Friday, 15 January 2010

Kiss and Ride

I've been thinking recently that I never talk much about Belgium any more. Sorry, Belgium. I mean, that would be easily rectified if I made my long LONG overdue visit to the Commune. It's only a couple of hundred yards away and I could be plunged into the blogging gold absurdist netherworld of Belgian administration. I really should go, but I am a little under the weather (or insert your preferred euphemism for 'I drank too much gin last night' here).

Anyway. It's not that Belgium was ever the story of this blog, but I'm sure it used to be more prominent. It was a least a backdrop to the action, whereas now it hardly merits a mention. I think I've become so inured to its oddnesses that I barely think to mention them anymore. So! Let today be Belgium day! I dedicate Belgium Day to Al who I met yesterday who thinks Belgium is Satan's playground. Nothing he will read here is likely to change his mind, I fear.

This is a chocolate cauldron. No, I don't know why.

In particular, today is Kiss and Ride day. I am increasingly obsessed with the 'Kiss and Ride' column in Belgian Metro - the one where you can hopefully, optimistically, leave a message for the tweed clad gnome reading Lady Chatterley in Finnish on the 43 tram last Friday night. The Belgian version is an amazing mix of romantic, bathetic, ridiculous. The place names are always so terrible and the sentiment so intense. I couldn't even find my favourite, which wasn't a Lonely Heart at all, but more of a denunciation, and thundered something like "A Woman who drinks beer on the train with a man SHE KNOWS is married and even knows his wife's name! That's adultery in my eyes".

I am going to leave the French in (riddled with spelling mistakes, the lonely hearts aren't particularly literate) for the sheer poetry of it. Imagine thick Belgian accents when reading to yourself. I don't know if anyone else will find them as spellbinding and hilarious as I do. Probably not.

Elf Fetish

Depuis que je t'ai croisé à la gare de Binche en ce mercredi 14 janvier, je ne pense plus qu'à toi, tu as la beauté d'une elfe, les cheveux blond t'es un or parfait, j'éespère te revoir de toute impatience. Si tu veux discuté, viens me trouvé. Boris, le mec à la casquette blanche et noir et les chaussures noir et bleue.

Ever since I met you in Binche station Wednesday 14 January, I can't stop thinking about you, you are as beautiful as an elf, blonde hair, perfect gold. I'm impatient to see you again. If you want to talk, come and find me. Boris, the guy with black and white baseball cap and the black and blue shoes.

Biro rage

j'ai pu t'admirer durant mon allez et retour entre welkenraedt et liege ce mercredi 13. j'ai essayé de t adresser la parole mais en te demandant ton bic pour compléter mon campus j'ai cru que tu allais m'agresser...

I got to admire you on my round trip from Welkenraedt to Liege on Wednesday 13th. I tried to start a conversation by asking you for a biro but I thought you were going to attack me. Four coloured biro.


Je te voyais dans le reflet de la fenêtre; tu te balladais avec ton nouveau swiffer... contactes-moi. Seb

I could see your reflection in the window; you were travelling with your new Swiffer. Seb

Mouth spray

Ce matin, dans le train vers Liège-Guillemins partant à 7h29 de Saint-Ghislain, j'ai aperçu une très jolie fille assise au bout de la banquette me faisant façe. Je veux m'excuser auprès d'elle de nos réflexions concernant l'apparition d'une odeur qui venait apparemment de son spray bucal. Je ne savais pas que l'odeur provenant de là...

This mornin in the train to Liege-Guillemins, leaving at 7h29 from Saint-Ghislain I spotted a very pretty girl sitting on the end of the seat opposite. I want to apologise for our remarks about the smell, which apparently came from her mouth spray. I didn't know that was where the smell was coming from...

The girl from the butchers

Tu t'appelles Laure, tu travailles à la boucherie de LLN et tu as bouleversé ma vie. Jamais une fille ne m'avait troublée comme tu le fais. . Je ne veux rien de toi, je n'ai rien à te donner et j'ai trop peur de ce que tu pourrais me donner. Je me contenterai juste de continuer à te sourire en venant chercher mon sandwich quotidien.

Your name is Laure, you work at the LLN butchers shop and you have turned my life upside down. I have never been as obsessed by a girl as I am by you. I want nothing from you, I have nothing to give and I'm scared of what you might give me (eds note: I don't think that is supposed to evoke STDs). I'll be happy to keep on smiling at you when I come to get my daily sandwich.


Michel, tu es notre rayon de soleil ... Tous les matins, dans le train, nous attendons impatiement d'arriver à la gare de Basse Wavre et espérons te voir, les cheveux aux vents sur le quai ! Un trajet sans toi, c'est comme une frite sans mayonnaise ! Les filles du train.

Michel, you are our ray of sunshine. Every morning in the train we wait impatiently to get to Basse Wavre in the hope of seeing you, hair in the wind, on the platform. A journey without you is like a chip without mayonnaise. The girls on the train.

All the way to BRUSSELS

O toi, belle brune que je croise tous les jours dans le Ottignies-Genval de 16h52! Tu illumines mes journées de ton rire mythique et de tes ragots irrésistibles. Quand je t'ai vu avec tes lunettes bleues, ton sac à main, tes petits talons, j'ai véritablement craqué : j'ai un faible pour les touristes... Si tu aimes en effet voyager, alors viens jusqu'à Bruxelles avec moi. Je porterais un hat et une rose à mon coeur pour que tu puisses mieux me reconnaitre...

Oh, beautiful brunette that I see every day in the 16h52 Ottignies-Genval! You brighten my day with your famous laugh and your irresistible gossip. When I saw your blue glasses, your handbag, your low heels, I completely fell for you. I have a weakness for tourists... If you like to travel, then come all the way to Brussels with me.

(Eds note: provincial Belgians believe Brussels to be very very very far away and a den of VICE).


Je suis littéralement tombé en arrêt devant votre beauté, vous qui reliez Bruxelles à Liège-Guillemins, parfois en compagnie de Reinhardt K. Hier, je ne pouvais détacher mes yeux de votre visage et de votre buste. Vous blonde en pull blanc, sac taché de jus d'orange, vous portiez des lunettes que vous avez enlevé pour la navette et que vous avez remiseqs pour descendre à Liège-Guillemins. Malgré les vingt-deux minutes de retard du train, vous avez écourté ma navette, car nous étions visiblement aussi nerveux l'un que l'autre. Je vous en remercie, et à bientôt en compagnie de mon collègue Reinhardt K.

I was literally brought to a halt by your beauty, you who travels from Bruxelles to Liège-Guillemins, sometimes with Reinhardt K. (Eds note: I assume this is a book). Yesterday I couldn't take my eyes off your face and your bust (Eds note: pleasing honesty). You: blonde, white jumper, handbag stained with orange juice. You were wearing glasses but you took them off on the train and put them back on to get off at Liège-Guillemins. Despite the 22 minute delay, you made my journey shorter, since we were obviously as nervous as each other. Thank you, and I hope to see you again soon with my colleague Reinhardt K.

Ah, Belgium. Land of endive, dough chip van queue stabbings. Land where the Post Office runs out of stamps. (Monk saw this with her very own eyes today). And now, land of Romance.


Julia Ball said...

Mayonnaise on Chips? These people are savages ! :-)

The Vegetable Assassin said...

Holy crap! Those are hilarious. I don't know about you but any man likening me to an "elf with golden hair" is going to win me EVERY time.

I do doubt Swiffer guy though. He has to be gay. What man knows what a Swiffer is? None that's what.

Also, the last guy sounds like he might be on some authority's watch list. He reads like a serial killer. Actually, you could say the same thing about the dude with the thing for tourists. The "thing" being a six foot chest freezer in his basement.

J. said...

The Chicago equivalent is "Missed Connections" in the Reader (local free newspaper). Every single woman and gay man I know went through a phase in their early 20s of reading the column every week hoping to see a description of themselves. Even if the description had been submitted by a serial killer, one felt it might just be nice to be noticed.

Here, Kiss and Ride is the official name of the parking lane next to the commuter train station where cars can drop off passengers, or wait to pick them up (5 minute time limit). It is always full of glum looking drivers with screaming kids in the back of their cars, waiting to pick up their spouses/parents.

the polish chick said...

mmm...mayonnaise on chips: way better than ketchup.

me: twitching, pants on backwards, holding a broken ukelele
you: tall, dark, handsome and exuding a sense of zen calm.
therapy @ my place? call me!

Julia Ball said...

Where I am from, it is gravy on chips yum yum :-)

Margaret said...

Waffle, are you developing Stockholm Syndrome--you know, that thing where you stop registering that your captor is a psychotic freak?

J.: I lived in Chicago briefly and well remember looking through Missed Connections even though obviously they were all serial-killer freaks. Still, attention is attention. The Village Voice used to have (still has?) similar ads, which were somehow more terrifying--it always seemed like they were one tick away from S&M dungeon invites.

And Kiss-and-Ride always strikes me as the last place there's any kissing going on. More like "Don't forget to pick up my shirts again"-and-Ride or "You could've called if you knew your train was late"-and-Ride.

Jaywalker said...

Margaret - Only last night I pronounced the words 'Stockholm Syndrome' when describing my relationship with Belgium. So, yes.

Vegetable Assasin - I think your analysis is quite correct. "A thing for tourists" sounds so very wrong.

I like your Polish Chick. I want one of those too. Not a broken ukelele.

Iheartfashion said...

I used to pass the time at work doing dramatic readings from Craigslist's Missed Connections. Hilarious.

Bryony said...

marvelous!!! is there any evidence these things work?

westendmum said...

Was the 'biro' one to you?

magpie said...

I threw up in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge today. Don't ask. Horribly ill. This is the only thing that has managed to break through the general feelings of awfulness and make me laugh today. Thank you. More please.

Laura and Ben said...

Oh fantastic! You've actually (bizarrely) made me love Belgium more... If only I used public transport more often, maybe I could have a Belgian stalker.

Jaywalker said...

I think I might make this a regular feature. It's still making me laugh 'tu balladais ton nouveau Swiffer'. Priceless. And it helped poorly Magpie.

No, W1Mum, I did not terrify a man over a biro. I rather wish I did have that power though.

Laura! I joined your cult this week. You know, the one where you work. I feel a bit dirty and very very pleased with myself.

Laura and Ben said...

Oh, I gave up that job ages ago - now I pretend to be a writer. They are rather lovely aren't they - which one did you go for? I've turned into a coffee machine geek! I don't even drink the stuff often.

Sabine said...

Do I detect a slight Germanic touch to French romanticism in these love ads? Stockholm Syndrome... obviously.

Metropolitan Mum said...

Not about Belgium? What do you mean this blog isn't about Belgium??? I feel betrayed.

On a different note: there must be something in the French language that encourages people to waffle along when trying to be very romantic. Or sexy. I had a French boyfriend once. Letters and emails of those days still cheer me up.

Claire said...

These are priceless - I am going to have to start reading them, if only for inspiration for novels!!

jonathan said...

These are all brilliant. I admire the resourcefulness of Biro Guy who seems to have created a dedicated email address in order to facilitate communication from the object of his ardour. And I feel for the butcher's shop girl, who will from now on be suspecting that every second customer could be her smiling stalker. If I were her I'd be keeping a tight grip on the carving carving knife.

Fugitive Pieces said...

I have finally been lured out from my lurking-spot behind a lamp post. Because I have to tell you about this:
(This one's still my favourite:
So, um. Bye. *gathers flasher mac round self, runs for the safety of graffitied ironwork*

Anonymous said...

"A journey without you is like a chip without mayonnaise."
What, you mean unadulterated by foul, eggy spaff and actually edible then?
We have this in the free London papers but the Belgian version is much more poetic. London version is generally "Brunette with black coat and lovely eyes smiled at me on the central line" Very helpful .

chiclit said...

Ok, the Belgium Missed Connection stuff is interesting, tests my old high school French etc, but what I really wanted you to blog about is your twitpic of earlier. How is it legal in Belgium to have an open fire pit in your bedroom?

And I am a long time anon here, published confessor, outing myself!

Margarita said...

What wonderful little stories - almost like the crazies on craigslist but with poetic flair!

Jaywalker said...

Well, Chiclit, the least I can do is reassure you. Hang on in there, it's going to be boring. The open flame pit is totally legal. My flamey ass box of fire uses bio-ethanol, so it doesn't smoke and doesn't need a flue/vent. The leaflet that came with it says categorically that any "revêtement de sol" (floor covering) is FINE. I am cleared by the Belgian authorities to burn anywhere I want.

Ok, fire update over.

Z said...

I had to google Swiffer, and it's more mundane than I expected. Still, at least I now know that I'm not a gay man.

I'm so glad they don't have this sort of thing in the Beccles and Bungay Journal. It would be so disconcerting to be told that a chap had tombé en arrêt` under the Buttercross upon seeing me queueing at the cashpoint.

dragondays said...

I must get out more and take public transport ...

bevchen said...

These are truly fantastic. More please!

Juci said...

Oh, Belgium. There is no place like it. I was wondering whether you wanted to continue your reportage of Belgian museums. I could recommend the Museum of Chocolate near Grand-Place. Don't take the kids though, they'll never forgive you, it's so anticlimactic.
On the other hand, if you need some activity for a rainy weekend with them in mind, this is quite cool. It's at Tour&Taxis, very interactive and rather fun even for grown-ups, I think.

Rachael said...

I am moving to Brussels in September. I just can't wait.