No Trifling Matter

December 29, 2014 4:39pm Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 43 Comments


As you’ve probably noticed, if you love me enough, I’ve been somewhat absent. The black comedy that is my life has taken on a new level of madness and if my days were to be televised I would be a millionaire.  Anyway, that aside, I got invited to another French party.   Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth and realising that escape was far preferable to my current situ, I snapped their bloody hand off.   Now this time, I thought I’d make a bit of an effort to redeem myself by offering to make a cake for the second day of the party. Allow them to realise that I’m not just a drunken party animal that has problem with vertical hold, but that I can actually excel in various other areas. I also felt it was time these French cuisiniers stopped taking the piss out of British fodder because when it comes to cakes and puddings, we have it globally nailed, in my opinion.

“I know!’  I thought excitedly, “I’ll make a trifle! That’s proper British and rather suitable for the time of year.  Plus, I have never seen a trifle in France.  Or anywhere else for that matter….”

I felt on top of my cake game and stuffed my suitcase with various ingredients in between my knickers and toothpaste and carefully rammed the double cream into one of my high heeled shoes. Everything arrived in tact and I celebrated on arrival with a nice Martini Gin.

Now trifle is a game of layers.  Each level has to be given time and attention and left to evolve before the next one.  As the trifle master, I am a perfectionist at this level of culinary precision.  I started on Saturday which was day one of the party and got my layers of cake and jam and jelly and raspberries and custard all going on in a French glass fruit bowl cos that’s all they had.  All went very well and I left the concoction in the fridge leaving all but the last layer of whipped cream until the morrow and got ready for the party.

NB: I partied until 5 am, filled with kir, champagne, vin de all colours and even vodka shots.  I danced all manner of dances with the enchanted and even learnt a new one called the island hop.  It was very fast and I don’t really know what happened but I turned into a whirling dervish. I even managed to talk to people using only hand signals.  I did all this without falling over once.  Aren’t you proud?  English class restored.

Got to chez residence at half five in the morning and crawled into a bed, begging for death.

Two short hours later, a baby that was sharing said residence woke up.  Loudly.  Sleeping was futile but I lay still listening to other house members getting up and willing them all sorts of evil. I wondered why French peoples parties had to be on for two days and which bright spark had that idea.  Clearly a teetotaller.  I mustered as much bon courage as I could and raised my expiring self to vertical.  It wasn’t pleasant.  I made my way to the kitchen to get a cup of tea.  The way everyone looked at me as if I were a new species, made me realise how shit I must have looked.  Bovvered?

“Bonjour”  I said sarcastically.  There was nothing bon going on whatsoever. “Please don’t talk to me.  Not even in my own language.”  I insisted.

“You ‘ave only one hour before we leave for the party again.” Said French.

That’s alright, I thought.  I can down two cups of tea and brush my hair in that time. No sweat..except….ARRRRRRRRRR…. I haven’t finished the bloody trifle!

Panic ensued.  Out came the trifle from the fridge which looked decidedly unappetising at this stage of hungover.  I poured the cream into a nearby bowl and looked for my Kitchen Aid machine.  It was at home.  It was going to have to be a hand job.  The challenge of all challenges and hungover or not, I was not about to let the English girls down on that one. I whisked and whisked until my hair stood on end and I fought the cramp in my forearm with determination, sweat and bitter tears like an emotional triathlete. Result:  I over creamed and nearly made cheese. Trying to spread the over whisked cream over the final layer (which is custard) was impossible.  It was so stiff that the custard layer kept blobbing over the top.  Then I ran out of cream halfway over.  I wept. Silently.  I was way too dehydrated to produce tears.  After a short lived strop I went back in and made the best of a bad job. Doesn’t matter! I remembered, I’ve brought along some rainbow coloured, hundreds and thousands!  A heavy sprinkling of those on top and nobody will even know.  I located the pot I’d brought with me at the bottom of my make up bag, ripped off the top and began to sprinkle.  Turned out, I forgot to select the delicate sprinkle hole and when I shook the pot the whole bloody lot fell out like a bulldozed building.  I watched with awe as they began to melt into each other in various shades of greens and oranges.  I tried to spread them across, quickly, but they just smeared into a radioactive looking piece of abstract art. This was supposed to be the dessert of the moment, The Trifle Tower, The Arc de Trifle and instead it looked like a half arsed effort by a 5 year old at the after school club, art table.

I wept again and then realised I really had to brush my hair.

I carried the Trifle to the car and everyone just stared at it silently which is even worse than anyone saying “WTF?”  I masked my shame well with large sunglasses and bad hair.  When I arrived at the party venue I made a swift detour to the kitchen and plonked the trifle next to the other desserts.  I stopped for a moment and wept.  Silently.  There, sat proudly the most beautiful gateaus and tarte tatin’s with precision cut apple slices, shining in heavenly glaze and mocking me.  Sabotage crossed my mind but I couldn’t see a knife.  Instead I went back to the salle de fete and necked a quick hair of the dog, despite craving water for the first time in my life.

The festivities continued with more drinking and endless platters of exceptional food and cheeses as we all sat at decorated trestle tables, chatting and eating.  Plates were cleared away and more drinks were served and for a moment there I was in a beautiful state of oblivion until I saw them bringing out the cakes.  All of them.  Except mine.  Rather than take offence, I breathed a sigh of relief until I heard someone shout, to the silent room,

“Ou est le gateau de Juliette?”

No.  Please tell me that didn’t happen.  Someone went back into the kitchen to find it having clearly thought that it was a sloppy pile of leftovers and not an actual delicacy.  Out they came with it, in its mighty bowl of glory as the crowd stared on in disbelief.

“I think you should go and show people how to eat this..”  said French as I was busy explaining that it was necessary to get all the layers in your bowl to another.

There was an expectation. This was no trifling matter.  I stood and walked slowly across the dance floor to the pudding table feeling like I was on trial as the onlookers watched.  I could hear them sniggering, silently.

Have you ever served trifle onto a paper plate?  At the best of times, even in a crystal bowl, it looks like an abortion but as I served a several layered portion onto a paper plate, it looked like someone had thrown up.

“Ughhhhh!”  said a Frenchman standing nearby, loudly and with a screwed up face as he analysed my platter.

I refrained from slapping his face and instead took a deep breath and said,” Shut it, Gordon Bleu!  This may look terrible (French accent) but it will give you a hard on for 6 days.”

I walked away with my trifle and ate the lot.  I have to say it tasted delightful and of all the cakes left standing, mine was the the one that was completely finished.  You really can tell a bloke anything….


* I promise to catch up with all your posts in the next 3 days.  Cross my heart and hope to fly.  Forgive me.


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Good morning, my dear Jules… You’ve written yet another master piece…

“…a whirling dervish…”

I would expect that you would make a fantastic, fanatical whirling dervish… I can see you in action now.

“…but it will give you a hard on for 6 days.”

Hmmm… before I place an order for a year’s supply, is the 4-hour warning still in effect? You know… the one that requires that I see a ‘professional’ if said problem still exists after said 4 hours??

I have a serious question… I am going to start photography statuary… what lens would you suggest??

I hope you had the merriest of Christmases… and Happy New Year to you…



Good morning my dearest Shoes!

Why thank you, Sir 😉

I can whirl better than any dervish, let me tell you. I make the Tasmanian devil seem sloth-like!

I promise that you won’t have a problem after 4 hours. At this time you will be well and truly sated and knackered and three sheets to the wind. Special harnesses are supplied for the 6 day event but be careful not to poke anyones eye out. On the subject of eyes, let us move on to lenses! (see what I did there)
So…my photographic phriend….statues, eh? Well, I think that a selection of lenses might be useful because you can never have enough! seriously, for this type of work your standard 18 – 55 mm lens should be perfectly adequate. I do tend to use my 28-200 Tamron lens most if I’m out and about on a random shoot because it gives me a bit more flexibility to zoom in – it’s a good all rounder. You may want to invest in a longer lens later -say up to 300mm cos there’s a lot of rather fabulous statues hiding up on tall buildings! And some rather spectacular gargoyles 🙂 Once you start you don’t know where you’ll end up. I think you need to play around and evolve with your style thereafter. If you take a look at my instagram (up there under photography) I took a couple of shots of the bronze statue at St Pancras, close up style to make it seem alive so it depends on what you want to achieve from your art. I’d probably stick to your standard and a medium lens up to 200mm for starters. Can’t wait to see your work.

Aw Jules I’m sorry to hear of your troubles… Did the bad vibes around that whole frosty, tat-ejecting boot episode never leave? Certainly I’m glad you’re here to tell of surviving another Dionysian bash en France. I think only disulfiram would beep me out of trouble at such a lavish do, because I don’t pretty up as quickly as you! And the trifle topping episode? I’d be bovvered, but you were well bing-bing with the stiff upper lip and everything! Great last couple of paragraphs, btw, love them!

Troubles machete the writer, Miss A…bsolutely fantastic 🙂

How are you my keen witted vixen?

How I managed a day two is beyond me, I was surviving on a whisper of a breeze of second wind!
Oh, I never let the side down! Stiff upper lip and stiff whipped cream and carry on regardless. It’s what made this country great. Along with trifle .

Lovely to see you 🙂

machete? WELL HOW FREUDIAN WAS THAT. It was supposed to say “maketh” however, being slaughtered machete style by my troubles is not far off!

Troubles DO machete the writer, dahling… I can attest to that. If only it wasn’t so slow and gruesome a death… Limbs hacked off, brain cells gouged out… Et voilà! I’m dumb as a box of rocks. Keen witted vixen is a musical phrase… You’ll have to grab that baton, oh golden-haired princess of the effervescent-clever, and thank you for the Lovely : )

You have the most delightful mind, Miss A, torn apart and left to hang or not, your words shoot straight to the core and leave one a shivering and captivated being, as though a pure angelic beam has knifed its way inside. The lovely, is well deserved. 🙂

Oh thank you dear Jules–beautiful bit of writing, that–and never mind me, I’ve become gruesome dwelling on the next Big Monday when the majority, so lovely in December, go back to being utter shits in January…
But not to worry, there’s Moët & Chandon in the fridge, and for just a few sparkling moments, we will be very happy and toast to the new year being the Big Saturday in attitude 😀

Chin chin, Miss A! Here’s to the future wordsmiths and glorious expression!

Have a good one 😉

Juli, you’ve won Hell’s Kitchen! your prize is a long kiss smack on the gob from Gordon Ramsay! he says “mah dahlin” as he leans in for the cameras. you are more delicious and delectable than your delicious and delectable food, i could eat you up.

master of the double cream *)

“It’s the best prize ever!”
Zoom in camera 2…pan in to face shot of Jules, blushing with English coyness, as red as the jelly in her winning trifle as she puckers up for a snog with the DC master…and action…what? She opens one eye to see Gordon tucking into her sloppy cake with a large spoon and making notes in his green notebook…..

Thank you my sweet Phoenix *)

Juli, I’m currently marathoning your black-comedy show on Netflix Streaming, it’s fantastic!

Phoenixeseseseses the master of the double cream *)

it has surpassed “Orange is the new black” for drama, madness, duplicity and matters that are trifling. I knew you’d love it, Phoenixeseseseseseses! MOTDC *)

Bravo, Jules, you showed them that a trifle is not to be judged by its appearance or the slick kitchen manoeuvres used (or not used) to produce it ! “The proof of the pudding is in the eating” is a saying that should be translated into French, along with “French girls can flirt but English girls taste better”!

Hear, Hear Mr. Gorilla Bananas!

You can dress it up as fancy as you want but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, wholesome satisfaction, you’re hard pushed to knock an English bird off the trifle tower 😉

Phew, you’re back! I was getting worried.
You don’t call; you don’t write…

Still, you’re back with another marvelous tale, so it was worth the wait.

And you’re right: you can’t beat a good trifle. I’m still working my way through the Christmas Trifle – only a Sainsbury’s one, but bloody lush all the same. Unlike yours though, I doubt it was made with a loving handjob.

I know. I’m so Ruby Tuesday about life…

I sent you a missive by pigeon but I think someone ate the blighter for Christmas.

Good man, Masher! There’s a bloke who appreciates his puddings!
I’m sure the spotty oik who makes trifles for Sainsburys, had no extras going into the trifle topping…though…you never know…I mean…their advert this year is all about sharing…..ewwww. 😉

I responded to your post on my blog.

That aside, I love trifle. Really. I ate trifle at Muldoon’s Irish Pub (Newport Beach, California) last Saturday. It is the king of deserts in my estimation.

And while I do like French women and the French kiss, I have to say that they are a long way from perfecting a proper trifle.

Well Larry I’m impressed! You are a broad minded, American who clearly recognises a good thing when he tastes it and has no fear of sloppy layers.

Quite. There’s no point in being able to snog someone properly if you can’t make him a proper pudding after. 🙂

“Sloppy layers” describes my intellect and personality very precisely.

That must be why trifle appeals to me.

In America we also eat French Toast and French Fried Potatoes without prejudice to the land that created them.

People with layers are much more interesting, sloppy or not!

Oh we hold a grudge and call them chips!

And we call crisps, chips.

Oh to be separated by a common language.

However beans on toast are beans on toast no matter where you are. At least we can cling to that bit of truth wherever we are.

I know, which is ridiculous. I am allowed to say that because we spoke this language first 😉

Yep, beans on toast is just beans on toast. solid, reliable and comfortable. United we stand!

It’s New Year’s Eve — and I’m hoping you will do a real-time running blog tonight complete with photos. If you’re not in France will it be as interesting? Maybe not, but if you don’t do it this year, you must plan such a NY Eve event for next year…or are you calling it Hogmanany? Using the Scots term does justify greater excesses. I am not sure why, but it does.

P. S. What better chance to be an art philosopher than on Hogmanay?

oh, oh, OH! That’s cruel! You KNOW I can’t resist a challenge!
Well, as it happens, I’m usually a bit of a grumps when it comes to New Year. I have yet to find anyone who can put me in the party mood. Whilst I have offers a beckoning I tend to prefer to mull over all my failures. I’m healthy like that. However, in or out, I accept the challenge and will post on the hour every hour on my evening. It may be as dull as dishwater or it may not. I will see how the mood takes me. If I DO venture outside, bear with me on the hour by hour thing as I’m not taking my macbook out to post! And if anyone nicks my camera I will end up in prison for GBH and YOU, Larry, will be responsible for my bail 😉 Let the night commence. I shall start at 7pm.

I can’t wait.

I think that I need to dare you more often, Jules.

Haha, you’ve had the last laugh Jules. And you’ve inspired a craving 😉

It seems like it’s been forever… we should catch up soon.
Happy New Year Julietta, may all your wishes and dreams come true in 2015 xx

Azra, my beautiful friend, I was thinking the same. I think we have both been lost to the elements and some point this year. We most definitely need to catch up and let us make next year THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED! in fact, lets start a group. Focus: adventure, fun, say yes to everything, be daring, don’t take any shit, travel. Result: drama, possible death, excitement and worldly experience culminating in a year that counts. game? anyone?

I’m up for that Jules 😉 I’m sure our Grumpy friend will be too…

OK…no backing out! We have two members thus far! Let’s rock n rolllllll!

Grumpy? Who’s grumpy?

No idea what she’s talking about, Blue..;)

I don’t want to say I’ve been obsessed with your absence necessarily, but I will say I’m glad I can finally stop making tick marks on my desk calendar.

Why didn’t you bake something simple like brownies or chocolate chip cookies. They’re lovely. They’re like eating a hug. This is what happens when you try to be all fancy.

Drinking kills deserts. It’s a FACT. What’s this promise to catch-up on posts? Like we’re owed or it’s an obligation. Phooey. Read and write at your pleasure. Not out of a sense of duty.

Ha! it’s nice to know I’m virtually taken care of. I actually mean that!

I thought the exact same. Why didn’t I just knock up a simple cheesecake? Because I was trying to be clever, knowing that trifle is one of those indigenous delicacies from the land of hope and glory. I don’t think I quite got that across…

No I don’t see it as an obligation, I see it as a gift. One that I have not been given time to appreciate and I like the people I follow to feel appreciated. I do not follow many people, those I do are because I actually like them and find them entertaining! One should be honoUred 😉

Where is the land of hope and glory, please? Can you email detail directions.

You are, of course, absolutely correct about visiting other blogs. It’s something to be appreciated and entertained by. See how I turned something wonderful into a burden? Nothing to it. That’s my superpower.

three blocks down, take a left, keep going till you a brown door and knock 3 times. Ask for dodgy Bob and tell him I sent you. He’ll make you drink something illegal but do it anyway, all experiences are good for you. You’ll wake up 6 hours later, to a “You alright, mate?” A cold and crisp chill in the air and a fry up at a greasy spoon. Then you will know you’ve arrived. Keep your wits about you and remember to mind the gap.

Yeah…thanks for that! Ha!

Nice to see you writing again my friend! Hmmph if they couldn’t appreciate your drunken trifle they certainly didn’t deserve to taste it in all of its delightfulness. Is the photo above your trifle? If so, it looks great…I’d eat it. Glad you got away for a while. Escaping sounds fantastic. Maybe I should try it 😉

Welcome back to the blogosphere dear Jules xx

Hey Tracy! My nimble fingers have returned to the keyboard! Now I just have to engage my brain! I’m sure a few port and lemons can do that 🙂

It’s good to be back my lovely friend, you have been missed x

I love you enough so, yes, I’ve noticed. My shrink tells me it’s not because of me. I told her, “That’s exactly the problem.” Just a bit of blue comedy put in the mix for you, Jules. Now, let’s read on. Escape… party… cuisine… nailed… so far, so good. Making a trifle may be a trifle gamble-um-ly. Define “all manner of dances”. Did you do the blue step? No? Good. Then all hope was not lost. See, I’m looking after you, Jules. My shrink says that’s laudable indeed.

Dear Lord, you really wanted to finish that cheese… I mean…. trifle. Cramp in your forearm? No kidding. Delicate sprinkle hole? I see. (Still reading) I find it unforgivably rude that they didn’t all say “WTF!” at the same time. I mean, really… the nerve of some sniggering people.

“Ou est le gateau de Juliette?” Oh darn.

Describe the look on his face when you revealed that your trifle was, in fact, a blue pill in disguise.

Just stopping by again… to wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR! May it be as dazzzzzzlingly wonderful as you are. Yes, that’s right.

Happy New year my Randy pants! I hope that yours is filled with joy, hugs, health, happiness, Bora Bora and all things beautiful and stupendous, as you deserve, cos you’re wonderful! 🙂

I know you have. You’re the best 🙂
Blue comedy is right up my street!

Never done the blue step, except metaphorically.

The look on his face? It was like a slapped arse followed by Gollum finding the precious ring!

And then the trifle was demolished.

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