Friday, 30 May 2008

Yes, I'll pay for his therapy.

-Mme Jaywalker, bonsoir. I have had to punish Lashes today. He was once again taking his zizi out.

- Bonsoir M. Goatee. Ah yes? Oh dear. Not again.

- Yes. First he and Talkative took their t-shirts off. Then Talkative bit Lashes' bottom. And then they took all their clothes off. And Lashes waved his zizi around. So I have placed him in the corner of the yard.

- Oh. Right. Ok. Hopefully that will do the trick. There is a lot of zizi waving about at the moment, isn't there?

- En effet; it is a veritable epidemique.

- Hello Lashes. Why did you get your zizi out. Mr Goatee said he would punish you if you did, didn't he? Remember last time he said he would chop it off and staple it to your head if you did it again.

-Because my zizi needed air.

- We've talked about this before haven't we. Your zizi can get air through your pants. And your trousers. And if you get it out a seagull might mistake it for a sausage and nip it off.

- No, my zizi is a ninja. It will fight the seagull back, look..

- NO! Put it away Lashes. Seriously. What if M le Directeur saw you? He still hasn't forgiven us for the caca dans la cour incident!

- [sings] Pistachio, cow pat, your mother has a moustache.


Thursday, 29 May 2008

La Nouvelle Star. Again.

I know, it's Thursday and I haven't updated you on Nouvelle Star. Fear not reader, your handy guide to the quarter finals is but a gratuitous photo away...

Cedric Watch: Cedric survived! Again. Despite grinding his way through a woeful, whiny Chris Martin - alikey version of 'Joe le Taxi'. Thank goodness, otherwise there would only be talented people left, and that would be much less fun. In and of itself this is something of a miracle and no thanks to the wardrobe department who tortured him variously in a giant black see-through cowl neck jumper (looked itchy), possibly stolen from Robert Smith, and a tight star motif sweater with holes for surreptitiously viewing his chest through. Those dirty ladies really want to see him sweat, don't they? Bad girls! His mother is watching you know.

André's philosophical nonsense corner (and I am delighted to note there is a forum dedicated to his gnomic utterings and have signed up): as ever, André appeared to have been at the tabac breton. God, I love André. There was an intriguing comparison of Benjamin's performance of Prince's Kiss to some kind of brutalist sculpture. It was all about compression, and lightness and the release of (possibly sexual) tension. Apparently. There was also a rambling discussion of etymology at one point, but I was too busy trying to speak to Sinclair through my tv to follow it closely.

Though, fatally, Sinclair made the mistake of standing up this week. No no no. It transpires he is disproportionately attractive from the waist up and rather dumpy and pudding-like on the bottom (ahem, pot, kettle. the bottom half rather than the top I should emphasise). Another Belgian Bottom Syndrome victim!Even though, as it was revealed recently, he did not seem to know that Belgium was a country. The magic has all gone, and for this I should probably be grateful.

Terrifying appearance by a disturbing creature called Steeve Estatof, apparently a previous winner, with a disturbing brand of shouty "'ard rocque". Through a megaphone. I am guessing he was aiming for The Strokes, but he looked and sounded more like the bastard love child of Iggy Pop and a lobotomised polecat. Hair straightener and substance abuse suspected. Why, sweet lord. I will be seeing him in my nightmares, I just know it. More adverts would have been preferable. Even that surreally long one on TF1 with the long bouffant haired violinist playing the lite classics interminably while people waltz around him. Or did I dream that.

Not worth telling you about the good ones. Boring.... Votez Cedric!

Does Mephistopheles offer a cooling-off period?

Ak ak ak ak. Brussels is not on its best behaviour today, after my lavish hommage yesterday. It's rainy and grey, Hacking Cough Woman sat next to me on the tram and the loose flagstones are cunningly arranged so that when you stand on them they coat you in filthy puddle scum. I am working a sort of demented tramp chic look in Fitflops and a cagoule, channelling my mother circa 1978 when she used to pick me up from school in her 'witch' cycling cape to my great shame.

I am definitely getting long-overdue karmic punishment for smugness at the moment. "La la la how great my cosmopolitan life is, lovely children, lovely city, lovely house" etc. Tripping around like something out of a fecking Boden catalogue, a vision of harmony and irreverent laughter and swishy hair.


Quite apart from the perma-squalor, the unpaid bills and my current wardrobe meltdown (how many seams can I split in one week?), Lashes and Fingers reduced me to tears several times yesterday with a sustained campaign of badness, shrieking, sly teasing and selective deafness. I am hoarse from shrieking like a madwoman. If they weren't exposing their genitals at elderly ladies they were stealing each other's stuff, smearing abandoned stolen chocolate everywhere, calling each other unspeakable names. At one point Fingers did an impressive wrestling leap off the arm of the sofa straight-legged on to my unsuspecting stomach. There's probably a name for that move. In our house it was 'AAAAARGH! THAT BLOODY HURT!!!!'. I'm sure Hulk Hogan puts it better.

This morning there was what appeared to be a brief lull in hostilities. Silence from above, bar the sound of some giggling. In my heart of hearts I knew this was too good to be true, but reader, I took that Faustian pact, made a cup of coffee and sat down with Heat. No no no no. When I went up finally, they had covered the whole bathroom and of course themselves with a thick layer of repulsive 'jungle berry' scented Kandoo foam. "Look, maman il neige". Shifty smirks. Slightly anxious eyes. It was like a foam party in some manky nightclub in Liege. I couldn't even bring myself to shout anymore. After half an hour wrestling with nauseating foam I can still smell the stuff, it is in my hair, under my nails, sticky on my face, and the mocking face of that vile frog is haunting me. Seriously, ten minutes with Cheryl Cole's bikini body was NOT worth this...

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Belge side story

Man, I am on a total rage high today. Rage hormones coursing through my veins, eyes popping, teeth grinding. It's sort of fun! I haven't been this cross for ages. The reasons are eurotedious. But the righteous indignation is giving me SUCH a buzz.

I can think of a couple of ways out of this:

(a) Cry

(b) Flounce

(c) Sulk

(d) Buy shoes (saw some nice violet Ferragamo heels on my way to work)

(e) Deal with the source of my displeasure like a grown up in an assertive but non-confrontational way.

Ha! Just kidding with the last option, obviously.

Instead I will think pleasing, calming thoughts about everything I love about Belgium. Art nouveau houses, dingy bars, day to day surrealism, extreme bluntness, Pierre Marcolini, trams, people watching on the Sablon (and pondering the ubiquitous tweed-tastic gentleman farmer chic) strange words (craboujaja, miche-popotte, carabistouille, pets de nonne, drache), the flea market at the Place du Jeu de Balle, alligator building workshops, Fabrice Collignon, spontaneous, lengthy personal conversations with total strangers, ice cream as a food group in its own right...

Also, here's my Belgian silver bullet for bad eurodays.

Check this out, feel any irritation melting, and understand why I love love love Belgium so much.

Postscript: bought the shoes too....

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Belgian Fashion Clinic

Qu: Does my bum look big in this?

Jaywalker writes:

That depends darling. You're not wearing those tracksuit bottoms again are you? Or are you an expat living in Brussels? Do you feel your rear is wholly out of proportion with the rest of you? Because you may be suffering from Belgian Bottom Syndrome (BBS).

This benign but distressing condition is rife among recent female immigrants to Belgium. Noone has satisfactorily identified the combination of factors (chocolate, waffles, frites, beer, ice cream) that predisposes sufferers but all weight gained in Brussels goes instantly to the rear, making for a characteristic back and bottom heavy silhouette.

As yet there is no cure for BBS, but many sufferers manage their condition well with 50s style full skirts and Spanx. There have been some interesting experiments with 'wobble therapy', but this approach has yet to yield any concrete (or even just less spongy) results.

We're in uncharted waters here, but at least we have each other. There's a great self-help group that meets weekly at the friterie on Place Jourdan to experiment with the healing properties of deep fried goods. Courage, chérie!

Elleke van Boucheron writes:


You want I get you the number of my surgeon?

Monday, 26 May 2008

Will to live ebbing by the minute

Having a strange day with a "sick" Fingers who has insisted on playing with the dullest thing in the house, a small plastic microwave, all day, with an absolutely disproportionate degree of pleasure (particularly as he has sole custody of our real one). The whole thing is absolutely mind-numbing, especially since my suggestions of things we could microwave (snails, tortoises, soil, sweets, washing up liquid) were all rejected in favour of the single plastic hotdog. I don't think I can watch him painstakingly set the timer to 30 seconds and coat it with plastic ketchup again without some kind of a psychic meltdown. The corridor of ennui has rarely seemed so tempting. I should be enjoying this, shouldn't I? And yet.

I think I am sufficiently recovered to relate a little of the school fair, though I have contracted tetanus from a rusty fishing hook, and there's a demented woman somewhere around here that has taken out a contract on me because she thinks I cheated her children out of a Duracell Euro '96 promotional keyring (yes, this was the prize at the duck fishing. I felt quite ashamed to be involved). I tried to hide behind Dom, but it was hopeless. I found myself having an out of body experience, hovering above the scene thinking 'here am I, having a vicious fight about plastic ducks. When did this become part of my ten year plan'.

Anyway. Personal highlights of this celebration of genocide:

The headmaster - on whom I have a sick, ever-increasing, wrong crush - came as General Lee. His confederate uniform was a little overwhelming, the CFO queried why our video footage of nos chères têtes blondes contained so many wobbly close ups of him. Um, for atmosphere?

Lashes brought great shame on the family (well, he would have, had we still been capable of it) in his role as Grand-père John the Indian elder by pretending his pipe of peace was variously a giant bong and a penis. On stage. Herbal type material kept falling out and he kept stuffing it back in with great and disturbing professionalism.

Also the musical choices for the infant dance routines were all sorts of awesome. Johnny Halliday 'Allumez le Feu', some kind of mournful complaint rock as the Indians (approximate age 2 and three quarters) were chased off their land, and Finger's super super kitsch cowboy routine to the Rednex 'Cotton-eye Joe' (oh yes, you do remember, don't give me that). One small child stood on stage for the whole sorry spectacle with his hands clamped over his ears refusing to move and mouthing "trop fort, trop fort". Yes, indeed, my sympathies are with you.

I am already wondering what next year's theme might be. The Black Death? The Vietnam war? The Belgian conquest of the Congo?

Must go, there's a hotdog with my name on it, rapidly cooling.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Post traumatic quiz

Least said soonest mended is, I think, the only approach to the duck fishing. Instead here’s a quiz.

What are these and whose are they?

Yes well done! Hammers!

Bob's hammers! Of course. From Bob’s Tool Sprinkles.

What else.

The Space Cadette has volunteered to decrypt any non hammer responses….

Friday, 23 May 2008

Portrait de famille*

This is sort of a mini meme courtesy of Violette. I'd just like you to admire the care with which Lashes has emphasised my frown lines in another colour of felt tip. The double chin too! Such a talent for observation. As to the, ahem, bosom, I have no comment to make as to size or position.

Anyone got a portrait they'd like to share with the rest of the class?

* The CFO isn't featured. I think we should try to imagine him stage left asking why noone has replaced the lids on the felt tips.

I promised bison, you get bison


And why stop at bison? Allez, I can also offer you 'bartender' (loving this in an infant school).

I've spared you the grim, grey-faced wagon driver and the dissolute Indians slumped by the campfire off their heads on homebrew. We're just a few bleeding disfigured corpses away from a full 'Unforgiven' aren't we?

I am on duty tomorrow for this day of inappropriately themed festivities and ethnic stereotyping with my friend Dom, at the duck fishing stall. This is an unprecedented feat of friendship on her part, the duck fishing is a fecking bloodsport, hundreds of hyped up small children with hooks. And water. And the chance to win a keyring. So whilst I am still feeling great fear, I am also reassured to know she has got my back as we venture into enemy territory armed only with a money belt and a hip flask of neat gin.

Reasons Dom is the lady for the job:

- her great height

- her bright red hair and slightly fearsome expression

- her Belgian-ness, obv.

- her great generosity with her giant cache of potent prescription drugs. She is preparing us a pick n' mix selection for the afternoon, I imagine by about 4 we will be feeling no pain, and everyone will be winning. 20 centime yoyos all round!

- she says her current meds have made her short-sighted, spacy and irascible. I feel this can only work in our favour. We will be in perfect symbiosis since this is how I am all the time.

ça va déchirer grave, quoi . See you in the whorehouse.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

..and a playmobil pony head just came for me in the internal mail

I have had a punishingly Belgian 24 hours. I think it's karmic punishment for a recent outbreak of lunchtime drinking down the corridor of ennui. Say what you like about my workplace, it gives good drink. It's almost worth leaving for the Taittinger and sashimi leaving 'pot' alone. (And for all the other reasons).

Anyway. This seems to have brought on one of those mini-epidemics of surreality. I give you:

Last night: Nouvelle Star. Andre Manoukian to Cedric, after his intensely sinister acoustic performance of Kylie's "Can't get you out of my head": "As a celebrated French philosopher once said, I love you and I love your smell". Andre was on top form generally, and I found myself confessing my great love to the CFO. He didn't seem overly threatened, I think thanks to the Plug TV pheromones which were causing him to have disturbing thoughts about Cedric.

6am: Woken from a dream about the tortoises turning into mini mars bars (stolen by my unconscious directly from the Space Cadette - get your own weird shit, plagiarising unconscious!) by a masked presence inches from my head. Lashes, with a pop sock on head. Rehearsing for school play. Um, you are playing Grand-père John, the Indian elder, mon chéri. Is Grand-père John robbing a convenience store? More addiction problems on the reservation, eh? Goodness, who knew the school play was going to touch on the intractable problems of indigenous populations in the post-industrial society. I await Saturday with considerably more interest than previously.

8am: Arrive at school to be greeted by a life-size cardboard bison. Photo to follow.

8 - 8:30 am Walking to work - three men in kilts, a large man on a tiny girl's barbie bicycle, man in full cowboy regalia plus purple Converse hi-tops, two abandoned pairs of large floral patterned pants.

8:30 am Hole in pavement the size of a family saloon car on Avenue du Toison d'Or (one of main shopping streets in Brussels), plunging straight down to the metro below. Desultory strip of police tape covering one side of the hole only and a couple of passing old ladies peering down. Jesus! I should say this is the fourth such giant hole on the same street this year. Are they not slightly worried it appears to be collapsing? Apparently not.

Going to hide in the ladies until the surreality subsides slightly, with a sobering piece of car park themed eurotedium to read. Until the next booze fest at lunchtime...

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Shrunken head, shrunken brain, not so shrunken arse

I came upon this relic of my past life today, rummaging through the wardrobe. Never a wise move, is it. But you see, that's where he hides the money.

Can you see that? No, not the mummified (dried avocado, craft lovers) head. That's purely decorative. A treat for ploughing through a post about cellulite and self-loathing, if you will. Apparently, once upon a time, I had a twenty four inch waist. Shit! I should have had myself cryogenically preserved at that magical brief moment!

Look, my thigh was only the size of three tubes of cellulite cream!

My waist was the size of a two headed snake/rhino/tiger beast (I am guessing this is not how Victoria Beckham measure her waist is it, but again, I don't want to bore you unduly)!

I am allowed to tell you this, obnoxiously, because now, it's more like this.

Of course, being a masochist I thought I would see how far up my legs I could get them. Let's just say, closer to feet than waist by some considerable way.

This should come with an uplifting moral, shouldn't it. About how now I am happy and contented and full of love for my womanly curves. The fuck it should. It was GREAT being cadaverously thin. I loved it. Admittedly, it came as a side effect of being certifiably gibberingly crazy, and that in turn required group therapy and almost nothing could ever be worth group therapy (more on this later, I think). Nope. If you wanted uplifting you came to the wrong blog.

Honestly, I don't know. Clearly this 'sane' business is immeasurably better in almost every way.
But thin was nice. I miss you, thin. Can't I have both? Dammit.

Monday, 19 May 2008

In which I conclude with regret it would not be wise to give up the day job

Cake. This blog needs more cake. My cake, let me show you it. I think the ghastly disarray in which these photos appear is entirely appropriate given their general awfulness (though in fact it's technical incompetence).
I am torn whether the least appetising is the blue monstrosity, or possibly that unfortunate teddy bear wearing a toupee. Note also the relish with which Pikachu is being dismembered and the profusion of blank, staring marshmallow eyes. Need a disturbing Tim Burton-esque image rendered in buttercream and sponge? I am your woman.
I suppose just conceivably there could be a niche market for this. If there is, I am sure Belgium is the place to try and tap it...

I am a fuckwit

Lunch on Friday: Mini Snickers (plural, of course)
Lunch on Saturday: Cake
Lunch on Sunday: Cake
Lunch today: Mini Snickers (plural)
Can anyone suggest a delicious confectionery-based single item lunch for tomorrow? Maybe I should aim for a whole week! Or move onto breakfast and try a bowl of M&Ms, with or without milk. I am sure the tram users would approve.

Supine parental abnegation*

I said there would be parenting, didn't I. It is possible that I may have lied. Perhaps there won't be parenting. There is precious little of it happening presently. I think the CFO would certainly concur that my approach to child raising is fairly, um, relaxed. Take, for instance, table manners. The absence of them.

As is traditional, I blame the parents. Whilst not strictly speaking raised by wolves, I am the child of 1970s academics, and the net result was much the same. More from my fledgling misery memoir on surviving a seventies academic childhood anon. Whilst invaluable in other respects (leaving me with an eye for a pithy placard slogan on any topic, an enduring obsession with beards, and the catchphrase "you're all reified man!") my childhood left me ill-equipped to deal with social conventions, or indeed any social occasion not involving passing out on a beanbag in a haze of secondary pot fumes to the sound of debates on Lacanian theory, campus intrigue and Joni Mitchell. The words 'cutlery' and 'napkin' are for me inextricably bound up with the traumatic single week at nursery aged 4 when I heard (and possibly used) them for the first time. Otherwise, it was more of a 'noble savage' type of experience, but with more M&S ready meals.

Little wonder then that Lashes and Fingers hunch on their chairs in impossibly contorted ways and eat with their fingers. And who am I to tell them different? My own gnarled predatory claws are hovering inches above their plates ready to steal stray fishfingers. They need to work fast. When the CFO isn't around, we don't even bother with a table, or plates, or chairs, or knives and forks, but huddle around a tray on the floor like a brood of baby vultures around a mouse carcass. Often we are simultaneously watching various creatures eat each other on YouTube. It's like the Discovery Channel goes Belgian.

The CFO comes from a French nuclear family of schoolteachers and was brought up on the entrée, plat, dessert school of family mealtimes. His family regularly uses several species of fork, knife and spoon as opposed to battered David Mellor Chinese green. They have esoterica like butter knives, salt in a little dish, dessert forks. Their tablecloths are linen, not Liberty Bauhaus oilcloth. Noone has ever tried to convince him that Lebanese fruit soup is a meal. I am almost certain that noone ever wandered off halfway through the gigot and came back to read them lengthy screeds of beat poetry. I am sure this was part of his appeal. This and our unforgettable first date at a DIY shop.

As a result, however, he despairs of his feral household. He is unimpressed by my assertion that family mealtimes are a Victorian construct. He does not consider my comment that nose-picking may have immunological benefits helpful or supportive. He would very much appreciate it if I could keep my fingers to myself. He frequently returns from a trip abroad to find us constructing elaborate ice cream sculptures or making giant daleks out of cucumber in a kitchen filled with brightly coloured, non-food detritus. I think, just occasionally, he would like a real spouse, not a 70s refusenik with more political convictions than cutlery...

At least, it appears, Lashes and Fingers are getting a basic grounding at school. The phrase 'tu manges comme un cochon' has been uttered too many times by both of them to be a coincidence. Very occasionally, Fingers will ask fastidiously for a serviette. Soon, I hope, I will be an embarassment to them! At least I'll still have the Space Cadette. I can follow the trail of discarded apple cores to whichever commune she's in, and we can share a hunched prehistoric meal of raw cabbage and hula hoops and eat with our mouths open. Thank god for siblings.

* This was another mysterious '70s academic catchphrase, which I have always taken to mean "spinelessly letting your children walk all over you", but I'd be delighted for further enlightenment..

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Dover Street Market ........ IF you're drinking Bacardi (anyone else remember that ad?)

Check out the fabulousness of today's Belgian family shopping experience and cry salt tears for me, a woman who used to live right in the heart of Spitalfields market. Sunday used to mean popping out for a handmade maki roll and a coffee at St John, followed by a sleb spotting wander around the market, check out the sample sales, and maybe a trip up to Start London for some irresponsible shoes or a cheeky Ella Moss top. Now, well, see for yourselves.

First, a general aperçu of the limitless retail opportunities:

I would have liked to get closer but I thought he might chase me. And since this is my street, he would know where I live and all.

This is outside my local supermarket - shut, natch. More about the arcane wonder of Belgian supermarkets at another time.

Then a couple of specific 'must haves'.

The tin of beer bottle tops. Oh yes.

The collection of waffle irons. You couldn't really mistake what country this is, could you?

Oh well. If I sort of half shut my eyes and squint, I suppose it could be the top end of Brick Lane couldn't it?

Friday, 16 May 2008

The DvF Magic Eye Contest

Shall we play a game? Shall we, mater, shall we? Yes indeed we shall. It's Friday, it's late, wine has been consumed, a cake is taking too long to bake and Jaywalker needs amusement.

So - without further ado, let me introduce 'Diane von Furstenberg's magic eye game'. Remember Magic Eye? Those vomit inducing psychedelic swirly pattern things that were so very popular in, um, 1990? Ish. You stared for long enough at a pattern worthy of Belgian Trousers (thanks for this one Mya) and eventually you either fell down dead or saw a dolphin emerge. This is a bit like that. Without the dolphins.

Look closely at the following:

Look long, look hard. Anything emerging? No?

Yes, I know it's sideways. I mentioned the wine didn't I. Ok, ready for your close up (in 1990 this was the moment when you made your vision go all swimmy by screwing your eyes up):

No. I'm not telling you. Not yet. First one to detect the subliminal image wins some kind of fabulous fashion prize. Or the Australian Women's Weekly Childrens Party Cake book. Whatever does it for you.
And no, you can't have a clue either. Except that I didn't see if for 2 years and when someone pointed it out I was chairing a whole day of Eurotedium in front of a room of, like, 50 zombie Eurodrones. Not my finest hour.
Go oooon, can you see it yet?

Breakfast foods spotted on the 92 tram at 8:15 this morning

Packet of crisps

Ice cream cone with two scoops (looked like chocolate and pistachio)

Can of Hoegaarden

Brussels - thinking outside the breakfast box. Whole grains are for pussies. We have beer for breakfast. Big respect to the 92 massive!

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Nouvelle Star: in ur teevee messing with ur inhibishuns

Yo man, the Nouvelle Star is back a day LATE. Last night I was greeted by the unedifying site of Monster Trucks. Dubbed. If there had not been alcohol and ice cream there would probably have been tears. As it was the CFO was mesmerised by the giant wheels and I cleaned the kitchen cupboards.

So. My 'notes and queries' from the delayed episode (remember, televisual equivalent of ecstasy. no sense likely to be forthcoming):

Andre Manoukian - had possibly been consuming herbal substances? Rambling, disjointed and philosophical. Still hot.
Lio - was her make up artist on strike? She had aged about 20 years last night. Of course she still looks way hotter than I do.
My new husband - goodness me. Looked very very chiselled in that rather tight t shirt. Pleasingly self-deprecating about his Margaret Thatcher brushing. Definitely sending me subliminal messages with his snakey eyes.
CedricWatch - Cedric was fairly ropey last night, but I was enthralled by the makeup lady lovingly spray tanning his chest. Think of the thousands of mature ladies who would love her job. Rar.
I also had a bit of a Jules moment last night. That's wrong, isn't it. Yes, so wrong. I know. I blame Plug TV.
Lastly, only in France would a TV reality talent contest reference Roland Barthes. Did anyone else notice that? Or did the CFO slip hallucinogens into my camomile again?

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Belgian Fashion clinic

In the first of an occasional series, [fictional] Belgian fashionista Elleke van Boucheron and I will be offering our insights on a range of pressing [and wholly invented] fashion problems. Real contributions welcome.

Qu: Dear Jaywalker,

My partner insists on wearing those orthopaedically approved sandals favoured by Canadians, vegans and the scientific community all summer. He says they are 'comfy'. I say comfort is for wimps and he is embarassing me. What to do?

Elleke van Boucheron replies:

Dearest well heeled,

Your partner is clearly a very fashion forward man. This year's summer footwear should lovingly embrace your foot in holistic foot-shaped comfort. Follow his example! We are loving the soft embrace of fully consenting llama hide, or boiled felt is also nice. Pair with a floaty pair of hemp loon pants in earthy tones, and a dressy vest top, maybe one featuring a nice slogan like 'Nuclear power? Nein danke' and you will be the best dressed couple at the chanting workshop!

Met beste wensen,


Jaywalker replies:

Dear well heeled,

Your fashion pain is a familiar one to me, but darling, if god had meant us to wear foot shaped shoes, why did he invent Compeed? I have come up with an easy 'traffic light' guide to summer footwear, based on a number of specimens found in Casa Jaywalker.

Clearly, your beloved is in the red section with his cushioned comfort and toe freedom. I don't like to scare you unnecessarily poppet, but it starts with a sandal, it ends with walking trips to the Lake District and Rohan slacks. You must strike back. Be strategic; perhaps insinuate that his choice of footwear isn't entirely manly? How could he play rough sports, kill wild creatures, or operate heavy machinery in his foot shaped velcro strapped horrors? He couldn't, could he, and perhaps you need a man that can. A man who knows that wild boar don't respect cork soles.

The very best of luck. And remember, if you see anything ressembling this:

.. just cut your losses and get out. Now.

Big fashiony air kisses,


The Patty Hearst of south Brussels

I didn't inflict tales from my first visit to the dentist on you, because frankly it was dull. Drill drill, ouch ouch. Aha. But. You haven't entirely escaped because the dentist has decided that I am a one woman route to, um, who knows. A gold plated drill? A Ferrari? A second honeymoon? Hey, even dentists need inappropriate shoes too, and I do not begrudge her them. Whatever. This is a way of saying I go there a LOT.

What she says:
"Oh, yes, you again Mme Jaywalkaire, I remember. These teeth are REALLY BADLY BRUSHED. Tsk. Tsk. You must eat SO much sucre. You like les Haribos, yes? You should eat less sucre. And brush your teeth. Today I will do [hideous torture #1]. But I will also need to do [hideous tortures #2, #3 and #4]. And if I were you, given how DECAYED those teeth are, and how BADLY you look after them, I would definitely also do [hideous and expensive torture #5]".

I know #5 must be really bad because it had an English name. If something has an English name in Belgium, this means it will cost you big time.

What I say:
"Mfffffshjcsk " Ummmmmgrf" "AAARrgh!" "Eeeef!" "Euh oui, un peu mal" "Vous prenez Mastercard?"

But what is really (I know, not so much, but it's all relative innit) interesting is that I LIKE this woman. A lot. I cravenly wish to please this woman. I have purchased more dental products than I could ever imagine existed to ingratiate myself with this woman who repeatedly inflicts pain upon me. I have lavished untold wealth upon her which could more pleasingly have lined the pockets of Messieurs Louboutin, Hardy, Jacobs et al. I return time and again to the jazz-lite hell of her surgery even though my primitive lizard brain is telling me to run, run, as fast and far as I can, and hide under the nearest stone.

I have dental Stockholm Syndrome! Send in the deprogrammers!

Desk drawer haiku

twelve knives and twenty three spoons
eight pairs of chopsticks
is one fork too much to fecking ask?

Friday, 9 May 2008

Tortoise haiku

If I knew how long I'd spend
Searching through filth for you imbeciles
I would have got a hamster

In which I despair of my fellow countrydrones

Greggs the Baker on the rue de Luxembourg. Can I just ask you, fellow British Eurodrones, why. Is this really what you have been missing from the motherland? Were your lives really not complete without the traditional London lunch of a can of pop and a Greggs pasty? Not, ooh, I don't know, M&S? A nice soulless coffee chain that understands that a cappucino isn't topped with whipped cream? A BAGEl shop for the love of god (I speak as someone who has had to learn how to make the feckers)? Apparently not. Jesus. Maybe you could get them to open a Spar in the Berlaymont building next. Or a Clintons Cards in the European Parliament.
Will be burning my passport in a small show of protest this afternoon. The CFO, being French and thus an expert on civil disobedience, will probably advise me to burn a few tyres in the street too. And once you get him started he's unstoppable. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Cedric, tu es la Nouvelle Star

I thought, for a bit of variety, I would live blog La Nouvelle Star last night. Why do I love thee Nouvelle Star, let me count the ways.
Actually, let me not. I think it's Sinclair's eyes, that, tel un Paul McKenna français, hypnotise me into me into thinking I am watching a moment of quality programming. He's like the snake in the Jungle Book but with way better hair. Also, I think Plug TV diffuses some kind of pheromone spray through the tv when it's on, because I find them all inexplicably attractive. Even Andre Manoukian.

It's a little how I imagine taking ecstasy must feel. The whole programme fills me with overwhelming love and wellbeing and a desire to stroke them all and clasp them to my bosom and squeeze them until their pips squeak.

Except Philippe Manoeuvre.

No drug could accomplish that.

Anyway, where was I, oh yes, pheromones. Must have been overcome. So, I was going to live blog the whole thing and tell you all about Cedric the sailor and Jules and Thomas the matching shemales and the compellingly wonderful Benjamin, and how fricking amazing Lio looks for a woman with thirty thousand children, but I think I looked a little too deeply into Sinclair's eyes and suddenly it was half ten and past the CFO's bedtime, so for the moment I'm going to confine myself to telling you about Cedric.

Do you need a picture? OF COURSE YOU DO.

Ta da..

Cedric is 34 and a sailor. The mature woman's choice. Marvel at his intense shoutily intense 'singing' style. Thrill to the gratuitous scenes of semi-nudity during the backstage segments. Note his uncanny resemblance to Pierce Brosnan. Approve his classic black turtleneck. Lio - a maturer lady herself, I am sure she would not mind me saying (let's hope not because she could totally pulp me in hand to hand combat) - finds him irresistible. I have to say that despite initially find him wholly repugnant, I am now coming round (those damn pheromones again). He still sings like some kind of animal in pain (yesterday he gave a particularly comic rendition of Serge Gainsbourg's Bonny and Clyde - so many shades of awful I can't begin to describe - to universal disapproval). His wardrobe choices are ill-advised. I have to watch through my fingers when he dances. But you know, he's a grower. I'm always intrigued to see what chanson française dirge he'll be droning his way through each week, how flushed and sweaty he will look at the end. And that, messieur dames, is star quality for you.
Next week: Sinclair

The Belgian Board of Film Certification

The Space Cadette and I have been discussing film/dvd certification recently. I sent her home from her latest visit (she and a load of vegans hidden in the attic. She said there was no problem with them all sharing 'because we spent 48 hours chained together for Amnesty'.) with a load of box sets in an attempt to get her to get in touch with her inner shallow. I mean, really, your thesis on the ideation of suicide is all very well, but sometimes i want a real debate. Like, who's fitter, Dr Burke or Omar from The Wire? Or, isn't Lt Daniels disturbingly hot when he takes his shirt off, and is it very wrong to think that when he is a tiny pocket sized goblin of a man? Or, again, Glenn Close - when your surgery makes you look like a cross between Ryan Giggs and Violet's cat Pinky, is it not time to ease off? Important, burning issues all.

Anyway. With no small satisfaction I learned that I have managed to get her hooked on Greys. She told me that apparently, the certification refers to "extreme medical gore & moderate references to sex". Yup, that does tick my boxes thank you, though I would query the "extreme". Have they never watched Nip/Tuck? What do they call THAT? This has got me thinking about alternative certification for children's DVDs. Certification for parents, because, Jesus, if you start watching some of that stuff unprepared you could do yourself untold damage. Call Simon Bates, his career is about to go into warp speed!

In the Night Garden
Contains scenes of a Dadaist nature. Consumption of potent hallucinogens is strongly discouraged during viewing. Do not operate heavy machinery during Pontypine sequences. Sufferers of OCD may find some scenes involving Makka Pakka distressing.

Includes woefully mild peril. Viewer may find themselves wishing a giant fireball would engulf Lazytown, taking with it Robbie Rotten's prosthetic chin and Stephanie's fright wig. Fantasies of entire latex cast melting into a chemical stew may be experienced. Moronic health theme may induce fruit phobia.

Pokemon - the Movie
Contains turgid graphics and scenes of intense tedium. May induce desire to self-immolate or rip off limbs in older viewers. Will to live may be reduced by prolonged viewing.

Bob the Builder
WARNING: contains powerful ear worm. Prolonged exposure to clunky, dull, moralising storylines has been proven to increase violent impulses in the over 30s.

Other thoughts, anyone?

Monday, 5 May 2008

Radio STIB - Sound of the Underground

The music in the Brussels metro is an odd phenomenon. I am not even sure if it's the same from one station to another, certainly at my stop it seems to be selected on principles of chaos theory and maximum screwing with your head potential. Heard today alone:

Shania Twayne - Man I feel like a woman. Country lite! Quite Belgian this one, actually.
Dexys Midnight Runners - C'mon Eileen (shades of the primary school disco)
Amy Winehouse - Back to Black (this should be obligatory commuter listening in all public transports systems worldwide. Definitely sets the tone. This would absolutely transform the Central Line I feel. Boris? Are you listening?)
Black - Wonderful Life (god, I used to LOVE this aged about 11. But mainly, WTF. I probably haven't heard this since I was 11 and a quarter and would have staked money on being the only person in the whole of Belgium who ever owned a copy. Or maybe it's one of those inexplicable local phenomena, like the mysterious popularity of Prefab Sprout in France, or Fishermans Friends in Germany. I think we should be told).

Other weeks I have genuinely thought the programmer must have been at college with me. I mean, Ocean Colour Scene? Elastica? Supergrass? Henry, is that you? Put your record collection down and go and find a proper job.
I mean, jesus. How do they select? It can't possibly be the radio, can it? Bring your fave tune to work day? So many puzzles. Will update.

Anyway. A four day weekend was nice. Thanks, King Albert, for Friday. Rest assured I spent it wisely, crafting a Pokemon out of blue sugar and buttercream for Lashes' birthday to a frankly lukewarm reception. Admittedly it did indeed look and taste absolutely shite. At times like this I begin to doubt the realism of my fantasy alternative career as cake baker, but one must dream, mustn't one, especially whilst redacting the word "cheese" from 400 pages of eurotedium.

The whole weekend could, I think, be characterised as my attempt to graphically represent the maxim "fiddling while Rome burns" in the medium of buttercream. Chaos reigned supreme, and I baked. Not only did I lose not one, but two €100 house keys, but we also entirely ran out of money (thanks, euromasters, for deciding that if pay day falls during a holiday weekend, to pay me so late that i was beginning to think i had been sacked but you had neglected to tell me), and spent much of the time, juggling credit cards and ferreting small change out of children. The kitchen was described by the CFO as ressembling "une aire d'autoroute le lendemain d'un weekend ferié" (broadly, the car park at Leicester Forest East after Bank Holiday Monday), with its chic collection of many-hued overflowing dustbin bags. Tortoises were lost. Vital pieces of paper were lost. Phones were lost. Birthday presents were broken, while I cut up jelly stars to make dinosaur spikes, and the CFO obsessed about a €500 barbecue. Which is wrong, and out of character, and all round disturbing, believe me. Any more of this kind of insouciance, and I'll be staging an intervention. CFO, no. Get back to the spreadsheets. Hear my tough love.