On Sunday morning we went to Mr. Waffle’s god-daughter’s first communion. She is half-Italian, half-Scottish but her first communion was all Italian. It is very odd to be in Italy in Belgium. We were all dressed up in our best clothes (suits ties, dresses, high heels, new shoes) but you always feel under-dressed beside well-dressed Italians. The service was lovely and I did think it would be nice to go to mass in a church like this where there was a real sense of community. I was also quite impressed by the robes the communicants wore (sort of like junior monks in white or as her mother put it, klu klux klan). In Ireland, little girls dress up like miniature brides (as I did with great delight in my day) in expensive white dresses and I feel that it undermines the spirituality of the occasion and also leads to quite extraordinary expense (see how middle aged I am?). We went back to the first communicant’s house for brunch after mass and I was most impressed to see that not only had her Italian grandparents come from Rome along with her aunt and uncle and three cousins aged 3,2 and 9 months but also her Scottish grandparents from Lewis which is a long way from Brussels and also pretty darn Protestant. And it was the middle of the lambing season too (the communicant’s grandfather having spent a satisfactory career in Glasgow as a dentist retired with his wife to the island where he was brought up and bought a sheep farm – impressed?). In our ex-pat Brussels world, we don’t often go to family celebrations as families are so scattered and there was something really lovely about this occasion. Also, the sun shone.
In the afternoon we went to my friend A’s house. He is a consultant by day and training to be a chef by night and was having a “mad hatter’s tea party”. We arrived to a house filled with canapés and afternoon tea delights. We had obeyed my friend’s instructions and turned up in costume: the king and queen of hearts, Alice and no prizes for guessing who got to be stereotyped as Tweedledum and Tweedledee. It was all very pleasant having scones with jam and clotted cream in the sun while the children negotiated the dizzyingly dangerous excitements of a bachelor pad (spiral stairs with open banisters! kitchen appliances at just the right height for little fingers! building materials in a side passage! balcony with parapet at knee height!).
I feel our social life has reached new heights.