Wednesday, 18 June 2008

In which I test out a new career as a fearless news reporter

Gather round, internet. Today you are in for a treat. I am planning a day of fearless, investigative live blogging. Of current events. Eh oui mesdames!

Today Brussels is being invaded by two protesting interest groups, the farmers and the truckers. Protest at the Euro institutions, is hardly novel, but I have it on good authority from my Belgian colleagues that in the league of most most destructive and exciting demonstrators, farmers and truckers take second and third place respectively. The top spot is apparently occupied by the metal workers. I dread to think what would happen if they joined in. I am thinking Viking style razing of the whole city, leaving only the charred carcasses of trams and frite vans, the odd hideously mutilated Eurozombie weeping over a smouldering directive. There may be an element of wishful thinking in this, I am having some rage issues today.

So. I will be recording events as they happen for you.

The story so far:

8:30 The CFO and I walk to work. I outline my project for him. He is sceptical. 'You are going to take photos of farmers? They will casse your gueule. And what about getting a cobblestone in the head?'
I tell him that this is what fearless investigative journalists do. We both look around for signs of protest. There are none.

8:45 We reach Place Stephanie. There are tractors! Lots of them! One particularly brave one is parked in front of a tram.

I am awed by their bravery. The CFO is disdainful. 'Call this a manif? It is pathetic. In France schoolchildren do it better. They have not even blocked the road properly, and there is nothing burning. Look, with a couple of minutes effort they could have had those lamposts down and blocking Avenue Louise'. He leaves in disgust. I snap a couple of pics, gleefully and head off for a coffee. When I get out, the tractors are gone. I assume the tram won. I see no other signs of protest on the way to work.

9:10 I arrive at work. The building is still standing. Contrary to my hopes, everyone has managed to get to work. All the usual suspects are here, and none of them are nursing hideous head wounds. I try to hide my disappointment.

11:14 I hear a siren in the street and peep out. The emo film school students next door are having another fag break, but otherwise all is quiet. I check out the internets. Apparently there will be a thousand tractors! I admire a picture of them congregating on the park.

12:30 I am chatting to Matilda about whether either of us will ever escape the corridor of ennui (conclusion: no), when I hear a sound. Horns! The siren song of horns!
'I have to go' I tell Matilda 'tractors'.
I rush out into the street and follow the sound. It is the truckers! They have blocked off the giant boulevard and are doing a sort of operation escargot thing. I take some (piss poor) pictures.

Some of the trucks have very silly pictures on. I especially take pictures of those. It is very loud, but actually quite boring.

Mmm. Your lorry has eyes.

Et le vôtre, Angelina, the Billy Bob years.

12:45 I go to meet the CFO for lunch (ndlr: this is NOT normal. We are not joined at the hip.). As I walk towards the sandwich bar, I see them! Tractors! And riot police!

Now you're talking. I plead with the CFO and convince him to get a sandwich and sit on a bench to watch.
Close up it is a little less exciting. The riot police are very hot and bored, and there are about 15 tractors in total. However, this is apparently where the 'action', such as it is, is taking place, as there are lots of other fearless investigative reporters taking pictures of stationary tractors. I take some pictures of them taking pictures.

It is all getting a bit nombriliste. The farmers are standing in the middle of a ring of tractors. They look disappointingly peaceful and are chatting to the riot police. Clearly the dress code has been firmly regulated, and checked short sleeved shirts are de rigeur.

One elderly casanova is breaking the mould in a long sleeved model. As the CFO points out, he appears to have acquired two groupies. I am impressed and try and take his picture, but he is too fast for me and leaps into his tractor. Sporadically someone lets off a crow scarer.

1:15 Nothing has happened and we have finished our sandwiches. 'You are a strange woman.' says the CFO 'and this manif is a joke'.
'Well what would you be doing if it was your manif?' I counter. 'Drinking' says the CFO and leaves.

1:45 I get back to work. There are still no head injuries.

4:50 Nothing has happened all afternoon. I feel cheated.

6:00 I walk and tram home. There are no scenes of devastation, no heaps of cow carcasses, no burning effigies, nothing. The most notable thing I see is this:

Now I am really worried for the farmers. A farmer who can't summon the spirit to dump pig shit outside the European Parliament is a farmer whose spirit is broken.

So here, to cheer the farmers, a few more gratuitous tractors. Tractor porn!

Yeah baby.


Léonie said...

I hate it when I get to work and none of my colleagues are nursing head wounds. It is so inconsiderate of them. I would still like to see a picture of a tractor, though. You could photoshop some drama into the picture, perhaps?

Jaywalker said...


I guarantee you tractor pictures. I already have two and will not rest easy until I have many more.

There are never enough head wounds in my workplace. My room mate is the office first aider and finds it similarly disappointing.

Léonie said...

Those are some damn fine tractors! Wow, I am a little overwhelmed. I would give anything, (anything!) for such a drama to grace my day. I am going to print those speeding tractors out and stick them on my wall to remind myself that we must fight as citizens for our right to speak out. And if that means sitting around on some farming equipment for a day then so be it.

Jaywalker said...

Léonie, It seems you and I are the only ones to appreciate this majestic spectacle. Thank goodness for you.

Mya said...

Hang on a minute, I APPRECIATE THESE BEAUTIFUL TRACTORS. Your pictures feature, in no particular order, a New Holland, Claas, John Deere, McCormick International and CASE tractors. Unfortunately, the buxom tyred beauty of a David Brown is missing, as is the voluptuous mudslicked pertness of a Valmet Valtra - but lovely, all the same. Thankyou.

Mya x

Jaywalker said...

Thank goodness for you Mya. A bit of full on tractor lovin'.
I am inordinately impressed by your knowledge. But I guess in your part of the world it's fairly essential?

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