The sun turns my corner of Uccle into an outpost of Twin Peaks. Weird, dislocated happenings. A faint air of menace. Even early in the morning, the parc du caca simmers with a hot haze of bioeffluent as the fat black staffie with jaws wider than its shoulders drags its diminutive owner round the bare patchy grass, her sandals catching on the pebbles of the path, Glen Hoddle perm bobbing. An early rising toddler is lurching forcefully around the fenced off play area with a stick, watched by a hunched shouldered, pinched faced parent, slumped on the seesaw in exhaustion. Somewhere, someone has already started drilling. Every part of the commune is being implacably dug up for reasons that no one can identify with any certainty. Escaped parakeets screech from the chestnut trees and a semi-feral cat in a cardboard box on the corner shop windowsill is shifting, economically, to catch the sun right on the sweet spot on its scrubby back.
In the street, Monsieur Cambier (85), in his summer outfit of promotional baseball cap c1984, promotional Leffe t-shirt c1979, shorts and ancient New Balance trainers, is jogging effortlessly up from his home to the corner shop to meet the delivery lorry, skinny white legs pumping. He unloads 25 palettes of Jupiler (a week's supply) and a single box of iceberg lettuces. The hairdresser - 'Coiffeur Masculin' reads the sign, just in case there were any scope for doubt, which there isn't - is readjusting his window display (still set to 'spring' - balding flock bunnies, green crêpe paper, faded butterflies, dessicated twigs) and unabashedly scoping out the neighbours, collecting incidents, twitching his curtains.
Later, I walk down to the "shopping" street. Both ice cream parlours - twenty yards apart - are chaotic with ice cream seekers.
The opticians has opted for a window display of a reclining nude male mannequin, on which it they have placed a variety of pairs of sunglasses, in a manner vaguely reminiscent of Manet's Olympia. I end up walking behind a man who is pulling a veritable train of small wheeled carts, filled with rubbish.
In Colruyt, a little further away, chaos reigns. There is a three for two offer on packs of 24 cans of Jupiler and the word has got around. The queue stretches right back to the frozen food section and every trolley looks like this:
(I don't know how these photos have ended up stuck together, but I can't get them unstuck. I'm going to pretend it's deliberate and artistique, like)
Back home, dusk is gathering, still stiflingly warm and dusty and the skinny boys with falling down trousers and muscular dogs on strings head to the parc du caca to ostentatiously smoke microscopic quantities of cannabis. The Reclusive Neighbour, owner of the Bench of Crazy, has moved out into the middle of the (fairly busy, poor visibility) street. He is holding a tennis racket in one hand and fiddling with something on the floor. I slow right down to get a good (discreet) look. The thing on the floor is a sort of brick with a hole in it, and there is a length of string attached to it. At the other end is a tennis ball: has built his own swingball set. He stands, swinging at it hopelessly in the sunset - it is on the ground. The string is not elastic. There is no hope - and I wonder, yet again, quite cheerfully, how the fuck I have ended up here.