Wednesday, 27 June 2007

A trifling conundrum


I was quite at a loss as to how to extricate myself from the rather awkward position I had created. Even allowing for the fact that we were more or less cut off my rising water, I could think of none with whom I might wish to spend an entire evening, especially as with the present climatic conditions it may turn out that their stay may well be forcibly prolonged for a much longer period!

Here I was with an entire household, at my own instigation prepared and anticipating the arrival of six guests and I had no idea where I was to find even one at such short notice! I toyed briefly with the idea of somehow contacting the entire committee for the public health for the commune (with special responsibilities for fosse septiques) including Nicholas Fartoocozy himself, but stopped myself mid thought, there are limits over which it would be pure madness to venture and this was one of them.

What then was I to do! If I were to admit to my husband that the entire day had been engineered by myself, as a rouse to allow me some peace and quiet in which to practise my artist endeavours he would be furious, I fear that would be the final straw in our relationship. Coming so soon after the incident of Eldest’s hair cutting, and the recent spate of accidents and illnesses amongst the servants of the household as it did. I was horribly aware that, due to a small technicality that arose after my visit to the King of Spain, I had been placed under license into the care and protection of my husband. I could foresee a glum future stretching before me, no more jaunts in the governess cart, no trips to market or anywhere else for that matter, I should be confined to the house, or worst still, the lunatic asylum itself !

Whilst I might enjoy the peace and quiet, I have a refined palate and am sure that the coarse though adequate; menu of which inmates were expected to partake would not, by any standards, meet with my approval. Added to which dear Philippe, King of Spain etc and so on has long since moved back to his family home having recovered his sense of self, so I would be bereft of suitable company.
I stood a desolate figure of dejection before my glass seeking inspiration when suddenly; I was overwhelmed by a flash of inspiration! Calling out to my husband, but receiving no reply, I wrapped my peignoir around myself and pinning up my hair went to confront Chief Patissier in my boudoir, where I had last seen him fingering my evening dresses.

Fired with the conviction of a woman who knows should she say the wrong thing she may end up spending the remainder of her days making baskets amongst the mentally challenged, I held my head high and, with a firm voice, admitted that the dinner party was nought but a sham devised by me for my own ends. Sadly before I could continue with my explanation, Chief Patissier’s not inconsiderable temper got the upper hand and I found myself cowering before him, head downcast as he enumerated my many faults and failings. Whilst gazing downward in dejection, I couldn’t help but notice that an earring, which I thought I had lost some months ago, was lodged behind the leg of my dressing table, just a few inches from my husbands right foot.

Letting out a stifled cry, at relief at finding the lost earring, I fell to the floor at his feet, taking the opportunity to scoop it up and secure it tightly in my handkerchief. I perhaps should point out that I am not usually so emotionally attached to my jewellery but this is one of the few family pieces I had from my mother and I am particularly fond of it.

I suspect that Chief Patissier may have mistaken my emotion as being caused by my realising the truth in his accusations , and, noting a sudden silence in the ranting above my head I realised he had halted his diatribe on the role of a good wife, and thought now might be a good time to speak before he continued on the well warn theme of my poor housekeeping skills and mothering.
I therefore looked up at his figure towering darkly above me, not the prettiest angel to view him from as from that position I could see his nose hairs needed a good trim, sobbing quite beautifully even if I do say so myself, I told my husband how right he was as always and that I should indeed been punished. I declared between weak sniffs that I was indeed selfish for I had made so much work for all of them, yet in truth, all I had wanted was in some small way to say thank you to our wonderful household for all they had done, and he to, I thought it wise to add that for extra, in supporting me through what had been a difficult time for me starting out, as I was, with my fledgling skills as a painter. I could think of no fitter manner in which to thank them all than by inviting them to dine en Famille chez nous by way of thank you

For want of anything further to say I threw myself upon the carpet at his feet, making a mental note as I did so to instruct Madame Grognonne to give them a good beating as the smell of dust was quite unpleasant at such quarters and very probably unhealthy to boot.

He was completely taken aback and thus in a small space of a few minutes and within the comfort of my own bedroom I have been transformed from a conniving selfish woman who cares only for herself to a caring mistress who thinks only of her servants, not to mention having found my earring!
Whether I shall feel such a sense of Bonhomie after having to sit through dinner with Jacques, Loic and Madame Grognonne remains to be seen but as long as I manage to judicially place the children either side of me at table I shall at least be spared the need to make conversation with any of them.
..................................................................................................The painting Oberon and Titania is by a talented English artist who was totally mad and spent a great deal of his life in a mental asylum in London. His name was Richard Dadd. I do wonder whether it might be worth my inquiring whether French asylums allow inmate to study and practise oil painting, after all one never knows when one might need a bolt hole!

10 comments:

Elizabethd said...

Wonder what the French for 'padded cell' is?

Fennie said...

Isn't there - my abridged convent education didn't quite stretch this far - supposed to be a day when everyone turns topsy-turvy and master and mistress wait on the servants. Something about demonstrating humility; Jesus washing feet and all that? Could you not turn accident into design, as it were? (though I suppose you've already done that). Otherwise what do you talk about?

If any of the children are musical one might possibly be induced to perform for the duration of dinner thereby rendering conversation unnecessary and even impolite.

King of Spain? I have missed an instalment obviously. Daughters and nut trees, perhaps? Do point me in the right direction.

ChrisH said...

Pleased you found the earring - that was a bonus, wasn't it?

Woozle1967 said...

My, my! You got out of that one so well, better than if you'd planned it in advance! Ad libbing at its finest with just a mere earring as prompt. I'm mightily impressed!

sally's chateau said...

Madam you are indeed lucky to have such a quick wit to keep yourself out of the local institution for unfortunate souls !

Suffolkmum said...

Oh I can't wait to hear how dinner went. You are truly a woman of inspred wit and thinking. And the earring to boot!

CAMILLA said...

Wonderfully interesting Un Peu, and Happy Wedding Anniversary to you both, did the Champagne flow?
Camilla.xx

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Ah hah a cunning plan - rushing in to see what happens . . .

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