Monday, 12 September 2011

Alternative reasons to move to Brussels

There are many reasons to move to Brussels. Shut up, there are.

1. Economic performance of Belgium in percentage growth terms is currently oustripping that of the US, UK, Germany, etc. This is attributed by several reputable commentators to Belgium not having a government. Go figure.

2. Get THE owl mug of the season before it's even in stock at the V&A.

(courtesy of Hunting & Collecting, Brussels premier fey hipster destination retail outlet, where I once saw, and surreptitiously photographed, this:

a "hairbrush", as in, a brush topped with hair. Bleeeeeh.)

Do not be too harsh on what I accept is my entirely unnecessary cup buying. I literally haven't bought anything but food, household cleaning materials and fournitures scolaires for about three months. I will be returning to my Cif and cornflakes ways immediately.

3. Excellent quality universal health care, including, in my personal experience:

- ambulance collection when you faint on a tram, thus: fall over, nee-naw, nee-naw, nee-naw, gurney, oh, you're fine now, nevermind.

- arse x-ray when you fall over in the street. Technician will do relatively well at not laughing as they 'position' you and your damaged cocyx.

- amazingly nice hospital café where you might actually go voluntarily and which sells Pierre Marcolini chocolate. For health reasons, of course.

- A&E departments which can rapidly, cheerfully, fairly brusquely restitch your child in under an hour or your money back (not the last bit).

- compensatory morphine when they leave you in the fracture room by mistake for 7 hours when you are too immobile to escape and too British to call for help.

- Benzodiazepines prescribed as a little treat for migraine sufferers.

4. If you have a child, it will be sent to the Côte d'Or factory for patriotic indoctrination purposes. They will admire giant vats of melted chocolate ("the size of that HOUSE. Turned on its side") and watch a "really boring" video about chocolate. They will design their own chocolate wrapper to put on their own bar of chocolate. But! Then, better still, they will be sent home with "a gift package to discover with your family". Clearly, this is the kind of cynical, brand building exercise one would expect from the evil Kraft empire. However, I am now in possession of a family sized bar of Côte d'Or's Sistine Chapel of industrial chocolate, the mythic Chocolat au Lait aux Amandes Caramelisées avec une Pointe de Sel so my ethical objections are temporarily set aside. (Incidentally, I am led to believe that having a baby in Belgium is something like spending a fortnight at luxury spa, in the manner of Chewton Glen or similar, though sadly I have no experience of this and am willing to be contradicted)

5. Bobbi Brown is finally arriving at Cosmeticary, which means no more bulk importing of Caviar Ink gel eyeliner.

6. The collection of anatomical wax models at the Université Libre de Bruxelles medical museum.

7. Hours of fun imagining alternative Mannekin Pis outfits, viz:

- velociraptor

- Maman from Chez Maman (actually, Maman should probably get an entry all to herself in 'reasons to move to Brussels 'see a grumpy middle aged man in American Tan tights stumping around lip synching half-heartedly on top of a bar in a tiny sauna where you may be imprisoned against your will')

- Darth Vader

-Pygmy jerboa

(Though frankly, nothing I can come up with would be more bizarre than the real ones. Nelson Mandela, anyone? "Tibetan monk?")

8. Excellent employment opportunities in old age as a dame pipi

9. You can always be vague about where you live. "Europe", or "on the continent" are good answers, I find.

How would you lure someone do move to where you live?


Anonymous said...

I would lie. And also talk about the low cost of land. Welcome to Limburg.

B said...

whisky, generally. laphroaig, particularly.



tunnock's EVERYTHING.

(actually, the reason to move to brussels is to COME AND TAKE YOUR CUP!)

WrathofDawn said...

Let's see... there's rocks and dark rum and fish and crab and lobster and lots of turnip and almost never a heat wave and... and... I suppose it's not that crowded...

And that's it.

Yeah. I know.

Helen Brocklebank said...

Ah, that's priceless. I have been hooting with laughter, and paralysed with envy after seeing the Owl cup. It is marvellous.
A friend of mine suggested I say 'Yah, it's rairly amazing here, it's like a village - we're tucked away between The Ginger Pig - yah, amaaazing sausages - and the old Oyster farm, but the whole area is rairly amazing.'
I mostly say, we're second on the left between a betting shop and a funeral parlour, on the other side of the road from the other funeral parlour and the other bookies. Now come on, wouldn't *everyone* want to live with such conveniences on their doorstop?

Waffle said...

"Lots of turnip". I'd like to see the tourist board work with that one, WoD.

Ms. Macaroni said...

I'm considering moving to Belgium now I've learnt its where Cote D'Or comes from. It has an elephant in its logo so I (wrongly) assumed it came from somewhere exotic (not that Belgium isn't of course!)
My favourite is the one aux amandes caramelisees YUM! Serious yum! I love that about two..ok maybe three..four large squares are enough to satisfy the craving. Then I felt a bit queasy thus quelling any runaway bingeing. Everytime I visit France I stock up! I envy your proximity to such a chocolate wonderland!

tracy said...

If you don't mind, I'm going to borrow this blog idea for a post next week when I've gone back to Abu Dhabi and I'm trying to convince myself it's fine, it's all fine, I can last another year, it's going to be fine. Sort of like one of those gratitude journal things.

MsCaroline said...

I'm lusting after the Owl Cup, too. I suggest you offer to work as their distributor (for a cut of the profits, of course.)
Alternative reasons to move to Seoul?
I'll get back to you on that one.

Em said...

You had me at the owl cup. Love it!

Laura said...

Totally had me at the owl cup too.
I drooled through the chocolate, but just had to go back and look at the cup some more.
Oh, and where I live? Beaches, Cider, thatched cottages, Cows... and WAY better than Essex - don't think I need to say more.

J. said...

I covet the owl cup. And it would be fun to give the hair brush to someone you hate and never want to see again as a gag gift (literally; that thing is nasty).

I have successfully lured several people to move here (and they are all still speaking to me) with the following:
The village's motto is "one tree, many nuts."
There are long running feuds on the op ed page of the local paper that predate the Hatfields and the McCoys and prove the point about the nuts.
The street parking situation is like something out of Kafka.
There are no bars but you can get a drink anywhere.
It is one of only 2 towns in the US where you cannot post a for sale/rent sign on your property, which has ensured it remains one of the most diverse communities around.
Many famous people have lived here, starred in the local high school musical, built gorgeous houses... and then moved away as soon as they could.
Enrolling your child in the local schools requires more proof of legal residency than the INS.
We are downwind of the candy factory that makes atomic fireballs and lemonheads.

Adrian said...

The hospitals also serve Leffe and Duvel with your meals. For health reasons.

Anonymous said...

Technically, you don't live in Brussels, since Kraainem is in Flanders.

Lola said...

I've written a whole blog post about reasons to move to my home town. I love Leamington Spa.

Kath said...

I would say "Don't move to Preston, it doesn't need to be diluted by your fabulousness" and let the reverse psychology do the rest. They would only realise that I was actually being completely truthful on arrival, by which time it would be too late!

If you've ever fainted on public transport in Dinant, and a female treated you, I am informed there is a pretty good chance that was my sister. (I am informed about the chance, not that she works on the SMUR.) She's the one who speaks crappy (she admits, I can say!) English in an absolutely flawless Lancashire accent.

Waffle said...

J - Atomic fireball factory is an excellent reason to move to anywhere.

Adrian - This is comforting news, indeed.

Anon - but I don't live in Kraainem?

Kath - I have never fainted in Dinant! I must rectify this.

Z said...

"You could spend more time with Meeeee!" usually gets them running pretty fast in the opposite direction.

Bruno said...

Please do publish a Maman post! I'd love to read your witty take on this institution of Belgian queerdom.

Anonymous said...

Volunteered to accompany my son's class on their trip to Côte d'Or. It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it. The bags you could take home with you were enormous!

Had one baby in Sweden and was kicked out of hospital after 1,5 days. Was served sausage stew in August. Had two babies in Belgium, and had to force my way out after 5 days of juicy steaks and assorted cheeses.


Anonymous said...

You don't live in Kraainem? I seem to remember you writing a while ago that you live in a 'commune à facilités', and you do seem to espouse a very specifically French-speaking view of the political situation and of Belgium in general. Not that there is anything wrong with that, just saying that it shows. Other than that, you are a talented writer and I enjoy reading your blog.

Waffle said...

Hi Anon,

No, not a commune à facilités. I live in Uccle, but you're right, I do live in a very francophone community, and I'm not surprised it shows...

Anonymous said...

In that case, I must apologize. Uccle is, indeed, unambiguously Brussels. I may be a Flemish nationalist, but I think you will find that most of us are not nearly as rabid or frothing-at-the-mouth as the francophone press would have it seem.

Ellie said...

I would tell people that it is never cold or rainy here! I would not tell them that after 2 years of drought and 80+ consecutive days of temperatures over 105 F, the entire state would happily sacrifice the population of South Dakota to ensure just one cold, rainy day. No offense, South Dakota. We could go with Vermont or the Yukon Territories instead, it's no big deal.

Also! We have awesome beef here, or we did until all the ranchers' stock died of thirst anyway. Now we have extra vultures, which give a special sinister frisson as you drive down the highway desperately attempting to leave the state, which will take you eight hours in any direction.

Pueblo girl said...

Big plus for Spain: you can still find/adopt baby animals without having the RSPCA inspect your home first.

The Return of the Native ... sort of. said...

Poor Waffle stuck in Belgium ... I escaped Brussels a year ago and if I could afford it I would have had an owl cup of champagne every day since I left the plat pays. Haven't been back once even though Husband is over there every two weeks. And I've got my dog back (although this is the Belgians fault but mine for not remembering his rabies jab). He told me he didn't like Brussels either.

Potty Mummy said...

Vodka. Obviously. Oh, and the endless parade of amazing looking men... (Sorry, that last was a joke. A bad one)

Unknown said...

I am also buying that cup, saw it a couple of weeks ago on the V&A shop site and decided to have it.
Please, have a look at the first fabric in this post, you'll like it:

Tinne from T and T said...

The best part of having a child in Belgium is that they give you a laxative before you give birth. And this comes in the form of a suppository.

Laurel said...

Serious cup envy.

I purchased one of the best pair of shoes I ever owned in Belgium, how about that? They were attractive, fit perfectly, and reasonably comfortable in spite of being high-heeled.

Were I to lure someone to Vermont, I would rhapsodize about the nature and the small, friendly communities, and of course the wholesomeness of bringing up children here--omitting the serious lack of decent ethnic food, the tininess of the biggest cities and the serious craving a person can get to just be around more people and more cosmopolitan things like big museums and the like. Oh, and the low salaries (despite fairly high cost of living) and the second oldest population in the U.S. Just wave a postcard of the fall colors and a covered bridge in front of the person you're trying to persuade, that will do it.

SUEB0B said...

I'd show them photos. I mean, look:

I drive around all the time, mouth agape, thinking "I LOVE LIVING HERE!" I know it is a bit braggy, but I have lived here since I was a kid and I still just love it.

Patience_Crabstick said...

I think I could be happy in a country that is so sincerely devoted to chocolate.

Why should you move to Charlottesville, Virginia? It is the home town of Thomas Jefferson! ("Mr. Jefferson" to the locals who talk about him like they just saw him walking down the street yesterday.) It's also the smugness capital of the western hemisphere. If you enjoy feeling superior to other people because of your Tom's shoes, or for driving a hybrid or eating only eggs from heirloom breed chickens, or if you keep miniature goats in your back yard with which you make your very own organic cheese, *and* hand spin their hair into nubby textiles in which you dress yourself, Charlottesville is the place for you. It's also a paradise for slow drivers, and people who insist on being barefoot in public.

rvcs said...

You are the second person in the whole world who I know of, who is familiar with the life-enhancing Molesworth and friends (beside the author etc.):

It makes me laugh like a drain and has done since I was 10 years old (am now 46!)


Z said...

RVCS, I have never told my youngest son that, when he was a small child, we called him Fotherington-Thomas because he had curly blond hair and said "hello birds, hello trees." He was only three, to be fair.

delagar said...

All I tell people about where I like (Fort Smith, Arkansas, or Fuck Smith, Arkansas, as we call it among ourselves, is why you should never ever ever ever want to move it. It is the armpit of the world.

It has the third lowest education level in the US. This summer it was 114 degrees here -- hotter than Death Valley! Today it is colder and rainer than Moscow (the one in Russia, not the one in Idaho). We have no (real) bookstores, no museums, no theaters, and about 9000 churches. You can't buy beer or any other liquor on Sundays. I had to take my kid (Jewish) out of the public schools b/c the other kids kept telling her she was going to hell. There are only two hospitals, both of which will deny you access (even to the ER) unless you can prove you can pay your bill upfront.

On the plus side, we have several excellent Asian restaurants, since this was where lots of Vietnamese refugees got brought after the Vietnam war! And lots of good Hispanic restaurants as well, since Tyson Chicken and Wal-Mart own the town and the hills around, so lots of immigrant workers have come in to work the chicken factories and Wal-Mart's McJobs.

Kylie said...

Wow, I think i need to move to Brussels- what would do it for me would e a job for an Australian IT testing person with no foreign language skills (my husband). I can get in and work on the UK passport?
Why to live here (QLD) - well if you grew up in Northern Europe you can swim at the beach year round and it will always be warmer than your childhood beach memories. (Australians are wusses and don't get in the water in the winter on the whole, they have no idea of how lucky they are). Chocolate has a special additive to make it last in the heat and will taste funny

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