Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Serious thoughts from the salle de bain


Having fully recovered from the ructions and ramifications of recent weeks I was lying in the bath the other evening, prior to dinner , and appreciating the milky beauty of my slender and elegant ankles when my thoughts drifted to the contemplation of the physical failings of others less fortunate and thus was, alas, sadly reminded of the rather unpleasantly disappointing thickness of Eldest ankles. A thought that naturally led me to a pondering upon her visage in general and in consequence what the future might hold for her. I ended my ablutions quite depressed as a result and quite unable to do justice to Madame Grognonne’s excellent Rognons de Veau flambés au Madère .

It is, to say the least; regrettable that a couple as handsome as Chief Patissier and myself should produce such a rather plain creature, especially when one considers the unsurpassable beauty of her brothers. Nature can at times be tiresomely unfeeling in the distribution of her bounty, bestowing on our boys the clear nursery complexions of the English upper classes, the large violet blue eyes of their father and the thick dark lashes of their mother whilst absentmindedly condemning our female offspring with straight short lashes, thick eyebrows and a figure that owes more to robust stolidity of the Breton horse than to my own fine elegance. One must blame of course the Loufoque genes of her Fathers Ancestry. I know little or nothing of mine own antecedents but one can clearly see that the boys obviously take after my side.

Children can be such a bitter disappointment. I imagine this is why Helen of Troy never embraced motherhood, what is the point ,after all, of being the face that launched a thousand ships if ones female progeny are naught but puddings?

With a face as lamentable as hers one must accept the fact that she is unlikely to win hearts. After her rather disastrous attempts at learning Russian I have somewhat shied away from interfering in her education however, as good a job as the nuns have done with her in attempting to impart the finer points of needlepoint, piano and watercolours their knowledge of the world is naturally rather limited. Loathed as I am to add yet another domestic appendage to our troubled household perhaps a tutor is called for.
I shall have to contemplate the matter closely meanwhile I have set my self to the task of preparing her for the wilder world and investigating the possibilities which a girl of her background might choose as a suitable career and to that end have managed to get a copy of Cassell’s Book of the household, which has a highly informative chapter on Careers for Girls, sandwiched between an article on the cultivation of Dahlias and a brief history to time. Admittedly it is English and is a little out of date but one must work with what one can.

If all else fails she could of course join the convent although since she has adopted a rather unbecoming habit of truculent door slamming and grunting as her chosen means of communication I think we might seriously rule out a silent order.
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The painting above is one of several studies by Degas of a woman going about her private ablutions. He seems to have been quite obsessive in fact about this particular theme, a fact that perhaps should not undergo too much scrutiny. I am sure that in some artistic circles it is perfectly acceptable for a gentleman to spend his time hanging about the bathrooms of ladies and watching them undress, but no tin my bathroom I can assure you. Far be it for me to comment on his choice of model but I really feel if he was going to concentrate on this particular subject the might have chosen someone slightly more attractive to paint. To be fair her wrists are fairly elegant in a coarse sort of way, even if her hands are a trifle red, but she definitely leaves a lot to be desired in the foot department and as for the state of the water one can only wonder exactly she has been doing that has caused the water to be covered in green scum.

16 comments:

@themill said...

Hie me, as Willie Shakespeare oft said. Strengthen the hinges and door locks and in two or three years she will emerge gloriously elegant, eloquent and heart breakingly beautiful.

lampworkbeader said...

Have you never heard of the story of the ugly duckling, woman! Just you wait a while before banishing the poor girl to a nunnery.

bodran... said...

Ditto above !!
Are you sure that is a woman in the painting?? The arm looks female the leg looks?? could there be two people ?

Pondside said...

Is there no end to the challenges that you face with such courage, such ingenuity....dare I say - such verve? Lucky girl to have such a paragon for a mother! No doubt she will ever remember, with thanks, your concern and care and you will be repaid tenfold when, in your old age, she cares for you!

Suffolkmum said...

How distressing it must be to be so elegant and yet have a pudding for a daughter. The crosses you have to bear, Madame, are too much.

Fennie said...

I am so glad to see that Mde G has been rehabilitated, at least temporarily and that you have fine ankles. Like myself incidentally. But they are rather wasted given the rest of me. Still, Eldest is something of a revolutionary, isn't she? All that red hair and escapades with the scissors. How long is the hair now? Just wait until the body piercing starts, or are we getting ahead of ourselves.

You are at least in the fortunate position, writing in the 1920s, of taking a sneek preview into the future to find out into what your Eldest turned. She will be well into her nineties now - an age at which the ankles don't really matter - but you, my dear, by the same token must by now be either the oldest woman alive in France or sadly have gone to join Degas in his bath thereby accounting perhaps for the slim arm (yours) and the thick leg (his) emerging from the tub.

Maddy said...

Degas has always bit a high spot to me. I think I'm biased by a trip to the Tate[?] failing memory, where they had an exhibition of his bronzes, mainly ballet dancers. I still find them mesmeric.
Cheers

Grouse said...

Fear not, dearest! Simply enrol her to study arabian archeology. I understand one is required to cover oneself from head to toe in these countries. Should she meet a suitable suitor in persuance of her practice, I am sure she would, ankles withstanding, be a welcome change to all those bones.

Inthemud said...

I too was thinking about The Ugly duckling!! You made me smile with your wonderfully written blog.

Don't send her to the nunnery yet!

LittleBrownDog said...

I'm oft wont to contemplate the milky elegance of my own ankles - tho usually after a generous amount of alcohol and aided by the absence of my contact lenses (tho hopefully not whilst trying to stand up at the same time, that really would be tempting fate). I'm sure eldest must have inherited some of your inherent beauty?

muddyboots said...

did consider not embracing motherhood but then l realised that l was not helen of troy

Pipany said...

Yep, I was thinking Ugly Duckling too though look how that turned out! Brilliant as ever Un Peu xx

CAMILLA said...

Wonderful descriptive blog Un Peu, and I have a passion for Degas.

Camilla.xx

Tattie Weasle said...

I do beleive that ankles notwithstanding any child of yours Dear Madame is sure to come about but if that is not the case a tutor would be the best thing to ensure that she is able to take up a career perhaps as a well informed companion...

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CAMILLA said...

Wonderful writing Un Peu, lovely blog. Hoping that woman does not go to the Nunnery quite yet.!!

How strange - I have a reprint of this painting on my bathroom wall.. Salle De Baine.

Camilla.xx