chateau, a magnificent pile hidden deep in the countryside to the east of St Brieuc. This is partly due to the fact that the drive was undertaken at the speed of the vintage Citroen, and I wonder if I too should have had a bottle in the car. I would, however, have had to share it with the piper and the two wedding guests to whom we have given a lift. Toyozo, squashed in the middle, has fallen quietly asleep but revives as we arrive.
We pose for photos in the garden, and I give my camera to Grant who takes the pic here. I note that some of the angles would incorporate a particularly erotic statue into the group photos, and hope for decorum among the snappers. The final mass photo has all the kilted men at the front - they are obviously the glamour factor here. And then it is time for the meal. We who have visited earlier lead the way through the gardens, under trees and round corners, to the reception room, now splendid with lights and alive with music. There is earnest debate about whether we are allowed to throw paper petals outside, and the crowd flows outside and in again as the piper marches up the path with the newly-weds in tow. We chuck our petals with abandon and cheer happily. It is time to eat.
The food is magnificent:
Saint-Jacques Lutées, Emincé de Légumes aux Graines de Fenouil
Magret de Canard Rôti,
Poire Pochée au Vin Rouge, Sauce au Miel
Croustillant de Pont l’Evêque
aux Epices Douces sur Salade
- this last the wedding cake, but not the dense article of a British wedding. This is a fruity, moist creation on several platforms topped off with fireworks, which splutter and flame as two tall-hatted chefs carry it in to the accompaniement of the pipes. We eat, drink wonderful wine, and talk, because the music is just right for conversation. There are speeches in English and in French - the groom makes the French one. He gives the two mothers bouquets and I plant mine on the table in front of me. And then we dance. The first waltz has a tune specially composed for the occasion - a pipe tune named after the bride. We all join the couple on the dance floor. But here convention ends. The groom is determined that les francais will dance the Dashing While Sergeant and seizes a microphone, to call the dance in French as we twirl obediently. Soon the floor is riotous with the hilarity of a ceilidh. We are having a great time. I reflect that I may be getting too old for this sort of thing, but cannot feel my feet and decide not to think about them. I remember that I was going to change into another garment before the dancing, but it no longer seems important. A small boy materialises beside me holding a rose which he has obviously picked in the garden. He hands it to me, solemnly, and plants a wet kiss on my cheek before dashing off. I feel absurdly touched.
The evening ends with everyone in the circle for Auld Lang Syne. The piper leads the couple off into the dark garden, down the path to their room in the chateau. Suddenly the room feels empty, and guests melt into the night. We can hear cars starting. Clutching my bouquet I head off to the four-poster bed in an extraordinary room where we will stay the night. Suddenly I can feel my feet again. It is time to give them a rest.