She will not travel even as far as Belgium without a collection of vital tinned goods, just in case there is a nuclear war, or the Belgians have forgotten how to speak French, or some other unimaginably terrible thing has happened restricting access to fresh produce. An examination of the cupboard reveals these delights from a recent visit.
Mmmmm yes please. I love how they look sort of dirty? Even on the supposedly appetising picture on the tin. 'Premier choix' only if the second and third choices are tinned offal I think, or possibly death. Mmmmm.
We flick through photo albums trying to dig out photos of the CFOs youngest brother for his imminent wedding. Belle mere shows us her own wedding photos - she is preternaturally beautiful. Really. With an amazing angular face and luminously fair skin, she is tiny, dainty, divine in her scandalously short wedding dress. Beau-père is beardless and handsome. They are both nineteen, which just seems ridiculous. They look like they have escaped from a Truffaut film. They should use their before and after photos in some kind of anti-sun bathing campaign, I swear.
The photos are fantastic. In the group shots, all belle-mère's family look like those prehistoric men that get unearthed from bogs with weirdly well-preserved skin, or Ramses II unwrapped. Sort of nut coloured and intensely shrivelled. The men have shockingly white foreheads where their flat caps should be. The women look like they could crush the men with one finger.
Belle-mère is wholly unable to distinguish pictures of one child, sex, or generation from another. We spend most of the evening correcting her
"No. That's your cousin's fourth child, Amandine"
"No, that's Fingers"
"No, that's an unfocused picture of a duck")
We try and send her to bed when she starts mistaking photos of a civic twinning ceremony in Germany with her wedding photos, but in vain.We run away early the next morning, gleefully if slightly guiltily, as Fingers is starting his morning serenade on the accordion.
Then I make a squirrel out of chicory.