Perching beside my darling Hubbie who is composing the last email of the day and swigging a grande soy decaf from Starbucks, I am slowly recovering my equilibrium.
No, no, nothing bad happened on me at Oxford Circus. Being amidst of that chaos was just very stressful. That was all.
By the way, why we repeat this every year? It’s just for a few day in December, isn’t it? I positively begin to loathe all thing Christmas. I hate roast turkey and can’t face brussels sprout. And christmas pudding! Ugh!!!
Anyway, a book “Recollections of Léonard, hairdresser to Queen Marie-Antoinette”, it is the one which I am reading recently, burning the midnight oil almost every night…
Léonard Autie was responsible for the last queen of France’s stupendously constructed headdresses.
He served Marie Antoinette since she was a fresh-faced 16 years old, just arriving from Austria as the Dauphine of France. And his service lasted until she embarked on her ill-fated flight from Tuileries Palace.
Most of us do tittle-tattle with the hairdresser while our coiffe is attended to. And the conversation tends to waver between social pleasantries to more personal matters.
What did the most notorious French queen confided to her Leonard who combed her blonde at least once if not a several times a day? My curiosity keeps me awake, and as the result, I am not having a quality sleep recently…
So, how do I find him, Léonard the hairdresser? In his memoir, he was deliciously catty and almost cruel about the characters who inhabited in and around Marie Antoinette’s microcosms…
His observation was insightful, witty and cynical.
I was rather surprised to find out that he never idolised or worshiped his sweet patron, and was in “Camp Antoinette” in superficial means only. He was also not on bad terms with Marie Antoinette’s arch-rival, Madame du Barry either…
His discretion and diplomacy appeared to serve him well in order to shimmy through the Château de Versailles.
His opinion of Marie Antoinette was critical and time to time, it was even negative. He did not think of her or her spouse as a suitable character who could rule the county competently. He never believed that they had any real zest or tact to reign. In his eyes, they were just idle individuals who happened to be born with a silver spoon in mouth.
I suppose the opinion of someone like Léonard, who attained his position because of his hard work and talent, not due to a privileged birth, those high-borns around the royal couple, whose primary interests seemed to be being frivolous and canoodling, his true feeling would hardly be supportive or sympathetic towards them. Even though he was a royalist, never a republican, he must have felt increasingly uneasy about his spendthrift monarch who was also his No.1 client. The milieu in France was changing rapidly. The French people were disillusioned and discontent about the Bourbons and its bankrupting nation.
I wonder how Leonard felt about the looming calamity raising its angry head while he was backcombing his mistress’s powdered coif? Did he behold her with frustration or pity?..
I’ve reached almost to the halfway point. And Léonard is yet to recount how he regarded Madame de Polignac or about that infamous episode, “The Affair of the Diamond Necklace”.
We all know that her life ended really badly. And I have mixed emotions towards her.
The part of me can’t help feeling contempt for her incompetence. She was more like Mary the Queen of Scot, never was Elizabeth I or Catharine the Great. She just didn’t help herself, did she? Then, I also feel compassion for her at the same time. She was never trained to be anything other than a royal breeding stock after all, wasn’t she?
Oh, I must thank for my fortune of existing in this almost meritocratic society even though it is far from perfect…