Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Belgium is off

Today, 21 July, is the Belgian National Holiday.

It commemorates the first royal decree promulgated by Baudoin I in 1439 stipulating that every household must possess an electric waffle iron. Or something. Belgium is a fictional country anyway and noone knows what we are celebrating. The day is marked by King Albert ceremonially switching the country off. It is switched back on again on 1 September, or whenever thereafter someone notices its absence from the international stage. As of today, the country is officially closed for business and for a period of six weeks noone is obliged to be Prime Minister, which comes as a great relief since we have all taken at least two turns since the last National Holiday. Anyone accidentally still resident in Belgium during its 'off' period is deported to Knokke La Zoute and required to become an échangiste or have a facelift. Queen Fabiola dyes her hair red, black and yellow too.

[Editor's Note: Queen Fabiola, due to her gigantic hair and impeccable grooming is an international gay icon. Uh, in Belgium and with my mother's first husband and his partner, who view her with a reverence only otherwise reserved for Princess Margaret ("Margaret Rose" as they call her, very properly). ]

Here in the Waffledome we celebrate the 21st July by eating a Happy Meal on the condom and broken glass strewed verge of our local dual carriageway. The dog vomits, overcome by heat exhaustion. We visit a brocante, a dialect term meaning "heap of broken shit displayed on a blanket by a dissolute bunch of corpulent gentlemen in a string vests sitting on folding chairs cracking open their fifteenth can of Jupiler at 10am". The spawn agonise for hours over which heap of broken plastic to buy at outrageously inflated prices. I sit with the increasingly despairing dog under a tree handing out money with only token protest. Then we go home. I ceremonially park at a forty five degree angle to the pavement, in accordance with national custom and we watch the ceremonial Japanese shitty cartoons.

After a period of fighting between the children that follows a time-honoured ritual observed by generations of Belgians, in my rôle as the most Belgian (also referred to as "only") adult present in the house, I perform the sacred "child bollocking shout up the stairs" , then place both children in bed whilst singing La Brabançonne, replacing every second word with 'fuck'. The evening continues in traditional fashion with Fingers spilling a glass of water all over his bedclothes, commemorating the great Ghent flood of 1687.

Later this evening I look forward to drinking a traditional spirit brewed from the outer leaves of chicory known locally as 'Gordons' whilst watching the heavens piss all over the annual firework display.

Happy Belgian National Day!


kathycastro said...

OK, I am officially confused. Are you saying your mother's first husband is a gay? So the Bearded One was second? And PR third? And, an unrelated question, but one I've been pondering for a while: who exactly are your brother's parents?

Your family is much too confusing for my small brain, even with a key.

At least you didn't have to go to the Corridor of Ennui today...

Waffle said...

KC - ok. Yes, yes/no (he was the second but they were never married)and yes to the first three questions.

Brother's parents: Bearded One and another mother - the militant midwife.


Jules G (not Jules A) said...

Your National Day sounds so much better than ours here in Switzerland. This year's Swiss National Day falls on August 1st, as indeed it has done since William Tell narrowly escaped an arrow in the eye - or was that Harold?
In our village, we have suffered endless alphorn ensembles, the occasional choir from Quebec (no-one ever found out how they stumbled upon us, as we're at the very end of a mountain valley with no exit), and serial failures of the Swiss Army to light beacons on the Dents du Midi. Their excuse is usually the weather, but really it's because they're too fat and lazy to climb to 3000m in the dark.
This year we will be celebrating the village going bankrupt. It will be the best Swiss National Day ever.
Regards from Champéry, Canton Valais.

Mwa said...

Why, thank you. You were really in the spirit of it.

Mr Farty said...

Happy Belgium Day! Thanks for clearing up the confusion over your forbears' sexual orientation.

Lisa Page Rosenberg said...

Belgium Day sounds awesome!
*cancels trip to Disney World*

Polly Maggoo said...

Mwah ha ha ha ha! Waffle, you make my overworked brain and exhausted little heart sing.

Jonathan Lethbridge said...

Gah! Another post! How do you do it? There must be something about Belgium that Wanstead just doesn't have.

Waffle said...

We call it DESPAIR Jonathan. Happy Belgium Day! When's Wanstead Day?

GingerB said...

I come from Utah, in the western United States. Where men are men and sheep are scared. Where Mormons hate everyone who is "a" gay, as evidenced by the fact that a gay couple kissed on the grounds of the big Temple and got charged criminally with trespass. Now we have mass "kiss-in" protests where hundreds of people come and kiss near the Temple. Like I didn't already love gay people, but you have to love folks who kiss as an act of civil disobedience. There are a lot of things ot be bored by or ashamed of in the United States, but kissing isn't really one of them. So this week, when Utah celebrates its statewide holiday known as Pioneer Day, and recalls the struggles of the Mormon Pioneers wrestling their handcarts across the plains in the face of great privation, I will celebrate Pie-and-Beer Day, which is, for me, a much happier event to be the reason for the statewide holiday.

redfox said...

Oh, Belgium! Truly, you never disappoint. I seem to have chosen to celebrate Belgian National Day by playing games on the Internet and consuming several times my recommended daily allowance via cups of reconstituted instant soup powder. Vive la Belgique!

Lizzie said...

Sigh, this time last year we were also in Brussels, and "celebrated" Belgium day by going into town and being given dirty looks by diplomats in cars off to some display while we tried to queue up for frites and Electrabel-branded balloons. What larks.

kathycastro said...

Much better! You have the best family *ever* (well, except for the sex talk stuff).

Brussels Dave said...

I have been working like a bastard in London, and you've now managed to make me nostalgic for Belgium Day. Did the TV show non-stop footage of the army marching past the palace, as usual?

Our canteen (sorry, "staff restaurant") has had special menus celebrating Bastille Day, July 4th, and random Mexican and Spanish days. I asked in the comment book why they didn't provide moules and waffles and lace today.

Sinda said...

So, are the "Ghent Festivities" related to National Belgium Day? I guess I could google this, but you seem so much more informed.

Sinda said...

p.s. there's a picture of a Belge on my blog now, can you spot her?

Anonymous said...

..and I've just spat my tea all over the keyboard!



softinthehead said...

Sounds like fun :)

Waffle said...

Jules G - Ha. Yours sounds WORSE, which I didn't believe possible. Trust the Swiss. Are you all forced to attend on pain of huge fines?

Mwa - Of COURSE I am. Hurrah for Belgium.

Mr F - It's my pleasure!

Lisa - you totally won't regret that. I guarantee it.

Polly - good. I am glad

Ginger - mmm. What kind of pie are you thinking?

redfox - oui! Vive la Belgique! Have a balloon!

Lizzie - ah, the 21st of July will always be special for you now, won't it?

Brussels Dave - of course. You know there are only ten of them and they just run round the back and march again, don't you? And ONE tank.

Sinda - qui sait? Not me. I am going to look for your Belge now.

GG - then my work here is done..

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