Wednesday, 4 July 2007

No smoke without fire!


We had quite a scare Chez Loufoque this morning, youngest staring out of my studio window at the unexpected sunshine, noticed something a trifle alarming and alerted me, distracting me from my contemplation of my abandoned canvases to see what was amiss. There indeed was what appeared to be, gently billowing smoke wafting on the stiff breeze from the direction of the stable block.

Shouting for help in an appropriately lady like manner, me not youngest , I sent him scurrying in search of his Elder sister, and, arming them with buckets of water, I dispatched them out into the yard to investigate, whilst I rushed about the house collecting my valuables , just in case any fire spread to the main building. The stable is naturally full of hay and other combustible material, and, being all too well aware of Madame Grognonne’s conflagratory potential, I had images of her thoughtlessly mislaying her pipe amongst the straw and the whole place catching fire in some terrible inferno!!

Watching the children’s progress from the window I noted that the smoke seemed to be emanating from behind the stable block, and sent them hurtling off at speed to investigate the enclosed courtyard behind it. Youngest had thoughtfully already liberated Marron, the horse, the dogs and chickens who were all by now over agitated by the unexpected excitement and making a great hullabaloo! The yard was a flurry of fur chasing feathers in and out of the hooves of the prancing pony.

Alerted by the cacophony Jacques came running from the garage where he had been polishing his solenoids and slipped on the cobbles, which already damp and muddy from the terrible weather we have been having, were made more dangerous by addition of the spilt water from the children’s buckets, and excrement from the frightened livestock. His fall was thankfully broken by a small fat piglet which had escaped from Loic’s potting shed.

I could not see what was happening from my safe vantage point, but heard above the noise the strident and familiar tones of Madame Grognonne expostulating in anger, swiftly followed by the sight of Eldest and youngest retreating in great haste from the direction of the enclosed courtyard with an extremely wet Madame Grognonne in hot pursuit hurling abandoned buckets and gros mots at them with aggressive gusto! If it were not for the fact that Loic appeared around the corner in search of the missing piglet and she barrelled in to him, knocking them both onto the mud, I am quite sure she would have caught them.

As it was Jacques, Loic and Madame Grognonne were immediately set upon by the chickens seeking safety in the form of a high perch in order to escape from the dogs. Sadly it was not quite high enough and the dogs cavorted all over the recumbent servants in their efforts to catch the poultry. The pig meanwhile had obviously found something interesting and was happily rooting around amongst Madame Grognonne’s petticoats.

Meanwhile the smoke seemed to have miraculously disappeared which was a great relief, although as it turned out there had been no fire at all.

I later discovered Madame Grognonne had decided to take advantage of the sudden burst of sunshine and hang her damp flannel undergarments out to dry. Remembering her recent near death experience as a result of her careless pegging, and not wishing to court disaster a second time, she had decided to hang them in the warmth and shelter provided by the enclosed yard. Quite understandably the children had mistaken the steam rising from her corsetry as smoke and, thinking there was very likely to be no smoke without fire, had hurled the contents of their buckets into yard in the general direction of the washing line. This in itself would not have been a problem if it had not been for Madame Grognonne’s sudden appearance from behind the water butt where she had been rinsing out her remaining unmentionables in readiness for hanging them out to dry as well. As it was both buckets hit her full in the chest.

The whole incident was nothing more than a simple misunderstanding which I think under the circumstances she over reacted to in quite an unnecessary manner. After all no real harm had been done and at least the children and animals had had some exercise, which I am sure made a pleasant change after so many days of being cooped up indoors.


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Thsi rather charming rustic idyll of a farmyard conjours up so beautifully the rural tranquility so reminisicent of rural Brittany and yet, some how, quintessentially lacking chez Nous in recent months.

14 comments:

snailbeachshepherdess said...

is this a late Wednesday or an early Thursday? Never seen you about quite so late! Poor Mme Grognonne... has that poor woman no peace?....what exactly does she smoke in that pipe ...Class A I wouldn't wonder?

snailbeachshepherdess said...

...and I am having difficulty in tagging five more...the others have alays been there first!

Frances said...

Bon soir,
As always you have brought me cheer, insprirational notions, laughter, and italics. For all I am truly grateful.

Thanks you for all your comments and the holiday wishes.

Hoping that daughter's coiffure growth is nearing the moment when she might consider ... extensions. My stylist is an expert in such technology. Not for me. Never. But perhaps for the avant garde barricade tester in your household. Let her consider the color possibilities. One could go very subtle. Or. Try a combination never yet tried on any head. Surely, even in this age, there must be some such threshold to cross? Should not your locale be the one to make this move?

xo

Pondside said...

Not for Mme G the lovely wisps of lace that are so essential to that certain feeling of well-being that is so elusive!
Isn't it wonderful that Un Peu has such helpful, quick-witted children?

ChrisH said...

And even better there is a small fat piglet about now - I love piglets!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I'm so glad the piglet wasn't squashed. I think it was quite wise that Mdme G took advantage of the sun, we have no idea how long it will last.
Crystal xx

Blossomcottage said...

I am pleased to hear that you have enough sunshine for Madame Grognonne, to dry her undergarments, the poor soul would be damp around the important parts should she try washing and drying outdoors here. I suggest you ask the French goverment to do as DEFRA are doing and pay you for not rearing pigs that way it would be far less trouble.
Blossom

muddyboots said...

l do hope the poor woman's under garments haven't shrunk? it was steam l take it, not a quick puff by some one anonymous behind the shed?

Fennie said...

Ho la la! Do you know I actually met Mde Grognonne today? A real Mde Grognonne - perhaps the Mde Grognonne. She didn't have much to say for herself and I hear she is ordinately shy. In the looks department she is, shall we say, challenged, but she disguises her face behind severe thick rimmed spectacles. Hair is tied tightly back and she was of a build that suggested she could dispose of the unwanted attentions of quite a few pigs and chickens. She had few of the normal graces that one would associate with someone of late middle age and was dressed in a fashion of extreme ordinariness and plainness.

This woman was Polish, apparently, though had lived a good part of her life in France before coming to the UK. Her name was Janne - I didn't get around to asking the surname. But had she said Grognonne I would not have been surprised. Indeed I would have expected it. I am told she knows three languages though hardly bothers to converse in any of them.

She means well though and offered me what could be taken, on a good day, as a half-smile. Had I not read your blog I wouldn't have believed such a person existed. A real case of life imitating art.

UN PEU LOUFOQUE said...

Ah Bien sur Fennie, Bien sur!

Grouse said...

My Dear, I am so relieved to hear that the smoke we saw was merely steam. but i write to you on a most urgent and delicate matter. the servants are agog with chatter over rumours of communication between yourself and a strange american gentleman. I pray there is no substance to this nonsense. I have to tell you it came to my ears by way of the UNDERKEEPER! You see my distress when the tittle tattle has reached such depths.

@themill said...

My vacation was much enhanced with the company of your memoirs. Your life is such a tribulation it quite exhausts me.
Do hope Mdme G wasn't smoking anything illegal amongst the laundry.

Misssy M said...

Have finally made it over to Un Peu Headquarters! Will be a regular, I think!

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Good grief Mme G causing trouble again - is there no end to the vexation she causes you . . .