Sunday, 1 July 2007

A Rather Damp Day

Today for the first time in quite a while we have been blessed with almost a complete hour of sunshine, in between inclement outbursts of precipitation, and it was naturally during this brief respite from interminable rain that Madame Grognonne took it upon herself to hang out the washing to dry.

Unfortunately, unbeknown to any of us, the high winds whisked one of the linen sheets from the line and wrapped it around Loic’s head as he was passing the pond, causing him to topple forwards into the water, tangling himself up in the sheet as he fell.

All would probably have been well had it not been for the unprecedented growth of aquatic plants which has occurred, due to the warm but wet weather, and he found himself sinking amongst the foliage of water lilies and being dragged under by the weight of the bed linen.

When the rain recommenced Madame Grognonne, enlisting the children’s help , rushed into the garden to retrieve the laundry and discovered the sheet missing, it took sometime to locate it but eventually Youngest, who had given up the hunt and was instead searching for frogs, noticed it peaking out between the Lilly pads in the pond and raised the alarm.

No one was more surprised than Madame Grognonne upon attempting to haul in her washing to find a half drowned gardener entwined in it, and showing great courage and quickness of thought she dived in to retrieve him. Of course ,wooden Sabots and heavy skirts are not the ideal garments to swim in and , if had not been for Jacques, alerted to the great splash and shriek she made as she hit the water, she may well have been in serious difficulty herself.

Thankfully Jacques had the sense to fetch a stout rope from the stable and, leaning a ladder across the corner of the pond, clamboured out over it to throw an end to the water logged Madame Grognonne and the semi conscious Loic, so that he might pull them to safety .
Alas, sadly, he slipped, as the ladder was wet from the now very heavy rain, and he too fell into the water, becoming as he did so entrapped by Madame Grognonne’s skirts, the fork attachment on Loic’s leg and the sheet.

I am certain that, had Youngest not run to fetch me, we may well have been without any domestic staff at all by the end of the morning and lunch would certainly have been ruined. As it was, I was able to launch him into the pond, using a discarded cider barrel as a boat, where he was able to pass the rope to Jacques who valiantly lashed himself to the other servants, after which Middle, whom I had sent poste haste to collect the horse, tied the rope to his harness and whacked poor Marron firmly on his rump so that he shot forward at a gallop, pulling them all out of the water with rather an unpleasant slurping noise and dragged them across the grass at great speed.
Had it not been for the unexpected arrival home of Chief Patissier in the automobile, causing Marron to falter in his step, we may never have been able to catch up with him and they would have been dragged along the full length of the lane, totally ruining my poor linen sheet. As luck would have it Chief Patissier was able to lung at the horses harness and stop him.

By this time the children and I were all soaked to the skin, the rain having turned into a heavy downpour, and we all retreated to the kitchen for hot chocolate and biscuits. It was some time before we noticed that Youngest was not with us and remembered he had last been seen bobbing in the pond on a barrel. I immediately sent Madame Grognonne to search for him, Loic being unable to walk as his leg had ceased up with pondweed and mud, Jacques being occupied with rubbing down the horse and I being far to cold to go myself, I reasoned she was wet already and a further dose of rain would not harm her. Youngest was of course safe and sound quite happily catching frogs from the safety of his barrel and could not be persuaded to ocme indoors, much to Madme Grognonnes annoyance.

In the space of only a very short time my best bed linen has been reduced to dishcloths, my prize collection of aquatic plants destroyed, my ploughed up ,the horse frightened and the entire household soaked to the skin and all because Madame Grognonne was careless in the pegging out of the laundry. I really do despair of the woman sometimes!
The painting is a charming image of a woman and child engaged in the laundry. Sadly I have mislaid the details of the artist but believe him to be an American. You will note an entire line full of clean white bed linen which, despite the strong winds blowing them, is so well pegged as to remain in their proper place. I am at a loss to understand how anyone can peg sheets wrongly; it is after all from, all appearances, surely a simple enough task to perform for anyone with half a brain. Not however, apparently for Madame Grognonne!


Elizabethd said...

Lovely painting.
Think you should get Mme. to read Mrs Beeton, I'm sure she would give her a few household hints.

The Country Craft Angel said...

I wish I had a set of best bed linen! All mine looks the same!
That painting is lovely.

warm wishes

Anonymous said...

I often lose my washing living on top of a very windy hill. I should imagine Loic's leg would have scared the frogs away.

ChrisH said...

How very thoughtless of the staff. Really, where can you get reliable help now? I will ponder this on my way to Welsh class.

sally's chateau said...

Phew thanks for the warning, shall now be extra cautious when pegging out my linen

Suffolkmum said...

Me too - but I wish I had the best linen. Mme G really needs to be more careful in future.

Pipany said...

Mme G truly is a nightmare! How on earth did you come by her in the first place? xx

Cait O'Connor said...

Oh I adore the painting. I also have a thing about washing lines so it makes it even more special. Can you email me the link to it?
It is sunny/showery here today but warm. I dry my washing in the 'snug' where the ancient Rayburn lives, bless it.
Great blog as ever.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

I can't remember the last time I hung washing out here! You'll have to get the goosegrease out again on Loic's chest ...(and implements) otherwise he will seize up all over again!

The Long Engagement....enjoyed it except for the graphic blood and gory bits ...Yuk.... at the begining.( I do not 'do' bodily fluids!) Audrey Tautou knows her stuff doesn't she? Yes... I even laughed at the farting dog! When it did show some nice scenery I really loved that....and the lighthouse! I read Sebastian Faulks Birdsong when I was in hospital and I think the war scenes as depicted in the film although vile were pretty accurate of 'The Somme'and there was a vaguely similar thread running through both that film and Birdsong.

Thanks anyway for that... I doubt if I would have watched it if you hadn't suggested we must get back to that gardener chappie of yours......

Fennie said...

There is, by coincidence, a most wonderful and sustained washing line sequence set in a suburban Dublin garden at about this epoch in Donleavy's 'The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B.' Though he doesn't manage to combine them with ponds - or frogs - which I trust you all ate afterwards. I have never eaten frog, not really seeing the point, as I am told they taste just like chicken. And who needs meat anyway when the great Breton artichokes are just coming into voluptuous ripeness. Dipping the leaves in molten lemon butter is one of the world's great pleasures.

LittleBrownDog said...

Ah, pegging sheets is not at all as easy as it looks, Un Peu! Much depends on how well those pegs are constructed - I myself tend to favour a clip (although of wood, not plastic of course). I should invest in a sturdy supply post haste, before Mme G comes another cropper.

You were indeed lucky not to have lost all your staff. I imagine a stiff drink may be inorder.

(And, yes, I tend to agree with you on the subject of Germaine. I can't think Un Peu would have been in favour, despite the onerous responsibility of running a household such as yours...)

patsy said...

Personally I've never washed my dirty linen in public... Thank goodness for good lawyers, it never got as far as the tabloids, all hushed up ..ssshh

Frances said...

Bon soir,

Today was also my laundry day, and I am hoping that the basement laundry room's proximity to the area now been treated to asbestos removal will not cause harm to my sheets, towels, or me.

This is another time to bring out all the positive thinking!

Our current display window in shop has a stylized laundry line of four white linen garments. It is a bit primitive, but together with the large S A L E vinyl letters pressed to the glass, it has gotten the attention of many eager shoppers.

Best wishes.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Gosh how thoughtless of Mme indeed and as you say lunch could have been ruined . . . rushing on . .