I have nothing against France. Honestly, I don’t. I’ve got some friends who are French, and they’re very nice. But Marie-Claire Blancmange is NOT nice. She is one of the villains in the first of the Wullie-The-Mahaar-Gome stories, Blackhope Scar. You can get to know her and dislike her even more if you read the prequel, Book 0, Crabbit House. In Blackhope Scar, she first appears in chapter IX French Perfume Smells Fishy, when she storms past Finn’s dad into their house, like a domineering, arrogant, lavender-smelling snob! I’m not sure why she thinks she is so superior. Maybe she is trying to cover up the fact that her last name means “tasteless bland milk pudding.” I am not kidding; Blancmange (pronounced Blah-mawnj) means “something white to eat,” or something like that. I remember my mom making it when I was a wee boy in Scotland. It was like custard except that it was white and tasteless. If you left it sitting in the bowl long enough it formed a skin on the top that made it even more disgusting. Maybe I am just not sophisticated enough to enjoy French food.
But let’s get back to Marie-Claire. She barged into Finn’s house looking like a deranged black and white cartoon character. She is tall, thin, and looks down on the world with haughty disdain. Her face is covered in deathly pale makeup with purple eye shadow and thick black face paint to accentuate her towering eyebrows. Her hair is jet black, cut short and straight, and plastered close to her skull in a severe style. She wears a long, black leather coat and black high-heeled boots. Her wrists jangle with jewelry and she reeks of lavender perfume. Altogether, she is a striking figure.
What is it with French women and their ridiculous hairdos? They are not exactly practical. Here is a poster of a hairstyle I saw in France outside a fancy women’s hair salon.
I noticed that there were no women inside getting their hair cut, mind you. No wonder! Who, in their right mind, would want to look like this poor woman? It looks as though the hairdresser made a total botch of it, and so, to cover up the mistakes, placed a dead squirrel on top of the woman’s head! And could somebody please give the poor woman some Duct Tape to fix her blouse? It seems to be falling off her. The collar is almost completely detached. She’ll catch her death of cold.
Here’s another fancy hairdo. I saw this one in Paris, which I am sure you know is the most sophisticated, chic, and fashionable place in the universe. For just a few hundred dollars you, too, can look like this charming woman!
She looks so thin I wonder if she ever eats anything. Maybe she is just not tempted by the delights of sophisticated French cooking. Here is a sample of what was on offer in a market near Lourmarin, in the South of France. Mmmmmmm… tasty!
Two different variety of snails. The ones in the middle are more expensive because they are “extra slimy.” The word “Maison” is the French word for “House” so maybe these are the house snails, to be washed down with a glass of the house wine, perhaps. Just outside the market there was a big church with statues and gargoyles everywhere. I saw these fine specimens looking down from far above. It looks to me as though they’ve eaten one too many of the house snails.
In the village square there was a water fountain where the water came out of elegant carved stone spickets that looked as though they were vomiting up green moss. It didn’t exactly give me an appetite. But maybe I am just not sophisticated enough to appreciate French food.
The most delicious thing to eat in France (if you have any room left after eating a few big helpings of snails and frog’s legs) is pate de foie gras (pronounced Patty duh fwuh graaaah, if you want to sound REALLY sophisticated). This is basically mashed up goose liver with garlic and other mysterious ingredients added so that they can charge you a fortune for it, as far as I can tell. It is so delicious and sophisticated that even the French geese look snooty and disdainful.
I suppose I must just be an uncouth Scotsman. I just can’t see why I should be so impressed. But Marie-Claire Blancmange hates people like me with a passion. As you will see, she hates anyone who isn’t French. She especially hates crass, loud Americans but she loathes the vulgar Scots even more. As you will find out in Chapter XXVIII, Den of Snakes, in Blackhope Scar Marie-Claire has particular reasons to hate Scotland. She hates it so much that she plans to destroy it completely. It will be up to two American teenagers and one scruffy, rude, bad-tempered little gome to try and stop her…