You may have noticed the absence of posts last week, then again, possibly not. Well, I was frantic anyway. I contributed to this by having two medical appointments during the week. They were made months ago and I cursed my lack of foresight. Last week was when I began to panic about having done no Christmas shopping; mind you this feeling rapidly abated when I actually went round the shops to buy things and found them quite empty and the Belgian shop assistants said to me things like “getting your shopping out of the way early? Very sensible”. Sometimes it is a complete joy to live in Belgium.
Tuesday was possibly my worst day. We had our office Christmas lunch. It was prepared in the kitchen downstairs by two of my colleagues and it was superb. I know because I watched them frying the foie gras while I patiently sous cheffed (sp?) and stuffed miniature pickled bell peppers with cream and goat’s cheese and did up the blinis. Unfortunately, I had to leave at 3.45 which was exactly when the rest of my colleagues were preparing to sit down to their four course lunch (from which they rose at 11.00 and proceeded to dance in the kitchen, I understand). I was off to the ophthalmologist who said that Daniel’s lazy eye isn’t much better and, if it isn’t better in March, he’ll have to have surgery. She also said that she couldn’t examine the Princess properly because she needed to put in drops. She could not put in drops because the Princess had a temperature and, as you know (how, how would I know, why do doctors at home assume that you are completely ignorant and doctors in Belgium assume you’re in third med?), the drops cause a spike in temperature. I only found out she had a temperature when the school rang me at work to ask whether they could give her some paracetemol. Her teacher said “I know she must be sick because she is a child who never complains normally”. This runs directly counter to my own experience, but however.
Arrived home ravenous (having missed lunch) and ate a large plate of pasta with my family before Mr. Waffle and I packed the children off to bed. It was only then I remembered that I was actually scheduled to go out to dinner with the book club. Undaunted, I went.
I was sitting beside a new bookclub member at dinner. This was unfortunate as it turned out that an old bookclub member, C, sitting opposite to me had spent 5 of her formative years in the little town where new member had grown up. This led to much reminiscing which they would try to curtail from time to time but they got carried away, particularly new member who is new to Belgium also and was delighted to find an old companion. I am a little tired of Newport. I did hear two rather lovely stories though.
C’s mother is Belgian. A friend of C’s took her to tea at her (the friend’s) house and announced proudly to C that there would be a foreign lady there. C went, agog with excitement, only to find her own mother ensconced. There was also the time that C’s mother was taken to meet the headmaster’s wife because “she was foreign too” and though C’s mother and the headmaster’s wife did become good friends, C is not sure that this was because all foreigners must have something in common, including Belgians and Russians. I also quite enjoyed the new member asking C (who is always v. elegant) “were you the little girl with the stripy knickers?”. “They were my petit bateau underpants” said C to me in some embarrassment – presumably imported from exotic Belgium to Newport.
Also, in non-Newport news, the conversation veered round to childbirth. C says that this happens every time the bookclub (all female) meets. I hadn’t been aware of it myself but C has an interesting theory that this is a major life event for women and one that is never really talked about much because men rule the world. This theory was comprehensively rubbished by two men when she produced it in the presence of my husband and the Glam Potter’s but I am quite attracted by it. Anyway, I digress.
Most of those around the table had given birth in great comfort in Belgium, the land where the epidural was invented and something like 97% of all births are assisted by this rather wonderful anaesthetic. The new member has recently arrived from Britain where using pain relief is regarded as unholy. We were complacently agreeing that giving birth in Belgium was an excellent experience and new member said brightly “why, is it all midwife led?” to uproarious laughter. She then told us her giving birth story which is, I think, one of the best I have heard. She was pregnant with her second child and travelling to hospital in the back of her husband’s car. It had a very noisy engine (this is important). She had her baby in the back of the car, checked that the baby was breathing, that the cord wasn’t round her neck etc. and picked her up and cradled her in her arms. Then, she cleared her throat and said loudly to her husband, who was still driving “I’ve had the baby”. To which he replied “WHAT? I didn’t hear a thing”.