UBI CARITAS ET AMOR. DEUS IBI EST.
UBI CARITAS ET AMOR. DEUS IBI EST.
Saturday, 3 August 2019
The case of the mystery crime - Part 2
A few days later there was a French farmers market in town. They come round every six months or so. A number of French traders take over an area in the centre of town where they set up their stalls and sell their wares. The Local Authorities advertise the event beforehand to attract more people from neighbouring towns and villages to our town.
I like farmers markets. You can buy all sort of produce and goods which you know are fresh and healthy and good for you. Like a shepherd's pie with real shepherds in it. Or a Scotch egg. That's a boiled egg wrapped in meat. In case you're wondering; it has been peeled beforehand and then wrapped in minced meat, covered in bread crumbs and cooked. My favourites are freshly caught haggis brought in straight from the Highlands of Scotland.
As I made my way to the French farmers market I had to go through an alleyway which serves as a short-cut into town. As I entered the alleyway a man wearing scruffy clothes with his left foot in bandages stopped me and said, "Your money or your life!"
It took me a few seconds to make such a momentous decision. As I did not have my wife with me I did not know how I could settle the deal.
He repeated, "Your money or your life!"
He looked smaller than me, a little old and to be quite honest not much of a match. Either that or I was being stupidly brave. He stood there with both hands holding tight to his crutches which kept him steady from falling; and waited for me to hand him my money.
I said, "You must be joking, mate!"
He looked me straight in the eyes and replied, "Are you disrespecting me?" He said it in such a way that was quite memorable. He split the word disrespecting in two. Dis ... respecting. And he had an accent that I could not quite place. Could be anywhere in Britain. We have so many accents around here.
I said calmly, "I hardly know you, so I am not disrespecting you. With people I have not met I start with ambivalence, moving on to disrespect, then contempt and loathing. So I would call it ambivalence!"
"Why are you calling an ambivalence?" he asked, "no one has been hurt. We don't need medical assistance!"
I walked passed him and on to the market. He followed me hurriedly hopping on his crutches until eventually he fell on his face. I ignored him and moved on.
At the market there were many stalls full of French goodies of all sorts. I stopped at the cheese counter. The cheese monger welcomed me, "Allo Monsieur ... you like tasting zee cheese? Wee 'ave jolie roquefort and Bleu d'Auvergne ... zey are veree taste tee full. Also brie ... eet eez better zan Engleesh brie. N'est ce pas?" he asked as he handed me a piece of brie.
It was nice and I bought a bit as well as the Bleu d'Auvergne.
I then moved on to another stall selling "moules marinière". These are mussels in a delicious cream. I sampled a couple and bought a few.
Next there was a man selling snails. Live ones it seems because he was having difficulty catching them as they ran away. Every time he opened the container to serve someone the snails would run out and escape like race horses off at a gallop.
Then I saw it ... my heart missed a beat and then re-started again in excitement. A stall with a big sign on top. "Vins de Bordeaux".
I know a little French. He is little because he is very short. His name is Too Loose Le Trick. He is a portray painter. But because of his small stature he only paints knees.
Anyway ... as I was saying, I know a little French language. Does this sign say wines from Bordeaux, the place in France? Or wines belonging to the owner Mr Bordeaux? Could he be the François Bordeaux mentioned by the parrot in Mrs Scrivener's home?
I approached the wine stall nonchalantly. Which is a little difficult if your trousers are too tight. But I tried.
The wine merchant greeted me with a smile, "Bonjour Monsieur," he said, "would like to taste zee wine?"
He handed me a small glass of red wine and a little bucket. Now I had seen what to do many times on TV. I was not going to just gulp the contents of the glass in one shot. I smelled it first to savour its bouquet. I shook the glass a little for the wine to swirl round and release its aroma. I sipped a few drops and let them rest on my tongue a while before moving it round my mouth and then spat in the bucket.
Unfortunately I missed the bucket and spat the contents of my mouth onto the little dog of the woman standing next to me.
I was mortified. She screamed loudly and would not stop. The woman, not the dog! It was as if it is the end of the world. I tried to apologise. She would not hear the end of it. The woman that is. The dog licked itself and asked for more.
The wine merchant tried to calm the situation down for fear of losing trade. I picked up a bottle of wine and gave it to her as a gift. The woman ...
It's surprising how quickly she calmed down as she walked away clutching her prize.
I bought another bottle for myself and asked the wine merchant, still nonchalantly, because I was wearing the same trousers.
"Are you François Bordeaux?"
"Non ... monsieur," he replied, "je m'appelle Jean-Pierre Chevalier!"
"Merci beaucoups," I said as I paid him and left.
On my way back through the alley way I was stopped by another man. He was big and threatening and looked quite menacing. Perhaps he was another mugger. Friend of the one I met earlier in the day. I began to cry as tears trickled down my legs.
"I hear you are looking for François Bordeaux!" he said.
"Eh ... well ... maybe ..." I heard myself mumble.
"When he is ready François Bordeaux will find you," said the big man as he brushed passed me and walked away.