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Friday, 24 December 2010

Shivery story

Jamie sent me this for inclusion on the blog today.


A joyeux Noël from here in Les Andelys, on the river Seine in Haute Normandie. Our town is an ancient one that goes back many centuries. This winter has been so cold that parts of the river Seine have frozen over, and our old town has been carpeted in heavy snow. Recently I went out with my children to play in the snow in the old ruins of the Château-Gaillard (a castle built by your Richard the Lionheart in fact) and as is customary both in your land and mine, we built a rather large snowman, complete with a long carrotte for a nose and two coals for eyes. Later that evening, as we sat for dinner my smallest came running into the house, quivering in terror. For some time we could get nothing out of her, but after a tot of Armagnac she calmed down enough to tell us that someone had set the snowman's coals afire for his eyes were glowing redly in the evening twilight. But how could two coals, resting in the cold snow like that be set alight without melting the snowman at the very least? C'est impossible, non?

Worse was to come - she claimed the snowman's head turned towards her and whispered something she could not understand, though I think the latter is the fanciful imagining of a frightened child.

The next I day I went out to investigate - the snowman was no longer there. No trace of it was to be found except for some strange tracks nearby as if someone had dragged a large, round object across the snow. I followed it and it led me to a special site in our town, the Miraculous Spring of Sainte Clotilde, a site for Catholic pilgims since the times of King Clovis. There I found a carrot and two unburned coals amidst a pool of dirty, sleety water...

I ask you to accept, sirs, the expression of my respectful greetings,

Monsieur Albert L'Orybley, Caretaker, Chateau Gilliard

A hoax? An imaginary story? Has Mr Thomson been at the calvados again? Vraiment, mes amis, the truth is unknowable. Happy Christmas!


  1. Well, I feel obliged to correct Jamie's beaulangue.
    "joyeux noël"
    "Sainte Clotilde"

    (he must have been at the calvados...)


  2. Thanks, Olivier. I must have been sampling that calvados myself, or I'd have caught those errors before posting. (Now done!)

    Everybody remember there's a seasonal treat here tomorrow - don't miss it. A happy Christmas to all!

  3. Creepy. I spent much of the morning building a snowman myself, here in central France. It too had a long, thin carrot for a nose and, yay, it did stand at no more than thirty centimetres tall.

    Eerie, nonetheless.

    Christmas is a time for online gift vouchers from harried siblings. And so I go skipping gaily along to Amazon, electronic gift certificate in my grubby (virtual) hands. Fabled Lands 1 - 4: bought. Probably won't see them until early January, though. Humbug.

    Why is my bottle of Sherry empty already?