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.


Fennie said...

Oh - am I the first? Or has the world been and gone? Maybe I am the last servant (I abase myself before the eminence of Chateau Lefoufoque) left alive after Durer's pogrom and general slaughter of the innocents. Maybe it would be advisable to turn this tableau to the wall before little Amanda arrives, she no doubt having something less pertaining to the Book of Revelations in her luggage. Better hide the Saki too.

Talking, as you were, of things over beds, my own family motto, - just the thing for a monsieur getting a little too carried away - is 'Fear God in Love.' I never paid much attention to this in my younger days, but my great aunt of blessed memory obviously took it to heart and refused various suitors on the grounds that they exhibited insufficient capacity in the god-fearing department. She remained therefore a maiden aunt and went around terrorising the bureaucracy into absolving her from the penance of income tax.

She, too, knitted - socks even - and as this was the time of the First World War I wouldn't be surprised if the idea of khaki feet warmers came from her.

Casdok said...

May your gems shine brightly in 2008!

Grouse said...

This is but a brief note as it just occurred that the elaborately-wrapped parcels you might have recieved from me last week MIGHT have appeared to be gifts for yourself and your family. I hasten to inform you that the scented linen and knitted garments were of course intended for the recipients of your sterling charity work.
Your own gifts have been inexplicably delayed on their way from the vinyard.......

snailbeachshepherdess said...

I have missed these!
Will we be hearing more about Miss Amanda Delacourt from Tooting I wonder?

Elizabethd said...

One hopes that Mlle Delacourt's references have been most thoroughly checked.

Frances said...

Many thanks to you for this return to us at the close of the year.

We are far too polite to ask more about the gap in the chronicles. We are so happy to again have access to the intricacies of life at your chateau, and relieved to be reminded of the very good sense and grasp of Mme G.

Tooting Beck. Should it ever become helpful in any way, may I let it now slip that I once boarded a train, that ran underground from a station that had a sign outside its above ground entrance that said Tooting Bec. Could this possibly be the same area?

May Mlle Delacourt be all that you now hope that she will be.

In the intervening time, may I send my best wishes to you and your household for happiness in the new year.

LittleBrownDog said...

Lovely to catch a glimpse of the unforgettable La Famille Loufouque again at this festive time. That painting would, indeed give one a lot to ponder on whilst one's lady was donning her nightly attire and performing her toilette prior to hopping into bed with one - how I wish we'd had the foresight to purchase something similar in our early marriage.

Looking forward to hearing how Mlle Delacourt fares in Brittany. (By the way - did you know that Tooting Bec was actually named after a place in Normandy - Le Bec Houellin (I think it was called) where there's a beautiful monastry and a very fine Auberge which does a cracking Porc Normande. Sadly, its English namesake does not seem to have acquired a similar charm.

Bonne Annee, UPL et toute la familee.

LBD xxx

Pondside said...

UPL, I'm sure that as a lady of some experience with the vagaries of human nature, you have thought long and hard about bringing another woman into your household. Not all are as morally upright and domestically gifted as Mme G. While Monsieur L has been a paragon of faithfullness and never given you a moment's doubt re his intentions regarding other women........I beg you not to take anything for granted! Ask yourself "Who is Lady Caroline, and why is she letting go of a paragon?"

CAMILLA said...

Oh wish to know more of Miss Amanda Delacourt of Tooting Beck, I trust she has fine references.

The name of Tooting Beck brings back memories of years ago in London.

Happy New Year to you and Family Un Peu.


ChrisH said...

Cheeky old Loufoques sneaked their christmas in when I wasn't looking. Someone I know rather well comes from Lambeth... I wonder if he is acquainted with Miss Delacourt. Anyway happy new year to Lofoques and all who sail with them.

Pipany said...

Blimey I missed this! Sorry to be so remiss in my blog reading UPL and I hope the New Year will be all you hope it will be xx

sally's chateau said...

Oh darling, Tooting Bec, oh well needs must one supposes. I trust you fortified yourself sufficiently with Absinthe over the festive period, may I delicately enquire if this is the reason why you have felt unable to put pen to paper so frequently ? a little 'over-refreshed' on occasions perhaps ? hmmmm one fervently hopes that you will find the time to keep up your most excellent diaries however throughout 2008.

@themill said...

Any relation to Fleur Delacourt?

annakarenin said...

Rather pleased you have slowed down and can thankfully keep up at last.

So what is Miss Delacourt going to do about the ankles I wonder???

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