There are times in ones life when one must rise above the mire into which fate has unkindly chosen to jettison ones dreams and whilst dodging the slings and arrows of uncertainty grasp the nettle and seize the day. There are other times when one might be better advised to remain in ones boudoir with the shutters firmly closed and nothing but a bottle of chilled champagne (with a fortifying dash of brandy) for company. Alas, and vexatiously so, I took today, upon awakening, to be the former when in fact it turns out I would have been better served to embrace the latter, however I digress.
The morning had commenced with promise. Eldest being away visiting friends, the boys gainfully amused attempting to persuade a young school friend who is spending the summer here to jump blindfolded from the stable roof onto the haycart below, in an effort to prove to him the theory of gravity. I sat under the fruit trees pondering on whether cowpox might be fatal, and lamenting my ignorance on the fact, when my cogitations were rudely interrupted by the arrival of Madame Grognonne bearing news of an unwelcome visitor.
France may well be a secular state but unfortunately someone seems to have been remiss in informing the Breton clergy of this singular fact, thus my daily contemplation of Loics handiwork in the dahlia beds, and my thoughts on bovine health matters was interrupted by the appearance of our local priest , who it it appears, had come to sure up my flagging spirits and liberally refresh his own with a small part of the contents for the well renowned loufoque wine cellar.
Good breeding forced me to offer the man some refreshment which, comme habitude, he accepted after a barely noticeable hesitation and I sent madame Grogonne to the cellars to uncork a bottle. She herself being stoically anti the church since the incident of the veneration of Loics wooden leg chose to bring him a ceramic pitcher of rough cider , a beverage normally purchased as horse lineament in our household . It is very important to serve this in a small earthenware bowl in true Breton fashion as the cider tends to eat its way through glass within an alarmingly short space of time which can cause all sorts of problems as you may well imagine. The least of which being the dramatic effect of a beverage if drunk too quickly has upon the imbibers bowels.
Having drunk his beverage with ill mannered speed my visitor seemed to settle himself to conversation and became quite agitated when I attempted to waylay him with a discussion on saints days and the sanctity of marriage. it appeared he had remembered a prior more pressing engagement. Thus at least I was spared too much of the tiresome clergyman pontifications by his sudden and urgent need to make another call of a more personal nature. I was left therefore in peace to ruminate over the matters I was previously occupied with whilst the priest made a dash for the relative privacy of the open countryside outside the gates of the Loufoque estate clutching his stomach as he ran. It is comforting to know that the church can ,if spurred on, can act swiftly when necessary.
In order to illustrate the terrible dangers of drink and the debilitating effects of cider consumption on he peasant classes the photograph above shows the newly married Claude Marie-Pommier and his wife Angeline. Claude is 24 whilst his blushing bride is 18 years of age.I think I may rest my case.