"HELLO! YOU LOOK NICE, HUMAN! I LOVE YOU! DON'T GO! I'LL JUST SIT HERE AND WAIT FOR YOU!"
"I'LL JUST SIT HERE AND LICK MY BALLS WHILE I WAIT, OK?"
"BALL! SAUSAGE! BALL! MY OWN TAIL! SAUSAGE!"
"WOW, THAT PEE SMELLS DELICIOUS ON YOU!"
I was sort of half-laughing, half-crying, snotty and hysterical by the end, as I often am with M. This is why we are friends, I suppose.
Then I went to a presentation about a diet meal delivery service, and after that I went straight on to a presentation by Pierre Marcolini where I ate three puddings. Which was nice and not remotely contradictory. He was absolutely charming, and the chocolate sorbet was like shooting cocoa straight into your eyeballs. In a good way, in that it did not cloud my vision or involve needles. Ok, FINE, I mean it tasted nice.
Finally, on my way home, after this unprecedented day of leaving the house and speaking to people I am not even related to, a group of approximately six unconnected passengers on my tram started CHATTING, as if no one had ever explained the basic rules of public transport behaviour to them. They were discussing the new, zealous breed of ticket inspectors, who, from what I heard, are creatures of stark ferocity. One of the women involved in this outrageous cross-tram discussion actually worked at the STIB and she said they were allowed to fine you €100 even if you were in possession of a valid monthly or yearly 'Carte Mobib' (our folklorique version of the Oyster card) but had not touched it to the reader. You know, like in most other countries. But we have been used to never having our tickets scrutinised here in Belgium and most of us just assumed public transport was free. Combined with a message from Beatrice on Sunday who had to text me in shock to tell me her ticket had just been examined, I feel it is incumbent on me to present you with this awful warning (well, the four of you who actually live in Belgium): we are now to look forward to more frequent inspections. You might want to consider buying a ticket and so on. I believe you can buy them at, erm, stations? And possibly in machines. I will investigate and report back, if I am not incarcerated by the forces of transport law.
That is possibly the most boring thing I have ever written on my weblog and god knows, there is some very significant competition. Apologies.
Then I got home and dragged the dog out in his pissy, ridiculous whippet coat to throw the ball in the park strewn with frozen dog turds in the -9°C dusk, until I could no longer feel my hands. The children were already cheerfully in their pyjamas at 4pm with the babysitter, as is their wont, currently. They get home, put their pyjamas on, make themselves a selection of snacks and sit under a duvet on the sofa, refusing to do anything. Genetics is a wonderful thing.
Dutch words I have learned courtesy of my children this week:
The phrase "Concentrate, this is my father". (?)
I am building up to an excellent vocabulary, slowly but surely. I can sing a song about sandals, tell someone I live in Mons and boast a very sizeable menagerie, all of which will surely come in handy at some point. This current conflation of family and animals pleases me greatly in a Gerald Durrell kind of way.
Also, as a sort of thrilling homework bonus, Lashes went on a "history walk" round the neighbourhood today and has been reporting back. Notably, he told me a fascinating, if garbled, tale about a bar just round the corner being five hundred years old and the King of Spain calling the owner a devil. He also mentioned Victor Hugo, who I am quite confident he has never heard of in his short life. I have untangled the story slightly. It is this place and apparently the owner was very rude to Charles V, caretaker manager of the Holy Roman Empire and the Hapsburg jaw. It is comforting to know that Brussels service has not changed greatly in 500 years, and that being King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor does not make a shred of difference, so I might as well renounce my claim to the throne. There appears to be some other story about a group of travelling players all getting massacred* there whilst performing a play (the Spijtigen Duivel - something devil - of the bar name) parodying the Duke of Alba. Do not mess with the Duke of Alba, I suppose, is the moral of the story. The bar was also, apparently, frequented by Rimbaud, Verlaine and Baudelaire and it has taken my nine year old, who probably thinks all these people are characters in Galaktik Football, to tell me about it. Shame on me. I will go soon and find out more.
Wigs on the Green did finally make me laugh last night, in a scene where reprobate youth, Jasper, goes to Peersmont, the "special sort of bin for lunatic peers .. built on the exact plans of the House of Lords, so that the boys should feel at home" to try and extort money from his incarcerated grandfather. He meets the "curator", a jolly young man, who explains that his grandfather is:
"deputising for our Lord Chancellor, Lord Rousham, who is on the sick list again - no, nothing at all serious I am glad to say. He has just nipped up to the top of a big elm tree and is building himself a nest there".
Where would you build a nest? Mine would be very, very far from the Duke of Alba.
(*Did this thought cross my mind during the English-language-performed-by-French-speakers Oliver Twist I saw recently? I suppose that is possible)