Wednesday, January 26, 2005

"Pass me my pantaloon, valet!"

"Your what?"

My French still wasn't too good. And besides, I was beginning to get a little hungry. It was the second time this month I slipped back to the 17th century; in fact, back to the court of Louis XIV of France: the Sun King! This time I was standing in the bedroom of the monarch.

Last week I ended up in the palace kitchen stuffing jugged pigeons into the onion-wine marinated stomach of a wild boar. When I got back home, my wife - who is a vegan - refused to let me back into bed.

The time travel always occurred at meal times. That's why I was now standing next to the naked king with a kitchen towel stuffed in my shirt and a can of 7Up in my hand. I was about to have dinner.

"How dare you address your king in the familiar form!"

"Sorry, your kingliness! But I am a new personage at your country and are extremely strange to the language," I struggled with my broken school-boy French.

"Just pass me my pantaloon - the crimson one on the settee next to my gold pinafore. I am late for my rendezvous with Madame de Maintenon in the garden"

"Yes, your highness" I took a quick sip from my can.

"What are you doing? Give me that!"

"Sure... I mean, of course, Sire"

I handed him the can of 7Up.

"What manner of fruit is this?" He shook the can and sprayed lemonade all over his wig and down his pink royal paunch.

"In God's name! ..."

He patted the sticky fizzy liquid on his chest and put his finger in his mouth. "Mmmmmmm. This is good. What is it?"

"It is a fruit from my country. It is called le sevenup. An extremely juicy fruit. An explosive fruit"

"And where is your country? In the New World? You don't look like an Indian."

"Errrrr... No, I come from the Kingdom of Parramatta. It is a small country. It lies .. um... east of Russia", I muddled on.

"Oh! I have never heard of it." He looks at me askance. "That scarf... is it also from your land? It looks like a nun's head piece. Is it a religious accoutrement?"

"Well, no. It is a kitchen-towel, highness. Let me use it to clean you"

I gave the king a quick rub down and handed him his crimson pantaloon.

"Valet of Parramatta, I should like to offer a piece of sevenup to Madame de Maintenon. Do you have another? I am meeting her anon"

"I apologize, sire. It was my last".

But I recalled that I happened to have a packet of Tic Tacs on me, so I gave those to the king instead.

"Here, sire. These should pique the interest of your beloved. They are called Tic Tacs. They are the eggs of the Menthol beetle. A native insect of my land. They refresh the mouth and clear the nose"

"I would be glad for that!"

"Does your highness suffer from bad breath, if I may ask?"

"Not at all, valet! It's just that I always meet with Madame de Maintenon after she has dined. And today I know she is having boiled horse intestines seasoned with garlic and radish. Her favourite."

I slipped back to the visit the Sun King two weeks later. My son, who did well in history at school, had told me that Louis XIV suffered from a terrible gout. So I spent the next two weeks holding on to a tube of foot cream before having dinner.

"Ah, valet, where had you got to? I haven't seen you at Versailles for this last fourteen-night"

"Sorry, highness. I have been busy with the Football Season. It is a great and holy festival in Parramatta. It requires a long vigil of meditation before the Shining Stone. Each adult male is required to forego the world of society once a year for this ritual."

"I respect a religious man! It demonstrates principle and steadfastness"

"Thank you, sire"

I gave him the "foot ointment", which he appreciated. I told him, when he inquired, that it was prepared by the great Parramatta shaman "Tom's Pharmacy".

"tommesfamassy? A curious language you have in Parramatta, valet. It sounds not unlike the tongue of the perfidious Anglois. Have you heard of them?"

"Of course, highness. We call them bloody poms in Parramatta. In fact, they often visit our land. From time to time, some of my countrymen set to torturing them. They strip them to their breeches and force them to lie before the ocean until they turn red."

"You are a savage yet inventive people, you parramattani! We French, au contraire, hang the bloodypumms first before we roast them. It is more humane"

"But where's the fun in that, sire?"

The Sun King popped another Tic Tac.

"Mmmmm", he reflected.

More coming soon?

Are you missing Parra? And the lobster poms waddling up Coogee Bay Rd?
If by 'missing Parra', you mean 'missing para' (as in being inebriated), then no. Otherwise, I heard there is a burgeoning cafe society in the pedestrian precinct. In that case, one would. Well, Bernard, how's the 'hijo' project coming along? Coralie must be in coo-ee of the big day.
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