Thursday, 13 December 2007

Christmas chez Loufoque

A new year approaches at unfaltering speed. Christmas has come and thankfully departed leaving only the remnants of candle stubs and glass baubles and the shredded needles of the sapin de noel to remind us of its brief visit. Apart from a brief diversion caused by the unexpected arrival of a Christmas gift from the Americas (taking the form of a rather large packing case filled with an interesting melange of sprogets, dibbets and preserving jars of muddy coloured unctuous matter labeled peanut butter, which after some careful consideration we conjectured must be some type of engine lubricant)courtesy of our erstwhile friend Elma Bucket of the American flying corps,we were as ever assaulted on all sides with it the usual dull litany of unsuitable and unwanted gifts.

What ever possesses ones friends and acquaintances to burden one with a seemingly endless supply of scented handkerchiefs, un-wearable items of knitwear and utterly undesirable objects d'arte is beyond my understanding. Thankfully we find ourselves blessedly bereft of relations on the Loufoque side and mine only relatives having estates in the Bordeaux region acknowledge sensibly their familiar obligations with a seasonal benison of several cases of their own exceedingly good Bordeaux Superior.I dread to think what My dearly departed Belle-Mere might have felt suitable for our household, a set of mathcing antimacassars embroidered with the passions of Christ possibly or a life size reproduction of the painting of the martyrdom of the 10,000 by Durer,to hang over our nuptial bed, the latter of which at least one supposes might prove to be quite a conversation piece although sadly also likely to squash any lingering passions not already quenched by the hand knitted Khaki bed socks she undoubtedly would have sent with it.I understand from Madame Grognonne that one of the old Madame Loufoques started the knitting of bed socks for the troops during the Napoleonic campaigns and it has become rather a familial tradition one which I have refused to embrace.Some traditions are better left to die a lingering painful death and that one is I fear one of them.

We celebrated the Revellion of Christmas in the traditional manner with the entire family and staff attending midnight mass with Antoine joining our happy band for the feast afterwards, although the term happy may be a trifle over stating the joviality of the atmosphere since the inclusion in our party of the new priest of the parish did nothing to enhance our festive spirits and neither the cloying clerics insistence on telling rather inane jokes although dinner nor the way he brayed like a donkey at his own wit did much to improve any of our tempers.Finally the awkward situation was resolved after Madame Grognonne thankfully suggested to Chief Pattisiers that our honoured guest might enjoy a taste of our special reserve eau de vie, to which he happily agreed. as a result of which the we were able to enjoy the rest of our celebrations in peace and tranquility the cleric having predictable fallen into a comatose state soon after being foolish enough to down his glass in one. Jacques very kindly returned him to the village and propped him up against the main doors of the church where I understand his parishioners found him in the morning his hand frozen to the door knocker.

Since last I wrote, the duties and obligations of the festive season not withstanding, my time has been almost entirely taken up with the task seeking a means of ensuring Eldests future edification and improvement and having sought advise from relaible sources I have taken the step of placing an advertisement in a respectable English newspaper and engaging one Mademoiselle Delacourt as a tutor governess for Eldest whom I hope will be able to polish our not so little rough diamond into a shining gem. She comes highly recommended by Lady Caroline something or other and I understand is well qualified, although in what I am not quite clear.

Miss Amanda Delacourt of Tooting Beck, I pin my hopes then, entirely upon you.


The painting illustration my small missive is Durer's depiction of the martyrdom of the 10,000 painted in 1508. The topic portrays peasants and servants being dispatched by their betters and was one imagines a reminded to the lower classes to be mindful of their placve in society.Although one can clearly sympathise with Durer's problems with his domestic staff it does beg the inevitable question as to whom Durer thought would do the tiding and cleaning up after all the slaughter,so typical of a man to forget such matters.