Thursday, 9 September 2010

Animal oddments

Wow, it's been a while. I started writing an explanation of why, but even that was monstrously tedious and I will spare you. It was just variations on: anxious/sick/dull/confidential-but-not-in-a-fun-way. I did try and do a post yesterday (oh dear, that's a bit like when someone says 'I was going to buy you flowers, but then I didn't'). I even looked through 100 pages of Kiss & Rides for some tiny Belgo-gems, but they were a poor selection. I sort of liked this one:

I want to reassure the charming lady with brown hair who got on the 7h28 Mons - Liege and fell into a state of musical autism thanks to her white earphones: I didn't want to steal your bag. But I would have liked to steal a smile to survive the Toussaint climate.

But it was hardly a classic on a par with these (which I realise now I only related at Tall Tales, and never here. There is another Tall Tales on 30 September at which I will be performing something minute and yet to be decided. If anyone would like to come, follow that link up there.):

Slimming in Five Lessons

We met on the line from Mouscron to Brussels. You had a beard, and you were reading”Slimming in 5 Lessons” and I fell for you instantly. I hope to see you tomorrow in the same carriage. Now I believe love at first sigh really exists.

Nos Vieux Jours

To the gentleman who helped me change the wheel of my wheelchair in the train from Mons to Brussels that was taking me back to the Good Old Days retirement home, I will never forget how robust you were, or your pleasant chuckling. I’m impatient to hear from you. Raymonde.

See, those were proper ads.

I am concerned at this decline in Kiss & Ride standards, but I hope it's just a rentrée lull and the poetry of transport longing will be back soon.

Apart from that, well. We went to the Scary Bat Caves again and a flying fox peed on me. I wasn't too upset, because at the time, I was feeding a grape to an actual bat. Straight into its actual daintily fanged mouth. It was strangely thrilling and felt a little dangerous, even though, really, it's just a mouse with wings, no? But a definite frisson (why yes, it doesn't take much, you are quite correct). Even more excitingly, the Scary Bat Caves (not their real name) have a new attraction which is a bunch of snakes FREE RANGE in a room mocked up to look, supposedly, like an American barn (it was most certainly not like a British barn since it was missing: leaking barrels of diesel, rusting farm machinery, dead birds and a rancid mountain of wool, like so). You move sacks of grain, and sticks and bits of cloth and underneath there are real live snakes that you can poke. We were the only ones in there, in a silent, dimly lit room and it was amazing. We found three snakes and I only had to remove them from the children's pockets a couple of times. If you ever happen to be in the arse end of Belgium, lost somewhere between the 98th field of identical beige cows on your 900th kilometre of identical flat, featureless arable farmland, I recommend it wholeheartedly. (Incidentally, if on your 900th kilometre of identical, flat, featureless arable farmland, you get a bad feeling that you may be heading towards, say, Poland, can I also recommend you turn around, rather than, thinking, optimistically, that you will "find a way back". No need to thank me).

Then there was the annual fête/jumble sale in the park and the dog ran amok in a tai-kwondo demonstration and wore an empty churros cone on its nose for much of the day. The children spent approximately 4 minutely concentrated hours trying to choose which heaps of broken tat to spend €5 on. The despair set in mid-afternoon on my side when they alighted on a giant box of, essentially, discarded and broken Happy Meal and Kinder Egg toys all competitively priced at 2 - TWO! - centimes each. Even with my poor grasp of maths, I could calculate that that would mean a fuckload (technical measure used by HM Customs & Excise) of worthless rubbish coming home with us, and thus it proved. I will be surreptitiously disposing of plastic rubble for the rest of my natural life now. I was getting a head start on Sunday when the children rang in a state of squealing high excitement. "Eeeeeeeeeeeh" it went.

E: What is it?

F/L: Eeeeeeeeeeeeh.

E: What? Tell me.

F/L: Ben maman, when we tried to move the hérisson nest it went squeeeeeeee.

E: Maybe it didn't want its nest moved? Like when you use Oscar's ears as a steering wheel.

F/L: Naaaoooon tu ne comprends rien, it wasn't the maman hérisson. At first we thought it was her legs because we hadn't seen her legs before but it wasn't!

E: Hang on .. are you saying?

F/L: BABIES!!!!!!!

E: No!

F/L: Si!

E: No!

F/L: Si!

etc etc etc. This is most surprising as no-one knew the hérisson was even female, let alone pregnant. We are most certainly not allowed to "dérange" the babies, in case the maman eats them, but if and when there is any prospect of baby hedgehog pictures I will of course provide.

Yes. It's all go round here as long as you are some species of lower mammal (debatable, I think of myself as more closely akin to a hermit crab). I am going to London tomorrow for a couple of days so I will try to dredge something shiny from that to relate. Ideally shiny and without fur.


Marilena said...

Hello, I tried to send you a private message but apperantly something is wrong with my computer's default. I don't wish to bother you too much but I was looking for info on schools in Belgium and I was hoping you can give me your honest opinion on them. It looks like we will be moving from the US to Belgium but I am very worried about school. I didn't hear good things about them but there is also very lttle info out there because apperantly most english speaking people in Belgium send their kids to an international school.
Well I have lots of questions but the most important ones are : What do you hate about schools in Belgium and how hard it is on your kids? How much homework do your kids get? Are the teachers mean? Is there anything you like about the schools?
Thak you for your time. If you wish you can write directly to me at

Lisa said...

The image of the weepette running amok at the Taikwondo scene still has me chuckling.

Sara Padrusch said...

Please tell me that you are going to squirrel away at least one baby hedgehog into your pocket. You can take him home and name him Melvin and give his nose little kisses, making the Weepete horribly jealous. It will be a desperate love triangle that even Flaubert could not have imagined.

Also, you should know that I fell in love with a bulldog named Mabel yesterday. When I broached the subject to my husband he said "No!". He feels that two pugs, three cats, a frog and a hermit crab in addition to the children are quite enough animals to look after.

He is a fool.


Bath bun said...

Please, please reserve me a baby. I've been trying to source a hedgehog for ages, but short of smuggling one from England, have drawn a blank.

Marilena, if you like I can e-mail you my experience of schools here - I've done Belgian and the Int'l ones with 3 kids currently aged 13,11 & 6.

It's us! said...

Oh me too, pretty please!

We have the perfect hedgehog home -a semi-derelict garden in Schaerbeek with nooks and crannies and soon an organic vegetable patch with plenty of slugs to ward off.

Seriously. If there's a waiting list can I be on it?

The Jules said...

Are you going to teach your offspring about hedgehogs?

Especially how to get the conker out.

Anonymous said...

Baby hedgehog! I want!


Fat Controller said...

Bats are winged mice? Am I to infer that Belgian mice have fangs then? That is truly scary.

Em said...

When I read that you fed the bats I got goosebumps and not in a good way. Mice with fangs, indeed.

ganching said...

I can never look at "Kiss and Ride" signs without a slight feeling of unease as "ride" means something entirely different in Ireland than it does in the rest of the English speaking world. Suffice to say if the advertisers get a ride as a result of placing their ad they will be very happy indeed - job done as it were.

Anonymous said...

No one buys that hermit crab act.

karen said...

Almost as cute as a baby hedgehog - a new baby elephant at Melbourne Zoo:

Sorry for commenting absence - I have been busy planning a Big Trip to London/Paris/Rome starting in 25 days (not that I'm excited or counting or anything!). But I have been reading ...

Anonymous said...

have you punished the dog too severely for running havoc in the parc?

could you post a recent photo of the weepette?
I worry..........

Rosie Redfield said...

And the gentleman hedgehog? Was he mentioned in a post I missed? Or is this an immaculate hedgehog conception?