Pass the pickles, please, Major




In Jacques Offenbach’s hilarious operetta La Vie Parisienne, a young man named Gardefeu (which literally means ‘Holdfire’, an ambiguously naughty name typical of Offenbach’s comic characters) has decided to make the most of the foreign visitors arriving in Paris for the Second Universal Exhibition of 1866. He has learned of a Swedish Baron and Baroness who are looking for a hotel, and to make a bit of cash, since he is pretty short at the moment, he meets them at the station and offers to put them up in his own home, telling them that it is one of the smaller annexes of the Grand Hotel. He rather fancies the Baroness, and when the Baron asks him with a ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink’ for some help in making contact with a Parisian beauty, he realises that he might just be successful if he makes a play for the beautiful Swedish Baroness.