Saturday, 18 July 2015

The enchanted quarter

I have taken the afternoon off after a really intense week of law and translation. I mean, intense for me, the most chronically lazy being in Uccle, lazier even than the cats in the cardboard boxes outside the corner shop, lazier even than our hen, Tabasco, who spends her entire life collapsed into a puddle of feathers on the floor, listlessly hoping the food will come to her, somehow.

I have not had a very ambitious time. I went to the choux shop, bought some choux, bought a falafel sandwich from the beardy hippies, then came home, took my bra off and watched Fake or Fortune on the sofa with three choux, after instagramming them like an insufferable wanker. You cannot imagine the pure animal delight of it all, or perhaps you can. Fake or Fortune is excellent and I am now obsessed with the faded, terribly British beauty of art expert Philip Mould who is like a Jilly Cooper hero, if Jilly Cooper ever wrote about art (oh, apparently she did) (I bet PM was in it).

What is happening in Uccle, Emma, you do not clamour, not even one or two of you. Well.

1. Our neighbour claims there is a pole cat living in the next street. I wonder what pole cats eat?

(a) Chickens
(b) Frites like everyone else, fool

2. She also nearly got arrested for feeding the foxes, but ran away and someone else got in trouble instead. She is an outlaw.

3. My eldest son has been regaling me with texted tales from his summer gulag. For the first day he was mistakenly enrolled in a group of younger children.

I like "taped my solder" especially.

4. There are major, quartier-wide roadworks as a new and pointless roundabout is crafted, which is causing widespread disruption to all road and public transport users and generalised irritation. Someone has decided to deal with public resistance by means of a series of BATSHIT CRAZY rhyming slogans placed all over the area. It is the work of a creative agency, obviously. An agency that needs to go home, because it is drunk.

These are my favourites.

Exhibit One:

"Quartier en chantier, quartier enchanté
The area's a building site, HOW FUCKING ENCHANTING

What you can't see is that this is basically in the middle of a massive heap of rubble. This is a brave statement.

Exhibit Two:

Dans le chantier, on s'arrête pour bronzer!

In the building site, take a break to tan! 

The state of my tan is always prominent in my mind as I cross building sites. I don't know if you can tell but that's a sort of tanning chair behind the window. So you can sit in the highly public tanning chair and look out at the devastation. Naked, presumably. I live to see someone doing this.

Exhibit Three:

"Dans la poussière on fait des affaires"

There are bargains to be had in the dust

Doubtless. Cables. Corrugated iron. Fluorescent tabards. That kind of thing.

Exhibit Four:

Du brouhaha, cela ne nous arrête pas! 

The noise doesn't stop us! 

On a hearing aid centre. Very good.

Exhibit Five:

Dans les travaux, c'est rigolo!

The building works are fun!

No. This is just a lie, isn't it. Obviously they never watched that terrifying public information film about building sites they showed us in primary school in which a child was repeatedly killed in terrible and unlikely ways (crushed by falling masonry, drowned in pothole) and which blighted my tenth year.

There is still a reflex twitch of life in Uccle this week, next week, with the arrival of the fête nationale it will close down completely, leaving the probably fictional pole cat in charge. This is the point at which I usually give in completely to my summer psychosis, so that's something to look forward to.


10% pizza disappointment
10% vicious mosquito bite on knuckle
20% dissatisfaction with my tops (or rather with my own fatness preventing me wearing them)
60% shit I have to walk the dog now because he's whining at an unbearable pitch.



bbonthebrink said...

Our whole street is being dug up at the moment, rumbling 'marteaux-piqueurs' all day long, and not a positive carefree slogan in site! I feel hard done by! ... 'Gaz de France: we shall be digging up your road for ever. The end.'

Jane Murray Bird said...

BRING ME THE POLECAT! Is it not a beech marten though? Apparently they are an urban scourge. I love them, needless to say. Both will enjoy chicken...

Waffle said...

BB - I suggest "Gaz de France: on vous emmerde." Which would at least be honest.

Waffle said...

Jane - I'm pretty sure it's just a large but skinny cat or escaped ferret, but it's thrilling in prospect...

Jane Murray Bird said...

BRING ME THE GIANT ESCAPED FERRET. You can take passported ferrets on the Eurostar - I HAVE SEEN THE SIGNS.

Waffle said...

Jane - this is good, it will give me a hobby when the summer psychosis hits properly next week. *Assembles ferret hunting kit*

Katrijn said...

Actually, Jilly Cooper did write about art: Pandora (

Margot Leadbetter said...

You remind me of the public information I saw at a similar tender age about the terrible, lethal danger of farms, with a gang of children being offed one by one by drinking rat poison, falling off trailers, getting suffocated by bales, and drowning in slurry pits (oh, the horror). Since we lived on a farm and spent a lot of time hanging about on it making our own entertainment, 70s style, I felt it was only a matter of time before we all died horrible deaths.

Anonymous said...

20% it's so hot I'm surely melting (maybe fat deposits could be the first to go? No such luck)
20% translating ag machinery will surely be the end of me
20% too much coffee
20% hum of underlying anxiety in crescendo
20% the rest of humanity rests at the weekends

Anonymous said...

Your son's texts are very funny. Apple didn't fall far from the tree ;)
I really love your blog.
Congrats on submitting your edits, when will your book be available? So exciting!

ellen kirkendall said...

This is our tourist season. Therefore all construction ceases. Construction, particularly road construction is only meant to annoy the townies. Likewise all homeless people and eccentrics are removed until September. We have three seasons during which it is impossible to get anything done: tourist, construction, and (endless) winter.

Gwan said...

Oh yes, Fake or Fortune is so good! I want to be Bendor Grosvenor (name and all).

Anonymous said...

I keep having to do the diversion around that stuff to get to M&S. Our road has been totally fked for 2 months. We've had days where we literally can't get out to go anywhere, other than on foot and living near Hallerbos, the only thing one can do on foot is go to Hallerbos. If they put obnoxious signs up, someone would have to die. It's ok though because they've naffed off for 3 weeks.

Gougères fan

PS There is a pole cat or marten that visits our garden. It's almost as big as the fox.

Anonymous said...

I have a feeling that you would love this book. Picked it up yesterday at a lovely bookshop and have been marvelling at it ever since:

tracy said...

Bargains in the dust. I once lived in a council area that would have done a similar thing to try and appease the local businesses. Belgian business owners seem to be more accommodating than Australian ones.

Lisa-Marie said...

Those adverts are ridiculous. Think of fete nationale as being like living in the Scottish countryside in the 80s. Nothing open, no life anywhere. I like the sound of your neighbour!

Waffle said...

Anon - Oh yes! I remember reading about this. Such a lovely, clever idea.

Other anon - I think next spring. Oh god, I am filled with terror about the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

More on Tove Jansson :)

Place to stand said...

I love the texts from your son and I really love the spooky perils of a building site film - we were made to watch some abomination about the various different ways you can come to a gruesome end on a farm - mauled by a tractor, gored by some animal, falling in a gaping quarry I think....

Where do I find myself living...rural bliss.

Catharine Swash said...

Is your hen well?

Waffle said...

Catharine - I hope so... She's moulting and quite skinny so I hope she's just conserving energy. Have wormed/de-parasited and seeing how she goes.

Catharine Swash said...

Have you tried her with raisins? ? Great excitement when offered. Also liking to dip beak daily into plain live yog. A few drops cider vinegar in drinking water and supervised exploration of garden on autonomous plant medicine foraging mission. Best of luck hon

Waffle said...

Catharine - Ha, I just tried to give her some yoghurt, she was highly suspicious, but then got quite into it!

Catharine Swash said...

Good to hear Emma! Only one chicken revoltingly pampered and roosterine to feed here now but his hen lived long and seemed v. happy. He now is usually to be found winningly whining for treats on the kitchen window sill while we try to eat in peace but he is ace at imitating police siren noises...
p s. Please send my regards to Auderghem and Avenue Louise. Brussels was the best 3 years of my childhood. LOVE reading your blog you all sound fab.

Kim Velk said...

Hi Emma. Glad I stopped back around for this newsy post. I especially enjoyed testing my American high school French against the public works sloganeering. I got, "in the dust we have business." I didn't know 'rigolo' meant 'fun.' I thought it was a Italian opera. I guess it's good that I haven't inflicted myself on Belgium. (Is a pole cat the European version of a skunk? I'm going to Google it). Faits du Rigolo en ete! A bien tot.

zmkc said...

At Place Flagey at the moment, a hipster who writes you poems:

Izzy said...

Surely I'm not the only one clamouring for an update? How's the hen? How's the family? How's the book? Come back to us, Waffle!

Anonymous said...

Dear Waffle,
I hope you are enjoying this long break from your blog. Your loyal readers are pining for one of your most excellent posts to mark the imminent onset of autumn.

Fat Controller said...

Re: Polecats.
I can tell you exactly what they eat because one died in our loft and I was the one who had to clear out its last mortal remains and those of its warious meals.

Small rodents (this is a good thing)
Seagulls (however did it catch them?)
Hedgehogs (However did it manage to drag them into our roof? the same goes for the seagull really) said...

come on! you are no means of a lazy hen) Although it is said that a man who praise you, make you fall from your feet, I want ti give an incentive to you - you are doing rather successfully, why to get discouraged?)

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