Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Dystopian Pigeon Ruled Underpass

I have no idea what has been happening in my absence (mental absence. I have been sitting here, in front of this filthy, crumb-filled laptop, but I have been doing "proper" work for money. Tiny, tiny, barely visible to the human eye amounts of money that make me make strangled noises in the back of the throat and think kindly of my father's steely determination in forcing me to become a lawyer). Hmmm, let's see.

Oh yes. Yves Leterme our gormless, illegitimate stand-in prime minister has got himself in trouble for sending 849 filthy texts to his mistress. This comes in the wake of two unfortunate 'public message instead of DM' incidents on Twitter (I'm not judging, we've all been there). Discussing this earlier, we decided that the only way to keep him safe would be to confiscate all his electronic devices and make him live in the 1960s, with a secretary who would take dictation of all his emails, texts and tweets. Far safer.

Brussels has 'gained' its first city centre Starbucks today (there has been one at the airport for a few years, but that does not count, because no-one in their right minds goes to Zaventem for a coffee. Or indeed at all.). It is in the poorly lit, stinking pit of despair that is Central Station, which is quite where it belongs, but I do wonder which wily, sadistic real estate broker convinced Starbucks that this was where the frappucino-hungry moneyed hipsters hang out. Have any of you been in the underpass that leads to Central Station? It's like a scene from a Dardenne brothers film, gangs of pissing tramps, toothless zombie malcontents, rats snatching waffles from children, popcorn footed pigeons stealing wallets, empty cans of Jupiler used to store human organs, people roasting witloofs alive over open fires, that kind of thing. Arrive in Brussels at Central Station and exit through that tunnel, and you will no longer be surprised that the city's emblem is a pissing boy (oh, Lashes's history homework included two versions of the manneken pis legend, and a photo of the janneken pis - the girl version - that he had to label. Erm..).

The dog took it upon himself to eat a whole box of bird seed and spent the rest of the day confused at the digestive surprises it provoked.


(You try and oprapen your hondenpoep when it is 100% bird seed. Tricky)

I think it's a cry for help, but I am not listening. He also trod on the hedgehog inadvertently a few days ago. I am fairly sure he won't be doing that again in a hurry.

Fingers got into unspeakable trouble at the gulag and is on washing up duty in the canteen until the end of the year. It also means I get to put him to bed half an hour early. Win! He is very sorry (he is not).

I tried to be go all Tiger Mother with Lashes's exam revision for about 4 minutes ("you DO know where the femur is. AND who Baudoin's wife was. DO IT AGAIN"). I did it in the hope of him avoiding the "and the rest of the class who have NOT won prizes may come up now" walk of shame across the stage during gulag prize giving next week. It is very much like that photo in Molesworth where the matron is holding the tray of medicines and Grimes is saying "and these are the prizes for the boys who have not won prizes" chez Gulag.

Anyway, I very rapidly got sick of it. He is NINE. If he doesn't care, then I won't. There are years of me fulminating at him about his homework and revision still to come, so we might as well save our mutual energy. I will run out of hyperbolic threats as to what might happen to him if he doesn't study otherwise. 'If you can't remember that, you will cause the polar ice caps to melt'. 'Every time you get a past participle wrong a puppy dies'. I need to keep something in reserve. Also, what did my extravagantly over-performing school results do for me? They certainly didn't provide me with a shred of common sense, entrepreneurial spirit or creativity, that's for sure (I don't count this kind of writing as creative. It's more reportage. Or therapy).

M made me install the "Skype". Friends! Family! I have the "Skype". You may attempt to contact me using it. I do not know how it works.

I am still surrounded by the cheery cacophony of Polish builders and their gigantic sanding and drilling machines. Sometimes someone plays the violin nearby, scree, scree, delicious torture. Sometimes - often, I would say - the dog at the foot of the stairs and whines anxiously, trying to tell me that he needs to go outside yet again to shit 500 grammes of millet, or the canary imitates a car alarm. Often a child inflicts mental torture on another child, loudly. This has left me in a state of such deep, zen calm that I have nearly got into three fights in the street in the last week. This morning I caught a woman giving my (admittedly unsatisfactory) outfit the once over and I stared back at her with such ferocious attitude and under my breath muttering that I thought a vein in my eye might pop.

Someone I know got given a giant nail clipper by her boss, who also told her to "wear something sexy, yeah? With some cleavage" for a presentation. She is an intern.

I have ended up in a state of colossal wardrobe crisis, due to poor wardrobe maintenance, mainly. Of the six things I can bear to wear, five of them are now either missing some crucial element - such as fastenings, or buttons, or hems - or dirty. I have basically gone feral. This is all very well when I go no further than the corner shop and the gulag (ie. 95% of the time), but I have had to go to two proper meetings this week. For the first, I had to rub mud off my trusty pair of physiotherapist's trousers with an old flannel. Then when I was halfway there, I realised the top I was wearing (nice, Philip Lim, makes me look a bit like a pug, but otherwise pretty) had some kind of mysteriously tenacious white dust on the shoulder, probably builder related. I had a little breakdown and told B who suggested I drink some wine. This is his answer to most things and it is indeed excellent advice. My outfit looked much better after wine.

Today, my dress had foundation on the belt, and I had to cover the blue white cadaver glow and mosquito induced pockmarks on my legs with a mixture of some kind of facial highlighter and old foundation from the bottom of a drawer, having mislayed - probably wisely - my fake tan. I did not need to have wine to make it look better, which was a good thing since it was a 10am meeting.

Here is a pointless photo of a local 'window display' that alarmed me today, to gloss over the fact that I have to stop typing now and go and put a child in bed.



13 comments:

ganching said...

I wore my trousers today which I removed from the take-to-the-drycleaners pile where they had languished for at least 6 months.

Z said...

Most of my trousers wear staples at the hem. I don't see that it matters. And bear in mind that I am a whole generation up from you, and therefore an object lesson.

Anonymous said...

am so happy that i am not the only one with a less than useful wardrobe.

and i have a deep fondness for the central station underpass. my first ten months living in brussels i knew noone and worked 12 hour days. all i experienced of brussels was my home (not far from central station-bad choice), central station underpass, metro with cheery music, schuman roundabout and adjacent building, and the reverse of that. central station underpass was by far the highlight. starbucks would not improve it though. sad to hear there is one there.

Alison said...

Does anyone else think that hosiery basically doesn’t need washing at all and that the one remaining ladder-free pair of hold-ups are magically cleaned every night by the washing basket fairies just to be retrieved and worn again the next day? No? Just us slatterns? Ok, glad I cleared that up (metaphorically speaking).

Xtreme English said...

Nobody stares at MY wardrobe. They all glance AWAY. Problem solved.

ellen said...

My wardrobe is all in storage and so every time I go to work I must wear "The Pants" with a revolving selection from a small number of tops and large number of scarves. If I was still young I would die of shame.

Pat (in Belgium) said...

Yves Leterme has a mistress!?! (I'm in America visiting family & missed this entirely. Meanwhile, in the USA, a Congressman just resigned for sending nude tweets of his penis to some woman not his newly pregnant wife. His name, no kidding, is Anthony Weiner...)
Trust Leterme to "only" -- ONLY -- send texts. Will he get a goat for this too?

wv "ovulgur"...totally appropriate!

Annie said...

be consoled about your wardrobe. I have begun wearing pyjama pants - actual stripey/polkadotted/sea creature bedizened cotton pyjama pants to work. I pair them with boatnecked longsleeved tees and strange frilly tanktops and once a hand me down rugby shirt. It began as an effort to prevent people from wanting to have meetings with me. It failed, and now I absolutely cannot bring myself to wear anything else, because pyjama bottoms are SO comfortable and soft.

my dogs have been on a two week long fallen apricot spree, and they smell like fermenting jam and ironing, because it is hot and they loll about on the deck like pointy roman emperors, noshing on their soft apricots and calling out for ice cubes all the livelong day.

the alternative to this is that I pick the apricots and do something sensible like make actual jam or sorbet or something with them. I will not. I am saving myself for the manufacture of pear chutney. and also vanilla pear preserves which sounds horrid and vile and extremely pretentious. pretentious it may well be, but also it is delicious. very delicious.

Mya said...

I love the sound of a popcorn footed pigeon - sounds almost delicious. Whaddyamean this isn't creative writing?? It might be only therapy to you, but to me it's pure gold.
Mya x

Anonymous said...

Excellent piece today! Talking about Manneken Pis and his sister, if you happen to pass Place de Jamblinne de Meux one of these days, you can enjoy the sculpture there, which looks like a giant tap. The only problem is that for some reason the water pouring out of it is slightly yellow and looks very much like...well...y'know..."robinet pis"

Tilia

Anonymous said...

Oh, forgot to write about Yves Leterme! I spotted him some months ago having dinner around Schuman a weekend when all EU-officials were away, and he was sitting there with a young lady and no body guards. So there may very well be another 849 texts addressed to that lady, as the other one was two years ago. Remember where you read it first.
Tilia

Patience_Crabstick said...

I agree with you about getting good grades in school. I was always a straight-A student too, and valedictorian of my nursing class. That hasn't saved me from abject terror before going to work, nor has it made me successful or happy. My sister never did particularly well in school and she leads a much more glamorous life than I do.

J. said...

I showed up yesterday at several meetings in mud-coated shoes and a blouse that smelled like a wet dog. ( I don't own a dog, wet or otherwise; the blouse was a new purchase I pulled directly out of a fedex package and put on due to lack of clean washing.) I wore the blouse out to dinner with my husband for our 10th anniversary last night (lucky him, right?) and haven't bothered cleaning the shoes since there is a man with a digging machine gouging holes in the ground 5 feet away from my office window in the pissing rain and I might have to walk through the mess later. I am pretending I can't see my feet due to my giant pregnant belly but really I'm a lazy slattern.