When the landlady of the local bar asked if I could help out at the bar tonight, clearing a few tables, washing a few glasses etc, I managed to get a babysitter for the evening (merci Angé x) and off I toddled to the Fete de la Soupe. What I didn’t expect ,but probably should have, was for her to be in a flat panic as she was due to play for some dances in 5 minutes and the landlord had decided that now was a great time to go and feed his horse. So I was promoted from bottle washer to head barmaid in the space of about 30 seconds. Which would not have been so bad apart from the fact that the last time I worked behind a bar was …actually never. The briefest of run-throughs on the till and a wave at the price list behind the bar and she was off. Buisness was fairly slow to begin with and thank the good Lord above that no body ordered coffee as the machine has enough buttons to rival a workstation at NASA.
After about 20 minutes the landlord strolled back in and instead of being relieved of my barkeep duties, he decided that I was doing rather well so I may as well just carry on. He gave me a proper detailed breakdown of the pricing structure, ‘Everything’s 2 Euros, except the things what aint’, and wandered off to talk to a man about a stuffed boar’s head.
I was going great guns and had even mastered the pulling of the kronenburg, which is apparently something that the landlord has yet to get fully to grips with, I had managed to serve even the most rural of French accented patrons with ony a couple of ‘repetez vous’ when I was well and truly stumped by a request for a ‘diabalo fraise’. It only took a few moments and a couple of questions to get the correct ingredients, and I was off and running again.
After a couple of hours it began to get really busy and I was staring longingly at the hot steaming bowls of soup being brought into the bar by the patrons of the fete. And not just because of the delicious smelling soup, but because of the bowls themselves. As you entered the fete, you paid 5 Euros and picked youself a unique and very beautiful hand made bowl, made by one of the local artisans, and then got a large chunk of organic bread from quite possibly the best baker in the world, (and for those of you who have been here of course you already know I mean Mme Sophie), and went around and sampled the various soups that were being made on the wood fire stoves out in the square. If you felt the need you could buy more bread, if you felt the inclination you could paint and fire your own bowl and if you felt the urge you could dance all night to the band that was playing.
I gathered most of this information from my one foray out of the bar to perform my original purpose for the evening and collect some glasses. And i didn’t get the chance to get either soup, bread or bowl. Quel domage.
My ‘shift’ was due to finish at 10pm, and I was astonished when I looked at the clock and found that it was rapidly approaching home time, but it was probably just about the perfect time for me to go as, although I had coped with the language and accents well tonight, add a few pints of beer and rather a lot of vin chaud ,and the orders were becoming rather more difficult to decipher.
It felt good to be working again, it felt good to be socialising, it felt great to be out in the community and be greeted by so many friends, most of whom were just as surprised to see me behind the bar as I was to be there. But, after only 5 hours, I have to admit that I am shattered, my feet are killing me, and I could do with a pint myself.
And in case you were wondering, it’s strawberry cordial and lemonade.