DERNIER MOT - The CARDI-SAGA
I lost it at the autumn fête. No, I'm not talking about trampling Albert-the-Maire when he asked me to waltz and I am certainly not about to bring up the ticklish question of That Tango with Old Loïc. (For the last time - he is way too respectable to have been flirting.) I lost my cardigan.
Now, I definitely had it during the supper - we were all sitting at long tables in the square and I remember getting one of the JMs to fetch it for me. It was somewhere around the second helpings of duck and just before Marie-France sent her husband off for another litre of rosie from the bar. I know that, because I remember thinking I mustn't spill wine on The Slouch.
Okay, I can see I'm going to have to confess. My favourite jumpers have acquired names. My lovely shapeless black one with the baggy sleeves is called The Poodle, the blue one with the drawstring neck is The Bag, the orange cotton cardi with the blue paint splashes on the cuffs is My Sloppy. Having names for them makes it easier for the JMs to find the one I need.
Anyway, the JMs brought the Slouch while we were having supper in the square - it's a long cotton and silk mix cream cardigan which I've had for at least ten years and which I wear all the time.
But once the dancing started I got er... involved in That Tango with Old Loïc and got so hot and bothered so I ripped the Slouch off and toshed it onto a bench. Which was the last I saw of it.
I couldn't believe it about an hour later, when I saw the gap. It was so weird. How could it have moved? People just don't nick things in Moisson. I assumed that someone had kindly put it out of harm's way, or possibly even that someone had taken it home by mistake.
But the next day when I searched the confetti-strew square there was still no sign of my cardi. It wasn't in the phone box, it hadn't fallen into the fountain, it wasn't folded up with the trestle tables. I looked in the village hall, I crawled through the flowerbeds, I even started thinking that perhaps some Cheeky Monkeys might have hidden it somewhere and went round peering into various cellars, drains and coalholes.
Then I went round to see Albert. Had he seen it? Nope. Old Loïc? Nope. Had the guys who stacked the tables moved it? Nope. Had the gals dancing on the bar seen it? Nope. Everyone knew the garment I was talking about... I wear it all the time. But no-one had seen it.
"What you need is a Wanted poster!" chortled the JMs. "Dead or alive! Reward of £1000 for arrest of jumper-nickers!"
"It hasn't been nicked," I muttered getting out the markers. "Reward indeed!"
I drew up a nice big notice explaining that I'd lost my cardigan, and including an annotated diagram of the Slouch with arrows pointing to the pockets etc... and nailed it to the tree where everyone dutifully read it.
But nothing happened. No cardigan appeared. So I started again; snooping round the washing lines, following every cream cardigan I saw in the market, obsessively opening bin lids and poking sticks into the undergrowth. Until the SP lost his patience. (Normally he's placid to the point of plasticine.)
"Look!" he said. "Enough cardi-saga!" Face it! This parrot is disappeared, deceased, departed, DEAD! In fact, it is no longer a cardigan. It's a cardi-gone."
It's true. I didn't lose my cardi. There's a tea-leaf in paradise.
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