Wednesday, 16 April 2008

The terror of Tooting Beck


Months have passed unnoticed since I last wrote to you. It is incomprehensible how time has flown. See how the lily of the valley are breaking into flower, the cherry trees frothing with exuberant pink blossom, the birds playing their seasonal game of cache-cache between the branches, and yet still it does not feel spring like Chez Nous for with us lives the very chill and epitome of winter, One Miss Amanda Delacourt.

Let us consider then this , our latest arrival. Let us examine her with the scrutiny deserved by any new member of a respectable household. Who is she and whence has she come?

Her title implied maidenhood or at the least a celibate state however these things can be frankly deceptive, take for instance mademoiselle Salope in the next village who although unmarried and therefore technically still a maiden has managed to bring forth 7 smaller Salopes onto this earth within a space of 6 years, all of whom bear an uncanny resemblance to the local curé. Even allowing for God working in mysterious ways, one would, I suggest be hard pressed, to deny the family connection as they all have his ears.

Jacques dispatched on the feast of the epiphany to collect Miss Delacourt from the station went armed with a photograph kindly supplied with her application for employment. It showed a clear skinned young woman with fine features and a good head of hair.

He returned with a withered bag of bones bearing a sour face and a pinched mouth. I am well aware that travelling can be frightfully debilitating if one allows it to be and does not take the correct precautions however, even allowing for this, our new governess had either undergone some sort of unpleasant metamorphosis en route from Folkestone or the photograph was an extremely old one.

Sadly, we were swift to discover, her temperament matched her face. She is a woman of indeterminate age brimming with the bitterness of one whose life has failed to live up to her expectations. The slightest hint of joy or humour in others she squashes with a tart word or a sneer which renders her face even more unattractive, if that were possible. She will have the last word on any subject as she is convinced she knows all. Added to all her charms is her indecipherable French spoken in what one presumes, she views as an appealing lisp and delivered with a coquettish angle of the head, which renders it all but inaudible hence one must, should one wish to understand, bow ones head towards her, having first taken for oneself a large breath of clean air in defence against her halitosis. Her simpering, which was no doubt alluring in her youth, and her style of dress all give the impression of some nightmarish hag dressed in a young girls clothing. Although she must have undoubtedly been a maiden once I suspect her fruits have long since been tasted and discarded by many in favour of riper and more luscious morsels. It is perhaps this that has soured her.

In short, she is not the joyful addition to our entourage that we had hoped. Madame Grognonne has taken to ominously polishing her gun at the slightest provocation and Jacques for whom Miss Delacourt appears to have taken a fancy may be found at all hours hiding in the shrubbery with Loic to avoid her attentions. This is proving to be a trifling irksome should one require his services. She is the fly in our ointment the grit in our familial eye, Loic’s widow who kindly has adopted the habit of helping Madame Grogonne in the kitchen, in order to prevent the latter from accidentally discharging her firearm should Miss Delacourt enter her domain, swears one look from her will curdle the milk and prevent the butter form churning.

Life has become under her presence more than a trifle vexatious. I fear something must be done to rid us of this carbuncle on the face of our happy family. The question remains is what and by whom?

.........................................................................................................................................
The painting above entitled Old Woman Drinking Tea,( c. 1907) is by Antonio Mancini an Italian artist born in Naples in 1852, although not a portrait of her will, I hope, give the reader a fair impression of the visage of Miss Amanda Delacourt of Tooting Beck. Mancini once said that “Vulgarity is often the daughter of poverty” and in this case I fear that the same may be said of Miss Delacourt. I have instructed Chief Patissier that should I ever show the slightest inclination to visit Tooting Beck he has my permission to have me committed to the care of the local mental institution where I am sure, if Miss Delacourt is anything to go by, I would find the inhabitants far better educated and agreeable.

37 comments:

Inthemud said...

That was wonderful UPL! So good to have you back blogging again.

Not sure about your dubious house guest though, poor you , hope you find a way to move her on somewhere else soon!!

Elizabethd said...

Is this a new governess? Be kind to the poor old trout, one day you too may become old and wrinkled!

muddyboots said...

mon dieu, what a sour puss, she needs to be removed ASAP, quick, quick, wheel out the tumbrils, or how about adding a little some thing to her pastis? There is a vacant patch over by the marrows? Oui?

Frances said...

We do wish to give you a big welcome back to this space, but are alarmed to discover that you have yet another dilemma.

Please do refresh our memories about just how the contract was signed (was a contract signed) that led to the delivery of your governess. Is there an escape clause in that contract. Could an escape clause be added (under cover of darkness, of course!)

By all means, do keep her well away from the children.

xo

ChrisH said...

My Mil is from Tooting....

Sally's Chateau said...

you wicked wicked woman, you cannot always judge a sausage by it's skin they say, but they also say, 'however young a prune may be it's always black and wrinkled' and I fear that despite your best intentions trouble is brewing.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Lovely to see you back . . . wanna borrow my chainsaw . . . .

toady said...

She sounds delightful, I bet she drinks. Lock the cellar.

Ivy said...

Tooting Beck eh? sounds incredibly funny to my German ears especially if travelling on the tube the loudspeaker announce "Next station is tooting back" Can't you feed Mlle a mayonnaise with last months eggs convincing her the water in your mains doesn't do her any good?

lampworkbeader said...

Hooray! More interesting times with the slighty mad frenchwoman...

Pondside said...

Hooray!! The Loufouque household is back on stage.
Never had a governess, but had a German nanny who was much like your new Mlle - she told us she was a Princess and she may well have been. Do have pity on the children - this woman sounds like poison - I'll bet there will be little laughter chez Loufouque under her tutelage.

Her on the Hill said...

Have just left a comment on your other blog - weirdly, I make a random reference to Coulsdon (and all its glory) and here you are throwing Tooting Bec around. In the same category, I would say, as far as desire to visit goes!

Good to have you back.

LittleBrownDog said...

Wonderful indeed, UPL! And I would heartily concur with your feelings about Tooting Bec, having had the misfortune to find myself nearby on several occasions in the dim and distant. In fact, I had a friend who's boyfriend once revealed he had spent the day wandering around Tooting. I wondered whether perhaps he might be able to get something from the pharmacy for that.

CAMILLA said...

Welcome back Un Peu, great to see you blogging again.

I fear your new resident will get in the way of Mdme Grog, quick, find her a new abode.

Camilla.xx

Fennie said...

My apologies for bringing up the rear, yet again. I guess I had been in a fever of excitement awaiting Mlle Delacourt's broaching of the Chateau portals that I looked at this forlorn site almost daily at one time and then weekly, and then, well you know how it is. There are other things in our lives.

Anyway I am back - thanks to a comment from Sally - though saddened to see you are treating your characters as badly as ever. I thought the interval and the joys of the festive period might have reformed the cruel sketching of your pen and we might have discovered a young, beautiful, happy, caring, witty, elegant, resourceful and thoroughly agreeable companion.

Really, you don't deserve to have any characters when you cut of their legs and give them halitosis and a serious absinthe habit. Yet still, inexplicably they have not yet walked out on you despite the falling chimney pots, the fish offal and the like.

I am sure that had you but eyes to see you would find all sorts of goodness in the demure Mlle Delacourt, just as I am sure that Mlle Salope's children are all adopted. (She can't really be that much of a s****e, can she, if she has shacked up with the blessed Curé for some light housekeeping duties? But back to the Delacourt female: can't you just dismiss her with a month's wages and a pound of cheese if she really is so aweful? Or has she some secret hold on the Lofouques?

Alternatively you could always try putting spiders in her bed.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

Lovely to find the Archers are back.

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