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Archive for July, 2004

Bonnes vacances

29 July, 2004 at 9:29 am by belgianwaffle

Today we go on holidays. In the proper European tradition, we won’t be back until September 1. There is likely to be little blogging during this time, so if I were you, I wouldn’t bother checking here in August. On my return, a full account will be provided of two weeks in Ireland and the brother-in-law’s wedding in Sicily for which Mr. Waffle is already practising his best man speech. He is wandering round the house muttering “inanzitutto vorrei ringraziare – hey, are there any short words in Italian?”

Bonnes vacances then.

Comments

Locotes

on 29 July 2004 at 13:25

A whole month of holidays?? Bloody hell, it’s fine for some. Have a delightful time – I’ll keep an eye out for herself dragging you down Patrick’s Street. I might even give you a free paper – can’t say fairer than that. 😉
Have a great time!

silveretta

on 29 July 2004 at 18:43

‘Mille grazie – cin cin’ should probably do it, but enjoy yourselves anyway you lucky lucky people.

pipstar

(Homepage)

on 30 July 2004 at 03:12

Hello, I have been reading your site for a little while and love it. I don’t know what I will do with myself for the whole of August without your posts! You better have a fabulous holiday 🙂
Look forward to hearing all your stories!

dmts

on 30 July 2004 at 09:47

Have a fantastic time.

Thierrry

(Homepage)

on 31 July 2004 at 20:05

Bonnes vacances et ? bient?t !

belgianwaffle

on 01 September 2004 at 11:30

Thank you, thank you. Delightful time had by all. However, as discussed in post mountains of washing beckon and cannot rely on Princess sleeping indefinitely.

More shoes please

28 July, 2004 at 1:27 pm by belgianwaffle

This day three years ago, Mr. Waffle and I got married. Only fancy. It was the only fine day that summer. To celebrate, I thought I might list 10 of the reasons why my husband is perfect:

1. Because he is amusing and entertaining and, better again, he thinks I am amusing and entertaining.

2. Because he’s a genius and knows everything.

3. Because he is always on my side.

4. Because he has never once reproached me for my complete inability to get a job.

5. Because he never says – what do you do all day?

6. Because he is pleased when I spend his money on shoes.

7. Because he gets up at 7.00 with the Princess every Saturday and Sunday and during the week comes home from work and gives her her dinner.

8. Because he plans everything. And insists on getting faxed confirmation of all our bookings.

9. Because when he is annoyed, he grinds his teeth (that’s it, that’s the most annoyed he can do).

10.Because he, very sensibly, chose to marry me (see also point 2 above).

Minkleberry

on 28 July 2004 at 13:52

What a fabulous husband. I’m directing Jimi over. congratulations on your anniversary

silveretta

on 28 July 2004 at 15:42

And let’s not forget, of course, that he has a splendid name. Happy anniversary.

KateEvans

on 29 July 2004 at 01:06

Gosh, he sounds wonderful. Best wishes, you two.

belgianwaffle

on 29 July 2004 at 09:22

Thank you all very much. He is perfect though having to guage your husband’s mood by watching his chin can be tricky..

Locotes

on 29 July 2004 at 13:31

This Mr Waffle – he sounds a decent chap. Which always helps. Hearty congratulations on your three years. Did you get each other presents? Or did you just buy more shoes?

Sofa tragedy

27 July, 2004 at 10:29 pm by belgianwaffle

We have just had a sofa delivered. The best dressed diplomat and her husband are leaving Brussels and we bought their sofa (though we took most of their other stuff – the beanbag, the mobile phone, the wine, the champagne etc.). It arrived today. We had asked for an outside lift. The movers when they arrived had no lift. They said they would carry it up the stairs. They did. They got grease from the lift on the arms and back. Which is exactly what happened to our last sofa when our movers brought it up the stairs. Which is why it was rejected by the Salvation Army and now sits alone and dejected in our garage. The movers say that this was my fault because I didn’t tell them about the lift (and ok I feel a bit stupid) but I was upstairs when they brought it up and I assumed that because they are professionals (unlike the chancers who moved our stuff) they would have wrapped the sofa. I should have checked. Bitter, bitter, bitter. The best dressed diplomat and husband are gutted (because they are very nice souls) and arrived round this evening with flowers, strawberries and promises to claim on their insurance.Is this not very annoying?

And here, for good measure, is our last sofa:

Comments

belgianwaffle

on 27 July 2004 at 22:44

Have you seen my pics? They only reinforce the ghastliness of matters…

silveretta

on 27 July 2004 at 23:01

Nice lamp. Are throws fashionable in Belgium at all?

dmts

on 28 July 2004 at 08:05

I think they’re certainly going to be, silver.

belgianwaffle

on 28 July 2004 at 13:16

Hmm. Thanks people. I already have a throw but I wanted to give it to the Salvation Army but it looks like I may need to hang on to it a little longer..

adam_ball

on 17 August 2004 at 13:21

Bad luck – I witnessed our movers bodging a rectangular wardrobe through a doorway – widthways! Took three of them but they managed it in the end.

Cultural activities in Belgium

25 July, 2004 at 8:22 pm by belgianwaffle

Today the Princess (much recovered thank you) and I had fun at two unusual locations. Firstly, the musical instruments museum where she danced around the exhibits (hanging on to the handrail) with her headphones on to the amusement of myself and other punters and secondly, Bruxelles les bains where we spent the afternoon at the seaside. Brussels is a two hour drive from the coast but for the next month they have closed off a quay on the canal filled it up with sand (imported from beaches on the north sea) and exotic food stalls and turned it into Brussels on sea.  The Princess loved it. She was particularly keen on the water feature which was a series of fountains.  A number of children were running through them in their swimming togs regardless of the chilly weather. The Princess wanted to run through them too and, with help from me, to her enormous delight, she ran before she could walk. We both got a bit damp but only one of us has a sore back.

I decided we would dine at the seaside and I bought a range of goodies which I thought might tempt her highness. She was not impressed.  She sniffed at the tortilla, pointed out that she had already had a boiled egg today and asked whether I wasn’t worried about her cholesterol levels.  The empanada was alright she conceded.  Then she caught sight of an olive. She pointed at it imperiously.  Being as putty in her hands, I passed it over and held my hand under her chin to catch it when she spat it out (I love the glamour that comes with motherhood).  To my astonishment she loved it.  She ate all the olives and lamented when they were gone.  Is this not odd?  She is clearly born to be a party girl, she can survive on olives alone.  All I can say is, I hope she is not ill tonight from a surfeit of olives.

Comments
silveretta

on 26 July 2004 at 12:38

Has she been watching her mother in action by an chance?

belgianwaffle

on 26 July 2004 at 12:58

DX, do you think they count as a portion of veg? Silveretta, fat chance, alas.

Friar Tuck

on 27 July 2004 at 00:03

I’m no expert on child pyschology, but could it be that Princess already knows that July in Belgium mean mussels? She was probably expecting mosselen, frieten and a cold Hoegaarden.

belgianwaffle

on 27 July 2004 at 22:48

FT, um, no, no musssels in a month without an r. Unless, of course you mean Zeeland mussels?

Elves and illness

24 July, 2004 at 2:18 pm by belgianwaffle

I saw the Lord of the Rings on DVD last night. Very good.  Mr. Waffle rang at one point.

Him – Hi, it’s me.

Me – This isn’t really a great time.  They’ve just reforged the sword of Elendil.

Him – (Deep sigh – he’s not much of a Tolkien fan, why do you think I never saw it in the cinema?  He refused to take 3 hours of elves.)  I take it everything’s ok then?

Me – Yeah, fine.

At 11.30, the Princess started roaring.  I ran to her room to find her sobbing convulsively and when I picked her out of her cot, she was like a little oven.  I brought her into our room and fed her nurofen which she promptly threw up over herself, me and the bed and continued roaring.  I sponged her down. Still roaring.  I gave her a perdolan (paracetemol suppository).  Crying and shaking (her not me).  Anxious mother worries – is she having febrile convulsions?  But I held her in my arms and she started to calm down and after about half an hour fell asleep.  Put her back to bed.  Tried Mr. Waffle, phone out of range. Then worried that she hadn’t thrown up all the nurofen and that with the perdolan she might get liver damage.  Rang my unfortunate parents, who know about these things.  Roused them from their beds.  Got the boxes of medicaments and told them of the dosages.  Was reassured that she would be fine. Had I sponged her down? Yes.  With tepid water?  Yes.  Call again if there was a problem.  Went to bed.  Lay in bed.  Had the sponging water been tepid enough?  Maybe she was cold.  Went to her room.  Felt her arm and head.  She wasn’t cold but she did want to chat.  Burbled at me for half an hour and finally went back to bed at 2.00.  Woke promptly at 6.00 ready to face the day.  Poor little thing, she isn’t really 100% today but then neither am I.  I blame Tolkien.

Comments
Locotes

on 25 July 2004 at 19:36

No, I’d blame Mr W for not taking you to see LOTR in the cinema in the first place – then this whole mess could have been avoided. Oh yes.No offence intended here, and feel free to disagree, but I’ve noticed a few times now that you seem to worry easily about herself. Though I’m sure it’s fair enough that parents are quite anxious when it’s their first child. It’s just that I wonder if these episodes where she’s bawls her eyes out (possibly mortifying you at Belgian parades) are because she know’s you guys will come running and attend to her every desire. Is that fair of me to say?

ps – I notice that you’ve joined the ‘new background’ gang also – even more cosmopolitan than before! 😉

belgianwaffle

on 25 July 2004 at 20:02

Beth, she is not a Mr. Bloom fan, particularly not with those long golden tresses…must have been something else.
Locotes, alas, we are all too conscious that we readily give in to her whim of iron. We were discussing the other day whether we could change her habit of chucking her food overboard for the hell of it. This is our new target. So far, results have been poor, much wailing (on our part) and a refusal to eat (on hers) until she has been given the wherewithal to create a dreadful mess. Will keep you posted on how the battle of wills develops. So far Princess 1: Parents 0.
Yes am v. proud of background. You should try it, go on, you know you want to..

Locotes

on 25 July 2004 at 20:22

Maybe she’s an Aragorn kinda girl instead. Or Gimli even…he’d be more her size I suppose…Despite it all, I can’t help but admire herself’s innate feeling of self-worth and self-importance that any proper Corkonian feels. True, it makes your lives that smidgen more harder – but at least they’re qualities that will hold her in good stead in later life. I look forward to battle of wills updates. 😉

I had actually made a note of the code involved with backgrounds at least 6 months ago, but of course never got around to it (yet again living up to my blog name) – though I don’t know if 20six handle it easily now? I’ll have to wait until this blog-changing fuss dies down, I can’t be seen to follow the crowd. 😉

belgianwaffle

on 26 July 2004 at 12:57

Locotes, yes, I think you’re right, Gimli would be more her size and she would love that beard. Of course, she’s only half Cork, but yes, still showing through. Only changed my background because I found the option when I inadvertantly deleted my photo. But I am very proud of myself now and feel I am surfing the wave of youthful trendiness. If you had had it before it was easy to do, we would all have been very impressed but it’s too late now..

Locotes

on 26 July 2004 at 13:55

Don’t worry, your youthful trendiness has always been apparent.
So there is a new option for the background. Dang. There goes my opportunity to impress you all (as you so generously pointed out) – I’ll have to find something else now. Some sort of dancing art-loving squirrel perhaps…

belgianwaffle

on 27 July 2004 at 22:46

Loc, I LIKE the dancing squirrel. Impress us.

National Day

22 July, 2004 at 10:27 am by belgianwaffle

Yesterday was Belgian national day. Mr. Waffle was off work.  Everything was closed.  Stalls were put up.  Military hardware was paraded.  The royal family was out in force.  I only know this from last year because when we went into the Sablon to partake of this year’s fun, the Princess didn’t want to join in and howled continuously until we agreed to take her home again.  Trying.

And this evening Mr. Waffle leaves for his brother’s stag w/end (in Wales where a bunch of the lads will be running up Snowdon for fun – what an odd bunch – Mr. Waffle plans to take the train up, he’s not stupid, my husband) and he won’t be back until Sunday.  Woe.

Comments
belgianwaffle

on 22 July 2004 at 20:28

Um, is this one of your clever puns? If yes, alas, don’t get it. Very distressing. If no, I haven’t a clue, but suspect it is slow.

KateEvans

on 22 July 2004 at 20:34

I find silveretta’s clever puns distressing too. And now I’m jealous of your wallpaper.

silveretta

on 22 July 2004 at 20:34

None of my puns are clever BW. I simply meant that if the train won’t see him back till Sunday then it must be slow.I’ll get me coat.

silveretta

on 22 July 2004 at 20:35

Yes – your wallpaper is the best, along with Bobble’s.

belgianwaffle

on 22 July 2004 at 20:48

See Silveretta, it was a clever pun that I didn’t get. Knew it. Ta for wallpaper encouragement both. I am rather pleased with it. I found the option for background in my search to replace my waffle picture and since the other option for this pm’s entertainment was sending out cvs, decided to add one. It is a drawing of our street which a cartoon book drawing man (there must be an easier way to put this but you know what I mean) did for Mr. Waffle’s b’day. Cool eh?

Matters literary

22 July, 2004 at 10:21 am by belgianwaffle

Have read a volume from Ms. Hustvedt’s back catalogue.  The publishing exec gave me a present of “The Blindfold”.  It’s the kind of thing I don’t normally approve of – more or less plotless, three short stories tenuously linked by each other and a fourth chapter drafted to tie up loose ends, but I loved it.  Except for chapter 4 which was weak.  Am going to move on to “The Enchantment of Lily Dahl” as soon as the pub exec snaffles it for me.  Having a sister-in-law in publishing has made me curiously unwilling to go down the traditional route of paying for my books.
And in other book news, the pub exec read my copy of the latest Marion Keyes which is set in the publishing world and felt a) somebody should tell her that Burberry is no longer cool, v. Essex apparently b) there weren’t enough lunches and c) editors not agents should be the heros.  But aside from that she said it was reasonably accurate.

Have started “Blindness” by Jose Saramago.  The heart surgeon recommended it.  The heart surgeon is a bit of an overachiever (she can’t help it, she’s still very nice) in reading as in other things and I am a bit unnerved.  She loved it.  But she’s the kind of girl who only reads great literature and feels other stuff is really a waste of time.  For example, I can pretty much bet that she didn’t spend last weekend rereading Georgette Heyer’s “Charity Girl” for the umpteenth time.  So far I am on page 2 but I am a little daunted.

Got the new Jasper Fforde book on tape and in hard copy – thank you pub exec. Working my way through the tape.  It’s a bit confusing to be honest even to someone who’s read vols 1-3 of the series.  Maybe it’s overabridged but I must say, based on the tape, I am experiencing no enthusiasm to attempt the book.  This man’s imagination is out of control.  Heard him interviewed on the radio the other day and had this impression entirely confirmed.

Still stuck on chapter 1 of “The Bridge over the Drina”.  Must try harder.  Summer holidays beckon.  Will achieve much am sure.

Oh Mr. Rops!

19 July, 2004 at 11:15 am by belgianwaffle

The publishing exec arrived on Friday night clutching to her bosom an array of exciting presents. Books all round and a teapot. The Princess is particularly taken with her book which, as a token of supreme approval, she has not even tried to tear. Publishing exec was full of tales of glitzy parties and famous people. She works in non-fiction at the moment and though I think, in her heart of hearts, she would like to be working with brilliant unknown authors on their difficult, yet brilliant, works of fiction, non-fiction has its compensations. Her bit of non-fiction appears to be the “you’re a famous person, why don’t you write a book?” end of things which I imagine doesn’t guarantee quality (think of Victoria Beckham’s biog or Bill Clinton’s) but does guarantee regular meetings with famous people. Famous people seem to be tortured by their book writing deadlines. And I can tell you that, even now, there are a couple of famous people who are being tormented at the prospect of spending the summer trying to finish that book that was supposed to be delivered for last Christmas. Being rich and famous isn’t everything, you know.

Saturday, we decamped to Namur. We felt that it was time that the publishing exec sampled the joys of Wallonia.  I haven’t been to Namur in a long time and I was pleased at how pretty it was.  I had only remembered the long tramp up to the citadel and not the appealing old town.  It was very warm though.  I was sorry that I had told the publishing exec to pack for March weather and, I suspect, so was she as she sweated in her jeans.  We took a trip into the Felicien Rops museum which was air-conditioned and full of steps so all conditions were met for the Princess’s entire felicity.  I had vaguely heard of Mr. Rops as a belle epoque artist and knew he had done some erotic stuff but I hadn’t realised that it was almost his entire output.  The guy was a 19th century pornographer (oh yeah, now you’re all going back to check on the link) but it was quite entertaining stuff in a mildly outrageous way.  Mr. Waffle, the publishing exec and I gasped while the Princess proceeded up and down the stairs watched over and attended to by the kindly middle aged ladies who were the guardians of the house of porn.

On Saturday night we left herself in the hands of the babysitter and went out to dinner.  All very nice and I weighed myself on the antique but, I hope working, scales outside the bathroom (we have none at home in the interest of everyone’s well being) and weighed less than I expected which I was able to report to the waiter who was peering over my shoulder in mild interest.  When we got home, I drove the babysitter back while Mr. Waffle and the publishing exec got stuck in the lift and had to effect a dramatic escape involving jumping between floors and potential risk to life and limb.  All parties, including the lift, are now fine.

On Sunday, myself, the Princess and the publishing exec went to the Horta house which is Mr. Horta’s own art nouveau house.  It is all very beautiful and everything but, if you check out the link, you will see that it is distinguished by its many flights of stairs which I walked up and down numerous times while holding a small girl by the hand.  She never tires of stairs, our girl. All of the chairs in the house have little labels on them saying “please do not sit on this chair”.  I presume this was meant to include, “please do not use this chair as a means of support for your filthy little fingers while cruising round the room” but they didn’t say so and as all of the other visitors were Italians who are notoriously indulgent to small filthy fingered people the Princess was free to cruise in peace.

Speaking of Italians, you will be delighted to hear that after many, many faxes (email? “no, non e possibile”) and a 300 euro postal order as deposit (credit cards? “no, non e possibile”) our guesthouse in Sicily has finally confirmed our reservation.  This is a relief as I was responsible for booking in the entire extended Waffle family.  I can’t help feeling that a pall would have been cast over my brother-in-law’s wedding had his parents had nowhere to stay due to the ineptitude of his sister-in-law (oh come on, I mean me…do try to keep up).

Comments
belgianwaffle

on 19 July 2004 at 12:00

Don’t be sarky miss. Very, very glad you’re back. I missed you. Hope you are feeling great.

silveretta

on 19 July 2004 at 12:10

Ta BW – sadly wasn’t being sarky though…

Locotes

on 19 July 2004 at 13:23

House of porn eh? And trying to justify your visit in the name of ‘art’. Tsk. I knew all you art lovers were a dodgy bunch behind it all…
Good news with the booking though – when’s the trip?

belgianwaffle

on 20 July 2004 at 21:45

Silveretta, it’s so difficult to guage the tone of a blog comment…
Locotes, you’re right about art lovers. Trip is end August, so it should be nice and warm.

LRB personals

14 July, 2004 at 1:31 pm by belgianwaffle

Today’s selection:

“Summer school for domestics. Rare opportunity to theorise and practise skills in a domestic setting, including some paperwork and gardening, for women with good ploughing abilities. Instructor disciplined and will impart dust-removal techniques and tumbleweed formation. It’s a wrap. Box 13/01.”

I note that a crowd called “Lonesome Oxbridge Blues” advertise in the LRB. They run a website for “bringing Oxbridge people together”. Forgive me, but I think that this could only happen in England. The English are odd, there’s no two ways about it.

Last week, I think I read the most pretentious article ever. And remember I’ve been reading this publication for a while now. The author covered a full page showing off how much he knew about everything before he even mentioned the book he was reviewing.

State of the Princess

12 July, 2004 at 1:43 pm by belgianwaffle

Language skills. She can do all the vowels and b as in baby, c as in coucou, d as in dada, no f, g as in aw gon, no h though she does say i for hi, no j, k (although koukou is a possibility, I suppose), l, m as in mama, n as in no (first word, frequently used), p as in uppa (little arms stretched in the air) no q, r, s, t as in ta ta, no v, w as in wah, wah WAAH, no x, no y, no z.

Sleeping skills. And speaking of no z, I see Minkleberry is taunting me by complaining that her tiny baby woke up once the other night. Meanwhile our baby continues to wake at least twice a night with no real sign of improvement. I hold very bitter thoughts about the people who told me that a bottle of formula at bed time would have her sleep through the night.  I now have to get up in the middle of the night make up a bottle and, in darkness, put a bib on the Princess, to make sure she doesn’t soak herself in her enthusiasm to gulp down the contents of the bottle and sit holding the bottle in one hand and baby in the other until she polishes it off and pushes it away.  For all its disadvantages, breastfeeding is useful for those middle of the night feeds.  If you have any advice to offer on this situation consider carefully whether it is possible that I may have heard it before.  If yes, don’t offer same.  I am a sleep deprived maniac and I refuse to be responsible for the consequences.

Motor skills.  She is excellent at step climbing and has mastered slides which she loves.  She still hasn’t got the hang of walking though.  She can, however, stand and clap herself enthusiastically while doing so.  When we were on holidays with my parents the week before last, my mother was sure that she would walk very soon after we got home.  She hasn’t.  She’s consolidating her standing.  I had the following conversation with my mother.

M – Is she walking yet?

Me – No, still standing though.

M – Are you sure she’s not walking yet?

Me – Yes.

M – Could you have missed it?

Me – No.

M – What I mean is she might be walking and you might not have noticed.

Me – Yes, I know what you mean and no.

M – Well, I’m amazed, I was sure she’d be walking by now…

This is a girl who likes to be sure of herself before making any movements. She didn’t crawl until she was 11 and a half months.  However, I can exclusively reveal that she will stumble for two steps between myself and her father.  If we try to go any further apart she will just get down and crawl between us which was not the effect we were looking for.  This morning while standing she fell over quite dramatically cutting the back of her head on the bedside table and giving herself a Harry Potter like scar on her forehead.  She seems to have recovered from the pain and trauma but I am still a shadow of my former self.  Frankly, she’s right, walking can wait.

Other skills.  She eats almost anything. Well, at least, she will try anything including soap and cardboard boxes.  She is very affectionate doling out hugs and blowing kisses on the slightest provocation.  She is stubborn.  When she doesn’t get what she wants she can work herself into a frenzy of hysterical tears.  This is maybe a trait we could do without.  Fortunately, her attention span is short so the tears abate rapidly.  She loves being read to.  She adores her doggy and is quite fond of us.

Comments
Beth

(Homepage)

on 12 July 2004 at 16:18

I love the idea that she might be walking and you just hadn’t noticed. Maybe she is climbing out of her crib at night and strolling around the house? 😉

on 13 July 2004 at 16:11

Yes, DX and quite fond about covers it too…
I know, Beth, my mother thinks that I have the observational abilities of a sight impaired goldfish. She is, of course, completely wrong! Well, almost completely wrong…

Instant soup

11 July, 2004 at 10:25 pm by belgianwaffle

Yesterday the Princess and I went out for brunch. We ordered a tea, an orange juice, a pain au chocolat, a croissant, a boiled egg and a bowl of muesli and yoghurt.  When the waitress arrived with our order, she looked at us and asked “Are you waiting for someone else?”  Humph.

Yesterday afternoon we went to the Asian supermarket downtown.  Very exciting altogether. We bought a jar of “instant Vietnamese sour soup”.  Today was chilly and rainy (alas) and, with great pride, I produced it at lunchtime.  Mr. Waffle looked on dubiously as I poured it into the saucepan.  The illustration on the outside showed bits of fish and exotic vegetables floating in a clear broth. The stuff I poured into the saucepan had the colour and consistency of bovril accompanied by a remarkably pungent smell.  It turns out that you add a dab of it to the other ingredients (not included) to make “instant Vietnamese sour soup”.  This is not my definition of instant.

Comments
belgianwaffle

on 13 July 2004 at 16:10

OK, you’re somewhat ahead of me on the waffle front. I’m really only an amateur waffle.

Intercultural meetings

10 July, 2004 at 3:21 pm by belgianwaffle

On Friday the Princess and I went to the Royal Museum for Central Africa where we met the best dressed diplomat and various cousins who were visiting her from distant Chicago.  The little boys had no interest in the Princess but the little girl (6) was delighted with her and showed her round the museum leaving me to stroll in their wake chatting to the adults.  All very pleasant.  And they were all nice Americans, you know the way we used to laugh at our American cousins for being so nice when we were all growing up?  Well, I can tell you, there is nothing as nice as polite, well-behaved, little Americans when you are spending a wet afternoon in a museum with a one year old.
The museum itself is a funny place.  It was built on an imposing scale by King Leopold II to celebrate his conquest of the Congo.  The exploitation of the Congo was particularly dreadful.  Joseph Conrad wrote a book about it “The Heart of Darkness” and Roger Casement wrote a damning report for the British government.  But the museum is curiously unaware of these developments.  Nowhere is there an acknowledgement that dreadful things happened in the Congo when Leopold and co. were in charge.  This may be partly because a lot of the exhibits and display cases don’t seem to have been updated since the museum was built in around 1900.  This is part of the charm of the establishment, in many ways.  There is a piece of wood from the tree under which Livingstone’s heart was buried accompanied by a handwritten note from the donor confirming its authenticity.  There is Stanley’s case which has a handwritten note pasted on to it in fading writing saying “This suitcase accompanied my brother across Africa.  It is not to be used under any circumstances or to be removed from my bedroom.  Dorothea Stanley”.  There are old maps of Africa dating from the 1400s.  The one that impressed me most was one from 1825 where they were truthful about what they knew and almost the entire of central Africa had “lands unknown” written across it.  Best of all, from the point of view of the children, there were stuffed animals.  Lots and lots of stuffed animals. The Princess reached febrile levels of excitement when she came to the enormous elephant.  She grabbed the rail round it and stood on her tiptoes squeaking and pointing.

Friday, was terribly thrilling also as it involved a birthday party.  This was Mr. Waffle’s first children’s birthday party in a long time and, fortunately for him, it was a relatively civilised affair where the adults outnumbered the children by about 3 to 1.  Still and all there was falling, vomiting and crying, so it wasn’t entirely untypical.  One of the attendees was the birthday boy’s minder who is a very nice girl from South Carolina. The Princess was most taken with her and sat on her lap for a considerable time poking at her train tracks.  “These European kids are always fascinated by the braces” she said gamely.  “Right, I see, well, proof that we don’t believe in orthodontics over here” I said in mortified tones.  Princess continued to poke with interest and then offered Ms SC a paprika crisp to show that there were no hard feelings.
We got the birthday boy two books.  I began to feel a bit inadequate as the other presents emerged.  Ms. SC (who let’s face it, must have no cash as a childminder who’s “starting school in the fall”) got him a very elaborate turtle that makes lots of interesting noises when you poke it.  Other people got him a coat and a bottle of wine for his parents; and two very elaborate cuddly toys.  Had the following conversation with Mr. Waffle on the way home:

Me: Did you feel that we should have got him a bigger present.

Him (in tones of deep bafflement): No, why?

Me: Well, the other presents were all bigger than ours.

Him: Really, were they?  Well, I’m sure ours was fine, didn’t his mother thank us for it?

Me: Well, yes, of course, but…

Him: Well then.
Sometimes, I feel that I worry too much.

A life of crime

8 July, 2004 at 1:57 pm by belgianwaffle

I was in the post office a while back and I saw a sign from the Flemish tourism agency saying “fill in a card and we’ll send you all our brochures absolutely free of charge”.  So, I did.  Brochure arrived and it was mostly advertising.  I was about to chuck it in the wastepaper basket when I see that they have a little note as follows:

“As we mentioned, the book of ideas and brochure are completely free: all we require from you is 2.50 to cover post and administration costs”.

The nerve.  However, we subscribe to test achat and we will shop them for their iniquity.  In the interim, I am inclined to pay, but Mr. Waffle is not.  It is not his misspelled name that is on the bill though and I fear that the commune police will come knocking on our door and haul me away for non-payment of debt.  I’m living on the edge here, I can tell you.

Comments
jackdalton

on 09 July 2004 at 01:03

Shop them; they deserve it.

belgianwaffle

on 09 July 2004 at 20:59

Um, HJB, no, Belgium is sort of like Switzerland, if Switzerland has lots of different police forces but it’s not clean like Switzerland and they don’t care about washing anything on the street as far as I can tell. The main task of the commune police is to ring your doorbell to check that you live where you said you lived when you registered with the commune. You think that I’m making this up, don’t you? Would you believe that they have guns to accomplish this difficult and dangerous task.
Jack, would have to compose a letter in French and am probably too lazy for that so it will just sit and taunt me on the desk for a bit, I suppose.

Lost in translation

8 July, 2004 at 1:46 pm by belgianwaffle

Saw it on DVD at the weekend. Brutal.  What may have been artistic ennui on the big screen was plain old ennui on the little screen.  Didn’t help that herself was in roaring mode so we had to keep going off and tending to her. After a while we didn’t even bother pausing because shag all was happening anyway. Also because we’re still wrestling with pause and fast forward on the DVD and the Princess isn’t old enough to explain it to us yet.  Locotes, I blame you for raising my expectations.

More LRB personals:

“Heaven knows, I’m miserable now.  Emotional wreck, club-footed, anxious M, 33, living a half-life in a garret in London, seeks solace in the brawny arms of a charming man, 30 -40.  I’m afraid I loathe opera but love Morrissey, dodgy Brit sci fi, Barbara Pym’s novels.  Lower those expectations at box no. 12/15”

The pile of newsprint has built up in my absence.  We receive the following through our letterbox:

The Economist (weekly)

Saturday’s Irish Times (weekly)

The LRB (fortnightly)

The BCT magazine (don’t ask – monthly)

Test achat (a consumer magazine – please don’t ask – monthly)

Musee des beaux arts newsletter (quarterly)

Because this lot are not enough to keep us going we also get

The Observer (weekly)

Le Soir (weekly)

The European Voice (well – I have to look for my jobs somewhere – weekly)

The Bulletin (see above – weekly)

As assiduous readers will know, and if you’re reading this, you’re assiduous, I’ve been away for a week and the accumulated weight of stuff is threatening to crush me.

Mr. Waffle wants to know if we’d like to subscribe to the “The New Statesman”.  I don’t think so.

Comments
DruidX

on 08 July 2004 at 22:06

I think I just learnt a new word.
‘Assiduous’ means very often right? 🙂

jackdalton

on 09 July 2004 at 00:56

Yes, give LiT another try. It’s a wonderful and quirky watch. Hang herself out the window some evening in the baby bouncer or deploy HiredHelp. then give it another go. Or read it.
New Statesman is a good read too: I’d ignore you on this if I was MrW.
😉

belgianwaffle

on 09 July 2004 at 20:56

Ok lads I may try LiT again but maybe even at its best it’s a boy film.
DruidX, I think assiduous means very thorough but I had a moment’s doubt there when you asked me and I checked it in the dictionary where it says “showing great care and perseverence”. Am quite pleased with that now, I think assiduous was the very word I was looking for though I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time.

Locotes

on 10 July 2004 at 18:41

A boy film?? That’s just crazy talk…it’s a rom-com! Total girly domain. It’s just that Bill Murray is a legend, and it’s actually a really well-done humourous yet touching piece. And there isn’t much out there that gets me to say that…
As an assiduous cinema-goer, I urge you to give it another try.

belgianwaffle

on 11 July 2004 at 22:29

As a person who has become increasingly less assiduous in recent times, I don’t think I can face it. On the plus side I have booked the last installment of the LOTR on vid for when Mr. Waffle goes to Wales for the w/end for his brother’s stag. Am quite looking forward to it. Sad really.

Locotes

on 12 July 2004 at 12:38

Nothing sad about LOTR – it’s just won an oscar for chrissakes – so anyone making jokes about pointy ears and gay hobbit action is the outsider – not you.
😉

belgianwaffle

on 12 July 2004 at 13:01

I’ll revert on that Locotes. V. excited about Cork city win. Quite amazing.

Locotes

on 12 July 2004 at 14:01

Well I know we both do our best on a daily basis to promote the mighty Cork with our splendiferous writings – but I felt an actual post about the lads and their excellent win was required. I’m sure most if not all 20six is in awe.

belgianwaffle

on 13 July 2004 at 16:12

Loc, surely ALL 20six must be amazed and astounded.

Travelling

6 July, 2004 at 3:49 pm by belgianwaffle

I have been rejected for three more jobs (two of which I interviewed for) and spent 17 hours on trains with the Princess since I wrote last.  It’s no wonder I’m too depressed to pick up a keyboard.

Also did have a very nice week with my parents in La Rochelle where the Princess learned to love the ocean (provided that she was not immersed above her chubby knees) and continued her love affair with sand.  However, my memories are hazy as all of my brain power was required to keep my sanity on the 10 hour train ride home.

Princess update perhaps not of interest to the general reader.  She continues to stand occasionally but resolutely refuses to walk. She loves slides and was able to go down one all on her own in La Rochelle.  Very thrilling.  She has now extended her vocabulary to say “baby” and “all gone”. The latter sounds like “aga” when she says it but we know what she means.  She will now also say “ta ta” when given something she wants, provided it’s done in good time.  Any delay in giving her what she wants is met with fury. Quite terrifying.  If you say “where’s your choo choo” or “where’s your doggy” she will crawl off and retrieve those items.  She blows kisses.  She imitates. So when I said “shush” on the epic train ride and put my finger to my lips she did the same to all of our long suffering fellow travellers.  If I sigh, she will sigh back.  She beats her chest and makes tarzan noises which is something, I would like you to know, that I only do in the privacy of my own home.  She’s fantastic.

Comments
Angela

(Homepage)

on 06 July 2004 at 16:20

If I owned a company, I would hire you in an instant! And then I would constantly come over and force you to leave your desk and talk babies and books and beer with me. (And, of course, I wouldn’t let the pesky managers fire you because of all the time you spend away from your desk talking babies and books and beer. Because, you know, I own the place!)

Locotes

on 06 July 2004 at 16:40

Sorry about the interviews – something will come up in the end (I know that’s a horribly annoying thing to say, but it IS true – keep the faith…though not necessarily in a Bon Jovi-esque way).
As for the Princess update – it’s all very impressive. A career in method acting awaits possibly, with all the sighing and inner fury. I’m at a bit of a loss with the beating of chest however….whatever keeps you happy in the confines of your own home I suppose.

jackdalton

on 06 July 2004 at 21:29

Hang in there, ‘waf.
You only need a bit of luck to make that breakthrough: and it will come. And as Locotes says, don’t lose perspective: it will all fall into place soon enough 😉
Princess updates are much enjoyed…

belgianwaffle

on 08 July 2004 at 13:23

Thank you, thank you. I feel all virtually supported. Frankly, I need all the support I can get. One of the interviewers offered feedback to unsuccessful candidates. I got my feedback yesterday. Can I offer a little tip here: if you didn’t get the job, don’t bother with the feedback, it’s just too depressing.

jackdalton

on 09 July 2004 at 00:27

nooooo you must get the feedback; at the very least it inconveniences the buggers, epecially if you ask for notes and jottings from the interview board. 🙂

belgianwaffle

on 09 July 2004 at 21:04

I know what you mean Jack and that was entirely my original motivation but the humiliation is CRUSHING.

jackdalton

on 10 July 2004 at 11:40

Only if you let it be. I’d suggest you make a list of the things they said and then rate each – in a balanced, honest way – as either A: ‘they may have a point here and this is something I can work on’, B: ‘perhaps, but there’s noting I can do about this’ or C: ‘stupid jerks they lack vision on this, so sod them’. Then set about fixing the A’s, don’t apply for jobs that need B’s and be proud of your C’s.
Not too scientific, but it works… 😉

belgianwaffle

on 11 July 2004 at 22:31

Yes, but it’s so hard not to feel that all their comments are Cs even though I know they can’t be really.


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