Monday, 9 June 2008

Paris, London, Brussels

The Jaywalker is a cosmopolitan soul, who has graced all three capitals with her fragrant presence, and thought you might appreciate her precious insights into the axis of Eurostar. She will, however, stop talking about herself in the third person as it is slightly disturbing.

So here is my score out of 10 for various key criteria. This test has been compiled sous contrôle d'huissier. Of course.

London: However you want it, as long as you like the taste of hamster poo. Antipodeans will bemoan the lack of 'flat white' until you wish to club them to death with a Gaggia. Sight of pasty commuters queueing for giant cups of milky slop may cause death of soul. Coffee geeks (numerous) know that only Monmouth does it right.
6/10 on the strength of milk frothing alone
Paris: A binary experience that can be summarised as café or pas de café. Cultural significance enormous, however. Opportunity to wreathe oneself in Gaulouise smoke and glower alluringly from behind your copy of Le Monde Diplomatique.
Strike a pose, 7/10
Brussels: Weak and tasteless. Makes up for lack of taste, however, in provision of free snacks. No coffee complete without chocolate or speculoos. Or both. Greatest and most creative stretch of the definition of a "cappucino": Au Vieux St Martin where it comes as a black coffee, a bowl of whipped cream, a large chocolate cigar AND a palmier biscuit.
8/10 for add ons.

Public transport reading matter
London: Evangelical Christian tracts, Metro, Harry Potter, Captain Corelli.
Yawn. 2/10
Paris: Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, Michel Houllebecq, Public.
Eclectic but predictable, 5/10
Brussels: Harry Potter in Swedish, food safety Directives, Lady Chatterley in Portugese, rabid Flemish newspapers, mechanical engineering textbooks in Greek, Horse and Hound, What Turban.
All human life is here. Unlikely to get bored if tram breaks down. 9/10

London: supermarket heaven. Some minimum wage lackey has been forced to chop your mango into bite sized chunks and put it in fifteen layers of packaging for your convenience. And then labouriously deseed a pomegranate and do the same. Really, what's not to love. British supermarkets should be required to take over the entire world.
Marks & Spencer and Waitrose to form next governing coalition in Belgium. 10/10
Paris: Abandon all hope, ye who enter G7. Or Monoprix. Extraordinarily small and seedy, and staffed by basilisk-eyed harridans who hate you and everything you stand for. The experience is fraught with danger, from trying to get a trolley, to paying. At any moment a member of staff or an elderly shopper is likely to subject you to verbal or physical assault. All this for a few out of date yoghurts? No no no. Picard, however, king of frozen goods, is a whole world of wonderful.
1/10, would have been 0 but for Picard bagels and mini icecreams.
Brussels: Hardly a thing of beauty, but relatively well-stocked. Beer aisle impressive. Eccentric aisle arrangemnents may drive you to distraction looking for aluminium foil. It is with the stationery, newbies. Queueing may prove hazardous, particularly on Mondays. Bring a book; or even better, two. War and Peace would be good, all seven volumes of A la recherche du temps perdu even better.
It's called Delhaize for a reason.... 6/10

Crazy street people
London: Religious nutters outside TopShop, wildly overdressed trannies in Hoxton, bonkers gentlewomen in tweed in Knightsbridge, ninety percent of the population of Glasgow along Tottenham Court Road, warring with the Scientologists and their free personality tests.
Run, run for your life! 9/10
Paris: Classic clochards only. Accessorise with plastic bottles of vin de table, smell of wee and call you "salope".
Boooooring. 3/10
Brussels: At first sight they look completely normal if a little froissé. Then you see they are wearing one slipper, and carrying three ferrets. Exquisitely polite.
I like your style! Though your pet chicory is a little intimidating. 7/10

Civil disobedience
London: I should think not. Form an orderly queue!
We would be grateful for a moderate amelioration of conditions, in the fullness of time. Many thanks. 0/10
Paris: key curriculum item at every infant school. The CFO estimates that by the age of 18, the average French youth will have been on strike at least three times and can discourse knowledgeably about the relative merits of cobblestones and flags as projectiles.
Vive la révolution! 10/10
Brussels: Mainly the preserve of visiting interest groups, like fishermen, and French farmers on coach trips to the European Parliament. Except for the 'free' public transport system. Ahem.
Meh, we have beer to drink. Why so angry?! 4/10


London: 27
Paris: 26
Brussels: 34

Brussels triumphs! How astonishing.



'What Turban'!!! I am laughing myself rigid. Also, I have just put an extravagant link to your web-log on my web-log, as it is so good it makes me wee myself a bit.

Jaywalker said...

Oh, bless you singe qui ne travaille pas. Let's get into a loop of lavish mutual admiration, because I love yours very very very very much indeed.

Also, I think there are many similarities between Belgium and Canada which we should explore further.

emily said...

lol, i have to say, i wandered over (bored on my lunch break at work - non-working monkey is not posting enough any more to keep me amused as i have worked through all her archives - she recommended you!) and have just spent several minutes practically wee'ing with laughter!
I have spent quite a lot of time in London and a year in France (south, but visited Paris quite a lot - i have a minor obsession!) and completely agree with your comments... however i am now very curious about Brussels - i shall have to explore it soon!

Jaywalker said...

The body fluids inspired by this post are worrying me slightly. There is plenty of that in my life already, though not in an exciting, saucy belle de jour way.

But hello Emily! Welcome! Do tell, what is your fave Parisian experience?

I can't decide whether if was when my neighbour tried to report me to social services, or when an elderly lady attacked me with her walking stick in the market, or when a gang of nannies surrounded me and made me pull my jeans up properly, or when the concierge reported me for leaving finger marks on the lift buttons... Oooh, decisions.

Do come to Brussels. It is strange. But nicely so.

(Very) Lost in France said...

Jaywalker, thanks for visiting my blog. I'm returning the compliment and loving what I'm reading! Your take on French supermarkets is deadly in its accuracy. I'm also considering asking your belle-mere to run off a charred bird's head pie to go with my weevil curry at a forthcoming soiree. What thinks ye? VLiF

Jaywalker said...

Hmm. I think part of me died when I watched the belle famille crunching the charred birds heads whole and spitting out the beaks.

Charred birds head pie, weevil curry, maybe a few tinned mussels and one of my disturbing cakes, and I think we'd have a quality party on our hands! Absolutely.

(Very) Lost in France said...

Oooh....oooooh...ooooh stop! What a horrible thought. Brings to mind my first meal with our French neighbours. Think I'll blog that experience! Tell me more about your disturbing cakes.. VLiF

Jaywalker said...

You think you want to know, VLiF, but you don't. Trust me.

emily said...

favourite paris experience in a soppy way has to be taking my better half - he had never been so for his 25th we went for a long weekend - i organised it as a surprise and he loved it.
favourite in an "interesting story!" way was the fact that when we went up the eiffel tower (yes yes but we were tourists and it is obligatory at least once in your life) the lift got stuck about halfway down...we had to clamber out,which was not the rain...and heels and a skirt.. :(
worst experience was asking to try a dress (azzedine alaia if you care!) in galeries layfayette and being told they "didnt have it in my size" with the most scornful look... i should point out im a size ten, with boobs and a bum and she was stick thin....but the shame! it was awful - even my armpits prickled!

Jaywalker said...

What an utter bitch she sounds, Emily. Poor you.

Ah, yes French sales assistants. There will be a ring of hell especially for them, where they are required to carry and fold enormous garments for giants made out of lead and barbed wire until their tiny arms snap.

emily said...

lol, it was funny afterwards and being very english i managed to hide my shame until i had left and i wish i had said something but i honestly just couldnt believe it!
i then went to the Christian Louboutin boutique round the corner and the contrast could not have been more strong - they gentleman was lovely and sweet - he kept the shop open later, he made myself and the boy coffee, he let me take an age to make a i came to the conclusion that she was just a moose and needed a pie and chips!
Glad it isnt just me though :)

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