Friday, 8 June 2007

Un peu loufoque and a mothers lot is not a happy one...


We have had a very worrying 24 hours Chez Nous since last I had the chance to sit here and write my diary and reflect upon events for alas for us all, Middle child is unwell.

Our day started happily enough and soon our time was spent in the routine tasks of daily life. Chief patissier’s day being almost in entirety spent in the tedious business of the collection, transportation, and commencement of installing the famous American dough mixing machine in all its glory at the family Biscuiterie. My day filled with the equally taxing pursuit of deciding the menu for the coming week and organizing the purchase of household provisions accordingly. This took considerable fortitude on my part since Madame Grognonne is still persisting in serving veal in some for or other at every meal. I must say that some of her recipes have been quite ingenious, breaded veal cutlets in Kumquat sauce was great improvement on the calf liver surprise for instance, however I am beginning to yearn for something a little less bovine.

Due largely to her resistance to my suggested changes to the menu our trip to the local market was not the a particularly pleasant experience. Fruit and vegetables were not a problem and we did manage to purchase some fish and mussels , which Madame Grognonne has agreed to turn into a seafood soup but were unable to get what we required in the way of dairy produce as the dairymaids insisted Madame Grognonne move away from the churns for fear of curdling the milk with her scowl. On the way home we were accosted by Yannick who is still it seems searching for his lost calf but sadly we were unable to help him with any information as to its whereabouts, As I pointed out to him I am sure I would have noticed if we had suddenly acquired a young calf chez Nous, after all they are quite boisterous creatures! I did however promise to ask the children if they had noticed a calf loitering around the grounds somewhere.

After dinner, Blanquette de veau with asparagus tips ,Chief Patissier and I retired to bed early, each of us still not quite recovered from our recent and somewhat taxing trip away. I was awoken in the early hours by a large bang and a shout which I presumed to be Madame Grognonne accidentally discharging her firearms in the hayloft but swiftly realised it was no such thing for it was followed by a pitiful wail which any mother’s heart would recognise immediately, even though it was slightly muffled and had travelled over the long distance between our wing and that of the children’s nursery. It was the sound of our poor middle child calling in distress for his mother!

I did what any Mother in her right mind would do when summoned by her anguished male child in the cold dark chill of the night, and swiftly alerted Chief Patissier to the situation by means of a sharp kick to the shins. I do think after all the relationship between fathers and sons is a vitally important one. Sadly despite my valiant efforts I was totally unable to arouse Chief Patissier from his slumber so was forced to rise to the occasion myself. Slipping on my pearl studded pantaloufes and wrapping myself in my lilac peignoir with the ostrich feather trim I staunchly set out in the direction of the cries in the fervent hope of all mothers in that situation, the hope that by the time I had arrived all would be well and I could return to bed once more to sleep.

It took me some time to reach Middle child’s bedside as I had inadvertently got lost on the second floor, easily done in a house this size, and found myself in the East wing so had to retrace my steps. In fact there is a rather poignant family legend of a young bride who rising on of her wedding night in search of a glass of cognac to steady her nerves after her nuptials , inadvertently took a wrong turning and opening a door to what she presumed to be the drawing room found herself stepping into the tower room and in the darkness plunged down from the parapet to the cobbled courtyard below. Needless to say her branch of the family tree stopped there . Her phantom is said to walk the chateau at night moaning for her foolishness and still desperately searching for a large cognac.

Amway I digress , by the time I finally reached Middle’s bedside Eldest had thoughtfully dealt with his cauchemar and put him back in his bed , from which he had evidently fallen, hence the bang, and he now lay slumbering peacefully as only a child who has managed to rouse his mother from her bed can. I thus returned to my boudoir, stopping en route to partake of a large cognac in memory of the poor lost bride, and was just climbing into bed when the commotion started again.

With grim determination to be a good mother I again donned my pearl studded pantaloufes and lilac peignoir and I retraced my steps to the nursery via the library where I refilled my cognac glass just in case of emergencies and to keep out the chill night air, I repeated the entire procedure at least four times until I really did not have the energy to go on any further each time reaching Middle child’s bedside to find him sleeping albeit feverishly but sleeping none the less which was significantly more than I was able to do under the circumstances. I therefore decided for his sake if not for mine he would be better transported to our chamber where at least if he woke I would be close at hand to deal with his call.

As you can I am sure appreciate it is not easy task to carry a feverish and by now slightly delirious nine year old boy down four flights of stairs along several inter connecting corridors through an unlit kitchen and back up another three flights to his parents bedchamber in the dark of night whilst one is wearing only a thin nightshirt and dressing gown . However I am proud that Eldest managed it very well only dropping him twice , the second not being her fault at all as was totally unaware that I had planned to stop in the library to refill my glass taking as I did so the candle with me, and thus can be excused for tripping over one of the cats in the dark.

This morning as Middle was still in rather a fitful state and complaining of headaches I sent Jacques, previously known as Henri to fetch the Doctor who on his arrival immediately diagnosed some sort of over heating of the constitution possibly fuelled by a imbalance in his diet. His has prescribed syrup of figs, rhubarb cordial and calfs foot jelly ! with a few days quiet bed rest in a darkened room . I have therefore arranged for a small bed to be made up next to mine and Chief patissier has volunteered to sleep in the study on the day bed until Middle is fully recovered. I have taken the precaution of placing a decanter of Cognac by the bed for emergencies just in case. I always maintain one can not be too careful when one is dealing with a child’s health.

……………………………………………………………………………..
This painting, from about the year 1600 is by the Dutch artist Metsu and poignantly portrays a woman holding a sick child on her knee. I ,as many mothers before me , recognised instantly the expression on the poor infants face. It is one of feverishness and resignation which comes, in my experience, only moments before the child vomits violently and unexpectedly and in vast quantities usually all over some item that is not easily cleanable or replaceable. Please note the strategically placed receptacle to the woman’s left. It is a sing of a good mother to be able to grab such a receptacle and position it accurately and at speed at just the crucial moment. It takes years of training and practise. I have high hopes that one day those maternal skills will eb recognised and it may be included as an Olympic sport/

9 comments:

snailbeachshepherdess said...

Oh En Peu .. I completely cracked up at the demise of the bride ...the eldest...carting her brother about in the dead of night and the missing calf...but how is my hero Loic? ....have so missed him today ..do give him my love...

Elizabethd said...

Le pauvre. hope he is well soon.

sally's chateau said...

And perhaps a little drop of laudanum as a standby ? for yourself obviously !

Faith said...

I quite fancy myself floating around a large chateau as a new bride in need of cognac. On our wedding night it was Hub3 had had too many cognacs and no nuptials for me! Hope le petit better tres quickly!

Suffolkmum said...

Loved this - the image of the poor bride desparately searching for her cognac - and poor old eldest lugging middle child through the corridors! Hope he's better soon (and of course, a swift kick to the shins is the only way to try to rouse a sleeping husband).

ChrisH said...

No fluffy mules? You are neglecting yourself for the sake of les enfants. I just used to bellow at mine (no, no, Mr RSPCC Inspector, I did look after them as well).

ChrisH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ChrisH said...

B*gger me, I did it again! Press the stupid button twice - and not one glass of wine has passed my lips.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Wise of you to let eldest carry middle and also wise of you to keep topping up on the cognac - one can never be to careful.