Tuesday, 24 June 2008

A Quiet evening out



It must be said that in terms of the mental stability of our erstwhile English employee events are moving from bad to worse. Mademoiselle Delacourt has added to her already interesting head gear a startling appendage in the form of, what one may only assume to be, a primitive lightening conductor of some sorts. Admittedly the weather has been excessively close and a storm is threatening but I feel this is a trifle unnecessary and typically attention seeking, after all Madame Grognonne has been struck by lightening several times and has suffered very few long-term side effects. The overall effect is bizarre in the extreme, added to which its appearance has played havoc with the asparagus bed as Loic is convinced that this newest fashion accessory bears a remarkable resemblance to the dibber attachment to his artificial leg which has been missing from his potting shed for some time and as a result he is thoroughly disagreeable and therefore is most unwilling to leave the potting shed incase anything else goes missing.

It was, with some relief then that yesterday afternoon my spirits rose at the site of an unusually large erection in the Place de l’Eglise. A garish board covered in images of prancing horses and women in sequins heralding the arrival of a travelling circus in the village and a chance for some much needed distraction. At last something to inflame the senses and keep ones mind off malevolent milliners.
With vivid memories of the magnificent circuses of my childhood, in a rash moment of “espirit maternelle “, I sent Jacque out to reserve seats and gathered the children up for a family sortie to the premiere evening performance. Sadly Chief Patissier was unable to attend as he and Antoine had a prior engagement, a soirĂ©e of oiling sprockets at the biscuiterie which alas could not be rescheduled.

Dressed in our finest and with the children scrubbed to within an inch of their lives we set forth in the motorcar myself, the children and Mademoiselle Delacourt, the latter of whom was an unexpected and late addition to the party having secreted herself in the front seat of the vehicle and refused to move so that we were forced to allow her and her ridiculous hat to accompany us. In consequence Madame Grognonne was also obliged to join the outing and rode between Mademoiselle Delacourt and Jacque to act as a form of human shield should there be a need to restrain the mad English woman. What I had hoped would prove to be a merry interlude was developing farcical facets even before we even left the Chateau, with Mademoiselle, her head thrust out of the window at a strange angle in order to accommodate the lightening conductor whilst at the same time attempting to wrest the wheel from Jacques . Happily Madame Grognonne, who had worn her padded Kendo suit for protection, repeatedly intercepted her lunges with admirable skill, thus saving us all from almost certain death several times.

On stopping the car at the entrance to the circus encampment, Mademoiselle Delacourt broke free of Madame Grognonne and fled into the milieu of the milling crowds shrieking hysterically. Try as they might neither Jacque nor Madame Grognonne were able to recapture her and I watched helpless as her bobbing hat disappeared behind the tents in the direction of the caravans. Thus frankly our arrival did not have quite the elegant air one had imagined, but then alas neither did the circus.

It was, without doubt, a shabby affair, the canvas of the tent faded and patched, the painted images flaked and chipped in places the whole thing wrapped in a llachrymose air of dejection, but needs must and when one is seeking some sort of distraction from deranged domestic staff one circus is very much like another in a time of need. We had at least lost Mademoiselle Delacourt for a short time, for which we were all extremely thankful.

Circled around the main tent were a menagerie of exotica, a rather moth eaten Lion who had seen better days, several small ponies adorned with bedraggled feathers , an Ostrich advertised as the biggest chicken in the world, and an aged tattooed lady with a colourful map of France penned across her chest . Sadly her splendid art work had somewhat drooped with age and the expansion of girth the passing of time had evidently brought her.This had an interesting effect on the geography of the French Nation, giving the uneducated the impression that Paris had been relocated and was now only slightly above Provence. By her side sat “The Strong Man” with baggy tights and a vast moustache whose appendages far from being muscular rivaled Loics by their noticeable absence. Moving around amongst all these were an assortment of jaded circus folk wearing spangled costumes that obviously predated the Great War and possibly even the Crimean one, and in many cases still being worn by their original owners.

As we took our places in the main tent, one could not help but notice that on each available surface the handsome face of one man was posted. The once blazing star of his generation, who had in his youth performed in front of the crown heads of Europe. The redoubtable Sebastian Sommellier, the last remaining of the three once famous Sommelier triplets, the other two having tragically met their death as a result of a freak accident during a gala performance in Rennes some seasons earlier. Their act (in which two of the brothers, blindfolded and with one arm tied behind their backs, juggled flaming torches with their toes , the third supporting them on his feet whilst at the same time balancing on one hand on a spinning ball on the high wire the other hand somewhat incongruously holding an umbrella) was renowned through out Brittany. Alas on the fateful night of the accident it was Sebastian who was the one supporting the other too. It was a tragic story. He fell asleep mid spin thus causing his brothers and the Opera House to go up in Flames. Had it not been for the fast thinking of the Elephant it is very probable that Sebastian Sommelier too would have perished? Of course had his illness been diagnosed earlier the whole history of the French Circus may have been entirely different. As it is he now the only surviving narcoleptic tightrope walker and acrobat in France. It is, I am sure, a dying art.

…………………………………………………………………………………………….

The photograph is of a once rather famous tattooed lady who travelled the world and worked under the unlikely name of Princess Beatrix. Thankfully no photograph is available of the tattooed lady at our visiting circus; suffice it to say something’s are best left to the imagination.

20 comments:

toady said...

Just been catching up with these. Brilliant comme d'habitude, especially Fleur in the bed with the lobster. Still think you should get them published they are worthy of a wider audience.

Mei Del said...

Can it be? Is it possible? Has Mademoiselle Delacourt run away to join the circus?

Elizabethd said...

A dying art? Yes I think so. Poor Sebastian!

muddyboots said...

tut tut, these traveling circuses, our village for many years supported one during the winter months before the great war, then the just upped and poof, they were gone leaving a great many broken hearts in the process and also, very strangely, no more flaming red haired children......... tell me, did the this Sebastian have red hair perchance?

Frances said...

Bon jour,

A circus offers so many possibilities. Surely there might be a magician who might help a certain person disappear?

xo

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

An excellent read as always and never ever predictable.

Pondside said...

How difficult to think of this elegant household and any whiff of farce! Pauvre Mme UPL! Is there any solace in knowing just how much enjoyment this story of family life brings?

Fern said...

Brilliant.
I think there is an e-mail doing the rounds of said tattoooed lady perhaps not one for the PC common room though!

ChrisH said...

But how is Loic? Has he been felt secure enough to leave the potting shed yet? Who knows - his travails may soon be over if Ms Delcourt runs off with the circus.

Cait O'Connor said...

C'est magnifique, comme d'habitude UPL. Merci.

Tattie Weasle said...

Sipping on a delightful Shiraz I ponder the events of the Lefouque household weeping, yes weeping with laughter! Longing for the next installment already!

LittleBrownDog said...

Gorgeous, UPL - you tell it so well. By the way, doesn't the Duchess of York (her of Fergie fame) have a daughter called Princess Beatrix? I do hope it's not one and the same.

Now, I think you're going to have to be Very Firm with Mlle Delacourt...

bodran... said...

Catching up and loving it !! xx

Sally's Chateau said...

You know for one mad moment I was transported into that little tent aided by your wonderful discriptive writings.

Fennie said...

Make your way south, dear, fast in your motorcar, with your family in tow, yea even unto the habitation that is called Montpelier will ye travel. And there abiding outside the town ye will find a circus travelling under the appellation of No Fit State. Therein, if ye enter I can guarantee that thou wilt veritably be excited, even at this very moment, by the sight of Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze otherwise known as Younger Daughter's partner, performing such acts as will take away your breath and leave you senseless to be carried home in a heap by Mde G unless revive with a liberal quantity of the spirit known as Absinthe.

Indeed had you gone last week you might even have bumped into Younger Daughter.

He is not narcoleptic and I'll thank you not to put the suggestion into his head - or, for that matter into the audiences.

Bollinger Byrd said...

it was stopping by for this... great read, want to know what happens next.

CAMILLA said...

Just catching up Un Peu, your posts are a joy to read, such wonderful imagination, a book needs to be published on these Adventures, wonderful.!

xx

Cait O'Connor said...

There is an award for you over on my blog.

Judith HeartSong said...

Brava.... wonderful stories, wonderful blog. It is nice to meet you:)

Grouse said...

But my dear! Just think if M. D were to wander too close to the performing lion's enclosure.........come along, dearest....concentrate now....