Tuesday, 3 June 2008


Readers should note that the following incident took place after the French Windows Collision but before the Pineapple Fiasco...

It was dusk. The children had played themselves into a state of exhausted ecstasy in the park at the end of our street and I carried them both home to our beautiful, big, empty new house. At the gate was a young girl.

"Bonjour," she said. "I am French student of ze art and I make paintings for sell. You have a time?"

Perhaps I was drunk on the perfect sundown, or seduced by her accent, or lulled into a false sense of camaraderie all this way from 'home' - France! my old neighbour! - or maybe that facial collision did some permanent damage to my brain, or . . . the truth is that I am rubbish at dealing with doorstep salespeople. On one of our last nights in England I'd bought oven gloves and two types of cloth from a perky young door-to-door elf with a Cockney accent for about £20. So the upshot is that I allowed this French student of ze art to show me her portfolio.

As she described each painting, she occasionally stumbled on a word and I filled in with the French, for which I got a pretty little round of applause from her. Which made my pathetic heart swell, like some dopey poodle catching biccies in its mouth. I hated most of the paintings, but The Boy and The Girl were moved by two very bright, slightly wacky paintings of dogs. However, I said I didn't keep cash in the house so I wouldn't be able to buy anything from her. She said she could come back later, when "Your usband is ome". And at that point I obviously sent her packing, told her I didn't have a 'usband and that I wasn't interested in her crummy, gaudy art anyway.

Only I didn't. I said, "Sure! Au revoir!" and then waited for The Australian to come home, whereupon I set about convincing him that Renoir's great-great-great-grand-daughter was calling round with some rare bargains at 7pm, and could he please deal with her as I'd be extremely busy at that time putting his two highly energetic children to bed. He could tell by my guilty smile that I'd done something Typically Me, but bless his heart he opened the door to the mademoiselle and bought the two dog paintings for a pretty price and hardly scolded me for being so utterly spineless.

I have grown accustomed in recent weeks to communicating things to The Australian via this blog - partly because he spends a lot of time in his office (the only carpeted, properly heated room in the house - suspicious?) on the computer, and partly because I sound better on paper (seriously). So - excuse us for a minute - Darling, I've just been reading the local paper and I thought you should see this snippet:

"Police have warned people about an art scam in Kew. For the past few weeks people have been knocking on doors selling what they claim are original French paintings. Sgt Bruce Pingo said most of the artwork could be found on the internet for a far cheaper price. He said the scammers used French backpackers to sell the paintings so the work appeared genuine..."


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LucyA said...

They came to my house too, only the young man with a French accent said he was an English art student. Guess he got his story a little mixed up...

Claire said...

Oh dear,

Is it bad that it at least made me smile?
(not at your misfortune, obviously, it's the way you tell 'em!)