Gigolo d’Agneau…..


The two sheep that live in the field outside our kitchen door have taken on the role of Big Issue sellers in my psyche. I feel guilty if I pass by without giving them something, and enjoy a glow of self-satisfaction as they gratefully accept the stale slices of bread that I magnanimously offer to them in a vain attempt to appease their reproachful stare. Aside from the fact that brioche is their favourite, and that the look in their eyes leaves me in no doubt that they are aware that they are only receiving unwanted scraps, I still get to feel that I have performed my charitable act for the day, although this morning’s conditions gave me an immediate insight into the possible origin of the phrase “as cold as charity”. One would imagine that sheep would prefer something green, but this pair are big on carbs. One of them is a ewe, lone survivor of the savage cull that followed the demise of the flock’s aged guardian, and the other is a lamb, issue of a passing relationship with a gigolo ram. “Gigolo d’Agneau” or more accurately “Agneau du Gigolo” has a certain ring to it; neither engagement nor wedding, but nevertheless a ring. It was easy, at first, to distinguish the “baa” of the sheep from the bleating of the lamb. Stéphane Reynaud suggests that a Gallic sheep would be more likely to “bêêh” rather than to “baa”.  The “baa” or “bêêh” of the ewe has remained constant but the lamb’s voice has changed considerably, moving from bleat to “blêêh”. It makes me realise how inattentive I was to our childrens’ vocal development as they moved from crying, to speaking, to raging. It has been suggested by my wife that it was not so much my inattentiveness that prevented me from noticing these subtle changes, more my absence from the house during their waking hours.

(an excerpt from “Simply Fed”….available from Blurb)

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2016, Art photography, Digital photography, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Gigolo d’Agneau…..

  1. Sue says:

    Gigolo d’Agneau, indeed! I always love your plays on words….

  2. lostsoul2015 says:

    Beautifully written! Ordinary sheep and there is so much poetry about them 🙂

    • Sadly they’ve now gone from our back door….even in our little hamlet things change and the longer I am here the more I notice small changes and the more I dislike them. 🙂

      • lostsoul2015 says:

        What a pity 😦 I will digress from this topis – not very long time ago did I discover the existence of the word “hamlet”. It is amazing that there are real people who use it 🙂

      • The word that I would use in France is a “lieu dit” which doesn’t say much to my Anglophone readers….hamlet would be the nearest translation and I quite like the word! Here’s a definition of the word, which defines our “lieu dit” very precisely – a small settlement, generally one smaller than a village, and strictly (in Britain) one without a church…:)

  3. Mad Dog says:

    Great picture Roger! I hope you brush the teeth on those dinners, if you are feeding them brioche 😉
    My Norman friend Gerard often uses the word bah, generally preceding the word oui. When I attempted this, in the way that an Englishman would say oh, uh or ah before yes, my French friends laughed at me and said I sounded like a yokel.

    • Funny, it’s exactly the same here..bah, way…to be precise. I remember going to Paris with my portefolio when we first moved to the Vendée, in 2001…..young Parisian art directors didn’t know what or where was the Vendée but they did know that it was not in Paris…which meant I didn’t get a lot of work. Eventually, after doing a couple of books, I gave up the battle. Paris and the provinces are different countries….:)

      • Mad Dog says:

        I worked in Paris for three and a half years. I was very excited to be there for the first year, but after that I got worn down by the constant arguments one has to have in order to get things done. Now I’m not sure I’ll ever go back. However, Paris is not France and I’m looking forward to visiting a friend near Carcassonne next year.

      • I think it must be very difficult working in a business in France….I’ve always found it very difficult working full time with anyone…which is why I’ve always worked alone and crewed up each job as it happened….you’ll enjoy Carcassonne as long as you’re there outside of any suggestion of tourist season…:)

      • Mad Dog says:

        She’s in Caudiès de-Fenouillèdes – I’ve stayed there a few times before and it’s one of the most lovely areas in France that I’ve been to.
        I definitely prefer working freelance, but in the days when one had a permanent assistant, it was good to have a friendly and reliable person loading the film, making tea and watching my back 🙂

      • True….in the end I employed our son….that worked out OK and now he’s the photographer..:)

      • Mad Dog says:

        You can’t get more supportive than that 🙂

  4. Eha says:

    You will forgive me if, for some odd reason, the ‘Mikado’ comes to mind . . . and I have to admit that I so look forward not only to your inspired writing but those interchanges twixt you and Mad 🙂 !! Brioche? Perchance it is just as well that ’tis a ‘foreign word’ mostly in this semi-rural setting: love it too much for certain . . . . don’t think any sheep, however handsome, would see a crumb . . . .

  5. Excellent post Mr Stowell. In Italy they say “beh” and in Andalucía it’s “pues” !

  6. Francesca says:

    Good to see you are back in form Roger. Your introspection over summer had me worried. Have you thought about singing that merry tune- I’m just a gigolo’ in a low jazzy voice, as you wander out in to feed the sheep? No, this is not a New Zealander joke. Just a little song to cheer you up.

  7. I find sheep to be funny animals. Though there is a range of personalities!

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