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Fascinating flooring

30 April, 2004 at 2:28 pm by belgianwaffle

If you consult the pictures of our infant daughter on my photoblog, you will see that she is a messy eater. We have wooden floors which really should be revarnished so the constant addition of water and random food to the floor surface is not ideal. I suppose it wouldn’t be ideal under any circumstances but with the floors needing revarnishing, things do tend to leave marks (we have a trail of vaseline handprints on our bedroom floor from when the Princess managed to get hold of a tub of the stuff and smear it all over herself).

I thought that I would go to IKEA and get a cheap, tasteful, washable floor covering which we could put on the dining room floor. I got to IKEA and, you know what, tasteful and washable don’t really go together. So I thought that I would get a cheapish rug which we could dispose of when the Princess learned to eat without scattering debris. IKEA is not as cheap as all that. The rugs in the size I wanted were about 600 euros. Imagine then my delight when I found one for 80 euros. True, it looked a bit like underlay, but it looked robust also. I snapped it up.

I brought it home. I explained my reasoning to Mr. Waffle over the phone.

“Hmm,” he said, “I don’t know if a rug is what we need, but for 8 euros, I suppose you can’t go wrong”.
“Umm, no, not 8 euros, 80.”

Horrified silence.  “You shouldn’t have told me that. I mean all we really needed was a square of lino for under her high chair”.

“Actually, it’s called vinyl flooring these days”

When he came home, he took one look at the rectangular, dark green rug and said “Ah, the 80 euro putting green”

And, inevitably, it’s a bit of a disaster, whereas before debris could be swept up or mopped up, now we have to get out the hoover after every meal.  Also, given that it has the texture of underlay, it is a little rough on the royal knees.  I may have to take it up, I suppose what I really need is a square of lino.


on 30 April 2004 at 18:16

It’s true. Never correct the other half in matters of cash. It’s safer. That’s assuming of course you keep the accounts under tight lock and key. It’s safer.
Oh well – I suppose you meant well eh?


on 03 May 2004 at 14:59

You two want me to deceive my husband…never!

Thank you for not smoking

28 April, 2004 at 4:21 pm by belgianwaffle

A series of unrelated ramblings which are all, somewhat tenuously, connected by my family (no pun intended).

My sister is thinking of changing her phone number. She has only just got it, but it appears that the previous owners were bad debtors. She has been fielding calls all week from annoyed credit agencies. On Saturday night she got a call asking whether she would take “a collect call from Will”. She doesn’t know any Will, so she said no and hung up. A couple of minutes later she got another call would she “take a collect call from Will?”. She said no and hung up. The phone rang again would she take a “collect call from Will”? She decided that unless she spoke to Will, this could go on all night so she said “ok”. A recorded voice then told her “please be aware that this call is being made from inside Cook County correctional facility”. She decided not to talk to Will after all. Clearly, these people were very bad debtors.

Things continue to be uneventful on the job front. Got this email from my brother:

“How are you, are you job hunting like crazy or has the extended period of  unemployment induced apathy? How’s the Princess getting on, has she done anything that a godfather should know about like walk, talk, got teeth/hair, or got a new job (at this rate she’ll probably enter the labour market before you)”

I am beginning to feel that he might be right.

My mother has laughed cruelly at our holiday plans. “Why on earth would you stay in Dungarvan?” she asked between snorts of hysterical laughter. I appreciate that Dungarvan may not have the cachet of West Cork or the wilds of Kerry but, I’m sure it will be lovely. While I’m speaking of West Cork cachet, I heard the following mildly amusing story about one of the local hotels in Schull. The hotel bar was open on Good Friday which it shouldn’t have been (Ireland is a catholic country in fits and starts). The car park was full to bursting as parched punters from all over the county turned up for an illicit pint. They furtively drank their drinks in the full knowledge that by being on the premises they were committing a variety of offences.  However, there was one offence that was not committed, the car park was full of smokers dutifully complying with the smoking ban and having their fags outside.

Finally, went to the paediatrician the other day where the Princess was pronounced healthy and bouncing. She weighs 8.3kgs, measures 72cms and got a shot. That was very traumatic for me, but she didn’t seem to mind much. She opened her mouth to howl and her face went ominously purple but then she decided not to bother. My daughter is the picture of bravery.


on 28 April 2004 at 18:42

Who would have thought Dungarvan would have an official website – how the times are a changin’. I don’t have a problem with the place myself – though I suppose it lacks a bit of glamour alright. When are you heading over?
By the way, your brother was a bit cheeky wasn’t he? Personally I think he deserves your wrath more than your sister…silveretta: pavement smoking is alive and well, and yes at times you have to fight your way through the crowds. Still delighted with the ban though.


on 29 April 2004 at 14:58

Actually, haven’t been in Ireland since the smoking ban arrived (well, was there for day 1 but then hightailed it back to Belgium) so am not really sure what it’s like…but am very enthused by forcing unfortunate smokers out into the rain.
Locotes, do you have a younger brother…they’re all like that – am struck by a sudden thought – you are a younger brother, aren’t you?


on 29 April 2004 at 21:50

I sound like an older brother? No you were right the first time – I do have a younger brother. He’s more a messy slob…though he can be a cheeky bastards as well now I think about it.Well if you’re a non-smoker you HAVE to get out and about and make the most of it. A great feeling. Even more amusing to watch friends depart on their lonesome to the cold outside. Har har. Not that I laugh in their face or anything. That’s just rude.


on 30 April 2004 at 08:57

Yes, indeed, the younger brother, Cork model, your only man. Can’t wait to see smoking ban in operation. Am a cruel fascist non-smoker. Clearly.

Famous to 15 people

23 April, 2004 at 10:27 am by belgianwaffle

As I seem to spend a lot of time in the car and my books on tape are all finished, I was listening to the World Service again the other day (I know, it’s like a terrible affliction). There was a programme on blogging. I particularly liked this comment:

“The artist Andy Warhol believed that everyone would be famous for fifteen minutes, but now – say the wits – with a weblog everyone can be famous to at least fifteen people.”


And I finished “The Dante Club”. And it is brutally disappointing. In my heart of hearts, I know it is going to be made a huge Hollywood blockbuster, just to spite me. Like bloody “Cold Mountain”.

And finally, from this week’s London Review of Books:

“Summer, 1974. Everybody was kung fu fighting.  Not me, I was revising the sociology of Paulo Freire.  Who’s laughing now, sixth-formers of Sherbourne Fields School, Coundon?  Mortgage-free M and perennial Friends Reunited outcast.  Box no. 06/06”

French leave

23 April, 2004 at 10:13 am by belgianwaffle

Yesterday, an old friend of mine came to visit, she’s staying in Brussels for a couple of days. We used to live together in Brussels when we were both young, free and single and now we are both married with babies. Odd.

Her little girl is two months old and narrowly escaped being called Calypso. Luckily for her, her Da put his foot down.  Anyhow, she and her Mama arrived yesterday, beautifully turned out.  I was wearing my slippers (I can explain, I can explain, now that the Princess is crawling and eating off the floor, we wear slippers indoors in an endeavour to keep the floor clean, tragic, I know, what’s worse is, the other day I put on my leather jacket – note the trendiness of this for added bathos – tossed my handbag over my shoulder, tucked the Princess under my arm, went out to the car parked across the road and only then realised that I was still wearing my slippers: a double tragedy, firstly, the humiliation and, secondly, it means that my slippers are now contaminated). The Princess was going for that trendy tights over t-shirt and pulled up to the chest look.  Frankly, we were not at our bright and beautiful best.

Two month old baby E was wearing an adorable pink hat, matching pink babygro and tights and little white boots. She looked beautiful. I suppressed a deep sigh of envy as her Mama gave me a fab MaxMara coat to hang up.  Important point of clarification, coat belonged to Mama. However, baby was dressed head to foot in Jacadi so suspect that her outfit cost only marginally less. Mama is French, so, for that matter is baby. When the Princess was born, guess who gave her her only baby Dior outfit? I used to shop with Mama when we lived together and she always impressed by her unerring ability to pick out clothes that suited her. That girl never bought a dud, I on the other hand, am a dud purchaser par excellence. I remember particularly vividly the shocking pink pumps and matching handbag which I bought in a moment of madness and subsequently gave to the delighted 5 year old daughter of a colleague.

Mama is back to work next month. They only get 2 and a half months paid maternity leave in France. Which is extraordinary. This is almost American in its parsimony. Even in England, where let’s face it they are not known for the wonderfulness of their “social contract” they get six months. I thought that the absolute minimum was three months as set by the all benevolent European Union. Maybe even now, the Commission is preparing a case against France for its general rottenness on this point. On the plus side, Mama is a civil servant and so gets 53 days paid leave a year. Yes, 53, this is not a typo. She tends to take a long weekend every week during the summer and a month in Summer, two weeks in Winter and a couple of other weeks when pressure of work allows. If you are really busy, you take just your statutory minimum (20 days everywhere in Europe, I think – Americans, read and weep) and you save up your other days and after 6 years, you take a year’s paid sabbatical. Nifty eh? Which doesn’t stop the maternity leave being rotten.

Anyhow, M’s husband was made redundant just before her baby was born, which is obviously not great. On the plus side, he has got a decent payment and is available for baby minding. They decided to bottle feed and so split the night into shifts but now, baby E is sleeping through the night anyway. Bitter, me? M prepared a bottle for baby E and saying, kindly but firmly “no bottle without a bib” placed it in view while she tied a sparkling white velvet bib around her baby’s throat. Young E took this very well, my experience of babies is that normally once they see the bottle, they do not brook delay, but baby E is a saint. She then drank her bottle, without drooling, sat up and failed to regurgitate anything on to her mother’s black (the extraordinary risk…) outfit.  M showed me a barely visible stain on the neck of the bib and asked “Do you have trouble getting out these stains? I can’t seem to find anything that works.” I was hard pressed to answer.  All of the Princess’s bibs are stained red from tomato sauce or pink from some of her other clothing running in the wash

(speaking of which, had a nervous 1950s moment the other day –

Me – Dear, you know your Yves Saint Laurent shirt?

Mr. W – Yes (tone of deep foreboding) why?

It had emerged lilac from the wash, my husband is not the kind of man to buy a lilac shirt. In fact, mildly surprised that he would buy a YSL shirt, let alone a lilac one.

Me – Um, what colour is it?

Mr. W – A kind of pale purple.

Well, fancy that, how little we know our life’s partners.)

I opted for a truthful, “well, we use a plastic bib now”.

Further French childcare problems.  Apparently, there has been a baby boom since 2000 and the authorities are completely unprepared. Having spent years trying to persuade the populace to have babies and offering all kinds of incentives, they seem to be deeply surprised that it has worked. Anyway in M’s corner of Paris, only 20% of creche applications are successful, so everyone has to get a nanny. There is a special “share a nanny” website where you can find someone close to you to share the expense. They’ve found one, but it has to start in May. They can’t afford to lose the place in case M’s husband gets a job, so they’ve got to start then. It’s going to cost 800 euros a month and then there’s the rent on their flat which is, of course, extortionate and only one income. Ouch. Nevertheless, M is sanguine and has proposed that today we will stroll down the Avenue Louise looking at expensive baby clothes shops.

belgianwaffleon 24 April 2004 at 15:02Only if you’re a civil servant…is that comforting or not. I suppose not.

bluepoppy(Homepage)on 27 April 2004 at 16:03

Reading and weeping here. Yes, I knew there was such a thing as these magnificent European holidays, but dear god– 53 days .. ? It’s going to take me all day to get that out of my head– why did our ancestors EVER leave Europe?!! This americaine wants to know.

Beth(Homepage)on 28 April 2004 at 17:50

Oh my – I wish that 2 and a half months of paid maternity leave really were “almost American in its parsimony.” The standard in the U.S. is 6 weeks – unpaid.

belgianwaffleon 29 April 2004 at 15:11Poor bluepoppy…the whole American lack of leave is a source of constant shock to us over here. It’s appalling, it’s terrifying. But still, I suppose it means you use your holidays for thrilling things, i.e. not going to Dungarvan.
Beth, the US standard is dreadful. Truly, it is rotten. It is a wonder that American women have children at all. Is there any chance it will ever change? Yours in sympathy..

Beth(Homepage)on 30 April 2004 at 18:42

There was a new law passed a couple years back that enabled most women to take up to 12 weeks off for maternity leave (along with a few other reasons like adoption and family illness) but once again it is unpaid. Many women can’t manage 3 months without a paycheck. I can’t imagine a national paid maternity leave plan would ever make it – social welfare programs just aren’t a priority. Just another of the many reasons I want to move to Paris!

belgianwaffleon 03 May 2004 at 14:58Move to the UK for excellent mat leave though…

Mostly listening

20 April, 2004 at 4:10 pm by belgianwaffle

Just polished off the following 3, b’day pres from sister in law the publishing exec:

“Jude the Obscure” by Thomas Hardy – could this be more depressing?

“Jamaica Inn” by Daphne Du Maurier – enthusiastic review elsewhere

“The Mill on the Floss” by George Eliot – have a bit of difficulty with George Eliot, I did “Silas Marner” for the Leaving and frankly, learning that maudlin, depressing tome in detail when I was 17 put me right off George Eliot.  However, I met a guy at a party who convinced me that I had misjudged her and had to read “Middlemarch” which, he said was fantastic. I did and I didn’t like it much: So, I approached “The Mill on the Floss” with some trepidation. It is beautifully written (or, abridged, given that I heard it on tape) and I did actually enjoy it, but it was a bit depressing. Should I try further George Eliot? I just don’t know.

Anyway, after the “Mill on the Floss” finished, I tuned into the World Service and there was an interview with Tracey Emin which was mildly interesting as the Glam Potter knew her at college. She, Tracey Emin, was on a programme called “Masterpiece”. If I were the GP, I think I would die of envy, but she is a better person than me, so doubtless will bear it with equanimity. Is most unfair though because, if you ask me, GP is infinitely more talented.

And finally, read a mildly amusing book called “Mortification: Writers’ stories of their public shame“. The motto appears to be, if you are a writer, avoid book readings. I gather from this book, that everyone else avoids them anyway and must confess, I have never been to one myself.

And, finally, on things cultural, due to my contacts in the diplomatic underworld, I have managed to get various Irish Presidency goodies, including 2 CDs containing, allegedly, the best of up and coming Irish music.  Frankly, not as restful as you might expect…but not bad either. If anyone is interested, I might be bothered to list some of the 32 offerings that it is felt represent the best of new Irish music, since, as far as I can see, they don’t rate a mention on the Pres website.

Blog crisis

20 April, 2004 at 4:06 pm by belgianwaffle

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have a crisis.  I didn’t read the rules on sweeties. I thought that you got a new supply every week. Was wondering why I hadn’t got any new ones and read the rules.  I have nothing at all interesting or sweetie worthy to post, so am sweetie bereft.  Can you get sweeties on credit?

Yours in anxious anticipation,


(Jojo, wouldn’t it be a good idea to give everyone a couple every week, go on, please…)

belgianwaffleon 24 April 2004 at 15:02

You are as kind as you are (I’m sure) beautiful.


19 April, 2004 at 8:58 am by belgianwaffle

Thierry made me do it.

1.Grab the nearest book.

2. Open the book to page 23.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.


Il y a l’amour bien sûr.  Et puis il y a la vie son ennemie.

“Ardèle” Jean Anouilh

No, I’’m not really reading a French playwright.  It’’s just that the “Oxford Dictionary of Quotations” was the nearest book to hand.


on 20 April 2004 at 09:28

Very appropriate. Like your responses very much.



on 23 April 2004 at 00:01

I like it when you have nothing better to do!…


on 23 April 2004 at 09:34

Thanks Thierry…

A false dawn

17 April, 2004 at 2:09 pm by belgianwaffle

The Princess slept from seven to seven last night.  Rejoice.


on 18 April 2004 at 02:16

Bloody hell. That birthday must have taken more out of her than we all thought. She’s hopped from attention-needing baby to bed-loving layabout like myself in the space of a day!
Now all I have to do is read a bit of that waste report and I’ll be ready for 12 hours myself…


on 19 April 2004 at 15:19

Hmm, Jack, don’t know about the Cork waste plan, a little terrifying, no?
Locotes, she woke up at 5.00 this morning so all is not entirely sorted, but definitely getting there..


on 19 April 2004 at 15:25

What?!? You don’t trust those nice, faceless, managerialist type people who want to incinerate things – eveything, burns baby! – and train the noble savages of the local population to reduce, recycle and reuse?
I’m shocked 🙂


on 19 April 2004 at 15:38

Dreadful, isn’t it?

Sibling rivalry

15 April, 2004 at 1:56 pm by belgianwaffle

I talked to my sister yesterday as she was taxiing back to the office after her trip to Canada.  She’s just moved into her new flat in Chicago and is most pleased with herself.  I asked whether she was going to finish off her unpacking this week and she said that she thought not.  Why not?  She has to go to Mexico for a couple of days tomorrow.

“It’s only work” she said.

But still, very exotic.

“You know” she said “really important people get not to travel”.

Yes, I know, but still.

“Will you be able to get a flight to get you back Friday night so’s you can finish your unpacking?”

Mild hesitation “well, yeah, probably, because I’m getting the company plane”.

I see.

“Anyway, what have YOU been doing today?”

“Well, let me see, I spent about half an hour lying on my stomach in the hall trying to fish out with a hanger the following things which the Princess had let fall into the lift shaft – a rubber ball, a plastic book and my car keys.”

“Oh, right.  Well, how’s the job hunt going?”

“I got a rejection letter today from a leading firm of consultants, it said

‘We have given your application thorough consideration, but regret to inform you that, in spite of your excellent qualifications and outstanding experience, we have no position corresponding to your particular skills.
However, we have not doubt that, with your experience and professional expertise, you will soon find the challenge you are looking for.'”

“Well,” she said gamely, “that’s quite a positive rejection”

“It was addressed to Mr., do you think that they really gave my application thorough consideration”

“Er, no, probably not then.  Reading anything good?”

“Not really, just finished ‘Jude the Obscure’ on tape in the car.  He dies but not before all his children commit suicide”

“You know, I’m just arriving, maybe talk to you at the weekend…”



on 17 April 2004 at 11:15

Yeah and everyone gets fungal infections from the water in Mexico city…. And the food is only middling.


on 17 April 2004 at 14:06

Thanks gentlemen. I am cheered by your comments – I am a bad sister…


on 18 April 2004 at 18:59

No. You are a good sister. If she were my sister, I’d block her calls.


on 19 April 2004 at 15:39

Did I mention that she’s my younger sister?

Loving publishing

14 April, 2004 at 12:18 pm by belgianwaffle

The sun is shining.  The works on our road are nearly finished.  The ominous looking spots which appeared on our daughter’s torso last night have faded. The paediatrician said it was probably just “un petit virus” and she is fine.  All is rosy.

Sister-in-law, the publishing executive, came to stay for Easter.  She is godmother to the Princess and came specially for her birthday, we were suitably pleased. I find the publishing exec fascinating.  She always comes bearing manuscripts. Yes, things that are going to be books. Fancy!  And you get to see her name in the acknowledgements.  And she gets to go to book launch parties and (when pressed by me to say whether she’s seen anyone glam) she says things like “Zadie Smith came too, apparently she left Alain de Botton’s “Status Anxiety” party early to be there” or “I saw Salman Rushdie and Martin Amis chatting and there’s something you don’t see often”. Yes, for a whole range of reasons.  It’s all very thrilling. Though I’m sure she really enjoyed staying in with us on Saturday night and re-watching “Bridget Jones’s Diary” on VT4. I like to think that she regards her trips to Belgium as a sort of rest cure.

Publishing is a different world.  One of the editors in their publishing house left and took an author with her. Why? Well no one else at our house really loved him.  I mean, when accountants leave firms and they take clients with them, is it because no one else in the firm really loved big biz inc.?  Really, isn’t working in publishing fantastic? You get paid to love your authors and sit around all day reading their books. In the evening you go to glittering literary events.  You get copies of books free with the words “uncorrected bound proof – not for sale or quotation” on the front.  What could be better than that?

I must say, however, that the pub. exec., is very devoted to her job and dutifully loves all her publishing house’s authors (well, almost all, they publish some authors even a mother couldn’t love). It was for this reason that, on Sunday evening, we drove to a remote and unusually unattractive Flemish hamlet which features in one of their books. It was, I concede, only slightly out of our way.  And, though it was ghastly, she was charmed. Very endearing.  Some day that girl will make a wonderful editor: she loves her authors.

“Home thoughts from abroad”

12 April, 2004 at 10:03 pm by belgianwaffle

We get Le Soir at the weekend.  This weekend the colour supplement had an article about how cool Dublin is.  It was slightly bizarre to see what the Belgians make of Dublin.  On the whole, it wasn’t what you would call entirely accurate.  Bono was described as a sort of patron saint of the city which, I suspect, locals would find particularly irritating.  Certainly, I did, but then, I’m from Cork, so I can’t speak for them.  Most of the article was about Temple Bar and how hip it is.  Well, yes, in a sort of full of pubs and stag parties kind of way.  Mostly locals wouldn’t be seen dead there.  However, some merited praise of the Powerscourt Centre as a shopping location of interest.  Didn’t mention at all some of the best things about Dublin like the boardwalk on the Liffey or, star sight (though a trifle inaccessible) the Casino Marino.  Latter not very hip I suppose, but strolling on the former, definitely is.  Lots of quotes from author Marian Keyes who was Mr. Waffle’s next door neighbour when he was growing up, so felt very well-connected ourselves.

First Birthday

12 April, 2004 at 11:28 am by belgianwaffle

The princess has turned one today.  Incredible.  I have spent the last couple of days saying “Remember this time last year?” I really can’t believe that she’s one.

Like the Queen she is going to have an official birthday and a real one. Today will be just a private family celebration. In a couple of weeks there will perhaps be a brunch where she will crawl among her minions and shake hands with people offering her posies.


on 12 April 2004 at 21:39

Hey there – thank you. You will never guess what but, yes, last night she slept from midnight to seven (there were a couple of whimpers but nothing to get me up). This is the longest I have stayed in bed since this time last year. Am ecstatic.


on 12 April 2004 at 22:22

Well Happy Birthday to herself. Maybe the extra sleep was in preparation for all the partying and general frivolity she’s planning on having. I presume those pictures of her on the phone were invitations to the aforementioned minons – with detailed instructions on how big the gifts must be before entry is allowed and the birthday rusks can be consumed.


on 16 April 2004 at 08:55

You are so right Locotes. There may, however, be brownies for the royal birthday. Rusks, ha!

“The noise, my dear, and the people”

9 April, 2004 at 3:46 pm by belgianwaffle

We live in a very noisy place.  Obviously, we didn’t think this when we moved in. Our street seemed a quiet backwater.  It’s not.  It’s a short cut for every car in Belgium.  We are on a corner near a junction.  Junctions are exciting places in Belgium. They take their right-of-way rules very seriously.  As Mr. Waffle puts it, “being Belgian means you never have to look left”. This, inevitably, leads to a huge number of tips and near misses and our junction, which features a blind corner, is a great place to have them.  And then there is the lorry which comes and delivers oil to the building across the road at 6 in the morning.  Loudly.  And our bins are collected on Wednesday morning and (cruel) Saturday morning.

During the Summer, somewhere near us, there is a disco venue for the young people.  When they emerge drunken, dehydrated and deafened, they need a place to meet.  They select the doorstep of our building. It’s on a corner and it’s distinctive.  We are looking forward to hearing the following dialogue on Friday and Saturday nights from May onwards (all conducted at top volume, obviously, because they’ve just emerged from a loud, loud club):

Where’s the car again?

I dunno, did anyone see Vero?

I think I’ll just lie here on the road.

Wow, look at the stars.

Where’s Vero?

Will we see if we can walk on top of the cars?

Did I mention that we live in an old building and so, apparently, it’s not possible to fit double glazing.  All the better to hear the excitement outside…

Meanwhile our neighbours also contribute their mite.  The annoying German lady listens to the telly in her bedroom (directly above ours) at top volume. We are sick of German detective shows.  The other night, there was a big bang, as though the telly had been chucked on the floor) and the noise stopped. Maybe she is sick of German detective shows too. The Belgians on the ground floor play electric guitar from 10.00 pm on.  I feel that it may be either spouse but Mr. Waffle feels it must be him because only a man would still be trying to master Dire Straits numbers 20 years after they were originally released.  A compelling argument, I concede.  And this morning at 9.30, the woman downstairs began using her drill.  I suppose, to be fair, trapped between Dire Straits and screaming baby, she felt she had to make some kind of protest.

Also, for one week only, our street is being dug up to put in new lighting.  Excellent, a pneumatic drill.

Is it any wonder our baby doesn’t sleep at night?



on 11 April 2004 at 03:27

Tu peux tenter de faire comprendre ? tes voisins qu’ils ne vivent pas seuls dans l’immeuble et que le tapage “diurne” est aussi prohib? que le “nocturne.
Nous avons une vieille m?m? sourde comme un pot au-dessus de chez nous et ce fut la guerre pendant plusieurs mois avec elle.
Maintenant, ?? va mieux et nous avons conclu un accord avec elle: quand sa t?l? va trop fort, nous lui t?l?phonons et laissons sonner quelques secondes pour qu’elle baisse le son.
Le syst?me fonctionne assez bien !
Bon courage !


on 12 April 2004 at 02:18

So where was Vero??As for the noise…ouch. I don’t envy you. Being out in the country direction has it’s disadvantages (such as lacklustre public transport), but I always appreciate the total silence at night. Bliss. But I really shouldn’t be rubbing it in….sorry.


on 12 April 2004 at 11:06

Vesper, don’t know about very interesting…you are kind.
Thierry, merci pour le conseil, may take courage in my hands and tackle neighbours downstairs, but German lady is just too scary. Impressed with your v. practical arrangement with your elderly neighbour.
Locotes, she was obviously straggling out of the nightclub waking up the people round the corner. Guess what though – Princess slept from midnight to 7 this morning. Am delighted.


9 April, 2004 at 3:27 pm by belgianwaffle

A bitter disappointment, I can tell you.  By Michael Frayn.  Nominated for all kinds of things. About art history and Belgium, both of which rank high among my areas of interest. But no, not entertaining.  Narrator is dull and unconvincing and extremely annoying. Having much better fun with “Jude the Obscure” on tape.  Odd, but true.

And the LRB has arrived again. This week’s small ad winner is for the boys:

“You may be a sharp dresser, you may be a fantastic dancer, you may be a lively conversationalist. Or you may be a vo-coded stalking eighties moron. Whichever way, I’ll take you. Woman, 37, seeks…well, just seeks. Box no. 07/03”.

Finally, went to the Khnopff exhibition.  Frankly, not for me. I don’t even like Klimt much and he’s a lot better (a symbolist too, apparently). Khnopff’s big inspiration was his sister Marguerite. Marguerite had a big chin. All of Khnopff’s paintings feature women with big chins. A little creepy, if you ask me. “Desperate Dan in a dress” is the view of the Glam Potter.


on 10 April 2004 at 12:16

Really? Is spies wonderful? Am a little nervous at this point. Nevertheless may give it a go, if I am feeling v. brave. Tell me, what’s your relationship with ChaOtic? Yours in mild confusion..

With it

6 April, 2004 at 10:54 pm by belgianwaffle

Present from sister-in-law the publishing exec. It’s a book on tape – abridged version of Daphne du Maurier classic and most enjoyable. Sat in the car listening to it after I’d parked.  The ultimate accolade.  May rush out and buy “Hungry Hill” which is supposed to be excellent and has the added (enormous) advantage that it is set in Cork.

It also makes a refreshing change from the World Service (as the Glam Potter points out, it’s really designed for people whose first language is not English and in consequence they always speak very slowly and enunciate very clearly and, if your first language actually is English, they will, eventually, drive you – slowly and clearly – insane), Radio Contact and Bel RTL (can’t really be bothered finding a link, I know you’re not going to look) which are my usual staples in the car.  Though, an unexpected advantage of the Radio Contact service was that I was recently able to wow Mr. Waffle with my knowledge of what the young people are listening to.  We were looking at a list of mobile ringtones you could download (just out of interest, you know, we don’t get out much any more etc.) and he had never heard any of the offerings whereas I was able to hum most of them.  If God is a DJ, tum ti tum..


6 April, 2004 at 10:29 pm by belgianwaffle

You may have noticed that the Princess is bald.  Go on, have a look at the photos.  This comes from me.  I was bald for ages.  I was on the phone to my mother the other day and I asked her when I got hair and she said pensively “well, you certainly had hair by the time you were four”.  Not really as comforting as it might be.

And my hair grows very slowly.  I had my first haircut when I was 12 and it only just reached my shoulders.  This is true.  No really.  Even now, I only get my hair cut three times a year. This is partly because my hair grows slowly and partly because each visit to the hairdresser’s is fraught with trauma.  The following are my fears in order of priority:

My hair will look dreadful when I emerge blinking in the sunlight (almost always realised)

Someone will see me sitting in the window of the hairdressers wearing a stupid overall and with my wet hair pulled back from my face looking like death warmed up (funnily enough, never realised, not even when I was living in Cork and stepping out the door normally entailed running into a dozen of my mother’s closest friends).

I will have to chat to the hairdresser (almost always realised – not you might think, an enormous problem for a talker like me, but for reasons I cannot really explain, I always end up lying to them: when I was working, I felt that they wouldn’t be interested in my job (or worse, be too interested and want something explained or sorted) so I pretended to be between jobs and now that I’m unemployed, I feel that they might think that I’m the wife of a rich businessman living it high on the hog with no obligations so I sort of invent occupations for myself; I then spend the time in the chair in an advanced state of tension trying both to keep my story consistent and to see what the back of my head looks like).

How will I hand over my tip (I mean to give it to this person for whom I have gone to the trouble of fabricating a whole false existence and with whose wedding plans I am now very familiar seems insulting, like tipping a friend of a friend; however not to tip is, I know, an even greater insult so I hand over my tip at the cash desk and mutter “that’s for x who cut my hair” and feel nervously that I’m doing the wrong thing).

It will cost a small fortune (almost always realised except for the time I got my head shaved.  That only cost a fiver but the effect was not happy.  I remember going to the pub that night with my then boyfriend: I had no hair and a rotten cold so I looked marvellous – bald and snuffly.  I said “I look terrible”.  “No, no” he said reassuringly “you look really cool – with the hair and the sniff, you could be a drug dealer”.  Fantastic, that relationship was clearly doomed.  It was also sporting that haircut that I went out with three friends of mine who were sisters.  We bumped into a friend of their’s who said “finally, I get to meet your little brother”.  “Um, no actually I’m a GIRL, unrelated and finished school” I said bitterly).

So today, I went to get my hair cut.  I haven’t had it cut since December so, sadly, I realised it was time. I went to this place my friend F recommended.  She said that this place was good if you want to look like a bourgeois Belgian “you know, shortish, blondish”. In my heart of hearts, I really do want to look like a bourgeois Belgian so I took myself off to Olivier Dachkin on the Rue de Tongres which apparently is the original branch of the chain where the great Olivier himself snips from time to time.
When I arrived, this very nice male hairdresser came up and discussed what style I might go for, it was all going suspiciously well.  “And of course” said he “you will need highlights”. “Um no, I wasn’t really thinking of highlights” “But you must, it will look wonderful”.  He was kind of convincing, I was weak, I said ok and sat for half an hour with tin foil on my hair. The girl who did them said “it’s very original that you’ve gone for these wide streaks”. My heart sank, “original”, does that sound bourgeois Belgian to you?

Downstairs, I saw that my nice male hairdresser appeared to be working exclusively on little old ladies, I further noticed that unlike all the other hairdressers, he was not wearing a red shirt with Olivier Dachkin on it and he was bossing people around. Could it be that he was the great Olivier himself?  Well whoever he was he abandoned me and consigned me to a woman who gave me an alright haircut, I confess, but I wasn’t really in the mood to appreciate the quality of the cut because I was transfixed by the zebra stripes on my head. The man who may or may not be the great Olivier came over and ruffled my hair and said “isn’t it fabulous?” I smiled cravenly.

Tonight I asked Mr. Waffle what he thought. “Very nice” he said without hesitation.  “What makes you say that?” I asked. “Fear”. I see. Oh well, it’s all over until August, though I suspect that those highlights will grow out in a very exciting fashion.

Tipping point

4 April, 2004 at 9:28 pm by belgianwaffle

It seems to me that often when I start doing something everyone else is suddenly doing it too. I’m not sure whether this is due to product awareness (once I start doing it I notice it everywhere) or because I am a sort of middle of middle person (i.e. once I start doing it 51% of the population is doing it). Does everyone else feel like this too? If so, there may be money in Mr. Waffle’s suggestion of starting a website called “Isaiditfirst.com”. The theory is you can register your idea and when everyone is talking about it, you point to this website and say “Yes, now, you know all about it, but I was talking about this last November”. My problem is no one ever remembers me talking about it last November. Isaiditfirst.com remedies this problem. I’d like to register now that the latest Belgian ads saying “Un carrefour, ce n’est pas la jungle” are a pointless extravagance. As far as Belgians are concerned, that’s exactly what a crossroads is and stopping on orange will continue to be regarded by fellow drivers as a mortal sin. Apparently they are going to hang plastic monkeys from traffic lights at particularly dangerous junctions. Frankly, can you see this working?

All this talk about tipping point and such like is inspired by today’s Observer which I got to read due to the Princess’s unexpected nap. There is an article about Belle de Jour and blogging and stuff. Now, it seems to me that there are articles about blogging everywhere. Did I just skim over them before I started myself? The man in the Observer thinks that we’re all rampant ego maniacs. Surely some mistake. Furthermore, in the magazine bit, there’s a big feature on Carla Bruni. Now, Carla Bruni is massive in Belgium, so I suppose it’s not a big surprise that I have her album, but apparently she is just about to try cracking the UK market. Isaiditfirst.com. All you cool 20six music buffs will loath her, kind of a French Norah Jones gentle background music. Likely to be big though. Incredibly beautiful and surrounded by the kind of scandal adored by gossip mags.

Lovely Lier

4 April, 2004 at 6:45 pm by belgianwaffle

Today we went to Lier for the day.  We were able to do this because I had gone to mass last night.  Today is Palm Sunday: longest mass of the year.  I went to a very long mass involving processions, palms, longest gospel of the year and a sermon (this last is usually skipped in Ireland, they know how much the congregation can bear).  Arrived home, late and exhausted, clutching my palm (some kind of laurel in this part of the world, we use pine at home, wonder does anyone actually use palm?). I was not, however, as exhausted as Mr. Waffle who had been heroically minding, feeding and entertaining the Princess at her crankiest time of day.

This talk of vigil mass reminds me of a story a friend of mine from Northern Ireland told me.  When he was a child in the 70s and the troubles were at their height he was whisked off to America for a holiday by kindly Americans with deep pockets.  Apparently six of them were chosen from his school by raffle.  I asked whether he had had to consort with Protestants “only on the plane” said he.  Obviously some of the good-natured Americans’ intentions were not realised.  Anyhow, being a catholic ten year old from the North, he was very catholic and, in those days, there was no Saturday night vigil mass in Ireland but there was in America.  He refused to believe that Saturday night mass counted and insisted on going on Sunday as well.  One Sunday, his American family was going on a trip and didn’t go to mass.  He was scandalised and refused to go until they had gone to mass.  Very challenging for our transatlantic cousins I’d say.

Anyhow, Lier.  If you are an English speaker, Belgium is full of entertaining town names.  Lier boasts the suburbs of Lisp and Lint and nearby are the towns of Boom, home to a clay pigeon shooting establishment, and Duffel, where they first made the coat.  If you want to live in the Brussels suburbs, you can choose to reside in, inter alia, Dworp or Erps-Kwerps (next week funny names from Wallonia – this is a politically correct website).

Lier is very pleasant although we were unable to fully appreciate its marvels as the Princess didn’t like it much and roared all afternoon.  An attempted stop for tea had to be hastily and humiliatingly abandoned as she was a bit noisy for the establishment. Arrived home and she went straight to bed for a nap, so spent the early evening perusing the Sunday papers.  Excellent, though I fear we will pay for it later.  Since we’ve got back from Cork, herself has only been waking 2-3 times per night.  On Wednesday night she only woke up once.  In case you didn’t know, this is excellent. Whether this exceptionally positive trend will continue or not is difficult to tell.  I bet you’re waiting for further news with bated breath.


on 05 April 2004 at 10:21

Bated breath indeed. You may relax in relation to your role in the syndicate, last night was typical. After she woke up for the fourth time it all became a bit of a blur but I think that she may have woken up 6 times. Deep sigh.


on 05 April 2004 at 11:06

No no no, I’m sure once you think about it clearly that it was definitely just the 4 times. No more. No less. Yeah?
*nudge nudge wink wink*Sorry for your sleepless night though – the joys eh?


on 06 April 2004 at 21:56

And another thing, Locotes, I bet you had to look up “revolving door”. And last night was only three times…


on 07 April 2004 at 08:26

Well of course I did, My Irish is of a typical pass level iffiness – “chuaigh me go dti an siopa, agus cheannaigh me aran agus bainne” – and that’s about all I have! Truthfully, for the ‘door’ one, I was just looking for some phrase that would suit the blogs that don’t fit anywhere else…
Ok, the Princess is having a laugh with me now – I might have to find something new to gamble on – the number of nappies used per day perhaps…


3 April, 2004 at 4:01 pm by belgianwaffle

A friend gave me a subscription to this publication.  I was most pleased.  It suits all my pretensions.   As I am fond of saying, my parents paid good money for these pretensions and I don’t see why I shouldn’t use them.  The first copy arrived last week and it is very hard.  Long, long book reviews.   Not bad in parts though (there’s damned with faint praise). We’re not going to throw it out when we’ve finished it, we’re going to pile old copies up in the spare room so that when my sister-in-law the publishing exec comes she can be impressed.

Am not sure that this is what the editors intended but the small ads are the best bit.  I mean, you may think I’m pretentious (think of the ballet lessons, the elocution classes), but what kind of person puts in the following:

“Am I the only one here writing personal ads to his imaginary childhood friend?  For the last time: are you a fourteen foot high Stegosaurus-Bagpuss cross breed with the voice of Ed Bishop, an ability to vaporise Sunday school martinets and turn cod liver oil into Vimto?  If you are out there Basil de Bumps, please answer.  Spoilt commitment-hungry only child, 38 (the sort who took his library books back before running away) needs help from therapeutic London F, more Jenny Hanley than Angela Carter.”

Note the use of the colon.  And they’re all like this.  Extraordinary.  By the by, if any 20sixers want to get back to this man you can reply to Box No 06/10.  I think I might make an extract from the LRB small ads a regular feature of this section. What do you reckon? And does anyone know what Vimto is?

By the by am reading “The Dante Club” following rave reviews and finding it bitterly disappointing so far.  Will update in due course.


on 03 April 2004 at 16:51

Vimto yum. They do fizzy vimto now. But it used to just be a cordial. Try it. You might like it

on 04 April 2004 at 18:36

Hmm. Thanks for enlightenment. Do you think I’d have to go to the UK to get some or do they sell it in the Delhaize?

More about me

3 April, 2004 at 3:44 pm by belgianwaffle

I received the following email from my friend C following my last posting:

“Welcome back to blogland. I was checking out your latest entry and I noticed a link called ‘More About Me’. Hilarious. A web site in which you talk endlessly about yourself and there’s room for a link called ‘More About Me’. Slightly disappointed that the link contains no more about you, apart from the fact that you’ve only been a twentysix user since November last year.”

Should I put in an update to keep C happy or is there really more than enough information available from my entries?  Hard to know. Would you like to know my interests and hobbies?  Do you care? Don’t you know that mostly my interests and hobbies consist of mopping up baby vom? Will this lure you in to read my entries?  Very hard to know.

Well, let me tell you more about me. I speak loudly and clearly.  This is a severe affliction to me. Particularly since I’m Irish and most Irish people speak in soft musical tones. I blame my father for this, when I was growing up he used to say to me “Her voice was soft and gentle and low, an excellent thing in a woman”. Not sure where the quote is from, probably John Knox, sounds like the kind of thing he’d say.  Anyway it used to drive me insane.  You know how it is, action/reaction.  Latest manifestation of this, occurred the other night in the cinema with the Glam Potter (Big Fish, since you ask, it was ok, and, no, I still haven’t seen Lost in Translation).  We were early and before the film started I began explaining to her my plans for the future and when we might move back to Ireland. All this arose because she has put her daughter down for school and am wondering whether I should do the same for the Princess or will we be back in Ireland by then.  School starts at two and a half in Belgium so the problem is reasonably imminent.  I digress.  I was expounding away and suddenly the GP hissed at me “Stop”. “What?” “Everyone in the cinema is listening to you because you’re speaking so loudly.” Oh dear, well I’m sure they were just rivetted by my future plans.. On the plus side, I am excellent at presentations, even the people right at the back can hear me.

On the new 20six platform, my background music will be very loud to drown out the sound of me muttering to myself. Well, actually, no. As a middle of the road music fan, I like my background music to be just that, sort of subdued Norah Jones. In fact when I was at home last week, I had to come down stairs in my pyjamas and ask my father to turn down his music. I grant you, that felt a little odd.

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