Last night's gig was to celebrate Michel's parents-in- law Golden Wedding Anniversary. At Alexander's suggestion, the party was held at Andre's restaurant in Carnac.
The place was decorated with red and yellow balloons and banners strung across the ceiling proclaiming Felicitations Bernard et Yvette and Heureux 50eme Anniversaire de Marriage. Each table held a vase of red and yellow tulips. Somebody had gone to a great deal of trouble. Alexander and Kieron were already setting up. Kieron was in a cheerful mood, entertaining us with stories about his crazy customers. Michel arrived a few minutes later and wanted to show me the table in the centre of the room set up with a disply of framed photographs of his parents in law on their wedding day with several of their daughter, Antoinette, and a couple of their little granddaughter, but none with Michel. I had the feeling he wanted me to comment on this, but I said nothing.
The guests were taking their seats as Ines turned up with Gavin. They'd been asked to sing a duet; the theme tune from the 1964 film LesParapluies de Cherbourg by Michel Legrand (Bernard and Yvette's favourite song). They'd been practising and were looking forward to performing as it. Gavin was in his usual form; hard to ignore his fake laughter as he circulated amongst the guests, dominating their conversations.
The guests stood and applauded when Bernard and Yvette made their entrance with Antoinette. The room soon fell silent as Ines and Gavin began their duet. They performed the beautiful love song so well (obviously been rehearsing together). Bernard and Yvette were beaming; they looked so pleased. When the song came to an end the applause was deafening. Gavin bowed, kissed Ines, and then announced in French that he had an important announcement to make. Clasping Ines's hand, he announced in his booming voice that a date had been set in September for their wedding. This drew further applause from the guests. Gavin gave several more of his theatrical bows, paused to congratulate Michel's parents in law, then, leaving Ines on the stage, made a grand exit through the front doors. I wondered where he was off to: there's something so fake about him.
As soon as waiters started serving we began our first piece, LesFeuilles Mortes as sung by Yves Montand; another request from Bernard and Yvette, but there was so much chatter at the tables I'm not sure if anyone noticed. Our next piece was Besame Mucho by Consuelo Velasquez. Ines was singing well, probably because she was in a happy mood.
During our break Alexander and I wandered out into the moon lit garden while Kieron had disappeared into the kitchens. Michel was already out there, pacing up and down, smoking. I asked him what he thought of the evening so far, but was unprepared for the rant which followed. Violently grounding what was left of his cigarette into the grass, he told Alexander and myself he was desperate to return to Canada. He hated living with Antoinette's parents. While they fussed over his wife and daughter, they constantly interfered. He often felt as though Antoinette was ganging up against him by siding with them. Although they were saving, his job in the music shop didn't pay well enough for them to find a place of their own. Antoinette had just found out she was pregnant again. We congratulated him but, although he was pleased, he was now worried that Antoinette would use the new baby as an excuse to stay at her parents' home.
When we returned to the restaurant, Michel made no attempt to go over and speak to his wife and parents in law. In fact, it was Ines who was talking to them, showing off her engagement ring. During the second half we livened things up with Capullito de Aleli and the upbeat So Danco Samba before the speeches. The first to speak was an old man, a friend of the couple who'd been their best man, but I couldn't hear a word he said. This was followed by Bernard's speech; a long rambling recollection of his wedding day and stories of married life. He mentioned their grand daughter and I wondered if they knew about the new baby. I noticed Michel making a study of his drumsticks, seemingly bored with the proceedings. Photos were taken of the couple and several with Antoinette. Just as the replica of their wedding cake was about to be cut, Michel dropped his drum sticks with a loud clatter and strode over to his family and announced he would like to say a few words. The room fell silent. Bernard looked worried and whispered something to him but Michel turned away and shook his head dismissively. First he congratulated his parents in law, then, putting his arm around Antoinette, he announced they were having another baby, and, soon after the birth, they would be leaving for Canada to bring up their family there. I couldn't help feeling sorry for Yvette. She looked devastated. I thought she was about to cry. Bernard put his arm round her. Antoinette stared ahead, her body rigid. She was fuming. The guests were unsure of how to react. A few clapped and some called out congratulations at the mention of the baby, but most were silent. Michel avoided looking at us as he returned to his drums. We listened to a recording of Sacha Distel singing C'etait plus Fort que Tout (the French version of I Can't Stop Loving You) whilst Bernard and Yvette cut their wedding cake.
I was glad to get away at the end of the evening. I went over and congratulated Yvette before I left. She thanked me in a quiet voice. Bernard was nowhere to be seen. I asked Antoinette if she'd enjoyed the music and she hardly looked at me when she replied. She was still extremely angry. Michel was also quiet as we packed away; just muttered goodbye to us as he left. His wife and her mother were busy collecting their photos and presents and ignored him as he passed by. I understand Michel's frustration but I don't think he should have made his announcement. I hate to think what will happen when they get home. One of them is going to have to compromise and I don't think it's going to be Antoinette.