Saturday, 20 September 2008

Autumnal musings on a Lions Lunch

It has been some considerable time now since the unexpected departure from our lives of Mademoiselle Amanda Delacourt. Her time with us is a period upon which we chose not to dwell too deeply.
As a lady, I naturally pride myself on coping with what ever fate and my servants throw at me with the resolute measure of decorum and tact that is to be expected of my station. Past experience has shown that I can be relied upon to provide, without faltering, the appropriate mot or gesture to suit even the most unfortunate occasion. However, in my opinion, even I cannot be expected to be deliver at the drop of a hat, the necessary dictum to deal with a situation whereby a member of my domestic staff chooses to be devoured by a lion at the Saturday afternoon performance of a travelling circus and in full view of the entire commune. Even my inestimable resources I have their limits.

I am quite at a loss. It was so typical of that Mademoiselle’s attention seeking to make her demise a public spectacle, and wearing vivid green tutu and orange sparkling stockings. The English have no dress sense whatsoever. It does not say much for her claims to have been a cat lover to find herself eaten by a “Panthera Leo”, after foolishly berating him about the nose and a decidedly poor specimen at that. It is so difficult to get good staff these days.

Soon after the event and by way of distraction, Madame Grognonne, supervised by myself, carried out the irksome task of packing Mademoiselle Delacourt’s effects away. In amongst the unsuitable garments and fripperies stuffed into the Amoire we were astonished to discover a Russian Samovar which had been missing for some weeks, several pairs of dentures, a large road sign indicating the direction of Rennes, numerous ecclesiastical candlesticks, statues and icons, and a set of fish knives. Under the bed was an old trunk containing a large bottle of petroleum spirit, a box of matches and inexplicably a box of cartridges from Madame Grognonne’s shot gun. I have no idea what she planned to do with the latter items I am sure. And finally tucked inside her night dress, one of dirty Loic’s sock in which was secreted a significant horde of Francs and what appeared to be personal items stolen from his potting shed. Of course having only one leg Loic can not be expected to have noticed he had a sock missing but one might have thought he would have been alerted to the absence of his thermal underwear, especially since it has been such disappointing summer weather wise.

Where possible, we have returned those items we could to their rightful owners, the rest we have bundled in the attic until someone emerges to claim them. The money will of course go towards defraying the unforeseen expenses incurred by her inopportune departure.

We were obliged to pay compensation to the circus for loss of earnings and veterinary fees. An amount that put rather a severe dent in the family house keeping and about which Chief Patissier was far from happy but as I pointed out, we were ,at least we were spared the cost of a funeral as there was nothing left of her but her boots and hat and the curé felt that to be insufficient remains to merit a Christian burial, particularly when evidence suggested that the deceased was a kleptomaniac with a taste for, amongst other things, the religious artifacts.
It appears that Mademoiselle did not agree with the King of the Jungles regal digestive system and he was taken rather poorly as a result. As I sternly informed the children, this is what one must expect if one indulges ones appetite unwisely between meals. On top of everything we also had to purchase a new dibber attachment for Loic as the lion had mauled it quite terribly when attempting to eat Miss Delacourt‘s hat by way of dessert.

It is one of life’s little ironies that, although during her time with us we had tried unsuccessfully to find some evidence of her kith or kin so that we might return her to the bosom of her family, once news of her death reached the lower ranks of the British public via the gutter press several hitherto unknown relatives appeared to make claims on her estate. However, as one might expect of such people, all swiftly evaporated once we presented them with the bill for a new dibber plus vets fees.

Life here has, at last, begun to return to normal. The bean harvest is in and the potato harvest well under way . The chestnuts are beginning to fall from the trees and autumn is upon us. Madame Grogonne and the widow are preparing for the cidre making season which will soon here, although this years crop of apples is sadly disappointing and Loic, armed with his new attachment, is merrily engrossed in the potager once more. Even Chief Patissier is relativly happy.
All it seems is right with the world and the rightful order of our lives has been restored now that the circus has finally left town.
The illustration above is the new poster produced by the travelling circus after the demise of Madmoiselle Delacourt, for whom she proved to be the Lion's lunch. As you can see the Lion fully recovered from his ordeal and it proved to be the making of both him and the circus itself. It is my understanding that, after it became common knowledge that he had eaten her , audience sizes increased considerably in the hope of his repeating the act with some other unfotunate person . Under the cicumstances one might have thought that we would be refunded the vets fees but alas no. Sometimes the labouring classes can be so churlish when it comes to the matter of money.