A Christmas story for 2005 (Part III and last)
(Any similarities with persons living or dead are intentional)
Eff had saved the day – again! That famous remedy of a cup of tea, had mounted the confidence of our Frenchman, and re-mounted the spirits of Ronald James!
Ron, actually, was quite cheerful, since he had quickly found out that “frenchie” spoke quite passable English, which was a long way in advance of that which passed for French with our Ron!
As Ron always told everybody, he found the courses of no use, because it only taught him how to ask the way to the Post Office, and now he knew where the bloody post office was, he saw no point in torturing himself daily, with the cassettes and videos that Eff always tucked into his Christmas Stocking.
“I bet there’s another one there this year,” said Ron to himself,”although I keep telling her that ink cartridges would be much more useful!”
Of course, Eff thought that all the time spent in the study, closed in, was to advance in the language of Molliere, and didn’t realize that Ron spent his time answering the missives of a nut called “le Marquis du Galipot” , “Friends United”, and “Playboy”.
In any case, it all seemed to be going off all right, she thought, what with Ron’s advanced French, and the Frenchie’s limited (at least in Eff’s eyes) English.
There seemed to be some kind of problem, however, the Frenchie pulling on Ron’s arm all the time, and appearing to want to go outside.
“Naw,naw,” said Ron,”You’ve just arrived, mate, have a little rest while I pop to the baker’s,” pushing Frenchie into the guest armchair.
“I won’t be long, Eff’ll take care of you for half an hour” said Ron, and hurried out before Gallic gesticulations got on his gallbladder!
His return was immediate. Pale faced and rather trembly voiced, he announced the good news to Eff.
“Eff, the bloody taxi is still out there!”
“Well, pay it, treasure, and we’ll sort it all out later!”
“Yes Eff, but it’s still full of frenchies!”
“You mean his luggage, my love?”
“No I bloody well don’t,” hurtled Ron,” I mean the rest of his damned family- all 4 of ‘em!!!! Eff, Eff, wake up my love, are you all right?”
Eff had, of course, taken a little turn at Ron’s news, but that quickly passed, and with typical efficiency, she sent Ron off to the attic to dig out those camp beds, once used on their camping holiday’s.
“What about the baker’s, Eff,” muttered Ron,” we’re going to need a hell of a lot of bread now, they’ll think we’ve gone foreign or something!”
“We’ll figure that out later, Ron,” said Eff,” now go and look for those beds, and put them up in the master bedroom, it’s bigger, and they can all maybe get in there.”
“But – that’s OUR bed,” tiffed Ron,”I’m not letting a bunch of froggies fornicate in OUR bed!”
“RONALD JAMES!!!” started Eff, but RJ had disappeared.
The problem for Ron wasn’t so much the unexpected presence of now 5 froggies, being a generous soul, he didn’t mind, really, and with all the stuff Eff had bought in, there was amply enough to eat, the cellar was full (just having come back from holiday), no – the problem was that whereas one froggie will try and talk to you in French or English, five froggies expected you to talk to them in French, and they simply kept chattering away to each other and to Ron! Eff was accustomed to this, and had developed a system whereby she watched the hands, the feet and the head of the froggies, and nodded or shook her own head as she thought fit, this – with the occasional head movement and squeak or two, normally did the job.
Ron wasn’t used to this, but was rapidly developing his own system. He had tired out explaining where the Post Office was, and now he launched into a tirade of expletives in a NEW language, which consisted of elongated “eeee’s” and “oooo’s” and other stuff.
Eff watched in silence, and only when the froggies were chatting excitedly amongst themselves (obviously debating Ron’s latest outburst), did she ask sweetly
“What did you say, my love, it certainly seems to have gone across”.
“Well, I said that normally we would go to the Church Carol Service this evening, and then eat afterwards.”
“What did you say that for, my love, we haven’t been near church for donkey’s” asked Eff.
“Well, what do you want me to do with all these froggies all night, Eff? We’d both go barmy! This way I won’t have to tell them what’s going on, I won’t have to talk to them at all!”
“And I thought you were getting on so well, my love. I’m just thinking of your cricket match, sugar, it starts at about the time of the Carol Service, I think!”
“Sod my cricket – that’s up the spout,”snarled Ron,”and anyway, they’re all a load
of playboys, and they’ll get thrashed!”
Then the doorbell rang!
“If that’s Jack Chirac, I’ll tell him to take his bloody revolting citizens and recross OUR English Channel, on the dot!” snarled Ron, whose normal good natured character was being put to the test.
Eff hurried to the door, just in case it WAS “Jack” Chirac, and came back with a great beam on her face.
“Our troubles are over,” she purred at Ron,”look who it is – our Dutch friends from Holland!”
“Where the hell else can Dutch people come from, stupid girl,”-Ron’s bubble had burst. This was too much. This was insupportable. Next thing would be that twit of a Marquis du Galipot trying to slide down his chimney!
“Hang on, hang on,” said a little voice inside his head,” those Dutch geniuses’ speak French, don’t they? And English! And I suppose Dutch too, but that’s not needed, only English in baby talk anyway!”
Slowly, a small smile cracked his stiffly pressed together lips, and he saw a possibility of saving Christmas at least a bit! Head up, chin out, he hurried to rejoin Eff at the door, to welcome, with a great beam on his face, and a “well this IS a surprise” his next four guests, from Holland, Zob and Friede with their two girls.
Zob was so named by his parents because his father was called Aaron Aarnheimer, and had always been the first to be called up in everything, at the Army, at the Dentist’s etc., and somehow or other a twisted sense of humour made him want his son to be amongst the last. Friede was called Friede because it meant “peace” in German, and as the wearer of the honourable German “von” in her maiden name it was thought that the Dutch would become “peacable” with the Germans. Hadn’t worked, but it was a try. The two girls, beautiful examples of Dutch politeness and beauty, tended only to sit in a corner, and eat dry bread and drink water!
It all worked like a dream, Zob took over the linguistic problems, Ron was able to concentrate on his cellar, and sneak a look at the playboys on the cricket pitch, Eff got up her Christmas Eve buffet, with the help of the froggies, and all was full of Christmas good cheer, except for the little problem of Grandad at the carol service, as Ron said, “did he HAVE to wait for utter silence before letting rip with his expulsion of air?” “Another reason not to be seen in the church for another 10 years!”
The French, being French, helped with the buffet, sprinkling copiously chopped, raw garlic, over everything, rendering it all inedible for Ron and Eff, but they let it pass and tried scraping the garlic off the prawns, covered in mayonnaise, which was difficult. NOTHING should spoil this new found sense of Christmas peace.
Ron popped out onto the terrace, to look for another bottle of his favourite wine (which came in tins, much easier to force into the rubbish bins, and was therefore called St. Tinnian) and inadvertently left the terrace door ajar, not for a long time, but long enough for a couple of whispy, speedy phantoms to wizz past him, into the
“Christ, Eff – it’s that bloody piglet from the neighbours, and I think it’s being chased by the fox! Catch ‘em quick, before they wreak havoc!”
An exhilarating chase ensued, the French believed it all to be some type of British Christmas game, and took part wholeheartedly in the affair. Tables upset, shrimp cocktails, with either piglet or fox droppings, mixed themselves with the chutney (easy to pick them out of the cocktails, but the chutney was another matter).
A good quarter of an hour’s chase/game, and the spoof was over. The piglet squealing its way out of the house to the garden, chased madly by the fox, and Grandad, whose Southern French hunting instincts had been aroused.
Everybody else sank down into whatever they could find, and Ron started to effusively apologise to the French, then realized that they had been made to really feel at home, and stopped.
“Mad buggers”, murmured Ron to Eff,” but if that’s what they like………!”
And the doorbell rang.
Holding his head in his hands, Ron suggested that they didn’t answer, maybe they would go away, whoever it was.
After all – it was Christmas Eve, and there REALLY was no room at the inn.
Too late, Eff had opened the door, and was being suffocated by hugs and kisses from ALL of her offspring, including the son-in-law, who was trying to make his peace and good-will come over, on Christmas Eve.
“Come in – come in, the more the merrier, watch out for the water, it’s in every drink, don’t eat the shrimp cocktails, or the Chutney, they’ve got pig or fox shit in them, scrape off the garlic from everything else, and have a Happy Christmas, like me!” called Ron from the kitchen, where he was trying to figure out if the mincemeat pies had currants in them, or if they had suffered from the attack of the animals.
More chairs were pulled from the garden shed, introductions were made, the son-in-law wanted to arrest the neighbour, the piglet, the fox, the French, in fact everybody, so Ron suggested he go down to the Police Station and prepare the paperwork. Whistling while he worked, the son-in-law disappeared, and Ron breathed a sigh of relief, and put the immense and very sharp carving knife back into the drawer.
“Mum,” said the daughter to Eff,”there’s funny noises coming from your chimney, have you got a birds nest or something up there?”
The noise grew, and finally ended with a great thud, behind the false chimney cover.
“What the hell, now,” complained Ron, and lifted the cover to one side.
“Happy Christmas said mr le Marquis” covered with soot, but still elegant as always – just popped in to brighten up your Christmas!
weather at Vauvert, France
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