Jack Brown or the living parcel

On the 18 March 1895, this strange tale appeared in more than a dozen French newspapers.

Gil Blas 18_3_1898

[Jack Brown or the living parcel

An elderly man, whose strong English accent left no doubts as to his nationality, appeared last evening at the post office in the rue de Choiseul.  He asked for hospitality overnight, saying that he was penniless and reduced to vagrancy.

When he was taken to the police station in rue Marsollier yesterday morning, he gave more or less this account, in a mishmash of English and French:

“Name of Jack Brown.  64 years old, retired non-commissioned officer in the English army, two stints in the dragoons of Her Gracious Majesty …

At this point he saluted respectfully and continued:

“Live in Brighton, three shillings pension a day.  Two nights ago, in Brighton with friends, drank more than usual.  My friends – played a joke, très common in the England – sent me to Paris as a parcel; sewed label on my back: ‘Jack Brown en route for Paris’; Brighton – Paris ticket stuck in my buttonhole.  Me completely drunk …”

“It’s disgraceful, getting that drunk on gin …” exclaimed the police inspector.

Non” he replied, “it was whisky, très bon… ]

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Brighton goes to the Paris Exhibition

As far as is known, no Jemima ever went from Brighton to the Paris Exhibition of 1867, but if she had, these might have been her letters to her friend Emily.

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Brighton,March 1867

Dearest Emily,

At last! Father has said we can go to the French Exhibition in Paris in September.  First, he says we must all improve our French.  Father is a little distrustful of the Parisians, so he says we must at least know what they are saying.  Mother and I will go to Mlle Witter in Holland Road (such a nice safe area of Hove, Father says) but Father has chosen to go to Mons. Lamette in East-street. Continue reading

D’Aubigny Road

D’Aubigny Road is a pleasant street to the west of the Lewes Road in Brighton, not far from a large junction known locally as the Vogue Giratory.  The streets neighbouring D’Aubigny Road carry ‘good, plain’ (at that time) British names:  Round Hill Crescent, Richmond, Princes and Mayo Roads.  And tucked away at the eastern end of the estate, the relatively exotic D’Aubigny.

Roundhill Park Estate. Brighton

Plan for the Roundhill Estate. Image reproduced courtesy of the Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

The 1853 plan above makes clear that, when the Round Hill Park Estate was first laid out in 1853, none of the newly-traced roads had names, with the exception of Round Hill Crescent itself.  Lennox Road was never built and Ashdown Road, which was built later, is not on the plan.

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The Old Folks of Brighton

Les Vieillards de Brighton Saint-BrisOne fine day in 1953, a Frenchman brought his five-year old son to Brighton.  The father said Au revoir, gave the boy a peck on the cheek – at most – and then left him.  In an old people’s home.  These are the facts given at the beginning of Les Vieillards de Brighton [The Old Folk of Brighton] written by Gonzague Saint Bris and published in 2002.

The narration is set in the former French Convalescent Home in Kemp Town. However, the text shows that it is unlikely that Saint Bris knew the building well.   It seems more likely that he saw the Convalescent Home once, perhaps only fleetingly, but was so impressed by it that he determined to set his novel in and around the building.  There is little doubt that Les Vieillards de Brighton is a work of fiction, but an imaginative and absorbing one at that.

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Bonnes nouvelles, mauvaise nouvelles

Paris Wine Bar March 2020 (2)

March 2020

It was wonderful to see the Paris Wine Bar in Church Road, Hove newly re-opened in February.  The cafe looked wonderful with its bright new paint and inviting chairs and tables.

It was also good the see the renaissance of La Cave à Fromage in Western Road, Hove which has become L’atelier du Vin and Whey – both of which are fortunately still trading, albeit on a much reduced scale.

L'Atelier du Vin

Mange Tout March 2020The Covid-19 virus  has very sadly meant that, for the time being, such wonderful French themed small bars, cafes and restaurants cannot operate fully.  Let’s wish all the best for “after” the lock-down to: Mange Tout in Trafalgar Street, Petit Pois in Ship Street, Terre à Terre in East Street, Le Nantais bistrot in Palmeira Square, La Fourchette in Queens Place, Hove and others that may have been forgotten.  Many of these businesses now offer a delivery service, so do support them if you can.

Le nantais

Petit Pois                     La FourchetteTerre à terre

Bonne chance pour l’avenir. 

Good luck for the future.

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Refugees 1792

Natalie de Laborde (Louvre plus)

“Portrait présumé de Nathalie de Laborde d’Augustin Pajou” © 1994 Musée du Louvre / Pierre Philibert

“Mrs. Fitzherbert, the Duchess de Noailles, and many other ladies of distinction, were present at the Cricket match, and dined in a marquee pitched on the ground, for that purpose. The Prince’s band of music attended, and played during the whole time the ladies were at dinner. In the evening, Mrs. Fitzherbert, the Duchess, Lady Clermont, and Miss Piggott, walked round the ground, seemingly the better to gratify the spectators with a sight of the French lady. The Duchess de Noailles appears to be 21, or 22 years of age, is very handsome, and her figure and deportment are remarkably interesting.”

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‘Adieu’ or just ‘Au revoir’?

Café ROuge window Feb 2020Only eighteen months ago, the Palmeira Square area of Hove was home to several French restaurants (see blog of 5 August 2018: La Place Palmeira).  Since then, both La Cave à Fromage and Pâtisserie Valérie have closed their doors.  Now we have to say adieu to Café Rouge in Bartholomews which closed on 19 January 2020.

It was so good to see all those correctly used accents: Salon de thé and à toute heure.  Fortunately, the branch of Café Rouge at the Marina is still open and carrying on the good work.

Paris Wine Bar Hove Feb 2020Another ‘French’ loss is the Paris Wine Bar at 119 Church Road, Hove.  However, according the Argus, the restaurant was “not as French as its names suggests” – but for all the best reasons.  The wines served in the bar came from all corners of world and not just France.  Is this adieu to the Paris Wine Bar or merely au revoir?  Hard to tell.  Let’s look forward to its renaissance.

Vélo ami March 2019It’s not only food outlets that like to associate themselves with la France.  Cycling and bikes are also often associated with our French neighbours.  The bike shop, Velo Ami, at 73 Portland Road closed its doors in early 2019.  A result of the harsh economic climate for retailers?  But where oh! where was that accent on vélo?

 

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