This weekend is a long weekend in France. In fact, officially it’s not, the government cancelled the holiday on Monday two years ago but as is the norm here no one took a blind bit of notice and so everything is shut, including the schools. Even Chantal my childminder has gone away for the weekend. How selfish is that?
Not content with having three children to look after, I decide to invite a fourth to stay. Olivia’s school-friend Marguerite. Her parents are going away to help some elderly relation move, so I invite her here. So far it’s been fine. Apart from Bea deciding that tonight was a good time to try flying from the mezzanine in the spare room onto the bed. As I write they are all asleep in Olivia’s room, or at least pretending to be asleep.
Rupert took the news that we were going to have four children for three days calmly. His only worry was that we were going to have to “behave like French people”.
“How do they behave?” I asked.
“You know, putting our seatbelts on all the time, having a proper lunch, speaking French,buying baguettes for every meal.”
He also suggested that to make Marguerite’s stay more interesting (at least for us) we should adopt mad British customs like standing to attention and singing God Save the Queen before every meal. Obviously every meal should include baked beans.
“Come on girls, time to get your kilts on and drink some warm beer,” he will announce every day at 3pm, as we prepare our bagpipes (not that we have any, I wonder if we can buy them on ebay?). I suggest we arrange a game of cricket and insist everyone wears whites and shrieks “howzat” every three minutes. Or maybe indulge in a bit of binge-drinking (us, not the children, though the way Bea behaves you might think she’d been at the bottle).
Whatever else, one great British custom will be upheld tomorrow. Rupert goes off at the crack of dawn to play in a golf tournament all day. I am left alone with four children, a fat cat and a charming but useless dog who is possibly the only dog in the world who literally does the school run. He runs after us on the bikes.
But I suppose I only have myself to blame. I always knew there was a reason I should have taken up golf.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007