Mal de Mère

October 8, 2014 12:01pm Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 63 Comments


So I was minding my own business and all, when my Mother swanned into chez moi with a proposition:  “I need you to come to a party with me in France,”  she declared, “It’s in two days time.”

“In two days time.”  I reiterated.

“Yes and it also lasts for two whole days.”

“You know I’m not 15 anymore, right?  An all dayer would leave me hanging but TWO DAYS?  You do realise that will probably kill me….is that your plan?”  I looked deeply into her eyes for signs of wishful thinking.

Now it’s been a while since one has travelled with Mother ‘cos she’s got herself a new bloke and I got made redundant, however, he was unable to make this event and so I became replacement traveller. I know the place in France very well as my Mother had a house there for many years and this was the 40th birthday party of a very dear friend of hers, just outside Honfleur, in Normandy, where the light is very different, I’ll have you know.

“Well….”I sighed…”I suppose I could make it… I mean….. It’s a bit short notice…and you know I don’t have any money what with being a starving artist and all….”   I added.

Two days later and after several hours of road rage we parked up on Brittany Ferries and got ourself a cabin.   My Mum paid an extra fiver for one with a window so we could look at the sea.  The sea that I curtained instantaneously as we were there to get a bit of a kip.

About 45 minutes into said slumber, just about that time where you think Angels are whispering in your ear and you’re about to go full on into deep coma, the neighbours arrived. Along with screaming brat.  I lay there for a while hoping that the child would eventually stop kicking the side of my wall down and maybe, just maybe, the parents would have the foresight to realise that people go to cabins because THEY WANT TO SLEEP. No.  After an hour of this I started to cough loudly, and say things like “Really don’t think your kid is tired! How about a trip to the ballpark?”  and then I decided to kick the wall back and fell out of my bed.

Grumpy, tired and hating Frenchness at that particular moment we left the cabin for the bar.

Sometime later, across the other side of the water, we met my Mothers friends and dined in Honfleur with a few nice glasses of Vin de needed.  The people had put us up in a beautiful gite with a thatched roof in the middle of the glorious countryside. Swag.

The next day we travelled to various friends to say “Bonjour” and ate at a pretty little restaurant with more Vin de Jour and basked in the (I kid you not) tropical Autumn sunshine.

And then it was time for the party.

“Make sure you dress up nicely.”  My Mother had said.

“No Jeans?”


So, I did as I was told.  Out came the ubiquitous black dress, the exquisite, you really shouldn’t be standing in those, high heels and the I mean business red lippy. Off we tootled to the party which was situated in a large hall, just round the corner of our shack magique.

Now the thought of attending an event with about 150 people of whom I know only a handful, made me start to feel nervous.

“Whatever you do, don’t leave me on my own.  Not until I’ve had a few and can speak fluent French and am past caring.  I mean it.”  I begged my Mother.

“Of course not.”  She lied.  Not a minute into the event and off she went, Bon soiring to all and sundry whilst I stood there like a socially awkward freak and practising mental voodoo on my Mother.  “Oh and dress up”, she’d said, as I looked around at the effortlessly, classic French totty who so don’t do going out like an English bird on the razz, if you know what I mean.

To my rescue came two types of free cocktails on the bar.  One was pink and one was blue.  Recognising the word “vodka” I went straight for the blue one, a couple of times and then some until I felt my nerves abating and my indifference rising.  My Mother returned and then lots of people came over to say hello via kissing, as is the way en Francais.  None of this, raised eyebrow, or a slight nod of the head and a “Y’alright mate” kinda thing, but proper cheek to cheek stuff. I have never, in all my life, kissed so many strange men in one night. I felt like shouting “Next!”  as they came on through.  Never before, have I had stubble rash on my face without smudging my lippy and becoming untucked.  And then when they’d kissed you hello, they would drawl in that beautiful accent, “Enchante”  Enchanted.  Yep.  Can’t honestly say I’ve ever heard anyone say that to me in England.  My face was sore, I smelt of layer after layer of French cologne like a tart in a boudoir and they deemed to find it enchanting to make my acquaintance.   Well….I nearly wet my pants.

The night rolled on and I began to argue about the Scottish referendum, arm wrestle people, stab between their fingers with my knife, hang my dessert spoon from my nose and speak perfect Frenglish.  It had absolutely nothing to do with the lashings and lashings of pink, white and red French wine or champagne on the table.  My Mother always taught me:  Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

Turns out you should never listen to your Mother.  Sometime later after copious amounts of dancing with the enchanted, I sat hazily at my table and spotted my Mother on the dance floor, well and truly smacked and dancing like Suzi Quatro. It is at moments like this I pray to God that people aren’t thinking, “Look at the Mother to see the daughter….” thing.  Feeling slightly hot from family shame, I decided to go outside where I struck up conversation with Monsieur indifferent.  We got locked out as the fire door shut and I swear to God I did not do that intentionally.(Yeah…that old chestnut)   This meant we had to walk around the building to get back in.  Forgetting that I was standing on a small piece of concrete in high heels, I made to walk when I suddenly went from vertical to eating grass.  I felled like a bloody tree.  It’s amazing how embarrassment can sober you up.  Of course, as usual, I got apology tourettes “Oh my God, I can’t believe I did that…ooops, ooh la la, je suis desole, ever so sorry, really, gosh, I think there’s a divot  Haha…lol..”  God.

Never. Trust. A. Brit. At. A. Party.

I managed to get back inside to to find my Mother almost face down on the table.  Global street cred totally ruined.

We had one last dance and then managed to stagger home by the light of an iphone.  My Mother fell on her bed and remained there, motionless and fully dressed until some time the next day.  This is the sort of moral guidance I get.

With great British, stiff upper lip and classy facade, we returned the next day looking all calm and collected and hiding the shame and the colossal hangover, beautifully and with true English denial.

I think we got away with it.


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Was fun, well written tale of our travels!

Thanks 🙂

A well written account of our travels!

That’s twice you’ve written that…are you still drunk?




innit! HAR!



Hah! Frenchness… Whew! That was classic. Truly classic. Thanks for the laugh.

You’re welcome my lovely Crystalicious!


Yikes! Did I accidentally get cheese crumbs all over my shirt? It would figure. 😉

You need French cheese mon cherie, no crumbs!

I totally do. Mass quantities of it. Mmm…

I KNOW what you can do with red lipstick, thus cheek to cheek… (haha)

It actually sounds a bit like fun to me. Then again, I’ve been known to jump out of perfectly good airplanes where people on the ground are shooting at me. So don’t use me as a sounding board.

Your Mum sounds like she’d be fun at a party. I mean, she didn’t do a naked tap dance on the table or anything.

Indeed you do! Ha ha hee hee!

Oh it was fun alright, however, Larry, I think your level of fun is bordering on bonkers and I thought I was Queen of that!

If she had done that I would have shot her.

When you say, “shot**”, I know that you mean that you’d have taken a photo and that’s just WRONG, girl. Just WRONG!

(**based on the concept that England is a peaceful and firearm-free land)

Ha ha! But of course. No point killing her when I would be able to have years and years of threatening her with “If you don’t do this I’m posting your tap dance pics to every social media site.” So much more fun to practise the art of manipulation, no? 😉

And for THAT reason, I would worry about hiring you. You’d bring your camera…and would record every sordid, every base, every mundane detail and would call it ART for the ages.

The blackjacks, the whips, the morning stars, the monster truck, the varied and sundry firearms, and the flying saucers would all be grist for the unblinking eye of the camera.

I’d end up buying you a condo and a corvette just to keep you silent…

Which good old Mum should have done. Too late, mother.

I’m really not seeing a problem with this. I’d look spanking in a corvette! 🙂 plus you get a chauffeur. Win/ win!

But…but…Larry! Come on! A guy like you needs a challenge. Someone who can keep you on your toes, keep you thinking ten steps ahead, right? As if I would abuse such a situation? Moi? You know I’m the right person for the job. Plus I can get sneaky evidence from your competitors with my wily ways. So, when do I start?

I think you were the girl that every bloke hopes he’ll meet at a party, Jules. And I mean that as a compliment. I’m amazed that Frenchman didn’t say you had a nice bum when you were flat on your face. They seem to be losing their touch.

Well what a lovely thing to say, Mr. Gorilla Bananas. There’s nothing like a true gent gorilla.

Yeah! Good point! They’re clearly losing their swag!

I suppose I should be thankful he didn’t laugh at me and was indifferent to everything, including my derriere!

Zut alore!

Like mother, like daughter, indeed. Your mum sounds a hoot and when drunk, you sound even hootier.

Don’t trust those frenchies though: they’ve never forgiven us for Agincourt.

Zut alore indeed! Ha!

There’s hoot and there’s …ahem…oh dear…

Yeah that’s true, or forgiven us for Joan of Arc….that put us on the road to Rouen…. shoulda taken my longbow had I thought about it. I like to stir up a bit of friendly nationalism!

Oh Jules…I’m sure that no one can eat grass as enchantingly as you. Am thinking that the two of us having a night on the town might get a bit…umm…either dangerous or hilarious…oh hell, maybe both. Thanks for the laughs. 🙂

Seriously Tracy, I fell like a tree. I didn’t even hurt myself! Maybe I should have stayed there and gone to sleep!

One day/night we are definitely going out on the razz. It’s on my bucket list. I can’t promise survival but if you do I can guarantee memories, headaches and shame!

““Of course not.” She lied…”

“…and truly smacked and dancing like Suzi Quatro.”

“…and I began to argue about the Scottish referendum, arm wrestle people, stab between their fingers with my knife, hang my dessert spoon from my nose and speak perfect Frenglish. ”

My God… this is a Masterpiece!!!! Those were just three segments of your writing that stood out and smacked me right in the face…

I’ve been in such Dire Straits before, but not because of my Mom… HAH!!!

Much Love, Dear Jules…


My darling Shoes!

So nice to smack you in the face petal, in a loving way 🙂

Yes, expected with friends but not with Mothers. It’s a wonder I turned out so classy, eh?

Much love too, my friend 😉 Now, lets get plastered!

“Now, lets get plastered!”

Hey! I’m game!!

Good morning, Sunshine…


Morning, sunshinier! 🙂

Did he say, much love? Harrrrr! He should’ve said, much love plus infinity!

Oh hi Cartain Red Shoe. 😉

Cartain? I didn’t know I spoke Frenglish too….

Tu parle bien Francais, Monsieur Bleu! 😉

Oui oui ma cherie!


~Les Shoes~

Les Shoes…. HAR!



What I wouldn’t give for a film of all these shenanigans. Didn’t anyone have a smartphone handy? What of your social media obligations?

Look at you name-checking Suzi Quatro. I’ll have you know the very first rock concert I ever went to as a young tyke was Suzi Quatro opening for Alice Cooper. She was in her prime. I was still a ways away from mine.

A fiver seems a very small price to pay to stare at the sea. You can’t really put a price on that. Is it weird to holiday and drink with a parent? I never had the pleasure.

Well, would you believe, I actually took my Go-Pro to video the whole event but forgot the sodding battery! In hindsight….
shame really as a load of French blokes did the Full Monty. Well, not entirely full but enough to whet ones appetite 🙂

I kid you not, my Mother thinks she is Suzi Quatro.

It’s beyond weird but then my family is, except for yours truly. Plus, she goes from drunken teenager to control freak, Dickension in a heartbeat.

your writing is so evocative, my sweet Juli, it’s like i’m there.

…okay so i was there…kinda…sorta…i saw it all through Lars’s watch. never fear, everything is recorded on that watch. Lars reports back that the grass there tasted good but the croissants were soggy *)

My sweet Phoenix, I’m so glad it was all captured through Lars’s watch. Yeah, Lars was right, as he usually is *)

Hahahahaha that’s quite a story. I tell ya, Jules, you sure have a way with words. I’d recognize your style blindfolded sipping on a glass of Vin de needed. Your Mom is some kind woman, as are you. I just never realized 150 French people could make you nervous. You looked into your Mom’s eyes for signs of wishful thinking plus you practiced mental voodoo on her. Is that a fact? Haha. Well, let’s say I nearly fell of my chair and I’m drinking water. But do tell me a bit more about that special light in Normandy. Does it make the world look more romantic? No? And what does a tart in a boudoir smell like? So many questions, so little time. You ate grass too? Dear Lord. I mean… ooops, ooh la la!

Kip… such a funny word. Ubiquitous… I love that word.

And all it took was a fiver to get a cabin with a window? Maybe if your Mom had paid a tenner, someone would’ve thrown (or squeezed) that brat outta the window.

Of course you went straight for the blue cocktail. Oui.

I am honured that you’d recognise my class blindfolded!

Oh yes, that many French people all being very French made me feel tres nervous but once I’d had a taste of the Blue – oui, cos OBVIOUSLY that was the only right choice, my English fortitude returned.

That light in Honfleur…ugh…it’s true what they say. “The light is very different,” they say, “It casts a romantic hue across the place and people slow down and paint and imagine things of beauty. Dreams are realised, kisses land on your cheeks like warm sighs and visions of future possibilities dance on the water like fairy lights, begging you to catch them. You gotta go. I should live there. I don’t know why I don’t.

I’m also honoured. Now we both speak beautiful Franglais. Well, OF COURSE we do 🙂


You speak Franglais as well? How skeery is this?!?!?!?!


Hahaha what a fun, engaging story! Stories about you and your mum are the best!

Never. Trust. A. Brit. At. A. Party.

Will keep that in mind!

Hey Dee 🙂 yes, it always lends itself to storytelling when we travel together!

No. Never trust a Brit at a party. I’m deadly serious! 🙂

Read like a dream, like Bacchus visited in the night. You skipped the light fandango, girl! So the grass became as the sea, we all gotta go overboard sometime, you know, I know – been there. Americans can give the Brits a run for it that enchanté way – but I will give you this: most of us fail on the next day’s return, our upper lip quivering, our façade a colossal ruin. So in the end, I hand you the César Award for coming away relatively unscathed from a trip with mal de mère : )

Oh I skipped the light fandango alright and landed face first in that lovely sea of graa. I did it on purpose, as it happens, I wanted to see if chivalry still existed in the romantic hearts of l’homme francais 🙂

Wh thank you Miss A- I graciously, and somewhat bashfully accept the award on behalf of the British, keep calm and carry on deluding.
Good to see you class A chick! 🙂

And that was grass not graa…I think that’s the noise I made when I fell!

French men are hot. I’m in to women exclusively but I can acknowledge that. You are one lucky woman.

Yeah but English chicks are hotter. Fact. They are right to be enchanted 😉

Now I miss smelling French men and partying with the Brit! X

Well Jaya….I can help you out there 🙂 Come on over!

I want to see my bloody face. Now, how am I to achieve this, Jules?

Mirror mirror on the wall…who is the fairest of them all? Bleu! Naturalement!





TRICK!!!! Go on…I dare ya! Not really…c’est moi! Je prefer TREATS! 🙂

Last minute invite to a party in France…I should have such woes. 🙂 Do the French do four kisses? The Portuguese do two, which I always hated when I was younger and my parents made me smooch all their weirdo friends I never saw again.

Yeah, I know what you mean but when you get older and they are attractive and smell like hugo Boss it has a different appeal! it is 2 in Normandie but I try to sneak a third in if they’re hot! Just play on the English dumb bird..”Oh it’s not three? Pardon…”

See, this is the kind of life that I should be living! You should have your mother call me next time. I speak redneck French, which I suppose is where Cajun came from. And when I’m drunk I fully believe I speak all languages fluently. Or better still, you and I could go and leave your mother at home.

Memphis Etienne! HA! Right that’s it, me and you are downing some and gatecrashing a French party. Lets roll!

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