Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Floundering with the fisherfolk.


Having partaken of a restorative luncheon I shall now continue the tale of our intrepid travellers.
You may remember we left our devious band of domestics travelling incognito by night in an open cart borrowed from Yannick for the transportation of fish offal, Jacques disguised as an old deaf farm labourer, Loic garbed as a mariner, the Gendarme dressed as the widow, the widow dressed as a woman of ill repute, Antoine dressed as a sardine gutter and Madame Grognonne dressed as herself. The night was a cold one and their journey long but they were amply prepared for the hardship, Madame Grognonne having assembled a hamper of comestibles and the widow providing an interesting assortment of beverages of various varieties and levels of potency.

The gently plodding of the cart horse well known for its soporific sound unsurprisingly soon sent all into a deep slumber until their sudden rude awakening as the cart wheel struck a rock and the wheel jarred by the jolt , jettisoned the passengers into the ditch. All would have been badly bruised had they not fortuitously fallen on the Gendarme. Happily, with each lending a hand, and using the still comatose and rigid body of the Gendarme as a prop, Antoine and Jacques were able to replace the wheel. Sadly as a result of the mishap Loics leg had become twisted and the foot was pointing backwards, a problem they knew from previous experience could only be remedied with professional help. Therefore after some worried discussion it was decided that he and the Gendarme should exchange disguises, the widows long skirts would thus hide Loics deformity for even in Paimpol , the home of the Breton fishing fleet, the sight of a sailor with a foot facing backwards was bound to draw attention. This exchange of clothes was not easily undertaken for disrobing a drunken man without his acquiescence is not an easy task, and as a result they were forced to leave his corsets and bloomers on under the sailor’s tunic and trousers. However finally they were able to continue.


Cresting the brow of the hill they saw below them the distant lights of ships at anchor in the port shining like stars in the early morning darkness and the cart, now squeaking alarmingly made its way to the town quay where the colourful cursing of female fish filliters drifted across the cold air as they hauled the catches up from the boats below. The plan had been that once they arrived at the bustling port they could easily discard the drugged Gendarme, dressed as a woman in the widows clothing, in some out of the way spot propped outside a tavern where he would eventually sober up. Meanwhile they would fill the cart with fish offal and would all be home and safe before he had been discovered. The Gendarmes recent diet of laudanum laced with eau de vie would almost certainly ensure his amnesia and failing that, his female garb would be sufficient to discredit any tale he told which might implicate the Loufoque households involvement in his predicament.


Unfortuantly, whilst they sat outside a tavern, pondering a new course of action, they were spotted by a Sardine gutter, the very one that Madame Grognonne had seen off with a bucket of water some weeks previously at the height of Loic fever. Recognising her tormentor and casting suspicious glances in Loics direction, for even dressed as a widow woman his charisma stood out, she called upon her friends to come and help her reek her revenge and it could have turned a trifle tiresome had it not been for Antoine’s swift intervention.

Screaming shrilly he leapt from his seat, between Jacques, disguised you will recall as a deaf farm labourer, and the Gendarme, dressed as a Sailor on shore leave, and slapped the sailor soundly about the head accusing him of interfering with his person and making such a fuss that they were soon surrounded by a crowd of indignant dalliers under cover of which Madame Grognonne and Loic were able to slip swiftly away leaving the widow behind to offer the others support. Although even at a distance anyone would have been remarkably desperate to make advances at Antoine dressed as he was, the other Sardine gutters were quick to rush to a fellow woman’s defence and all set upon the Gendarme who, as luck would have it, was just that minute regaining consciousness.
Finding himself aroused from his opiate induced slumbers by a bevy of big breasted beauties he lurched forwards to make himself acquainted but in doing so tore his tunic on a nail thus revealing to all his women’s corsets under his mariners uniform. At the same time his breaches, designed for a smaller figure, burst their buttons and the widows lace bloomers billowed out. Such a commotion followed as the sardine gutters surged forward intent on finding if this was a man in woman’s clothing or a woman in mans and in either event disrobing the pervert. A fish gutters life is not a gay one and thus they must find amusement where they can.

Jacques and the widow managed to remove Antoine, who was eager to remain and join in the fun, swiftly had the cart filled with fish entrails and were safely back on the road homewards before anyone had time to note their dissapearance. As luck would have it the day was a warm one and their progress was accompanied by a swarm of flies to escape from which Antoine and the others drew their hoods over their heads. It was decided it would be safest to secrete themselves somewhere and stop until nightfall thus they might avoid the attention of the flies and other travellers on the road. The rested in a wood where Antoine volunteered to sit guard by the cart whilst the others slept.

Thus we must leave them once more, a little closer to home and perhaps a little closer to phantom at the kitchen door, for I too am tired from their exertions to continue further.
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Above is the photograph is of a group of fisherwomen sorting crabs on the shore at Paimpol. I think you will agree that they look indeed , a formidable force not to be trifled with and that Jacques and the widow were wise to extricate Antoine from their vicinity with such speed for goodness knows what might have happened to him had they discovered that far from being a harmless sardine gutter of advancing years he too was a man in disguise!

16 comments:

Blossomcottage said...

Dear UPL what great adventures are to be had in Brittany, I would of course love to experience them with you but I fear the smell of all this sardine gutting and crab picking might be a little more than I could manage. I do hope poor Loic's leg does not cause too much grief although one does wonder if having one foot going one way and the other the other way might in fact have its advantages, I spend a great deal of time not knowing if I am coming or going and this of course would solve the problem resulting in less stress.
Blossom

Hannah Velten said...

I can feel Gendarme's disappointment as he realises his chances of seducing the crabbers, with their bouncing breasts, are crushed when he looks down to see the bloomers and the corset - am I supposed to feel sorry for him?! Mootia x

ChrisH said...

Thank goodness for Antoine's swift intervention. Whatabout the Gendarme? I fear for the poor man!

lampworkbeader said...

It just goes to show that you can't be too careful about what underwear you wear. My mum was right all along.

sally's chateau said...

Loics lot in life does not seem to be a happy one does it ? one hopes that fortune will soon come his way. This would be so brilliant as a sitcom on the television.

Elizabethd said...

Poor old gendarme, not a hppay day for him.
I wouldnt like to be on the wrong side of the formidable gutters...funny, we dont seem to have many in our area.

Suffolkmum said...

Poor old Gendarme, is all that I can say. I agree it would be a great sitcom.

bodran... said...

Sat here engrossed so engrossed i could smell fish. then realised thats whats for tea!! will i be able to look at it without thinking of guts ?? me thinks not.. xx

Casdok said...

Yes a great sitcom!

LittleBrownDog said...

Goodness me, UPL, I'm reeling. Whatever can happen next? What a detailed and evocative picture you paint - life in France, it seems, is filled with hidden surprises. Looking forward to the next installment...

Pondside said...

Drunkeness, attempted murder, arson, poisoning and not cross-dressing...really UPL you make such an effort to ensure that there is something for every reader!

snailbeachshepherdess said...

one particular phrase is award winning...'the colourful cursing of the female fish filleters' what a picture that evokes. Mind you I think the whole collection of these stories are award winning! Bring on a book full.

jackofall said...

Currently working on a book format at the moment, so newcomers to these adventures are not so adrift, and oldcomers can start again and have it all in chronological order.

Rest assured, also, that various sticky feelers are out elsewhere - it deserves to be seen worldwide.

CAMILLA said...

Poor Gendarmes, but then surely Bloomers & Corsets are better than none at all.! No wonder La Livr'e is to be published, will sell like hot patisseries.

Camilla.x

UN PEU LOUFOQUE said...

Gosh don't jump the gun Camilla we have here an author valiently seeking a publisher not as yet alas a book soon to go to press although I am trying my damndest! The book format Jacko is talking about is actually a way to put your blog up so that it runs like a novel and not back to front like a blog.if you see my meaning.

Frances said...

Well, I have returned to read about the scene of the ... I am now not too sure what the scene may be!

How I do worry for our heroine. How I worry for the safety of her protectors.

How I wonder if the daughter's hair has continued its growth.

And the patisserie. Will it continue to support the entire household?

Will our heroine ever be able to return to her easel, her canvas, her brushes, her paints.

I ask all these questions just divert attention from my dread at discovering the truth regarding the phantom.

We readers must remain brave. We must stand or even sit ready for what will come next.

xo