Cool, mon cul

20Jan12

This week has been spent at a posh interiors magazine where I learned a phrase that has been a stone in my shoe ever since. This artistic type was explaining how her apparently casually mismatched home had been ruthlessly edited from finds she had picked up over the years. And how had she magpied together these darling little touches? By scouring vide-greniers, of course.

Brows were furrowed across the subs’ desk. Vide-greniers? We’re all au fait with trompe l’oeil, Klamotten and bricolage, and you won’t find a bunch more au courant with chiaroscuro and Gustavian aesthetics, but vide-grenier?

It’s a car-boot sale, you pleb.

Unusually, I don’t blame the French – it’s a perfectly sensibly constructed expression – but my God do I loathe the Anglophone who uses it. Using vide-grenier feels like préciosité, that high-falutin’, shibbolethy slang affected by pre-Revolutionary French aristocrats, half out of their minds with boredom at court and imprisoned by a king who feared they might foment rebellion if left to stew at their country estates (looking the wrong way, yer madge!).

What kind of mimsy narcissist can’t bring herself to admit to going to a car-boot sale? People who buy their vegetables from M&S, that’s who. For them, car-boot sales are where you find Cliff Richard 45s and broken barometers promising ‘Memories of Margate’. Vide-greniers are piled high with bits of old lace, artlessly chipped ewers and coal scuttles just crying out for an armful of hyacinths. Vide-greniers are full of People Like Us. Car-boot sales are for fat people, crooks and mentallers who hoard.

Thank God we’ve cleared that up. And if you have any more questions, I shall be loading my plate at the, ahm, rempli-visage. Oh for Christ’s sake, keep your voice down – just follow the signs for the all-you-can-eat.

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