Thursday, August 4, 2016

Clothilde ! Bring me some water.


A scorching August morning. The heat rising from the ground as we trot off down the lane. The PONs sensibly head through the shade of the sunflower fields to the stream.


Angus is a feeling a little 'tired' this morning. A dinner at Castle Gloom lasted until the early hours. Some expats complain that the French never invite them into their homes. We suffer from the reverse problem. French dinners are cultural minefields.

Despite it being scorchingly hot Monsieur le Comte greets us at the door in a chunky knit cardigan fastened at the front with toggles. In the Anglo-Saxon world males give up wearing toggles as soon as they learn to walk. Here in France toggles are a big, all age, male fashion item. The Chatelaine appears. She's wearing what looks like a heavily sequined christening gown. This is voluminous at the hips and decolletage but tapers down towards her feet. In fact it's so tapered that she's forced into taking small, severely constricted steps, as if in an amateur dramatic society presentation of The Mikado. We follow this cocooned figure, slowly, into the salon.

Over dinner Angus is seated between La Chatelaine and the chatelaines best friend , a somewhat humourless lady from a station balneaire outside Dieppe . She informs me that the English must be a remarkably stupid people to have voted to leave the European Union. Things go downhill from there. Did I know that ' athletes at the London Olympics were given 150,000 condoms? In Rio the number has risen to 450,000 '. She repeats the 450,000. '' Perhaps it's got something to do with the weather ? " I comment, unsure of where this conversation might be going. The lady from Dieppe is sporting a brown silk evening dress. This is accessorized with a fox stole which has a glass eye that catches the candlelight when she turns to talk to me. This glint in its eye gives the dead fox a somewhat mischievous look.  

The evening comes to a close with Monsieur le Comte telling a lengthy joke about a man who can't stand the cold. He dies, goes to heaven,  complains about the temperature and is finally sent to hell for a day ( that'll soon stop him complaining says Saint Peter ) . After four days he hasn't come back so Saint Peter goes looking for him. As he opens the gates of hell the Saint hears a familiar voice cry out " Shut that door you're letting in a draught ". The Count enters into the telling of this joke with enthusiasm. He stands, paces towards the fireplace, waves his arms in the air to emulate angels wings, employs a variety of peculiar accents, and, at one stage, is so overcome with laughter that he requires Clothilde, the little serving lady in the pinny, to bring him a glass of water. 



Sophie is ready to start her day at 6.30 as is..


..... her brother. No sympathy for their owners lack of energy.


At the greengrocers exotic fruits are being sold off cheaply. 


However, something called Taro Dashine makes an unexpected appearance.

30 comments:

  1. Ah - Taro Dashine..... I asked my friend Goggle, and he told me, it's taro - a tuber that is starchy, like potato. It is common in Auckland where there are a large community of Pacific Islanders, for whom it was a staple food back home. I've never eaten it, and I'm told it's not exciting.

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    1. Well, you are right, it's not that exciting, kind of like a gooey potato. Very popular in Japan for reasons that have escaped me!

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    2. Thanks to both of you. Think I'll pass on Taro Dashine.

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  2. A bit earlier, I happened to look up a reference to John Wood in Stoppard's Travesties. And then your description. I can see it, and hear the dialogue. What wonderful material you're going to have for your memoirs.

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  3. Bob and Sophie really missed an adventure with that fox stole.
    How did these people not suffocate in such clothes? Does Castle Gloom have air conditioning?

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    1. Castle Gloom is glacial in winter. In high summer the damp comes out of the walls and generates a sort of musty chill.

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  4. Morning walks wait for no one! We think Australia sent a couple of million condoms with the Olympians....

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    1. Hopefully they'll only be needed after they've won their medals.

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  5. Was there a fire in the fireplace when the Count was overcome with laughter? Could not help humming, ' Hotel California ' while reading your account of Castle Gloom.

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    1. No fire, but they did an extra layer of clothing after ten at night.

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  6. Well the dinner may have been painful, but your account was a wonderful read. Maybe next time the 'Font' could go with 'Furry Fox' draped round her neck? (After said creature had been through the laundry, of course).
    Cheers! Gail.

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    1. Perfect! I can see fury fox making his debut, elegantly draped around the Font's neck, safety pined to her ensemble!

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    2. Perhaps with one eye dangling!

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    3. ...and the stuffing fashionably poking out in places....?

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    4. Furry Fox is currently absent. Hidden so thoroughly that not even Sophie can remember where she's put it.

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  7. What an evening!
    I'd gladly have stayed at home and kept the delectable duo company.

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    1. Home would have been a better choice.

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  8. That was a fun read. The Count's joke brought to mind a favorite old poem "The Cremation of Sam McGee" by Robert W. Service. We read it aloud every Thanksgiving (with a wee dram...or two) while the turkey is roasting. No toggles or glassy eyed foxes involved, but I'll keep it in mind for this year.

    "There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold"

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    1. What a coincidence - I'm reading a book which begins with this poem, and the odd verse keeps popping up from time to time !

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  9. Oh Angus! Thank you for the Castle Gloom account! I almost fell off my chair with laughter. Hotel California indeed. What did they serve for dinner? Transylvanian turkey? Um, was anything on the plate looking at you? I hope the wine was plentiful and delicious :)
    Pam in NH

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    1. Courgette cake followed by cold chicken legs in a mustard sauce. A bowl of cold taboulleh, a sliver of goats cheese and a slice of chocolate Brownie. The wine was robust rather than delicious- which explains the blog authors sore head the following morning.

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  10. Your evening sounded like something straight out of Poirot or Hitchcock....

    Castle Gloom indeed.

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  11. Oh dear - it sounds more like a "Carry On" film to me ! Strange what some people consider entertainment isn't it? Give me an evening with the PONs, some rounds of "Throw the Furry Fox" and a finale with rug surfing - that's entertainment at it's best ! Oh, and don't forget a few sausages to share...

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  12. A well told story, Angus! The picture of the partly shaded sunflowers is most striking.

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  13. I really don't know which is worse, having your entree stare at you or a guests fur piece with its beady little eyes. Actually my grandmother had the same sort of things. Hers were sable. When you would squeeze the head of the "lead" sable, a silk crochet covered clasp would open, like a mouth, so one could adjust the horrid thing to the desired length. If I had the thing now, I'd send it to Bob and Sophie for a game of throw the furry sable.

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    1. My grandmother had one very similar! (only it was fox or mink or something?) I was always amazed and a bit scared of it .... I thought it odd that was the "style" at the time. It was far to real for my youthful eyes and mind. Yikers.

      Great Read Today, Angus!!! It started my day off with a full round of laughter and I've enjoyed all the comments! :)

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  14. Hahaha oh my goodness. I love castle gloom.

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