Radio review: Little gem is a treat for the ears

Nuala McCann

Between the Ears Radio 3

A delicate pastry may be a treat for the eyes, but hang about, because this little gem was a treat for the ears.

It had a large dollop of French je ne sais quoi.

It was sheer theatre, delicately iced with a little theatrical gossip; it was joyful and a little naughty – just as a French patisserie shop in Soho ought to be.

They say Lily Allen got her wedding cake from Madame Bertaux.

And it has history stretching back a long long time to 1907 when the staff wore very long aprons and leaned in a louche manner against pillars, smoking.

Michele Wade started as a Saturday girl in a long ago time.

It was Madame Vignaud back then. First thing she told Michele was that the cakes were like babies... not as fragile as they look.

Back then, the patisserie shop was shut on a Monday because you couldn't get cream that day.

Maybe it was the French music, maybe it was the narrator's French accent slathered on thick as double cream... but the Chansons d'Amour backing just made it all feel so so fun.

Some say Madame Bertaux was from Hertfordshire.

Being Soho, and being the French bakery, they did live tableaux outside the shop for the Quatorze Juillet celebrations.

There's young Michele bare breasted as Delacroix's Liberté Leading the People ... she used pastries for props.

This was a documentary that pulled across a thick velvet curtain and revealed the French shop in all its beauty and all its history.

The chink of a china tea cup; the clatter of metal cutlery...Here are two women scanning the menu.

“Screw the tea, could we have two proseccos?” cries one.

Michele had her wedding party in the cafe.

“It was a beautiful day, fantastic... and that's enough said about that,” she sighs.

Same for her leukaemia... “any way that's it” ... she doesn't dwell.

This was a sweet and magical merry-go-round of a trip. A gem... just like the patisserie.

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