The Adventures of Baron von Monchausen
…My farther was born in Bern, Switzerland, and his job was to take care of the town’s streets: to put it simply he was a road sweeper. My mother was French. She was born in Savoy and, like most people from there, there was no mistaking her. Her neck had a huge goitre! She was the maid of a family in Bern, where she went in search of work when she was very young. They met each other quite soon but did not get along. It was when they were both in the street, so drunk they couldn’t stand up. Staggering they knocked each other over. You can imagine the insults that were exchanged immediately afterwards! Consequently they were arrested and taken to jail. When the effects of the booze wore off, they realised how silly they had been and made peace. They became such close friends that shortly afterwards they got married. Their union was an utter disaster, much like their personalities. The separation was inevitable. So my homeless mother travelled around with her puppets before arriving in Rome, where she started selling oysters. Oysters were the favourite dish of Pope Clement XIV, who was also known as Ganganella,.
One day, the Pope was on his way to mass at the Basilica of Saint Peter, when he passed my mother’s stall and saw the most delicious oysters he could ever desire. Gluttony prevailed: he stopped the five thousand people of his retinue, got down from his horse, postponed the mass to the next day and ate all of my mother’s oysters. They were so delicious he wanted more. So he followed my mother down to a seedy warehouse where she used to sleep. There he stayed until late, greedily devouring yet more oysters.
Before he left he absolved my mother from all past and future sins. My mother swore to me – and I know it’s true – that it I was born as a result of that uninhibited oyster binge!
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