It has been a quiet week here at La Godefrere. We have had lots of rain and some windy weather so it has been a mostly indoor week. It has also been quiet on the eating front as there have been no repas this week. Mrs. Parish reckoned that it was a good thing as we were beginning too forget how to cook!

The cats have been keen to get in and to chill out on the sofas. They all get on reasonably well now and are happy to share the sofa. They are all ready and waiting outside the front door, first thing in the morning at 7-30am. As soon as I open the door they burst in and start crying about how hungry they are as well as cold and wet. They then harass me until I serve their breakfast. After dessert of a small amount of milk, they settle down to a couple of hours sofa time. Then they are bribed to leave with some treats.

Three cats a-sleeping

They get tea at 4pm and so they are all sat by the window looking in for some time before. Archie starts the intimidation process at around 2-30. They are fed tea outside and are allowed back in in accordance with the contract at about 7-30pm for some more sofa time before supper at 9pm. They usually have a few biscuits unless we have any left overs from our dinner. They particularly like cottage pie and fish pie.

To give them left overs requires two people. One to serve the food and one to stop the cats. If you try on your own the cats attack mob handed and while you are trying to get one cat, another is stealing from the serving bowl. It is mayhem as the cats go a bit berserk when there is special supper. Once we have the food in the cat bowls, one of us opens the door while the other carries the bowls. The cats start eating before the bowl gets to the ground and it is finished in seconds.

The hens also tend to attack mob handed when I go out in the morning to fill up the bird feeders. They try to jump into the dustbin where I keep the wild bird food. Then they follow me down to the bird feeder, attempting to run in front of me and to try and trip me over and spill the seeds. If I put a feeder down to refill it, I immediately have four hens surrounding me.

The hens have also adopted a form of torture. For some reason they have taken to pecking at our shoes. This is especially so when we have wellington boots or rubber sandals. It is really disconcerting and incredibly annoying. Some times you don’t see them coming at just suddenly notice something tapping on your boots. 

Chicken pecking torture

At times there are all four of them all tapping. It is like some form of Chinese water torture. I end up swearing at the hens. Kicking them doesn’t work and the only remedy is to run away. It is no doubt further amusement for our French neighbours to watch me running around the orchard being chased by four hens!

And talking of mob handed the cows have also taken against me and have this worrying habit of running up to the fence next to me and forming a phalanx of cattle looking over the fence, usually with the bull in the middle. They put on their aggressive faces and manage to look quite menacing. They are quite a lively bunch and after a while of staring at me they all turn tail and run off down the field. 

A phalanx of cattle

As it has been such a quiet week, I thought I would return to one of my favourite subjects, history. I wondered if anything exciting happened on 10th December (as you do). So, this is what happened on December 10 in 1792, three years after the French Revolution. It was the opening of the trial of Louis XVI, (still King of France) before the National Convention (the French Parliament).

Louis was indicted on 33 charges based upon the following – “the French Nation accuses you of having committed a multitude of crimes to establish your tyranny, in destroying her freedom”. 

The following day Louis XVI was brought before the Convention to respond to the charges. He then appeared in person on the 26th to make his defence, presented by his lawyer, Raymond Desèze (Raymond comte de Sèze).

On December 27–28 there were motions in the Convention asking that the vote on judging the King should be subject of a peoples vote by the French electors. The motion was opposed by Robespierre, who argued that "Louis must die so that the nation may live." The Convention rejected the motion for French voters to decide the King's fate. It at least spared them from the Brexit scenario!

In January the Convention declared Louis XVI (now called Louis Capet) guilty of conspiracy against public liberty by a vote of 707 to nil. How Mrs. May must wish for such a decisive Parliament! There followed on January 17 a vote which went on for twenty-one hours, 361 deputies voted for the death penalty, and 360 against (including 26 for a death penalty followed by a pardon). A single vote which changed French history. The Convention rejected a final appeal to the people.

On January 21 1793 Louis XVI was beheaded by the guillotine at 10:22 on Place de la Révolution (Now the Place de la Concorde). The commander of the execution, Antoine Joseph Santerre, ordered a drum roll to drown out his final words to the crowd. There are differing accounts of his final words (not surprising given the drums beating) but it was along these lines “"Gentlemen, I am innocent of everything of which I am accused. I hope that my blood may cement the good fortune of the French." Not terribly original or inspiring but there it is!

It did not signify the good fortune of the French as “the terror” followed and saw 12 months of bloodshed as the revolution began to devour itself. Between June 1793 and the end of July 1794, there were 16,594 official death sentences in France, of which 2,639 were in Paris and revolution leaders including Danton and Desmoulins went the guillotine before it became the turn of Robespierre himself.

Robespierre had said to the Convention “Terror is nothing more than speedy, severe and inflexible justice; it is thus an emanation of virtue; it is less a principle in itself, than a consequence of the general principle of democracy, applied to the most pressing needs of the Country”. So, he really got what he deserved in the end! If only the same would apply to Boris Johnson!

After that on a lighter note I need to prepare for tonight’s French lesson. We are due to have a discussion in French about Christmas and all things Christmassy. I have done some homework on the necessary vocabulary and need to refresh my memory. Mrs. Parish has made a cake for me to take with me. It has become the barter for French lessons and we also find that learning and eating cake is a good mixture.

Bonne semaine