Saturday, 29 September 2007

Dance with Death


I must have passed out for a mere second, before I regained my senses, the invidious aroma of the spectres pungent scent , as it crossed the expanse of the dark Kitchen lumbering towards my husband , reviving me almost instantaneously. As it approached Chief Patissier, it threw back its hood to reveal its face, and he lept forward to embrace the figure, as one embracing death itself.

It was at this point that, despite being a woman of stoical nature and backbone, I lost all sense of reality; I remember sliding floor wards, the cold sensation of the flagstones on my skin and the sound of wooden clad feet hurriedly entering the kitchen, metal scraping on stone. The noise of a commotion and raised voices and the vague sensation of being lifted up by strong arms and then after that all was quiet and dark until I woke here in my bed with the figure of Madame Grognonne sitting at my side polishing her rifle quietly in the sunlight.
It was as if all was normal, and always had been thus, as if the strange events in the kitchen had never happened.

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The image above is of Ankou, who, in Breton Folklore, is the spectral personification of Death, his appearance usually is taken as a portend of death itself coming to take a member of a family. The Ankou is said to be the spirit of the last person to die in the area. It can be male, but more often is female, and is a tall, haggard figure in a wide hat with long white hair, or a skeleton with a revolving head who sees everybody everywhere. The Ankou is said to sometimes drive a deathly cart with a creaking axle and piled high with corpses. Bretons beleive if one is out late at night and hears a creaky axled cart coming along the lane behind you it's generally not a good idea to try and hitch a lift.

13 comments:

KittyB said...

I come back for a quick hello and what do I find? Death staring me in the face. How frightening.
However, Ankou's cart sounds much like my creaking old jalopy, apart from the corpses, except for that time I brought the dead fox back from the auction house of course.
Phew - need a glass of that cheap brandy after catching up on these blogs. x

Pondside said...

A dream????? I hope not! Will all soon be revealed?
Ankou is very scary looking - would not like to meet that cart on a dark road.

PG said...

ooo...eeerrr...thank God for Madame Grognonne!

snailbeachshepherdess said...

So is Mmme G over six feet tall? Was it her in the kitchen? The tale of the Ankou has now frightened me to death ....creaking cart wheels

LittleBrownDog said...

Golly. Curiouser and curiouser. How tall is Mme G? And could she have been standing on a box? I'm not sure I like the sound of that rifle being polished - hadn't someone better check it isn't loaded?

Frances said...

How long must we wait?

I pray that you will stay away from the kitchen, and will keep the lights on.

Can a rifle protect one from a spirit?

xo

muddyboots said...

are you sure you had not been over indulging in the cider brandy? perhaps you had a dream? or had you just stared death in the face? perhaps a glass of a little something to help settle those nerves followed by a large tin of home made biscuits

annakarenin said...

Scary stuff.

Tattie Weasle said...

Why is it I feel strangley comforted by the presence of Mme G even if she is polishing her rifle....

Casdok said...

Fasinating!

Fennie said...

As nutty as a fruit cake....as my old father used to say before the Ankou got him - or was it the Banshee? - the wailing Celtic spirit that - in the West of Ireland used to herald death. I had an old aunt, as it happened, who hailed from County Cork and used to sit me on her knee and in a low matter of fact voice, say "I heard the Banshee last night." But then she would go on to say that it was all right to hear the Banshee once, it was when you heard it three times in a row that you needed to worry. So maybe it's the same with the creaky axled brigade - one creaky axle - OK but a multiple creaky axled juggernaut could herald a bit of bother and some overtime for the gravediggers.

All this may mean that Chief Patissier is being carried off - even as I write, which if so would be rather sad. The world is full of indispensible men (so they are fond of telling me) but surely a Chief Patissier must rank among some of the less dispensible? Everyone needs a biscuit or two - in fact I have never discovered why biscuit makers do not insist that everyone retires to bed with a box on their own bedside table. Crumbs between the sheets are a small price to play for the banishment of night starvation. Indeed I have heard that biscuits will keep Ankous and Banshees and whole legions of creaky axled carts at bay if eaten in moderation. And should biscuits fail....send for Loic!

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Wonderful image of Mme G sitting beside Un Peu - polishing her rifle . . .as though it was the most normal thing in the world to do.

Grouse said...

Right - now I am really worried about his readyness to embrace all and sundry.......well maybe all are OK......but I'm still bothered about the sundries........