Thursday, 22 May 2008

Un petit Fleur de pee...

We have, en famille , unwaveringly attempted to avoid reacting to the failings of Mademoiselle Delacourt with anything but the most stoical politeness. The position of governess companion is always a tricky one in any household, the post falling, as it does, somewhere above the class of servant but below the status of family member or guest. In the case of Miss Delacourt it must be acknowledged to fall considerably lower. I have always felt that it is ones duty as a personage of some social standing to rise above the inconveniences of life and to set an example to those of less fortunate position and bearing. However even with my unequalled breeding and well honed comportment there are some things with which I find hard to tolerate. Miss Delacourt has pushed my composure to the brink for she has, it appears, fallen hopelessly and unwisely in love. With a cat.

I am well aware that felines have a fine part to play in many households, with their catching of mice, their useful skills in decimating bird populations and saving the family fruit trees from marauding sparrows.I know also that there are many to whom a cat is a cherished thing, a boon companion in an otherwise friendless life, even perhaps in some bizarre circumstances a child substitute. All this I can understand and to a certain extent empathise. Small fluffy kittens with saucer eyes have even to my eye a certain appeal, albeit transitory in nature. However, and here there is no kind way to state my case more clearly, Miss Delacourts cat is none of these things. Hers is not a fluffy kitten and what is more, Miss Delacourts cat stinks.

The cat has been named "Fleur" and is she assures us in her lilting lisping way that "Fleur is her mummies very own widdle fluffy kins". The latter statement was met initially with perplexed glances by the household and it took sometime to be able to decipher the exact meaning of the word" widdle". The name "Fleur" was only slightly less confusing but for different reasons. As a name it is not inapt for a kitten. It conjures up images of freshness , and of beauty, a lightness of spirit , a certain fragrant joy in life . It would be endearing as a name if it not for the in alterable fact that the creature is not only sloth like and the size of a small piglet, but is very certainly a male. Under the circumstances one feels perhaps "Widdle" might have been a more appropriate .
I am given to understand that Fleur was discovered by his new love at the edge of the river when she was out walking and was alerted to his piteous cries. How he managed to get himself stuck inside a sack weighted with stones and tied tighly aroudn thetop one can only hazard to imagine. But he was rescued and brought home where he now resides in splendour complete with a large satin bow of a floral design in shades of pink about his rather beefy neck. Since his arrival he has divided his time between the scratching of our furniture and his fleas and has taken upon himself the odouress task of scent marking all the household linen with his urine. Anyone who has tried in vain to remove the smell of Tom cat from white Damask table clothes will appreciate this has not made him popular with Madame Grognonne ,who may be seen scouring her cook books for a recipe for cat stew which she insits is a eastern European delicacy.

On a more positive front insufferable though her presence has made our daily life and as unpleasant as her unfortuante appearance, choice of garments and unforgivable halitosis may be there is a bright side to this dank dark English cloud of a woman. The mere mention of her name has proved sufficient to quell even the greatest flurry of insolence in Eldest, and her arrival in any room sends our daughter to swiftly seek refuge in edifying pursuits such as reading and needlework , she has taken to studying her catechism with vigour and even volunteering to assist her youngest siblings with their homework unasked.It would appear anything is to be regarded as better than being obliged to endure even five minutes longer than necessary with her English companion.


The illustration is by the unfortunate Artist Mr Louis Wain, who is a great favourite of Madmoisele Delacourt. She arrived from Tooting Beck with several representaions of his work wrapped in plain brown paper, a fact that in itself should have rung loud warning bells with me had I not been more than usually occupied at the time. He was , she tells me, born at Clerkenwell in 1860 and married his sisters' governess, a fact that I fear gives our own governess companion aspirations to do simular,. Add to this the fact that after his marriage he took to drawing nothing but cats , a subject with which he became unaccountably obsesive, I think is perfectly understanable that the poor man ended his days in a mental assylum.