Let me tell you about Colruyt. This is a special treat for Jeremy who is missing Brussels. Missing the smell of crazy person, dark, gloomy bars full of beer and motheaten small dogs, the omnipresent waffle vans, the sandwich filling called "cannibal".
I went to Colruyt today. Colruyt - I am too tired and pathetic to link to its website, though I imagine it has one, powered by a hamster on a wheel and a tape recorder - is a discount supermarket. First you have to say discount right. After me: "deezcoont". Thank you.
Colruyt is not merely a deezcoonteur, however. It is also a Belgian Institution. It is a technical, physical impossibility to live in Belgium for more than a week without someone telling you that Colruyt has the best meat in Belgium. Certainly, the meat is treated with a bizarre reverence there. It is displayed, lovingly, behind a glass window and in order to buy any you have to - get this - fill in a paper order form and hand it to the unsmiling phlegmish assistant. They may also ask you for a copy of your residence permit and six months bank statements. Perfectly normal. Then you have to go away. Sometime later, they call for you over the tannoy. Probably in phlegmish. If you answer a set of security questions correctly, you may have your meat.
Back me up Belgian residents - true, no?
Ok. Next! The Colruyt trolleys are rightly famous throughout Belgium for their tricksy approach to, well, movement. They are way worse than the most wilful hoover for bolting with you. You need to finesse the trolley. Brute force does nothing. Basically, if you try to impose your will on a Colruyt trolley it will aim directly for the most vulnerable, young or elderly, or merely furious, person and CRUSH THEM. You will be powerless to stop it. Today, I was inducted into the inner circle of Colruyt users however, when a shelf stacker kindly took me aside as my trolley tried to eat his shins and flay him alive with its Boudicea chariot wheel style action.
"Ne regardez pas les rayons madame!"
Don't look at the food displays.
"C'est bien connu, il faut regarder tout droit et le caddie suit. Si vous regardez les étalages, le caddie FONCE DEDANS. Il y a eu des études là-dessus".
(It's well known that you have to look straight ahead, then the trolley follows. If you look at the displays, the trolley heads right for them. There have been studies on the topic).
He was right though. I feel oddly privileged. I am one of the Colruyt illuminati. Now you are too. Lucky, no?
The rest of the shop, which is easyjet orange, and made of concrete and tramps, works on the basis that you must buy in bulk, so I did. I took a photo of my siege mentality Colruyt shopping, with weepette for scale. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe not. I took a picture of the Ektorp too. You can compensate for having to buy 10kg of rice by eating your entire dinner from the trays of samples laid out. Colruyt on a Saturday is like an ambassador's reception, except with more beer. There are trays of nibbly things everywhere.
Last Colruyt fact for today: The absolute, very first thing on the shelves as you walk into my Colruyt (yes, I feel a sense of ownership now that I have been upgraded to trolley whisperer status) is GORDONS GIN.
Tomorrow is move day. I have boxed up everything I could remember. I found all sorts of peculiar artefacts - my sister's hospital bracelet from her birth, a shark's tooth, several child's teeth in peculiar places. I will be very glad when it's done, and I can collapse on the Söfa with my gay adoptive son, who is visiting, in an amazing act of filial devotion, and drinking Colruyt gin. We might even go and have steak and chips at Johnny Halliday's favourite café. If we do, I will bring my camera as it is a most blogworthy sight indeed. Hurrah!
(Oh, whoever sent me the book of Wendy Cope poetry, thank you so much. There was nothing to indicate who it was from, but it was hugely welcome. )