Clara’s hen party was in Cotignac. The hens: Clara, two Sophies, Iona, Lindsay, Chloe, Alexandra and Fiona rented a villa with a small pool close to the village centre. The villa is owned by an elderly Spanish lady whose family left Spain and came to France during the Spanish Civil War. They did well and Madame, now 80, owns several properties; houses and shops in Cotignac.
Well -- a hen party is what it is and the girls poured off the Easyjet flight in high spirits. These high spirits continued. They often continued in the pool and on the terrace until dawn. The weather was hot - in the high 30s. Complying with the ‘close the shutters during the day rule’ was beyond the girls and one was often found sleeping downstairs where it was cooler, on a sofa ‘deshabille’ late into the morning. The house gardener got wind of this and never has Madame Francoise’s land been so well attended.
We had a lot of fun: dinners, picnics beside the lake and best of all, the party. The biggest hit of the evening was the 7 year old son of a stellar celeb. George is 7 and had a label on his back which read ‘FBI agent’. His dad gently reminded him that FBI agents rarely advertise their profession thus but George was adamant. He wouldn’t leave the house without it. His job was to train as many tipsy 20 something girls as he could in the arts of espionage. The girls enjoyed the training - hiding, jumping out and running round the house causing Sally dog and a dear friend with early onset dementia much confusion. When George was tearfully lead away close to midnight - secret agents need their sleep - he pronounced that the girls were the best fun ever and asked please could he stay longer.
On the last evening I advised the girls that as they were to be out of the villa by 10 the following morning perhaps it might be an idea to pack that night and have reasonably early evening, hot chocolate at 10pm perhaps...
I arrived at 9.50am shortly after Madame Francoise. The girls, ashen, hadn’t packed and were only just getting up having partied again until 6am. The mess was incredible... There was nothing for me to do except try and help the remaining 6 girls extract their belongings and get out as soon as possible. 7 suitcases in a 11 year old, 3 door Seat Ibiza.
Madame Francoise was furious! She stood facing me in a bedroom stamping her feet, pummelling the air with a clenched fist and shouting. At me. In French. Sophie and Alex were there too. I urged Sophie, who was snarling in my defence, to be quiet and could sense Alex behind me flexing her shot putt arm. I arrived in France 3 years ago with no French. Now my French has progressed to execrable. I could barely understand a word. This mitigated the effect of the aged Franco-Spanish Rumpelstiltskin who was imploding before my eyes. Her anger barely registered, all I could think of was ‘she’s 3 green towels short and I think she used the imperative there...’