you have become quite the master of them. That was wonderful!!



warm wishes
x

PS-And I shall be laughing all day at this and the wonderful way you painted the picture of it all-Genius!

lampworkbeader said...

Slap a good dollop of full strength whitewash over the whole lot and paint something more suitable on top. Recycling is all the rage now, even in the best of circles.

Frances said...

I am very distressed to learn of yet another headache.
Perhaps you should in future avoid the salle. Or...perhaps you could organize a group of ladies who could meet weekly in the salle, under the large portrait. You could discuss matters such as art, children, anniversaries, headaches....
Perhaps it would take the sting out of gift.
Please know I do write in sympathy to your plight.
xo

Pondside said...

Poor, poor Un Peu!! We have, I am sure, all been there recipients of less-than-perfect gifts. It's doubly hard that you have been so very thoughtful and have in return received (dare I say) such an egotistical gift!
Could Mme G be persuaded to have an accident involving a loose rug, a bucket of bleach and a lurching fall in the direction of the painting?

sally's chateau said...

I so admire your poise and restraint, all down to breeding one supposes.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

Have had to read six instalments at once to catch up - I have shrieked and wailed until they threatened to switch me off! I see you're a woman after my own heart - nothing like a bit of physical violence and bury them in the hot beds! Oh En Peu I've got the stitch!

Exmoorjane said...

It's all too much for a simple country girl like me.....I think I need several stiff gins before continuing....

Hopping Moon said...

You are definitely worth diamonds!!Such a joy to read!

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Berludy men - forget the headache and drink enought wine to sink a battle ship - full of elephants! Then get digging those graves.