Wednesday, 27 April 2011

It's all about Petit Denis in London: part two

It seemed Petit Denis had temporarily forgotten about barrels as I walked into the breakfast room early Friday to the echoing sound of “hello my name is Dennis; my second mother is the Dordogne”!

After a full English breakfast we made our way to the Sunday Times Festival with plenty more innocent folk being harmlessly subjected to “hello my name is Dennis, my second mother is the Dordogne”.

Then the catastrophe occurred: Petit Denis had somehow managed during the five-minute walk between the hotel and the venue to lose – yes, you guessed it – his BERET! His panic-stricken face was as if he had suddenly found himself stark naked in centre of London!

A Frenchman with no saucisson, no knife and now no beret was serious stuff, but suddenly the festival crowds were visible and before he knew it, Petit Denis was given his back-stage pass, pushed into the to the festival hall, the main doors were opened and the customers rolled in.

Petit Denis soon learned that his well practised phrase “hello my name is Denis, my second mother is the Dordogne” was difficult to simultaneously recite to every single customer whilst pouring wine. However, he was brilliant and did manage to get one “hello my name is Denis, my second mother is the Dordogne” when Hugh Johnson presented him with a signed copy of his Wine Atlas.

JMS was in fine form, arriving (late) on his scooter with the usual large ‘morceau’ of Parmesan from Neal’s Yard cheese shop.

The festival went very well with plenty of visitors to the Chai stand and ended with a well deserved Wine of the Show Trophy for the Maury ‘Font Del Bosc’ 2005! Lunch was at the always-great Italian restaurant round the corner, and then I took Petit Denis shopping for a new beret. Innocently we went to the House of Fraser which for about 15 minutes Petit Denis actually thought we were going to ‘la maison de Frazer’ (Frazer is the English sales manager at the Chai in France!)

Petit Denis wasn’t impressed with the range of berets and settled for a new English tweed flat cap, a scarf (London being at its hottest this year), shirts, jeans, shoes and a coat. He was certainly ready for the festival's evening session. The growers' dinner afterwards was once again a brilliant meal with plenty of wines to taste and Petit Denis was in his element managing to practise his now-famous phrase all evening.

The return journey to France had been worrying me as Petit Denis was going solo! I was staying in London to judge at the International Wine Fair. I wrote every detail down for him and called him a taxi bound for Victoria Station, the taxi pulled up and whisked Petit Denis away into the distance with the trailing sound of “hello my name is Denis, my second mother is the Dordogne”….

I am very pleased to say that he did make it safely back to France and was reunited with his knife. However, the airport parking ticket was – of course – safely tucked inside his lost beret somewhere in England!

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