Wherein Mr. Creosote meets Mrs. Frugal…

by Pseud O'Nym



This post was going to be about the trial of three Barclay Bank executives and me comparing it unfavourably with the amount of people that have been jailed for benefit infractions since 2008. Ideally, I would have used this as a microcosm of the rather disingenuous judicial system that is skewed against the working person.

But instead I’m going to post about the events of last night which first of all, were a bit “Allo Allo” before morphing into ‘The rime of the Ancient Mariner’ and featuring a cameo appearance from one of Roger Hargreaves lesser known creations. Oh, and for good measure this was topped off by the feeling that one sometimes gets at school with an encore that was reminiscent of ‘Invasion Of The Body Snatchers.’

The setting for this lavish production was a wine and chocolate tasting evening at a nearby chocolate shop. I had brought this as a birthday present for my housemate and when we arrived and were seated we were subjected to a long introduction by the hostess who spoke in a comedy French accent that reminded me quite forcibly of Rene from ‘Allo Allo’. For those of you unfamiliar with ‘Allo Allo’ , it was a sitcom in the 1980’s that was based upon the French Resistance and Rene would always say ‘I will say this only once’. Only he would pronounce ‘this’ ‘theez’.

Once I had made the connection in my mind between Rene and the hostess I couldn’t put it out of my mind at all! She may have said something about different wines going with different chocolates and how she might have been to wine fairs to explore what wines went with the chocolates she made. She could have done but I just wish she would’ve repeated the word Sommelier over and over again for comedy value! The fact that she was French made it even funnier. She was proud of artisan chocolate especially the bizarre flavour combinations that she had concocted. One of these the coffee and aniseed one wasn’t as disgusting as it sounds, although the lavender and lemon one was as pungent as it was unpalatable. It was then that there was a performance of ‘The rime of the Ancient Mariner.’ Inasmuch as every time we thought we were going to eat some chocolate she banged on about something else. The irony inherent in her telling us about how her chocolate and how well it went with certain types of wine whilst us not experiencing it for ourselves wasn’t lost on me. And judging by the faces of the others wasn’t lost on them either! It was a case of it being so near and yet so far.

Finally the moment had come and she introduced the wine. Naturally this was accompanied by a talk on how important it was to choose the right wine to go with the right chocolate.   For some inexplicable reason that the 12 year old me couldn’t fathom, she said there wasn’t any white chocolate as white chocolate did something that was very complicated and worthy to something resulting in something else. Any hopes that our wine glasses would be filled were soon dashed by her transforming into Mrs. Frugal!

Everyone gathered was too polite to say anything but half a wine glass means that one half is missing and believe me these were the smallest wine glasses I’ve ever seen. They were more like Champagne flutes. It wasn’t so much that I wanted a full glass, but more that it was the principle. Eventually she stopped talking long enough for us to be invited to open the packets of chocolate and to sniff – SNIFF! – each one and decide which wine would go with each chocolate! If this all sounds a bit far fetched it was as nothing as being there and trying to keep a straight face! Then finally, we got to eat some chocolate. The chocolate was so wafer thin, that Mr. Creosote could’ve eaten it safely!

It was here that she mentioned that if our palate had been compromised her advice was that we should sniff our own skin. Possibly it was only me that thought it highly amusing that a French person was telling us to sniff our own skin, being that the English have a rather uncomplimentary opinion of French hygiene standards!

If you think that is bad, worse is to come because after we had tasted some chocolates and drunk a measly amount of wine she would then ask us in turn to evaluate them both. This reminded me of being at school. Specifically when a teacher reads out something that you are studying for ‘A’ level literature – and of which you have no understanding of – and asks everyone in turn what they thought about it. You tried to remember bits of what each person has said so you can give a Frankenstein answer. By the end of the evening the whole thing reminded me of ‘Invasion Of The Body Snatchers’ which as you are no doubt aware Invasion Of The Body Snatchers was a movie made at the height of cultural paranoia when American fears of communists in their ranks was at its height. The film played on the notion that people were not what they seemed and that aliens had hijacked their bodies but to all intents and purposes they were the same. It must have been the wine but soon everyone was loudly declaiming arrant nonsense in order to sound more cultured than they were. My favourite being by a long chalk was the hostess’ claim that ‘The flavours sounded delicious to her nose!’

To my uncultured mind, she had mistaken her anus for her mouth.