Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Now we are sick

Fingers is sick. He looks like a mournful Renaissance putti watching some unfortunate saint being disembowelled from his perch on a Zara Home duvet cloud. I'm sick too, but less so. He isn't eating, but I have managed to force down two pieces of toast with lemon curd and six Fig Rolls. I am a brave, brave heroine. Most of the time we've been sitting on the sofa in front of the fire and wriggling to try and get comfortable on the sofa of evil, while Fingers refuses to let me shut my eyes for even a second during Wall-E, The Night Garden and various offshoots of the Disney empire. If I try, he sticks a querulous finger under my eyelid and wails bilingually.

Eventually we got cabin fever and decided to take an invalid's tour once slowly round the block, just as far as the Post Office. Come! Join us! You saw enough the last time? Surely not. Did these guys put you off?



Now, I love Brussels. Really. But nowhere does grey wintry and depressing quite as well as my corner of Brussels. You would never in a million years think you were in a European capital, the veritable nerve centre of the European Union. It could be, um, Darlington. You know that Morrissey song "Every day is like Sunday"? That's how it feels round here. Every day is like a grey Sunday in the provinces. In the 1970s before Sunday trading. You need proof?

First, get your outfit right.


Got your trolley, your headscarf and your sensible coat on? Ok! Let's go!



My street. Wow. I know, I'm hitting you hard right from the get go. Apart from the Rusty Spoons cat, it also contains this peculiar exhibit:


Need to look a little closer? Hell, yes!


So, that's a monk, in terrible foot shaped sandals beloved of Canadian backpackers, giving an old school Brussels tram (like the ones the bastards put on my route with special anti-obesity miniature doors) some kind of offering, presumably to placate the gods of public transport, in a mysterious mountainous region. And:



Another monk sitting on a bricked up window in Canadian sandals with a duck on a tray. Welcome to Belgium.

Let's continue!

La Poste:

Yes, Makka Pakka winners, your happiness is but a thorough search and poking from Belgian customs away. I have braved La Poste for you. That, my friends, is devotion.


La Droguerie, for all your moth killing and shopping trolley needs. A wickerwork trolley! Audacious.




The butchers - those feet! Perhaps one day I will have shoes that sensible.






The pharmacy - toy horses and pumpkin/gourd themed windows are de rigeur at the moment.



Look at this lady in the ladeez hairdressers. She is not happy to be sharing a window with a grimacing faux pumpkin. The expression! Priceless. I know how she feels.





La Frite Dorée, with its vibrant orange frontage, scenting the street with pre-war cooking fat. Here, if you are very good, you can have a cold sausage made out of BRAIN with your chips. Really, does life get much better than this? No, it doesn't.






Looking to shop? We have everything you need!





Audaciously bucking the autumn orange trend, the underwear shop goes for timeless pink and padded.





Just very occasionally as I walk around, I think of our flat in Spitalfields market, with the 24 hour supermarket, the delis, the bars, the evil cappucino pushers. The clothes. Hmm.

Anyway, Fingers and I completed our totter round the block, bought me a giant flan and retired to the sofa. Really, there is a limit to how much excitement it is possible to cram in to one short day.

31 comments:

Welsh Girl said...

No wonder Fingers is ill. It's all that excitement every day. If I was faced with a brain sausage, an orange cardigan and pink padded underthings all in one walk, I might well need to retire to the sofa with a large flan too! Hope he gets better soon, for that matter I hope Brussels gets better too.....

pochyemu said...

Holy crimeny! Your neighbourhood is ammmaazziinnggg! All we have is a BMW garage, an MOT centre, a train station and a graveyard!

Swapsies!

Jaywalker said...

Welsh Girl - you think I overdid it on the excitement? Damn, it's easily done..

Pochyemu - note to self, never go to ascot. Er, no. No deal. You've already done a good deal on the idiot, quit while you're ahead.

zoe said...

Heavens forbid - and I thought my neighbourhood was dead? This is exciting, man, exciting enough to bring any child back from the dead. You even have a MURAL! How exciting is THAT?

Tell Fingers that he is a lucky sod and should get better right now.

You can look after yourself, madam.

expateek said...

Good Lord, what a frightening insight into the Hell you call "daily life". I send my utmost sympathies and suggest you cook some brain crêpes for Fingers to perk him up a little bit.

And. Gosh. Looks dangerous for the CFO too, with those old ladies with their squared off heels, scampering about the market.

Does he have a driver? He should, you know. With his slow speed and his diminuative stature, I worry a bit about him scurrying home with his scrabbly little claws over frosty Brussels pavements.

Surely there must be some EU directive in regards to assuring the safety of tortoises on their home-bound evening commute(s)?

Something to look into tomorrow at work, perhaps. I care about the CFO.

And all of you. Of COURSE.

Tea and chocolate. To be taken separately, naturally. Tea for all.

Lindt chocolate pour maman.

xx

lisa in san diego said...

see, in san diego, when you're sick you might as well be in the middle of the congo -- nothing is within walking distance. which is why my husband and i enforce a very strict rule: we cannot be sick at the same time. one of us must always be healthy enough to hop in the car and schlep over to the drugstore for mass quantities of hallucinogens . . . i mean sudafed and comtrex.

sending you get well speedily wishes!

Jaywalker said...

Zoe - You want a mural? That could be arranged. We'll come round yours with our poster paints.

Expateek - stop it, you know I am powerless to resist the scrabbly little claws. I think his shell probably protects him from the worst assaults of shopping trolleys. Thank you for your lovely wishes of chocolate and tea.

Lisa - ah, Sudafed (sob). I tried to ask for some here in my befuddled state, but they looked at me like a lunatic. I like your plan. Is it a 'first past the post' type system? Or sickest wins?

Potty Mummy said...

It could be Rotterdam, or anywhere... actually, not anywhere. But, it could be Rotterdam. Really. I know the Belgians hate it when you say things like that but basically, looking at those pictures, reading your words, we are talking about Holland without the drugs, yes?

Kate said...

I'm so sorry you all are unwell. Please feel better soon.

oh god. reading your post has thrown me into a state of despair about going to france for the holidays (yes, i know you're not in france, but you may have well have shown me photos of my in-laws place. it all looks gray and sensibly shod like that). i am often gifted with pink, padded pyjamas. besides not liking pink, or padding, i sleep naked, so these gifts are triply unappreciated. or maybe MIL will give me what she has tried to convince me for YEARS that i really want - perfume and bras from Carrefour. godhelpme.

ps. i am really enjoying the word verification words lately. they have been terribly enjoyable. doesn't "niabled" sound like it should mean something?

pps. tell me if you find these boots at all attractive : http://www.piperlime.com/browse/product.do?cid=4016&pid=606332&scid=606332012
my sister says they are hideous but i am a sucker for red (you said you would shop with me)

(Very) Lost in France said...

Damn, Jaywalker, I thought me and my wheelie trolley managed to get in and out of Brussels without being spotted. Should have known you are way too smart! Bon rétablissement. VLiF

Nimble said...

He does look like a little head and wings cherub there with his feverish cheeks. I hope he's feeling much better tomorrow.

I wish *I* had a large flan right now.

Maybe the clouds will part tomorrow? Mm, just checked your forecast, not promising. Definitely you'll need the chocolate then.

katyboo1 said...

The shop windows remind me of my seventies childhood in Leicester. Do they have large weirdly shaped bottles of liquid in the chemist which are virulent colours? Do they have that orange film in the windows of the clothes shop to stop the exciting garments fading in the sun?

We still have an underwear shop like that in Leicester actually. My aunt travels over from Italy just to buy stout, flesh coloured corsets there. The Italians don't make 'em properly apparently. They're too busy being frivolous and designing sofas in the shape of rhomboid thingys.

I shall take pictures of said underwear shop next time I pass it.

Perhaps we could twin them? You could cut the ribbon/knicker elastic, when you are well enough.

dez said...
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Juci said...

Oh, you live not far from a friend of mine. Except she's gone off to live in a mobile home with four-year old son and blind gipsy violinist husband in tow because their rent period has ended, and although their house was almost finished in Transsylvania they couldn't move right away 'cause the second baby was due in two weeks. Man, I hope she's okay.
But: rue de la Mutualité, or Onderlinge Bijstand? How cool is THAT? I live in a street named after a 1WW veteran whose name is not known outside of this village. Plus, the tidiness of the Flemish homes and gardens presses down on me awfully when I look around on my own premises. I could never let my neighbours in here. The house was furnished when we came here (and the previous tenants probably smeared stuff on the couch and every other upholstered surface just for fun). I just hate les meubles so much I can't be bothered to make the place look any nicer. It would probably make me feel better if I looked out and saw that other people's homes were shabby too. (Well, that's not true. I love old man neighbour's garden, it's really precious to look at. Especially that we only have a paved back yard.)
Kate: my word is 'toninil'. I love this new playfulness in the word verification.

Kitschen Pink said...

Lovely girl! Get better slowly and enjoy the cuddles. Don't go out again. You've sacred me now. Promise you will leave that place before you buy those shoes! (is lemon curd really advisable?) t.x

parisgirl said...

I am very sorry you are feeling unwell and I give you the shopping opportunities in your manor do look naff. But at least, at the very least, you should be counting your lucky etoiles that you do not have to pass Johnny Hallyday and Michel Polnareff every single day. EVERY SINGLE DAY I have to walk past the joke shop and see them. It is no longer a joke.
OK the Polnareff is only a wig and sunglasses, but Johnny is rocking back and forth with a microphone in a pirate outfit. It is more than a would-be sane person can bear.

fourstar said...

"Another monk sitting on a bricked up window in Canadian sandals with a duck on a tray."

Have you considered a Family Crest?

Monk-with-duck may prove tricky; we might have to settle for chef-with-pizza. Look forward to seeing the finished article, in wax. No, you're welcome.

Marie said...

It's like the Disney It's A Small World exhibit crossed with an Argos catalogue from 1983. I am in awe.

La Belette Rouge said...

I never imagined Belgium was so keen on gords. Shows what I know. Hope you are all feeling better after the flan.

"Everyday is like Sunday" is my favorite song. Does that mean I would love Brussels?

pinklea said...

I actually do love Brussels - now. I'd sworn never to set foot in Belgium again after being unable to get a train out of the place on a trip to Europe with the Ex many years ago. But I took Darling Daughter back to many of my old haunts two summers ago, and to my delight, Brussels and the rest of Belgium were wonderful and fun. We appreciated every single neighbourhoods we saw on our treks around the city, and we saw a lot. So maybe it's the company you keep that makes you like someplace?

Jaywalker said...

PM - "Holland without drugs". I fear this may be accurate.

Kate - ah, I'm torn. I do like them a lot, and the colour is fantastic, but I have issues with the heel, which just seems a bit wilfully ugly. Maybe they would be better on, when the heel would be less visible? Which part of France is it? Maybe we should try and meet up to swap Carrefour gift horror stories.

VLiF - Ah, the siren song of the Frite Dorée is hard to resist even from the depths of rural France..

Nimble - flan is the only thing standing between me and existential despair. I do recommend.

Katyboo - Yes, there are ALL those things. I am already planning a twinning ceremony, with exchanges of foundation garments.

Juci - do you have unbelievably good eyesight, or did you recognise the fabulous mural?!

KP - Thank you my dear. Is lemon curd not good for colds, then? I thought it might have vitamin C..

ParisGirl - I do wonder how long it will be before you crack, go in there and buy yourself the full Polnareff regalia. Please let me know and I will come and get Johnny, and we can rock out together, perhaps in the Tuileries.

FourStar - Mmm, chef with pizza is good, but I am sure we can do better here with marker pen and some pritt stick. I am alone in the house. I need some kind of bad crafting sponsor I can call at these moments to stop me giving in to the temptation to spend all day making a monk/duck seal... Anyone?

Marie - why, thank you!

Belette - Really, I don't know. It has old stuff and brick buildings and history where Valencia doesn't, but old does not necessarily mean beautiful, as evidenced by the photos. But, waffles as big as your head swing it for me.

Pinklea - Brussels has lots of nice bits. My street is just not one of them. There are compensations though (two ice cream parlours, waffles as big as your head..)

pochyemu said...

Excuse my ignorance, but - with reference to the mural - do all diners at that restaurant have to be suspended in wire cages whilst eating? Is this a Belgian custom? If so, I'm afraid I'll need to lose some weight before I come over so that we can dine without the fear of the slender cable snapping.

Juci said...

I do recognise the mural, but my eyesight is crap. I clicked on the picture for more detail (I think the monk on the top is a woman in a monk's robe actually) and was rewarded by this funny street name.
Word verification is 'foxin'. This just doesn't get old for me.

Jaywalker said...

Pochyemu - yes, WTF is up with that? I have never been but CFO's parents have. They said it sucked, but didn't mention wire cages. Since their idea of a fine meal out is Flunch I have avoided..

Juci - A WOMAN in a MONK'S ROBE? Isn't that all kinds of wrong? Or perhaps it's Pope Joan.

Léonie said...

If you don't get me that pony in the window I will die. Or just come and poke my fingers underneath your eyelids.

I think your neighbourhood looks brilliant! That monk is clearly drunk as a skunk, has stolen the duck from the buffet table on the tram (they should have those) and is waiting for people to notice, kicking his foot-shaped sandals together with glee. I enjoy his willfulness.

Oh, and Kate I like the boots. The heel is initially questionable but provided the boot itself is slim enough I think it would look quite nice. And the colour is lovely.

pochyemu said...

Jaiwalquer -

I just had an email from my uni department offering one year interships in Brussels. The only catch is that you have to be a 'young Christian interested in getting into politics'.

Do you think a '24 (young?) year old Athiest moderately interested in politics but actually just wants to make her CV look good' would be sufficient?

fourstar said...

@pochyemu: Young Christians interested in getting into politics. For the love of Mike, Can you imagine the parties? Run away!

Jaywalker said...

Léonie - are you suggesting I shoplift from the pharmacy? Close inspection indicates there is a locked glass pane separating shoppers from the tantalising delights of the window display. Clearly, they have had problems before.. Or shall I make up a story about a sad little girl in England?

Pochyemu - What fourstar said. Seriously, that could be one painful year. I like the new spelling of my name.

DCup said...

And to think I let my mental images of Belgium be formed by the likes of the dandy Hercule Poirot!

I guess no matter where you are, there is the mundane from which much comedy can be mined. Thank god.

Jaywalker said...

DCup - indeed. When I go out without my camera it all seems much less amusing.
Hello by the way! I do love your blog.

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