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Gemini 21 May- 20 June Spend some time with younger family members – you’ll learn things you never knew
9 am Mad mullah still blathering re unreasonable feline multiplication. Point out men used to worship cats as gods. “And cats have never forgotten that, dear…” Resume reading Raising a Brighter Cat.
“Handling kittens for 30 minutes a day increases the intelligence of your pet…”
Hmm. 30 mins X 6 = 3 hours daily. Gawd.
9.30 Check emails. Very long critique of blockbuster from NY novelist, is as long as novel. Will have to wait until I have spare half day to read properly. Dash off to showground.
7 pm Last gym session of year. Gazelles renamed Slugs by Field Marshall Arlette. Notice Babette keeps distance from Yrs. Truly during Tai Chi warm-up.
9 pm Agree to babysit while Gizmo pops out for a bite to eat and a pee. Watch Twinge, Binge, Grunge, Groucho, Rambo, Bimbo and Titch slumbering. Have decided to skip intelligence programme, will just give kittens away at earliest opportunity.
Gemini 21 May- 20 June Protégés? You’ll find them the perfect slot today
10 am Fuss around Arlette’s père, frère as they construct ticket office, aka Executive Pavilion (per Bernard, self-styled Chairperson of Executive Show Committee).
5 pm 6 inflatable pink cows and scarecrow colleague now bobbing gently in breeze above children’s pavilion.
Gemini 21 May- 20 June One of your friends may depart from your circle – stay cool, she wasn’t worth your esteem
Install garden tables, chairs, coffee machine, safe in Executive pavilion.
2 pm Am distraught. One of my cows has gone AWOL.
Gemini 21 May- 20 June Your special project is nearing completion, despite all the cretins obstructing your path
2.30 Have final scheduling meeting. Seems all ungrateful husbands whinging re time devoted by spouses to Great Limousin Flower Show, saving regional economy etc. “Honestly, girls, would we keep a car this long if it gave us constant trouble?” Danette complains with 100% justification.
8 pm Watch weather forecast anxiously, but looks great. Magnifique depression heading elsewhere for once. Thank you, God.
Gemini 21 May- 20 June Keep cool, Gemini – you’ll find a way out of minor irritations
Bloody liars, bloody, bloody Limousin. Is peeing cats and cows.
Spend morning getting soaked, help Gazelles erect Grizzelle’s grotto, answering exhibitors’ queries, panicking.
12.30 Rush home, heat pizzas, toss salad. Answer phone. “Bonjour, Madame, I’m Amandine ….we’re looking for discerning consumers – ”
“Amandine sweetie, can you hold for a minute?” Put phone on kitchen counter. Eat lunch. Collect Show tickets, badges from printers. Return to site.
Gemini 21 May- 20 June A red-letter day for Geminis with Great Plans. Enjoy!
7 a.m. Cold and misty at the showground. Discover another plastic cow has gone to join the great farm in the sky. Her companions nod a respectful greeting. Last-minute breakfast meeting at Executive Pavilion before briefing stewards, ticket sellers. Then fan out to check all stalls installed and manned/womanned. Linger at organic fruit ‘n veg stall, taste selection of producer’s delicious tomatoes. Have badge checked endlessly by secret servicemen doing splendid impression of Men In Black.
Accosted by a flustered Scotty, eccentric Glaswegian bonsai breeder. “Och wummin, ae put mae bug scissors doon…an noo thurrrr gun…” Ask him to repeat same slowly, calmly.
“OK Scotty, as a special favour, you can borrow our scissors. But be sure to put them back in the Executive Pavilion when you’ve finished. The President’s going to cut the tape at 11.”
Watch local accordion ensemble, the Cowpats, setting up on grass beneath oak tree. Have seen them before at various fêtes, church services etc. Recall their semi-mastery of about 5 tunes, played with enormous enthusiasm and dubious skill.
Check watch, nearly time to join reception committee. Bump into toothless Grizzelle, carrying dentures and wet sponge in transparent freezer bag. “Teef bit shore s’mornin, chérie…..sponge’s to keep me cool…” Disgusting old bat.
10.45 Sun shining hotly, crowds pouring in as I hurry to VIP car park.
Nearly swoon when introduced to Jean-Jacques Goldman, want to tell him I’m his biggest fan, but am too excited to speak, mumble something incomprehensible even to me. Notice Ayatollah sidling up, trying to masquerade as Gazelle as we meet J. Binoche, E. Béart and C. Deneuve. Just wait till I get him home.
10.50 Stand in line behind mayor as Presidential helicopter lands like giant bluebottle, ruining everyone’s hairdo, sending my pink cows into manic dance, The Cowpats strike up White Christmas. Wonder briefly whether I have wandered by mistake into a Monty Python film. Cross fingers behind back.
Jacques Chirac debarks, walks slowly towards us, smiling, waving, followed by his lady. Wince as band murders When the Saints Go Marching In. The Sheik works his way down the line, murmuring sweet nothings, followed at a respectful distance by the First Lady.
Transfer sweat to presidential palm. “Ah…l’Irlandaise, très bien,” he smiles as Bernard introduces me. “My goodness, my Guinness, missus…” the Sheik adds enigmatically before passing on to greet Françoise. Good accent though, maybe has had lessons from T. Blair.
10.55 Watch with interest as the Chiracs greet our other celebrities. Quite clear they’re all buddies, frequent same pubs. Mrs President frowns as J.C. refuses to release Juliette Binoche’s hand, after giving her lengthy hug. Our stars of stage and screen all wearing designer shades. Hmm. Funny that, they work hard to become known and then wear dark glasses to avoid being recognised.
1059 Cowpats try accordion drum roll, fail, as celebrities file onto podium. Or maybe was just Grizzelle farting. Secret servicemen scan crowd anxiously as Chirac starts his spiel. Behind, the Famous Five herd together, avoiding the edges of the platform. The ceremonial tape across the front of the podium is ready to be cut. Bernard holds out his hand to Françoise for scissors.
“…they were there earlier….now they’re gone…” she whispers, red-faced.
“What’s up? Why are we waiting?” the mad mullah asks, as Chirac turns, chats up Catherine Deneuve.
“The bloody scissors have gone AWOL, that’s what’s bloody up…” Beam the scissors down, Scotty.
The Ayatollah grunts. Watch aghast as he withdraws Swiss Army knife from pocket, hands same up to the President of the French Republic. Burly bodyguard turns, glares, pushes defenceless husband back.
11.06 Tape breached at last by perspiring Sheik after sterling work with nail scissors, to approximate rendition of Greensleeves by Cowpats. Crowd erupts, cheering wildly. More relief than joy, I think. Chirac grins hugely. Reckon he’s earned more brownie points in last 7 minutes than in last 5 years.
“…and I declare the Great Limousin Flower show….” The band suddenly belts out When the Saints Go Marching In. Must have exhausted their repertoire already. Nearby yokels start clapping in time with music, humming, singing along.
“O Winter Sense, Gomar tchin-tchin….” the crowd roars triumphantly.
Follow guests as they tour selected stands, chosen after much reflection in Executive Committee. Pause at organic fruit and veg where stallholder offers Chirac tomato, extolling its freshness, healthy virtues. The Sheik turns, grins, orders burly head bouncer to taste delicious fruit. “…go on…it’ll do you good…”
Rambo accepts large polished fruit reluctantly, turns back to his boss, grits teeth, bites into tomato.
Think in retrospect the stallholder chose that particular fruit deliberately. Yvette swears he is active in revolutionary workers’ movement. Whatever, the tomato burst its skin, splattering the head of state from nose to crotch with seeds and juice. Can remember Babette suddenly at his side, furiously scrubbing at presidential clothes. Grizzelle shouldering in, applying dripping sponge to stately crotch. Bit of a blur after that, recall cameras clicking like crickets, Jean Reno laughing, Men In Black shoving us away roughly, forming protective cordon around the Chiracs. Definitely remember Jean-Jacques Goldman winking at me. Would have boxed up that wink and kept it under my pillow for ever if I could.
11.55 Celebs preparing to depart, kindly agree to photo session with Gazelles. Position myself next to J-J Goldman, notice Françoise elbowing Babette away from Jean Reno. Grizzelle, still toothless, squeezes between surprised Chiracs. Smile weakly at bank of cameras, huge crowd.
J-J turns. “Most entertaining….good luck to you all,” my hero murmurs, kissing my cheeks before leaving. Wipe tear from eye, will never wash my face again.
Join Gazelles in waving farewell to the Sheik and his missus. Chirac turns, presents himself for one last photo. Oh dear. Has v. large wet patch over crotch area. Madame C. looks down, gasps, bundles Sheik into aircraft.
Oh noooo. Crowd pointing, laughing. Watch four pink plastic bovines lift off with presidential bluebottle, their ropes entangled in the landing gear. “The pilot can’t see them,” the aviation ayatollah murmurs knowingly, as the remainder of my little herd trail 20 metres behind the helicopter. The Cowpats play Home, Home On The Range in farewell.
2.30 Show attendance far in excess of expectations, public still swarming in. Wander down to trade car park with Francoise, Bernie and Martine to supervise transfer of additional supplies of cold drinks, ice cream. Spot Gérard from France 3, limping towards press entrance as first trolley leaves refrigerated lorry.
“Darlings! What’s happened to the weather? It’s not raining!” he laughs, hugging us all. “I got off the crutches yesterday…thought I’d mosey on down, see how it’s all turned out…” Listen sympathetically to account of his long recuperation after fracture, current photo assignments etc. Eventually excuse ourselves to assist lorry driver, struggling to free trolley from pothole.
“Nonono. I’ll give him a hand…won’t take a minute. Besides, that’s man’s work…” Gérard says gallantly, looking pointedly at Martine, now 27 months pregnant.
Think lorry driver stopped pushing a tad too late. Don’t think anyone noticed slight slope in grass path, still damp from yesterday’s rain. Trolley freed itself while Gérard still pulling from front. Watch in horror as ace photographer pitched forward onto raspberry ripple boxes, careered through trade entrance, far in excess of speed limit. Bit like one of those blurry photos of Formula 1 races.
3.30 Must say, Gérard very brave. Medics took ages to extricate poor man from remains of organic fruit ‘n veg display, put temporary splint on (re)fractured tibia. Did not reply when we promised faithfully to visit him in hospital.
5 pm Have at last found time to enjoy our brilliant Show. Watch Arlette’s third Tai Chi demonstration, which has drawn large crowd. Talk to Mr Rose of Plantes Alors, ecstatic after securing several landscaping contracts. Watch Scotty’s bonsai demo in Zen Garden with fellow rapt gardeners. Will speak to him later. Take cold drinks to Ginette and Yvette at ersatz golf course. Mini-golfers have been shelling out their €5 in droves, Ginette reports. “Bernard reckons it’ll pay for itself in a year….” Huh. Am still unimpressed.
Get to Madame Destiny’s tent with Bernadette just in time to see our senile delinquent, Grizzelle, exiting therefrom, flanked by 2 Officers of the Law.
“It’s all lies,” she wails, kicking out at one of the gendarmes. “I’m not taking money by false expenses…”
“False pretences, I think, Grizzelle…”
“Ooooh….even you don’t believe me, thought you were my friend…”
Think Grizzelle stretching truth somewhat, but intercede on her behalf anyway. Seems toothless wonder has been charging €45 for dubious 5 minute forecasts. Now realise why it’s called fortune-telling.
Close Madame Destiny’s establishment under watchful eye of gendarmes, escort Grizzelle home.
Gemini 21 May- 20 June After yesterday’s excitement, reflection and rest are on the agenda
Exultant Bernard on phone, wants to thank me personally for forcing initiative on him. “We took around €250,000 you know….will definitely be a permanent event…”
Feel extra-warm glow. But resolve to dispense with Cowpat services in future. Never want to hear Oh Winter Sense Gomar Tchin-Tchin ever again.
© Madeleine Dickson 2005