Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Two a penny



B. came round the other day, bearing gifts as he often does, because he really is the most generous of souls. Very seasonably, he brought us a box of hot cross buns of his own baking. In an earlier existence in south Devon, B. was a baker. In moving to France ten years ago and more he lost none of his skills. He still turns out Christmas cakes and mince pies, birthday cakes and hot cross buns to order; in fact he made our wedding cake when J. and I got married just over three years ago. He has completely seduced the local French with his craft and is probably the most popular man in the village, particularly as he and his wife P. are also adept at ballroom dancing, a highly-prized skill locally.

B. told us once that in parts of Devon it was the custom to place a hot cross bun at the highest point of the house. This would protect the house from evil spirits. At the time he told us this we were in fact building a new house, and it had reached the stage where the roof timbers were being assembled. B. appeared that Easter with a clutch of hot cross buns still warm from the oven, and it required no little sacrifice to set one aside as protection money for the Evil One.

So we asked Alain, the foreman builder, if he would climb up among the roof trusses and fix the sacrificial hot cross bun to the highest point. Rarely have we been looked at so pityingly, but all the same Alain found a 15cm nail (a French nail, to be sure) and a hammer, clambered up and transfixed B.'s bun to the very apex.

I had to climb up into the very shallow loft a few weeks ago, to look at a vent that might have been giving trouble. I flashed the torch up into the apex, and there was B.'s bun, still intact. I touched it: it was rock-hard, as well it might be after nearly seven years. I would like to be able to say that under its influence J. and I had become expert ballroom dancers, but I'm afraid it's not so. On the other hand, we've never been troubled by evil spirits. If you had to give up the Bossa Nova or Beelzebub, which would you choose?

Exactly.

13 comments:

Z said...

I've always been rather attracted by evil spirits. It came of reading Paradise Lost at a formative age, I'm afraid. It doesn't seem to have adversely affected my life, but I'm not expert at ballroom dancing either.

I read that as balloon dancing to start with, and thought it must be a local custom. Time to put in my contact lens, perhaps. And spangled costume.

Christopher said...

Actually I did mean balloon dancing, and we propose to give you a demonstration complete with spangles when we meet. And the 'demons' in 'demonstration' are indeed those from Paradise Lost, Beelzebub, Beelzebub's Mum, Moloch and all the rest. I tried to find suitable illustrations in Google, but they've all been manga-ized. Such a shame.

Vicus Scurra said...

I would rather spend eternity being tortured by Nick and his demonic hordes than have anything to do with ballroom dancing. See you all next to the fiery pit.

Christopher said...

May I keep a seat warm for you, Vicus? It would be good to have a lively companion, tho' it might well be asked who was being punished by whom.

Dave said...

I'm surprised your loft wasn't full of mice.

Ballroom dancing would be my definition of hell.

Or balloon dancing, come to that.

Christopher said...

We do have our mouse-a-night cat Tonip, Dave, although I have to say he's not very gifted at the chat-chat-chat either.

Z said...

It was the Belial, flown with insolence and wine, who appealed most to the 16-year-old Z. Or his sons, I suppose.

I look forward to the demonstration. Brilliant.

Sarah said...

Ditto Vicus...gak, there is only one thing worse than ballroom dancing, and that's Scottish dancing. Old Nick has reserved a special place for me anyway, I would hate to let him down.

Rog said...

Whoever would have thought that Old Nick would turn out to be a Liberal Democrat.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Actually, now you mention it baking and ballroom dancing go very well together. In both there's a lot of roly-poly and spotting-the-dick on the dance floor?

letouttoplay said...

Definitely the devil for me.

letouttoplay said...

And buns! Lots of buns.