Wednesday, 27 June 2007

The morning after the night before

When one considers the company and the fact that Chief Patissier insisted I preside at the head of the table with Loic on my left and Jacques on my right I think yesterday’s soiree went as well as one could possibly expect under the circumstances.

There were a few minor problems with etiquette which is only to be expected when facing ones servants with an unfamiliar array of silverware and dining avec ones housekeeper and gardener, however in a flash of egalitarianism I suggested we all follow Loic’s example and settle for abandoning the assorted pieces of cutlery in favour of a fork alone. Although this did make cutting the beef a trifle awkward, it was less nerve wracking and dangerous than having to duck every time Loic’s knife slipped from his artificial hand and shot across the table in varying directions.

On the final occasion prior to him admitting defeat and resorting to his fork, it narrowly missed Chief Patissier’s left cheek but thankfully lost altitude just in time and embedded itself in Madame Grognonne’s elbow as she was stretching across to help herself to more asparagus spears. Luckily she is quite well padded and hardly flinched, although I suspect she may regret stanching the flow of blood with the damask napkins since it is she who will have to launder it. Perhaps if will teach her not to be quite so greedy in future, although one hopes this event is one that no one will feel the need to repeat.

Chief Patissier gallantly allowed Jacques to open the champagne, a sad mistake as, along with many of the lower classes, he appeared to believe that idea was to allow the cork to explode from the bottle with a loud retort, thus he gleefully shook it vigorously before doing so. As you may well imagine this caused poor Loic to freeze suddenly and as a result of his being at the time occupied serving me with dessert, I ended up with a lap full of syllabub and a rigid gardener face down in my décolletage. Not an experience I wish to repeat.

I think it is nothing short of a miracle that the Limoges and crystal survived the meal intact and that the only casualties apart from my dress and Madame Grognonne’s elbow were a pair of rather vulgar glass candle sticks painted all over in gold with roses and cherubs, given to us as a gift to mark the occasion of our marriage by Chief Patissier’s maiden aunt now long deceased, which were shattered by the same cork that stupefied Loic.

In order to keep with the spirit of the evening the children cleared the table whist Loic and Jacques joined Chief Patissier in the library for a cognac. Thankfully they were soon joined by Madame Grognonne, who always likes her pipe after dinner apparently. What Chief Patissier found to talk to them about is beyond me but I was immeasurably grateful that it afforded me the opportunity change out of my syllabub soaked attire in to something a trifle less sticky.
When I returned downstairs to hear the strains of music , and was not pleased to discover that Eldest had been taken with the notion that it might be jolly should all of us retire to the salle to finish our evening with dancing.. Youngest and Middle were put in charge of winding the gramophone and I was granted the dubious honour of leading the dancing with Jacques. As he is a good head and shoulders shorter than myself , I am glad that I had taken the sensible precaution of putting on a high necked dress, should Loic unfortunately free fall into my cleavage a second time.

The evening ended on a high note when Madame Grognonne and Loic became entangled in the curtains whilst attempting to demonstrate the finer points of a gavotte, and her sabot becoming trapped in his grip of his artificial hand which I fear had seized up as a result of the inundation of champagne and syllabub it had succumbed to during the evening.

Sensing that after this anything else could only be seen as an anti climax I made my adieus and left them to hop off to the kitchen in search of goose fat.

I leave you with image above of a rather fine ball,was painted I believe in 1906, although sadly I can not identify the artist. Needless to say our small ball shares no similarities at all excepting possibly the fact that the gentleman on the right hand side of the painting seems as intent as Jacques was at becoming over familiar with his dance partners cleavage, he of course had the advantage of height that Jacques did not, and his partner had not had the foresight to wear something a little less revealing.


Pondside said...

All in all, it sounds as though things could have been worse - there's no telling what could have happened with that crew around your table! Once again, Un Peu, you have shown that breeding will out!

Elizabethd said...

I am sure that the lady in the white dress is you? N'est pas? but, where are his arms going/

Anonymous said...

That was hilarious, un peu. You get up to some shannanigans over there don't you!
Fancy getting the kids to clear up. How brave!


Suffolkmum said...

Can't think what to say except that that was brilliant! I especially loved Mme G retiring with her pipe. I can see them all ....

LittleBrownDog said...

Un Peu - how do you do it? Are you forever guffawing into your laptop, or do you manage a restrained bit of Ted Heathing - your tales are always so hilarious and have me snorting in a most unladylike fashion into my evening tipple (Un Stella, this evening - although sadly, not accompanied by the music from Jean de Florette). Poor Loic - will he ever recover? Well, at least he will have died happy.

Fennie said...

Oh, they go on and on. But what I would like, with permission, to ask - over the most delicious beef (accompanied I hope with early potatoes sautéed in butter and garlic) and syllabub topped with the occasional strawberry left untroubled by the current inclemencies - was whatever happened to Mde Loic? And whether there was ever a M. Grognonne? He (a M. Grognnone) might have been caught in the same broadside, of course, that blew off Loic leg and left somewhere at the bottom of a Picardy trench. All Mde G might have remaining might possibly be a stained sepia print of him in his finest 'poilu' uniform - but I think, on balance, not. To be teaching Loic the gavotte suggest she is of an altogether different age and probably originally from Poland to boot. Or maybe it was M. Grognonne who came from there. Maybe M.Grognonne was really a Grognyncki entranced by Mde G's dancing of the Gavotte in the ballrooms of Varsovie. Maybe it was there she acquired her prodigious capacity for strong spirits and her liking of moustaches.

And were there ever any little Loics? Or little Grognonnes? Oh the dark secrets of Chief Patissier's household!

Daughter's hair seems to have regrown. Excellent! Or is it a wig?

Hopping Moon said...

Happy wedding Anniversary - many blessings to you!

CAMILLA said...

Very amusing blog Dear Un peu, such wonderful painting. I have left you message on your CCW Page, ie., the same painting to this blog 1906. Best of luck.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Cerikey - rushing on . .