Saturday, 4 August 2007

Un Peu Loufoque with girded loins and Sardine gutters


I lay in my bed just as the faint light of dawn pressed its way unasked through the shutters, listening intently to the unmistakable sound of the drawing back of a heavy bolt down in the yard below my window. My immediate thought was that it must be Jacques and Madame Grognonne having difficulty lifting the laundry basket in which Loic was concealed and inadvertently dragging his metal leg along the ground in the process, but in my heart I knew it was something far more sinister.

Creeping to the window and gently pushing open the shutters, as far as I dare without attracting attention, I caught that tell tale aroma, the unbegiuling melange of stale fish and unwashed bodies, carried on the light breeze like the exotic scent of some foreign flower but far more loathsome and nauseous, the unmistakeable aroma of a girlish gang of sardine gutters, grappling with our gates!

Taking a restorative glass of Cognac from my bedside decanter, kept there for just such an emergency, I attired myself quickly in a pair of chief Patissier’s trousers and a knitted pullover and, adding Madame Grognonne’s Kendo Breast plate and the colonels helmet for protection, made my way stealthily towards the tower room where I might afford myself a better view. Chief Patissier and the rest of the household having already left on their mission to safely obtain a new limb for Loic; it remained to me to protect the children and chateau Loufoque from the marauding Mademoiselles de la mer! The fish filiters had taken their first false steps and if they were lucky would live to regret their foolishness for the remainder of their days! I was confident for, in the words of the family motto carved above the front door: "Ce n'est qu'un couillon qui embĂȘte un Loufoque ".....Only a fool fools with a Loufoque!

From my new vantage point I could see their shapes outlined in the dim light, the great wooden gates were pushed open and a group of 4 fish filleting females were stealthfully making their way across towards the rear of the stables in the general direction of the potting shed that Loic calls home. I say stealthfully but it is virtually impossible for well built women to tiptoe undetected in wooden sabots and the fish filiters, not being renowned for their intellectual quick thinking, had not thought to remove them.

This was there second mistake, the sound of their metal studded clogs on the cobbles alerted the dogs sleeping inside the stables with Marron the horse and they barked vociferously and leapt at the door forcing it open in their haste to get at the intruders. We had had heavy dew in the night, granite cobbles being slippery when wet and metal studded clogs not being designed as footwear for athletic pursuits, it is unsurprising then that one slipped on her efforts to outrun the hounds and was set upon by them having knocked her self unconscious on the granite. Alas, I suspect the liberal application of old cooking oil I had applied earlier on the stones had not done much to help their sure footedness either.

That left three heading off past my potager, their third error of judgement, I find fish filiters so predictable.

Passing past the pottage and into the undergrowth of the overgrown vegetation, it has been a trifle difficult for Loic to successfully tend to the artichokes of late what with his foot being on backwards and his cult status, they disappeared from sight but not until I heard the satisfying sound of a muffled grunt, the like of which might easily have been caused by an unsuspecting fish filliter catching her foot in a well hidden snare and being catapulted skywards to hang upside down in the apple tree, having first been knocked insensible by a cricket ball launched by a giant catapult hidden amongst the potatoes which she had inadvertently triggered by her careless footwork.

That left two, treading down my asparagus and trampling the tomatoes in their unseemly rush to ransack Loics rucksack.

Since returning from Passiondale poor Loic has never quite settled to civilian life, having I suspect left so much of himself upon the battle field, except for the piece of him he carried in a jar pickled in formaldehyde but we try not to think about that too often. He has eschewed all attempts at domesticity and lived like the boy soldier he once was, his scant possessions piled in his grubby military knapsack camping in he corner of the potting shed with the pigs.

During the interminable rainfall of this wet summer Youngest, Loic and Jacques had constructed a sophisticated drainage system designed to divert flood water to the basin at the end of the orchard. The sun being finally with us and fear of flooding past, they had put this to good use as a slurry pit for the fumier from our many and various animals, its bulk being recently increased greatly by a timely contribution from Yannick of this year’s cow dung. Youngest has high hopes of building a machine to produce fuel from methayne gas. In order to preserve the heat the top of the slurry pit is concealed with reeds and straw. Sadly our sardine saboteurs were unaware of my budding physicists plans and I could not help but smile as heard the unmistakable sound of someone falling headlong into the pit having trodden upon the straw.

That left but one wicked wench left crashing her way towards the door of Loics lair, cleverly avoiding the slop bucket left suspended above the door to deter intruders. Alas though for her not clever enough, as I clearly discerned the sound of the door being pulled open was swiftly followed by the noise of disgruntled pigs disturbed untimely from their sleep by the invasion of the potting shed. Pigs are very territorial creatures as our last vile voleur found as she was pushed backwards in the Basin by a dozen cross cochons searching for their breakfast.

Happy in the knowledge that all was now well I returned to my room to dress myself in more suitable attire and having done so flung open my shutters to the jolly vision of the now sunlit courtyard below , with 4 filthy fish filliters retreating out of the gates in an ungainly fashion pursued by barking dogs and grunting pigs.

It is always a fine feeling when one starts the day with a good deed done before breakfast!

.........................................................................................................................................
I have included a picture of the fisher girls of finsitere to give you an idea of their general build and dress, although in this photograph they are busily employed transporting fresh tuna from the fishing vessel, I am sure you get the general impression of them and can well imagine their rather odorous aroma, fish being a notoriously difficult smell to banish I can only hope the additional of animal manure can only serve to mask its pungency. One can quite see that they might go to any lengths to get hold of some of Loic’s belongings to act as charms for fertility after all it would take a strong stomach to get close enough to get to know them let alone anything else!

14 comments:

ChrisH said...

I wonder if it is fish filliters currently moving cattle towards the main road on the farm opposite as I sit here? Surely mr farmer wouldn't allow such a thing?

Has the produce recovered from being trampled by sabots? The streets of Cardigan are currently sufferding from a nasty outbreak of Crocs. Quelle Horreur!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I can't remember if I've already said but you write so well. I'm not sure Loic is my cup of tea but I do enjoy reading about his adventures and yours!

Crystal xx

Elizabethd said...

Why did you change your clothes? It sounded to be such an elegant ensemble, quite a la mode, especially the helmet.

Grouse said...

I hope they at least had the manners to leave you with kippers for breakfast.......?

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Berlimey Un Peu and you didn't even get your hands dirty - respect . .

muddyboots said...

l must say that l agree the the best place for a bottle of cognac is beside the bed for those purely medicinal moments.

Faith said...

Ooh I can smell those mademoiselles from here! Do they ever find husbands?!

snailbeachshepherdess said...

Mmmm a career change on the horizon? ...After that..perhaps not!!

snailbeachshepherdess said...

Indeed Madame......I see the fish filleters undoubtedly thoroughly chastened by yourself disappearing over the horizon never to darken the Lefouque doorstep again.....apologising profusely in that broad dialect for any damage caused unintentionlly to the vegetables...they were only larking about with poor Loic. Silly girls for ever presuming they could play in such surroundings in the first place. They will be happier for the experience as they resume their normal station in life back on the docks gutting sardines and may wistfully look back on the time they played in the lofouque gardens...it was after all a little crazy

sally's chateau said...

Great family motto, no less than would be expected though from a woman such as yourself !

Pondside said...

Well done!!! I've said before that the women on this site are formidable - and you, Mme are the embodiment of that quality!!!! Bravo! Could I send your name to some of our Generals in Afghanistan?

Suffolkmum said...

I do agree with the family mottto - and the practise of keeping a bottle of brandy by the bed.

Fennie said...

I am not sure but I think I heard the word 'Belzebub' shrieked in anguish tones, as the cobbles clattered with the crashing of clogs in the damp darkness of yesterday evening.

@themill said...

There are those who complain that the same malodour is now noticable in public houses with the introduction of the smoking ban.