All across Paris, the story is the same, as we all wilt in the terrible summer humidity. In Bothwell's, the only sound is the gentle snoring of Eaulafite, the club cat. In Hunter's, Régime, the elderly club boarhound sits panting on the rug by the unlit fire. But in Red Phillips, the lowest-status of the Paris Clubs That Matter, things are different. The summer season has brought with it a number of young Frenchmen, all eager to seek their fortunes. And several of these gentlemen appear to have gravitated to Red Phillips to make those oh-so-important first contacts.
In week one, a Monsieur Char (now Captain Char of the 53rd Fusiliers, we are pleased to note) was there in the company of his henchman, de Lambe, and they spent much time carousing. Also present was a M. Pierre de Fromage, who, judging from the assiduousness with which he is attending the club, may perhaps be intending to take up residence there. In week two, another new face appeared, and paid close attention to sampling Red Phillips' wide variety of apéritifs. This was M. Louis de Choux. M. de Fromage appeared to take close note of this competitor for Red Phillips' better wines and spirits. In week three, M. de Fromage was once again present, plainly having found a congenial home away from home, and he shared the club with another newcomer, a M. Petit Cochon d'And. Such a whirl of social activity has not been seen in Paris for some time and as Toady is in the business of reporting the Paris social scene we are glad to extend our welcome to these new players.
One of the gentlemen causing such a stir at Red Phillips later in the month was seen earlier trying his hand in the Lists of Love. Alas, Mlle. Cath Ode proved more than immune to his charms, and delegated the setting of dogs onto her hapless paramour to the butler. As Mlle Ode's hobbies include bear-baiting, the ferocity of the animals at the family's disposal was quite sufficient to encourage M. de Choux to make a prompt departure. Fortunately he had had the foresight to come romantically on horseback and the disappointed dogs were forced to mooch back home after a most unsatisfactory and fruitless chase. From their point of view, that is. Alas, in his hurry to depart, M. de Choux dropped the exquisitely-wrapped present he had intended for his beloved and it was smashed to pieces as he quit the field at a full gallop.
The rejection of M. Nomlesse by Mlle. Benotte was gentler, but certainly no less unequivocal. The dapper appearance and demeanour of M. Nomlesse appeared significantly dampened by this dispiriting failure. We can only hope he will rise on stepping stones of his former self and return to the fray in the future with a firmer resolve, and sights set perhaps a little lower. Or perhaps a lot lower.
The call for brave new officers to replace recent casualties has been answered in good measure by the Paris newcomers. M. Nelson Bint is now a Captain in the Queen's Own Carabiniers, and M. Jean-Luc Picoq is in the Picardy Musketeers. The 53rd Fusiliers has had both its vacancies filled, by M. (now Captain) Char and Captain Mer de Mystère. We wish all four gentlemen the best of success in their military careers.
The first battle results are now coming in from the front, and it appears that the various patriotic regiments that volunteered for duty are acquitting themselves well under the banner of the Frontier brigades. It seems that their extra contribution to the war may have been all that saved us from a far worse result. The loss of a Captain in the Queen's Own Carabiniers appears to have been down to his own tactical miscalculations, as the rest of that regiment drove its foes from the field. However, the only force that can claim the honour of crushing its enemies totally is a battalion of the Cardinal's Guard.
The 53rd Fusiliers have been in very heavy fighting, as have the Gascons, but have not had quite the second regiment's level of good luck. Most regiments have now been able to make good some of their officer losses.
Indications are that the Second Brigade have driven the enemy from the field, but the Third and Frontier Brigades have suffered the reverse ignominy. The fiercest fighting has centred around the Royal North Highlanders, which elite force has suffered very heavy casualties, and the Gascons Regiment, who despite being crushed in battle have suffered exceptionally light casualties among the officers commanding. The Fourth Brigade is holding its own, but only just. Overall, General Ôpital seems by inches and miles to forcing the Austrians to concede an inconclusive result from what could have been a blood-drenched disaster for France. His promotion to Field Marshal has now been confirmed.
The current vacancies stand as follows:
Candide collects Dutch impressionists, jongleurs and clowns, and has the finest croquet lawn in the Isle de Cité.
Adèle likes giggling, filing her nails, fluttering her eyelashes and peeking at prospective suitors over the top of her fan. Her favourite stones are diamonds, rubies and emeralds.
Mlle. Bea is an accomplished dancer and calligrapher and practices lacemaking. She also enjoys knitting, crochet and metalwork.
In her spare time, Ruth rules over the Paris Sewing and Tapestry Circle with an iron fist. She is also secretary of the Paris Flower-Arranging Society and likes finding witches.
The three Ode sisters share their late father's interest in natural philosophy and alchemy. Anne likes catching butterflies, Di collects cute little fluffy kittens and Cath likes fox-hunting, bear-baiting and cock-fighting.
Pat is waiting for a handsome prince to sweep her off her feet and carry her away on a white charger. In the meantime she plays a formidable game of cribbage.
Sadie's hobbies are giggling, filing her nails, fluttering her eyelashes and torture.
Eileen is interested in contortionism, horse-riding and escapology. She has studied ballet since the age of 2½.
May studies philosophy, theology, astrology and taxidermy. She is a Libran and her favourite colour is yellow.
Lotte can drink a pint of sherry in 4½ seconds. She plays the viola and the crumhorn, sometimes both together.
I would like to rebut the assertion of last month's correspondent that the summer of 1604 was even more hot and humid than this summer. I thought it was common knowledge that the summer of 1598 was hotter still.
Am I the only one to have noticed the enormous variation in the quality of wines from le Chateau Maison? All the other great Chateaux are far more consistent.
Gérard le Sommelier
I have a variety of interestingly-shaped vegetables that some of your subscribers might find entertaining to view. Most notable among them is a turnip that is shaped astonishingly like a thingy!
May I add that I find owning a turnip that is shaped like a thingy to be particularly ironic because I have a thingy that is shaped almost exactly like a turnip.