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Goody bag and correction

30 September, 2004 at 12:53 pm by belgianwaffle

My goody bag has just arrived from the publishing executive.  And it is wonderful.  I am so pleased.  It has three books including a very well reviewed just published hardback and loads of books on tape.  Oh yay.  I am thrilled.

Also, I wish to post a correction to my previous entry about Mr. Waffle’s brother.  I know what side my bread is buttered on.  Text supplied by the pub exec:

“…blog talks about how ‘like his brother’ he speaks perfect French. Like his brother AND SISTER, I think you meant! We have a new French inmate in our flat so I have been practicing with her, it’s very improving.” Yes, yes, of course that’s what I meant.  Must go off now and investigate my haul further.


on 30 September 2004 at 14:40

Our turn soon then?


on 01 October 2004 at 12:00

Jack, book shrouded in secrecy. And somebody wobbled pog but it certainly wasn’t me. Silver, you are one third of an action hero. Be grateful and give me a pun for all seasons. Or an appropriate venn thingy.


on 01 October 2004 at 13:32

woose…. 🙂
And as for th pog-wobblin’ of course it was you or if not it was your hapless and tragic creation/creature – LJS.


on 05 October 2004 at 20:01

Down, silver. Jack, not tragic, steely eyed etc.

Part the third

30 September, 2004 at 10:55 am by belgianwaffle

LJS strolled languidly into Jojo’s beautifully appointed office.  He turned around and said to the empty doorway “Stay Barky!”.

Jojo rolled her eyes “Still got the imaginary dog” she muttered.  Honestly, talented and all as she was she wondered whether there was anything she could do for LJS. “Well,” she said brightly “I see you’ve got rid of the squirrel” but no sooner were the words out of her mouth than a small rodent wearing, oh good grief, a superman shirt, scampered up LJS’s arm and perched on his shoulder.

“I suppose that you heard that HJB tried to kill me” he said lazily.

“Don’t be ridiculous” snapped Jojo ” I have it on excellent authority that” Jojo paused and read from a piece of paper “naturally Heather had ensured that she was highly visible at a Raclette dinner with Phil Collins in downtown Geneva when the shot rang out. Perhaps it was sentimentality that had persuaded her to wear the 15 carat diamond necklace that evening; or perhaps she knew that such a fabulous jewel on the neck of such a glamorous woman would ensure maximum publicity in the international press.” “Our people in Interpol are speedy and efficient – well, the Swiss people are anyway – the pictures will be in “Hello” tomorrow”.

LJS flashed his magnificent turquoise eyes in irritation “Come off it, Jojo, you know Heather as well as I do, she could easily manage to be in two places at once or, failling that, get a hitman”.

Jojo looked at him appraisingly – what he said was true, there were more sides to Heather than she would like the Swiss police to know about but something told Jojo that HJB wasn’t involved in this hit.  Heather never made mistakes, if she wanted LJS dead well then he wouldn’t be here now.

She decided to turn the subject. She drew a deep breath “how are things with Pog?”  LJS turned away ashen faced, the squirrel cast Jojo a look of deep disapproval and offered LJS a nut.

LJS spoke with difficulty “this isn’t about Pog, forget her, I have, I’m seeing someone in Dublin now…”

Jojo raised her eyebrows, if LJS was seeing a non-Cork girl things had really changed. As though he read her thoughts LJS said “a Cork girl in deep cover”. “I see” said Jojo. Anyway, enough about his personal life she decided, she had had enough of that during the time she had worked as his counsellor and now she had other fish to fry.

“So” she said “who do you think shot at you assuming it’s not HJB?”

“I should have thought it would be obvious” he said.

Jojo remembered how LJS had never failed to irritate her in the past. “No, I’m afraid it’s not, do tell me”

“Well, I will, but first I have an excellent pun…”

*Author’s note: I’m getting a bit desperate for a pun here people.


on 30 September 2004 at 13:24

Yes… you’re dumped. A combination of intelligence and attractivness isn’t truly enough for a deep southerner like me. I need risk and to be gorgeous about it, in the contender tradition, and moreover and furthermore find myself bound where souls touch to my work-a-day, lovin’ little Code Miner.
on 30 September 2004 at 13:30

‘”When I die a drunk down on the street” and “from the contender to the brawl” are lines that epitomise this great piece of writing …’
Now I know you’re taking the mick (to coin a phrase) …. 😉


on 30 September 2004 at 14:42

I demand a rewrite. I would never dump Pog. Unless there were better offers, of course.


on 30 September 2004 at 14:59

And I bet you anything that the squirrel offering you his nuts counts as a better offer.


on 30 September 2004 at 15:57

Only if they were salted Pog, please.


on 30 September 2004 at 16:00

I’m fairly sure they would be, silver …


on 30 September 2004 at 16:11

You’ve tasted them then?


on 30 September 2004 at 16:16

Certainly not. He looks a bit sweaty, though ….. probably all that scampering.

Friar Tuck

on 30 September 2004 at 17:09

I hear that the sewers in Brussels back up so frequently that the city has decided to increase their size by a turd. Or was this meant to be a children’s book?


on 01 October 2004 at 11:56

Pog, he didn’t DUMP you. He just chased you. In vain. Very important. Pog, silver, one nut only. FT, hah.


on 01 October 2004 at 12:54

Oh – I see waffle. Oh well. That’s quite different.
Harrumph ….


on 03 October 2004 at 19:52

Well I must say I loved the squirrel addition (not surprisingly). The combination of disappoving looks and nut-offering had me laughing out loud.
Much as silver wondered about his action abilities being diluted by the other two-thirds, so I now blame the lads for the lack of pog-wooing. The electric connection I so obviously share with her is being ruined. A damn shame.


on 05 October 2004 at 20:05

Yay, Locotes, hello there, glad you got access to an internet connection. Hope the course is going ok. So you see your third as in with a chance with the enigmatic pog, I dunno now, we’ll have to see…

Further feckless brother information

30 September, 2004 at 10:28 am by belgianwaffle

Today the following sniffy mail arrived:

“I’m not sure the Blog is a suitable forum for discussion a sibling’s misfortune, but feel free to bring it in if you think it would edify your readers.”
Do you feel edified? Also the following:
“Got a new phone yesterday, however, there are a few issues to note.  After my phone broke like a complete Cavan man I had a look round to see what deals the other networks were offering.  I decided it was time to leave Vodafone and I got a ready to go Meteor phone. Having a ready to go phone puts me in with an elite group of college kids, drug dealers and non nationals. (BTW non national is a PC word, I heard it on the news). There is a slight problem however (isn’t there always).  I was supposed to be able to keep my old number, however due to technical problems I now have a Meteor no. (the shame).”
Frankly, it’s beginning to look like his luck may have run out. Which must mean it’s my turn, right?

on 30 September 2004 at 11:00

Oh we’re edified… it’s great to read about and howl at others’ misfortunes…. 😉
And of course it’s your turn…


on 30 September 2004 at 11:05

Nah Sammy,sorry, but I need it all. Thanks JD, you’ll see that I’ve been doing some work on one third of your alter ego. Am alarmed that you have been shot at. It’ll be all that travelling to exotic hotspots.


on 30 September 2004 at 11:12

Would you believe Donegal? 🙂
And you should give up that LJS thing before it becomes an obsessive compulsive blog disorder. Or before the squirrel gets you….


on 30 September 2004 at 11:14

Course I’d believe Donegal, I understand it’s very rough up there.

Part the second

29 September, 2004 at 10:00 pm by belgianwaffle

A shot rang out in the bar.  LJS felt the bullet go by ruffling his glossy chestnut locks.  People screamed and fell to the floor but he remained immobile.  He knew that bullet had his name on it but he was sure that the assasin wouldn’t risk a second shot.  He had been a target before. Many times. Hhis three jobs were just part of his cover.  He was an agent of the underground movement for a free People’s Republic of Cork.  The police arrived. They immediately gravitated to LJS; with his chiselled jaw and calm air, he had an imposing presence. “Did you see anything?”

“No, but it was aimed at me. I think it could be one of my former lovers who lives in Switzerland.”  “That’ll teach her to get all ratty about a stupid cat”  he thought bitterly.  He supposed that in setting the police on Heather who lived, to all appearances, at least, a blameless life,  he had been cruel.  But she had been cruel to him and LJS was not in the mood to forgive.

“Excuse me sir, but would you like to see a counsellor?” asked an apologetic policeman.

Counsellor pah, thought LJS, I eat counsellors for breakfast.

“We have Jojo available…” the policeman interrupted his thoughts.

Ah, well, if it was the lovely Jojo, perhaps he would see a counsellor after all.  Rumour had it that Jojo had settled down to a life of blissful domesticity with husband and baby, but LJS had thought of an exciting new pun that he felt Jojo might enjoy…

*Author’s note. I am very poor at puns – can someone help me out here?

belgianwaffleon 29 September 2004 at 22:16

A pun perhaps?

on 29 September 2004 at 22:34

Naturally Heather had ensured that she was highly visible at a Raclette dinner with Phil Collins in downtown Geneva when the shot rang out. Perhaps it was sentimentality that had persuaded her to wear the 15 carat diamond necklace that evening; or perhaps she knew that such a fabulous jewel on the neck of such a glamorous woman would ensure maximum publicity in the international press.

silverettaon 29 September 2004 at 22:35

Now you’re making me look stupid.
Of course, now you have actually posted a story you have made me look rather sexy too, which is much closer to the real me. How did you know about the chestnut locks though?

dmtson 29 September 2004 at 22:55

I thought waffle was very kind, silver – after all, she is making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear with the three of you. Fortunately she has got a wonderful female protagonist.

silverettaon 29 September 2004 at 22:58

Yes, I’m looking forward to JoJo turning up.

dmtson 29 September 2004 at 23:03

so you can show off your punning technique?

silverettaon 29 September 2004 at 23:08

I wouldn’t call it a technique exactly – more a gift.

jackdaltonon 30 September 2004 at 00:58

You know, I actually heard my own voice when I read the ‘I eat counsellors for breakfast’ bit…And the one time in my life I was actually shot at I didn’t move for a good ten seconds because I didn’t actually realise what was happening…. so now, I’m really rattled. 🙂
A fictional character becomes one third of a further fictional character.. it’s all a bit too postmodern….
And what do you mean, sow’s ear…

belgianwaffleon 30 September 2004 at 11:00

Hello protagonists. Based on her brilliant contribution to the text so far, I have asked HJB to be a contributor. Not quite sure how that works technically but am hopeful that all will be well. Am also hopeful that HJB can pun.

dmtson 30 September 2004 at 11:20

it’s worked, waffle – we are so technical – official.

poggleon 30 September 2004 at 12:31
Comment Modified) Shouldn’t that have read:”… but he remained nomobile …”??
Locoteson 03 October 2004 at 19:36

This Heather character seems a right handful. Violent and sarcastic, a nasty combination. Reminds me of someone around here, I just can’t place my finger on it…Mentioning both my jaw and Cork deserves special recognition – bravo!

Part the first

29 September, 2004 at 11:12 am by belgianwaffle

Lazy Jack Silver was tall.  A little too tall perhaps.  He liked to drawl in his singsong Cork accent ““Boy, I’’m tall and I’’m proud”.” He was also excellent at puns.  He sauntered into a bar anxious to pick up an Oxford graduate research student.  But he was a little tense.  He was in a long distance relationship with a girl in Dublin. Also there was the risk of putting his relationship with Heather in jeopardy.  “Although” he reflected wryly “ his recent flat sitting seemed to have soured things”.  And then there was the enigmatic Pog, would he ever meet her or would he just end up sitting in bars in exotic places, his eyes full of tears and his evenings ruined?  He tried to put that behind him.  His work allowed him to travel to exotic destinations where he could try to forget.  Working on a newspaper with a lecturing job on the side and (um silver, what is it you do?) meant that his every waking minute was filled with excitement and adventure.  People envied him his glamourous lifestyle, he supposed. But he had his own private tragedies, would he ever forget the bitter evening in August when Bolton beat his beloved Liverpool 1 – 0? And then there was the tormented relationship with the Skinny Within.  Ah, better not to think of it.  He scanned the bar looking for distraction….

belgianwaffleon 29 September 2004 at 11:19

Oh good, can you continue the story? I’m running out of inspiration and I can’t help feeling that it needs a bit of menace.

jackdaltonon 29 September 2004 at 11:27

I don’t like this. The name is all wrong. And when Locotes sees it, you’re in deep dodo. He’ll sort out your langerish behaviour…..
[But I’d give it a sweet if I hadn’t used the last one on the plane home from Crete.]

dmtson 29 September 2004 at 11:28

do you mean menace as in menace the blogger, or menace as in HJB ripping lazy jack silver’s head off because he wrecked her flat?

belgianwaffleon 29 September 2004 at 11:41
Comment Modified) Jack, I know you love it really. HJB, I don’t really know Menace the blogger so I’m looking more for head ripping but I’m afraid it can’t happen immediately because then our hero would be dead and the story would be over. Would you like to feature as a basic instinct type person? In exchange for that sweetie, I think we can pretty much write you up as you’d like. Get back to me.
dmtson 29 September 2004 at 11:53

okay – I won’t rip his head off straight away – we can go for a bit of torture first. I love the idea of being a Basic Instinct type of person but can I keep my knickers on?

silverettaon 29 September 2004 at 15:43

I always saw myself as more of an action hero than that. I suppose that’ll be the influence of the other two though – slowing down my natural dynamism.

poggleon 30 September 2004 at 12:29

I’m proud of that.
Very proud.

Locoteson 03 October 2004 at 19:32

I was involved in a bit of a hunt for this until I saw the new category. How exciting! I wasn’t sure how happy I was about my own contribution to the character’s name – but at the same time it’s a pretty accurate representation, so I can’t complain.
Strangely enough I’ve just finished watching my lot lose to Chelsea 1-0, so your post is quite poignant. Private tragedy indeed.

Feckless brother

28 September, 2004 at 3:02 pm by belgianwaffle

My brother is one of these people who always lands on his feet.  Even though he’s feckless. Very feckless. He was in London with a friend recently and he left his wallet on a table at the entrance to an art exhibition.  He decided that it was bound to be whipped so he went up to a random policeman to ask where he should go to report it lost and yer man looked at him asked him his name and where he lost it.  Inevitably some virtuous londoner had just given it to the policeman and he handed it over. How lucky is that?

However, got this mail from him yesterday: “”Lost my damn phone on Friday, left it on the roof of my car with my wallet and drove off- Aaaarrrrggghie. Unlike you I haven’t found that the absence of a mobile phone has had a liberating effect on the spirit.  Will probabally get a new one tomorrow.” Or he could just wait until someone drives round to his house to give him back the old one.


on 28 September 2004 at 15:18

Brothers were invented purely to be slightly too lucky, and sisters were invented so brothers had someone to crow to.


on 28 September 2004 at 15:52

That’s what my sister says about me. No – wait a minute. That’s something else.

Friar Tuck

on 29 September 2004 at 05:18

And he probably doesn’t even attend Mass every Sunday, with or without a restless child. It just ain’t fair!

on 29 September 2004 at 10:49

HJB, the Swiss, you have to admire them..
Norah, accurately observed.
Silver, you might say that, I couldn’t possibly comment.
FT, of course, he doesn’t go to mass every Sunday, in fact he only goes when he’s in Cork for the w/end and my mother gets him out with a cattle prod.

The genesis of Lazy Jack Silver

27 September, 2004 at 11:41 am by belgianwaffle


jackdaltonon 27 September 2004 at 18:00Oh good. Does this mean we can look forward to a higher standard of blogging around here? 😐
belgianwaffleon 28 September 2004 at 15:04Silver, s’pose so. Jack, I dunno, shortly I might try to craft a character based on a cross between yourself, Silver and Locotes. This is one of the exciting exercises suggested (ok, no, you three don’t get namechecked, but I think you see what I’m getting at here).
silverettaon 28 September 2004 at 17:38Lazy Jack Silver – sounds pretty good to me. Or perhaps Jack’s Silver Log. Or Laughably Flatter Jack.
jackdaltonon 29 September 2004 at 00:39I will only agree with this exercise going ahead if it’s about Jack Locoretta – six foot five, far more cultured that you thought, and not from Cork.
belgianwaffleon 29 September 2004 at 10:18OOOH! Has to be Lazy Jack Silver.


27 September, 2004 at 11:24 am by belgianwaffle

Yesterday the Princess and I went to mass on our own. We got the tram in and a nice old lady chatted to her until she (the Princess) managed to get her foot under the lady’s skirt and kick it up in the air.  Got off the tram in some relief. Went into the church. Princess immediately began scurrying round. Dragged her back to our pew where she grabbed the Sunday paper I had purchased and began to demolish it. Rescued the paper and stuck it up under an angel’s wing. Princess pointed imperiously at string bag on the back of the buggy. “Bockle, bockle”. Gave her the bottle which she proceeded to turn upside down and drip on the floor. Removed bottle. Gave some brief thought to the Gospel on Lazarus and Dives. Princess went back to the string bag and said “Waisin, waisin”. “What?” “Waisin, waisin!!” Removed box of raisins and gave them to her, she chucked them in the air in delight and the next five minutes saw me on my hands and knees trying to beat her to the raisins on the church floor.  Middling success. She didn’t eat quite all of them. She then squatted down, went purple in the face and made a groaning noise. I departed and took her to a nearby cafe to change her. To be honest, I would have abandoned mass at that point except that I realised that the paper was still back there stuck under the angel’s wing. So back we went. When we emerged there was a tram outside so we lept on joyfully only to discover that the lady whose skirt the Princess had kicked in the air was there too. A little frostiness. Arrived home in a state of advanced collapse.


25 September, 2004 at 2:08 pm by belgianwaffle

Today there is a brocante near where we live. The roads are blocked off and our neighbours have laid out their unwanted goods in front of their houses. Oh I love brocantes. So far we have purchased:

– a dress for the Princess (2 euros)

– minature wooden table and chairs for the Princess (10 euros)

– plastic yoke on wheels for the Princess to push around (2 euros)

– waffle for the Princess – no Belgian gathering is complete without a waffle van (1.50)

And we’re going to be going back this afternoon.

In future we’ll probably stay away from the neighbour who was offering the following tomes for sale:

“Children and violence”

“Fathers who don’t know how to love”

“Bad parents make bad children”

Charitable Mr. Waffle offers the following suggestions – psychiatrist, review copies or, if they’re selling, then they’ve obviously resolved their issues. Or, the children have moved out of home or are in prison.

jackdaltonon 26 September 2004 at 11:33

The kids a few houses up did something like that a while back (without the road blocks and the waffle van). All sorts of bargains were to be had, including a knock-down price first edition of a children’s novel that I loved as a kid.
Sadly, no one told the dad…
I reluctantly gave it back when he came round with that totally devestated what kids can do to you look in his eyes.

belgianwaffleon 27 September 2004 at 11:09

Beth, we don’t really have an equivalent in Ireland, so I don’t know whether you have either in America. It’s a bit like a flea market, I suppose. By the by, really enjoyed your story about the cat pee.
Jack, that’s tragic. What was the book?

jackdaltonon 27 September 2004 at 18:11

The Silver Branch by Rosemary Sutcliff. I used to see myself as a kind of out-of-time Evicatos of the Spear!!!

belgianwaffleon 28 September 2004 at 15:06

Ooh, must rush out and buy.

dmtson 28 September 2004 at 15:06

we have Brocante too here but being Swiss it’s called Broci.

belgianwaffleon 28 September 2004 at 15:07

Is this because Swiss French is a little odd? No smart comments about Belgian French, please.

dmtson 28 September 2004 at 15:09

it’s even odder than that, waffle – it’s a classic example of swiss german.

What am I reading?

24 September, 2004 at 4:00 pm by belgianwaffle

Yes, I know, you’re desperate to know.The new Barbara Trapido book which is very good but a little disappointing, it’s just too much autobiography and not enough plot for my liking but still excellent.  Also have learnt a great deal about Afrikaaners.

“The Clicking of Cuthbert” PG Wodehouse, a man who bears much rereading.

“Dress your family in corduroy and denim” by David Sedaris, good but not as good as “Me talk pretty one day”.

“The Supernaturalist” by Eoin Colfer, kiddie’s book, not as good as his other offerings. And “Oryx and Crake” by Margaret Atwood which is surprisingly similar in theme to “The Supernaturalist”.

“The talk of the town” by Ardal O’Hanlon.  Really very good.  Surprisingly good.  I mean you don’t expect a great deal from Fr. Dougal.  But that just shows that he is good at acting dumb and kind of pleasant. This book is smart and kind of unpleasant.  But good unpleasant.

And, oh yeah, I finished “Blindness” and despite a frankly offputting style, this is a really fantastic book. Highly recommended. Rush out and buy. Chilling page turner. Don’t let your enthusiasm for this make you rush out and buy “The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis” though. V. challenging.

Am contemplating starting “American Pastoral”. Is this a good idea? Will it just depress me. I know, I’ll read something cheering by William Trevor instead.

belgianwaffleon 29 September 2004 at 11:21

Hmm, don’t remember this, but it sounds like the kind of thing, I’d like alright. Suspect that fiction writing may not take off due to complete lack of commitment but I will keep you posted in gory detail.


24 September, 2004 at 3:35 pm by belgianwaffle

I know, I’m not allowed to be bored what with all you wage slaves out there struggling away to meet deadlines and me being idle while my baby sleeps. But I am bored. So there.  And it’s raining.  Am so bored that I have completed a number of ghastly tasks that have been looming over me for some time. I may even try to write a second paragraph of my book. You know, the one that lacks plot, characters and dialogue. All I need now is for my mother to come in and tell me that if I’m really that bored I can go and tidy my room.

belgianwaffleon 24 September 2004 at 15:40

Look, if you’re very lucky and I get a good reference from Heather (ha ha), you may be able to blogsit for me. Surely that’s better than any goody bag. By the by, the publishing exec informs me that MY goody bag is on its way and it is excellent.

NorahSplogon 24 September 2004 at 15:42

I have a solution; have you ever noticed that you’re never bored when you have some horrible task to do? What you must do is decide that you really ought to update your CV / paint the cellar / wash the car / polish the cutlery / read one of those books you bought because you really ought to read it. As soon as you’ve decided that’s what you ought to be doing you’ll suddenly find a plethora of little things to occupy yourself with for “just five minutes more before you get started”. Works for me.

dmtson 24 September 2004 at 15:43

I’ll talk to you later about the reference but first of all I want to have words with you about stealing my idea for the book wiht no plot, characters or dialogue – there’s only room for one of those at the time.
It’s really bad if you’ve vacuumed under things or behind things.

belgianwaffleon 24 September 2004 at 15:49

Norah, I’ve done all that. No really, it’s just ghastly, I’m contemplating going through my old electricity bills and throwing out ones that are more than 6 years old. Heather, I would love to Hoover but am terrified it would wake herself and her views on the hoover are overwhelmingly negative…actually, I suppose if I was really bored I could wake the Princess, you know, Norah, you’re right, there are a couple of bits and pieces I should see to like putting up that picture etc.
By the by Heather, I suspect that there probably is a market for our plotless, characterless, dialogueless books (TM). We are post-post-modern. I think that PPM books are also very short. Maybe a paragraph and a half?

Publishing goody bag

23 September, 2004 at 11:38 am by belgianwaffle

Emailed the publishing exec yesterday to congratulate her on one of her crowd’s books being on the Booker list and she called me back to give me all relevant gossip and other publishing titbits.  I took this opportunity to share with her my various woes (excluding the very annoying fact that the CD player won’t play any of my slightly upmarket Patisserie of a Sunday morning music – you know what I mean, soundtracks from Amelie and the Piano, Naxos samplers – I didn’t want to overwhelm her with my grief). Also I told her that I had thought I might start writing a book but it’s actually a lot harder than you might think and had given up on paragraph 2.

She offered the following 1) writing a book is hard and it’s nothing to do with intelligence, it’s just like rolling your tongue, you can either do it or you can’t and if you can’t, you just can’t (of course, she may be aware that if I do write a book I will send it to her crowd and force her to rescue it from the slush pile and read it, so that may have coloured her advice) and 2) she would prepare a cheering goody bag for me. Oh yay, a publisher’s goody bag.  The excitement. Three cheers for the publishing executive.


on 23 September 2004 at 14:50

Yipee indeed.


on 24 September 2004 at 14:43

Routledge-Falmer? Never heard. However, if we now write to you Waffle complaining about stuff, will you then send us a goody bag? Nothing too big, but expensive obviously.


on 24 September 2004 at 14:53

Nah Silver, but I was thinking I might ask you to blog sit for me over the Christmas holidays. I feel that you deserve another chance and that Heather was unduly harsh on you. Also, we don’t have a cat.


on 24 September 2004 at 14:57

That was my reward Waffle – H being unduly harsh.

Belgium’s rich tapestry of linguistic diversity

22 September, 2004 at 12:44 pm by belgianwaffle

I may have said this before, but Belgium is a strange place.  One of the strangest things about it is how everything divides along linguistic fault lines.  As someone who comes from a country where, at least in part, many things divide along religious fault lines you would think that I might be used to this kind of thing, but no.

Any event in Belgium is a matter of linguistic divide, I offer the following random examples:

Many years ago, before we had a baby and went out occasionally Mr. Waffle and I went to a concert in Ghent, to see the American band Cake.  Ghent is Flemish speaking. This subtlety was lost on the band who said “Bonsoir Ghent” and were greeted, to their surprise, by sullen silence and a couple of boos (francophones were obviously too scared to open their mouths). Baffled band.  Someone near the stage whispered into the lead singer’s ear. “Gooie avond Gent” said he. Explosion of delight, riotous applause. The lead singer then said in English what most of us foreigners think but would NEVER say “this linguistic division is ridiculous, you’ll end up like the Balkans, if you go on like this”.  This went down like a lead balloon, understandably enough, so they just went on and played to the surly crowd.

Once, I was in the post office and there was a big queue and this woman skipped to the front of the queue to ask whether she could have a form and fill it in while in the queue. No.  Now, this is annoying. But this being Belgium, it became a question of language. He was only refusing to give her the form because she was a francophone and there was no point him denying it (he was a Flemish speaker) because she knew for a fact that Flemish speakers got all the jobs in the post office. Big row.

Recently, DHL have been looking to increase the number of flights into Brussels airport.  This has caused controversy because, you know, it’s a bit unpleasant having aeroplanes flying over your house in the middle of the night, but on the other hand DHL provides lots of jobs etc.  I’m not sure that I have understood all the details but on to this basic fact I have heard the following linguistic elements being grafted:

– it is suggested that the flights should go over the Brussels region rather than Flanders because the Brussels region is the hub that encourages the business. Please note that Brussels is officially bilingual, in reality it is largely francophone and it is situated in Flanders which is Flemish speaking, think of it as like West Berlin before the wall came down – it has its own special region, the Brussels region, which is separate from Flanders – the Flemish do not like this much, they disapprove of Brussels. You might also like to note that Brussels airport is in fact located in Flanders and not in the Brussels region. Are you still with me?

– it is suggested that flights are being deliberately routed over the “communes à facilité”. Stay with me here. Brussels is expanding. Beyond the Brussels region. It’s full of eurocrats and fat cat internationals and we like living in the distant suburbs us eurocrats and fat cat internationals (though not us Waffles, I hasten to add, we live in Brussels). And the distant suburbs are Flemish. But we don’t speak any Flemish, we get by in French so with great reluctance the Flemish agreed to the “communes à facilité”, suburbs where you could do business in French with the local authorities.  But only for a couple of years until your Flemish got up to scratch. But the Flemish are not pleased and they worry that the Flemish countryside will be overrun by these ignorant foreigners who will force them all to speak French.  Now the latest conspiracy theory which the French speakers offer goes as follows – the DHL flights will be routed over the communes de facilite driving down prices and driving the internationals and French speakers out leaving the area free for hordes of Flemish people to come in, buy up the property and turn these areas back into proper Flemish speaking zones.  What the DHL people make of this, I have no idea.

– DHL provides Belgium with a lot of jobs and a lot of these are low skill, menial jobs so they go the employment agencies and sweep up a lot of people. Good for Belgium?  NO. Only good for Flanders because they only go to the Flemish speaking employment agencies. Who knows what the truth of this matter is? You would have thought good for Flanders would be good for Belgium anyway because as any Flemish speaker will tell you they are dead from propping up the financially feeble French speaking region (Wallonia) with their thriving economy. But it doesn’t really work like that.

Have no idea what the latest on the DHL thing is but the Belgian PM (a Flemish speaker, since you ask) emerged from a 20 hour meeting yesterday saying they couldn’t reach agreement, I suspect it may be a long haul.  Meanwhile DHL are allegedly looking at the attractions of Germany for their European hub.

I have other stories along these linguistic lines but I will save them for another day, in case you get too, too excited.


on 22 September 2004 at 13:27

and we’ve got four language lines in Switzerland – Italian, German, French and Romansch…but Romansch is only spoken by about 5% of the population.


on 23 September 2004 at 11:16

Norah, v. interesting might be pushing it, but there you go, you will be able to cater to Belgian sensibilities whenever you meet one. By the by, here’s more of it from the Economist.”The Belgian government is once again riven by infighting. The issue, as ever, is the demand by Dutch-speakers for more power to be devolved to Flanders. Not surprisingly, Wallonia, the French-speaking half of the country, is resisting. The problem this time is an obscure battle over parliamentary constituencies on the borders of Brussels, where French and Dutch-speakers rub against each other. But the real issue is the Francophones’ fear that the richer Dutch-speaking half of the country is intent on secession. That this debate continues to take place in a city dedicated to the promotion of European unity is an irony lost on the participants.”
Heather, we have German as well, I just didn’t mention them because they seem like a peaceable minority and no one appears to believe that they get all the best jobs.

Sleep tight

22 September, 2004 at 11:21 am by belgianwaffle

This morning, the Princess picked up her butterfly and cradled it in her arms making a highpitched noise that might be interpreted by the charitable as singing.  I looked at her and she pointed at the butterfly “dodo”.  “Oh” I said “is the butterfly going to sleep?”  She looked at me balefully, put her finger to her lips and hissed “Shh”. Two can play at that game. I picked up the butterfly and said “waah, waah, no, no”. She giggled and grabbed the butterfly back, put it in a cardboard box, patted it on the head and said firmly “dodo”. She then took my hand and walked me away. I think that, perhaps, my little girl might like a doll for Christmas.


on 22 September 2004 at 16:40

I still think it’s that extinct bird she’s after. Someone must have left the Natural Geographic channel on in front of her one night…


on 23 September 2004 at 11:18

Yes, silver, purely for her benefit. And I think she might like a doll’s house as well. Though, obviously, it would have to be kept out of her reach, in case she swallowed the furniture.
Hmm, maybe Locotes.

But is it art?

20 September, 2004 at 10:55 am by belgianwaffle

“This sculpture was conceived by the artist as a stage scene.  By opposition of edges and colours she suggests the multiple horixons of the singer, being a private man as well as a show man.”

Is this rubbish or have I got a closed mind?


on 20 September 2004 at 11:57

It looked like a high tech porta loo from the red side. Though I did like the way that you could see through it from the silver side. I dunno about the multiple horizons & stuff though.


on 22 September 2004 at 11:02

HJB, I’m with you. Cha0tic, am impressed by your artiness.

What scares the Princess?

20 September, 2004 at 10:33 am by belgianwaffle

You know she’s scared because she clutches her heart and starts to shake.

Mechanical noises: washing machine, tumble drier, dishwasher, hoover (oh God, the terror when she sees the hoover, let alone hears it, is pathetic), ringing telephones, including mobile telephones, loud humming from any mechanical device (e.g. supermarket fridge).

Car noises: backfiring, breaking suddenly, beeping horns, revving up, police and ambulance sirens.

Enclosed spaces without natural light: the cellar, public toilets, lifts.

Animals: dogs, cats, donkeys, rabbits, horses, cows, goats, sheep, chickens.

Illustrations of animals: dogs, horses (have you any idea how many books for small children feature these animals?)

Her own shadow (not a big problem in Belgium in Autumn/Winter mercifully).

Thermometers, facecloths, suppositories and the spoon from the baby nurofen bottle.  Yes, since you ask, she’s still sick.


on 20 September 2004 at 15:12

Anyone who is all fearty when faced with a hoover, washing machine, tumble drier, etc, sounds like she’s got her head screwed on right to me. Buy her a maid and she’ll soon overcome her fears.


on 21 September 2004 at 17:49

I’m not quite sure what to make of all that. It’s ok when she’s small, but you better get her over all these things by the time she’s 20 or she’ll have serious issues. So she doesn’t just get a fright and move on, she’s actually scared of these things all the time?


on 22 September 2004 at 10:44

Krista, stop it, you’re scaring me (clutches heart and shakes). Have googled “sensory integration” and am terrified. Silver, much more inclined to go with your views. Locotes, well, not everything all the time but she is a nervous little child, I blame her father.


on 22 September 2004 at 11:34

belgian, don’t worry, i am 24 and i am still terrified of loud noises – so much so my boyfriend automatically glances at me to check I am okay if there is a bang in the street. I can just about watch fireworks now, but when I was younger I’d hide inside. I’m also terrified to the point of tears by seagulls if they get anywhere near me, and by motorbikes. If I even see a motorbike I can feel my heart pounding and I do shake a bit.
It’s a big joke that I’m nervous of things and it hasn’t affected me really.
My dad used to scare me ‘for fun’ when I was little. Suddenly growling if I stroked his beard or shouting ‘BANG!!’ if I was touching a socket or something. He only stopped doing it because once I jumped so voilently I hit myself in the nose and got a nosebleed.
I was one of those kids that hated, hated, hated being thrown in the air and carried around on shoulders etc.
To be fair, I am terribly clumsy (this is also a big joke – ‘don’t let Em touch anything important!’) and not very good at dance etc and once a counsellor told me I had self-esteem issues but I don’t think I do.
So, basically, ummm – your kid is cute. Don’t worry too much.


on 22 September 2004 at 12:50

Em, this is very, very comforting. Thank you. She’s alright on the being thrown in the air thing (actually she likes that) but there’s no doubt that she hates loud noises. I think that she gets it from my father. He has started refusing to travel by air because he hates the noise of the PA systems so much. Have you any idea how long it takes to get from Cork to Brussels travelling by train and boat? Actually, not as long as you might think, but still, a while.


on 23 September 2004 at 03:26

Glad to hear I’m not the only one with a nervous child. My little girl (age 3) sounds a lot like yours–noises tend to startle and distract her. She is absolutely petrified of toys that make noise, which means we’ve had to disable every toy with a battery in it.
Oddly, she loves fireworks and amusement parks, so it’s not just noise, it seems to be only particular noises.
And, yes, she does have some sensory integration issues, but it’s really not as scary as you would believe from your reading (I believe a previous generation would have just called her a timid child and left it at that, but at least here in the U.S., we like to put labels on our kids and try to “fix” them).
I’m sure your princess is just fine–she looks like a beautiful and charming baby!
on 23 September 2004 at 04:33

What happens when they fire the cannons on her Pirate ship? 🙂


on 23 September 2004 at 11:20

Jan, I am much comforted, thank you. Our baby seems to be a happy enough child on the whole, so fingers crossed she won’t need “fixing”.
ChaOtic, they use a silencer.

Sick baby

18 September, 2004 at 2:25 pm by belgianwaffle

When we got home last night she had a temperature.  Put her into her pyjamas only pausing to insert a suppository (oh how she loved that) and her Daddy put her to bed and remained hovering and singing over her cot for half an hour until she dropped off.

Up again at 10.30 roaring.  Up at 12.47.  Up at 3.30.  Bloody electricity gone.  Make up bottle with aid of torch which Mr. Waffle has stashed beside the bed for just this kind of emergency. Very hot baby.  Decide to dose orally with Nurofen.  She takes one look at the spoon and starts to shake all over and scream blue murder.  How can they tell that it’s medicine?  I hold her while loving spouse tilts spoon down her throat. Very serious unhappiness. Electricity comes back.  Take baby to our bed to calm her down.  Takes about half an hour. Nurofen begins to take effect.  She feels strangely invigorated and starts requesting songs.  After an hour of popular favourites including “Row, row, row your boat” and, of course “Meunier, tu dors” consents to go back to bed.  She is much better this morning but we are sad shadows of our former selves.  Oh truly, a sick baby is utter misery.


on 20 September 2004 at 10:03

For a non-parent this is very insightful.


on 21 September 2004 at 17:07

Thank you. I try. For being so young and all…
*rolls eyes*


on 22 September 2004 at 10:48

Baby Locotes. There was an 80 year old woman at my mother’s golf club called girlie. She got the name when she was the youngest in a large family and it stuck. Maybe this will happen to you. Maybe you will be baby Locotes when we’re all 90 and you’re a sprightly 80. By the by, see Saturday’s Irish Times has an article about how Pana is all trendy now, is it true?


on 22 September 2004 at 16:26

Hmm…I see. To be fair I’ve been highly well-behaved on all these older blogs, not mentioning my youthful appearance and how my life is still all ahead of me, but perhaps a rethink is in order?
I can’t say I read the IT (obviously enough, they’re the enemy *spit* – but I actually don’t rate it much anyway), but Pana is definitely looking well. Were you not here only a while back? Or did you not leave Dublin? Anyways, I don’t know about trendy, but it certainly is all nice and flat and paved and tarmaced. Though as usual the local scumbags are trying their best to mess it up (but I don’t talk about that here in front of readers from other counties – you understand).


on 23 September 2004 at 11:24

Yes, I know the IT is the enemy and it’s very patronising about what it insists on referring to as “the provinces” but what can I do, I married out and himself likes it. Was home in August but everything was still a bit dug up and they certainly didn’t have tables out in front of Reidy’s.


on 23 September 2004 at 12:24

I only found out when I came into work this morning, but they actually had the official opening of the street last night, with parades and music and stuffed shirts posing for pictures, etc. Don’t know how I didn’t hear about that beforehand.
Yeah the tables and chairs outside are everywhere, there’s always a big crowd outside that place. You’ve heard about the new legislation that says the tables have to be put away by 9pm or so? A lot of fuss about it, not too bothered myself as I don’t smoke – MUCH more bothered about Michael Martin’s new scheme to raise alcohol prices – as if we weren’t being scammed enough. Grrr.


on 23 September 2004 at 14:53

Loc, you’re joking, they have to put the tables away. Why? Dutifully watched the official opening on RTE on the computer but a bit difficult to see and fuzzy so not really able to appreciate the grandeur of the street. Liked the woman who said “yeah, they got a Spanish architect to do it, it’s like something you’d see in Santa Ponza but I suppose we’ll have to live with it.”


on 23 September 2004 at 18:19

Please tell me that’s a true quote. Classic. She should know if she’s a true Northsider, seeing as she probably spends every summer there.
Not joking about the tables and chairs, it all has to be brought indoors at 9pm – to prevent chances of ‘public disorder’, i.e. they’re afraid some feen will get a chair across the head after a disagreement. You can see what they mean I guess, but it went down very badly.


on 23 September 2004 at 18:30

Seeing as the RTE website let you down, this might help a bit. Check here for People’s Republic pictures of the opening, and here for their article after the roadworks finished last month. Hilarious. Never say I don’t do anything for you.


on 23 September 2004 at 22:05

Not only is the quote true but here is the link – http://www.rte.ie/news/2004/0922/cork.html. Don’t say I never do anything for you and the squirrel. And NO, I have not had a bad experience with a squirrel. Enjoyed the PRC stuff. Ta.

Great constipation stories

17 September, 2004 at 8:02 pm by belgianwaffle

Check out the horrifying, toe-curlingly embarassing story on Dooce. Warning: this features what the author delicately calls “poop”…


on 18 September 2004 at 11:55

Hey what’s wrong with foreign toilets? Unless you mean those nasty older european ones with a waterless platform for you to deposit your sample on. I’m convinced they are there to stop men spending half an hour in the toliet. Who can sit there with the humm rising around you for longer than is absolutely necessary?


on 18 September 2004 at 14:19

What can I say lads, you’ll have to take it up with Dooce.

Friar Tuck

on 19 September 2004 at 00:46

How do you find these stories?! Do you google “poo” everyday? Come to think of it, that’s more exciting than what I do in my spare time.
I cannot relate to the foreign toilet problem either, although I was a little reluctant at first to use the old Italian-style hole in the floor that you squat over. I mean, how are you supposed to know if your aim is right?!


on 20 September 2004 at 10:34

No, you don’t need to if Dooce is one of your faves.

Hide and seek

17 September, 2004 at 12:09 pm by belgianwaffle

“Where’s my baby girl?”

Rustle from behind the curtains.

“Where’s my little girl?”

Giggle from behind the curtain.

“Is she gone out?”

Muffled voice from behind the curtain “All gone”.

Isn’t this cool?

jackdaltonon 17 September 2004 at 12:24

yep.. indeedy 🙂
You’re not a totally hopeless case as a mother after all….

Locoteson 17 September 2004 at 12:34

Ah it brings me back…..*sigh*….to be 21 again…

belgianwaffleon 18 September 2004 at 14:18

Jack, Minks, is Locotes a LOT younger than the rest of us or does it just feel that way?

NorahSplogon 19 September 2004 at 17:59

So sweet.

belgianwaffleon 20 September 2004 at 10:36

I know, she’s fab (doting parent noise).

I’m not sleeping

15 September, 2004 at 9:43 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle is away on business. It’s just me and herself.  So she said to herself “aha there will be no changing of the guard at 6.30 this evening, I think I will skip my nap. Today I will devote all my energies to determining whether I can stretch my mother’s patience to breaking point.”

We went to an exhibition (fancy a nap dearest? NO).  We discovered that we share a dislike of abstract expressionism (fancy a nap dearest? NO).  We had to have a cup of tea and a bun to recover (fancy a nap dearest? NO).  We went to the gallery and looked at the Belgian impressionists (fancy a nap dearest? NO).  We went home (fancy a nap dearest? NO).  We read some books (fancy a nap dearest? NO).  The Princess then invented a new game all by herself.  She stuck her finger so far up her nose that it was largely invisible and tried to do the same to me. My efforts to deter her met with hysterical laughter. Excellent new game.  Spent the evening protecting my nose from the dangerous digit while the Princess cackled manically.

Bedtime eventually rolled round and as her Daddy usually puts her to bed, I decided that she must be getting a little tired when she started wandering around the flat saying “Papa, Papa, Papa?” in an anxious tone of voice. So I compromised my linguistic integrity.  “Dodo?” I said. “Ah oui” she replied.  Vive la francophonie!


on 15 September 2004 at 22:05

Yes, mercifully…


on 16 September 2004 at 15:28

If I say ‘dodo’ enough, I’ve found that I fall asleep now too. Saves a fortune on ambiens.


on 17 September 2004 at 11:19

Silver, do you flail your little arms around like a flightless bird, this works for our baby..

Dressing to impress

12 September, 2004 at 10:29 pm by belgianwaffle

Yesterday, the Princess and I passed a juggler on the street.  I said “look sweetheart, a man with balls”. Hmm.

We went to a party last night. I had nothing to wear. No really. I knew I was in trouble when I hauled out my maternity party wear and my hockey skirt from the bottom of the wardrobe and seriously wondered whether I could wear any of these items.


on 13 September 2004 at 15:21

Is that what passes for sex education in the Waffle household?


on 13 September 2004 at 16:09

Hmm. Interesting Jack. Yes, Silver.

RockStar Mommy


on 14 September 2004 at 06:06

I actually wore one of my maternity shirts once way after I was pregnant because I had nothing else to wear and it looked really cute. You couldn’t even tell it was a maternity shirt though. I got so many compliments. Go figure.
on 14 September 2004 at 11:58

With a comment like that, you would have been perfect as a Dodgeball cast member….


on 14 September 2004 at 15:10

RockStar Mommy, I have looked at your photo album and see where you are coming from. I am, alas, only an aspirant rockstar Mommy and none of my maternity wear is likely to inspire compliments. I am reconsidering the hockey skirt though, little pleated skirts are very in, this season. Locotes, what’s dodgeball?


on 14 September 2004 at 16:29

Ahem. Dodgeball is a new movie comedy out with Ben Stiller. About the game dodgeball. Full of ‘ball’ related puns. Basic yet amusing. I’m sorry, I was far too modern with that comment – I’ll try and find a renaissance painter quip next time.


on 14 September 2004 at 16:47

Hockey skirt, hockey skirt, hockey shirt….. and a photo of same, legs included, on the Princess Diary please. Before Locotes has to make one…


on 15 September 2004 at 21:25

Locotes, thank you. Await reference to Botticelli masterpiece. Jack, hockey skirt is too large for Princess, it trails around her ankles..


on 16 September 2004 at 15:11

That’s it then smarty pants… we’ll just have to make our own.
You have been warned…


on 17 September 2004 at 11:19

Interesting prospect, Jack.

We do like to be beside the sea

10 September, 2004 at 11:30 am by belgianwaffle

Yesterday at the instigation of the Glam Potter, she and I along with our progeny went to the Belgian coast. So did every one else in Brussels which was why we had to stand all the way there on the train. I had never been to Blankenberg before and I liked it. It’s a lot more down at heel than Knokke and much more appealing. It is full of older people. We were nearly knocked down by a stampede of pensioners as we got off the train. “Anxious to make full use of the time they have left” observed the GP sagely. And it has slightly tatty shops. It is marginally more unspoilt than Knokke, but still boasts rows of high rise buildings on the sea front which is such a delightful feature of the Belgian coast.

We went to lunch in a place called Le Pingouin and if you ever find yourself in Blankenberg with a small child, I cannot recommend it too highly. It’s pleasant. They have high chairs. And colouring pencils. And lovely staff who are happy to reheat baby food and sweep up broken plates. Fantastic. And then on to the beach.

Girls ecstatic at sight of sea. Both ran down to the shore. Then retrieved by anxious mothers and put in their togs and smeared with suncream. Ran down to the shore again and ran screaming into the sea. Ran out again immediately roaring with indignation. “Cole” said the Princess pointing a finger quivering with rage at the water. Well, that’s the north sea for you girls. Their most recent experiences of sea had been in Guadeloupe and Sicily respectively and they hadn’t been fully aware that it came in different temperatures. The Princess, poured a bucket of sea water over herself to double check and confirmed her initial diagnosis. Very “cole”.

Nevertheless, they loved it and except for some mild bickering over buckets and spades all was rosy.

The next bit is only to be read by experienced parents or those with nerves of steel and strong stomachs (that means it’s off limits for you, C).

The Princess was wearing her Guadeloupe t-shirt, a present from baby L. I noticed a nasty brown stain around the hem. Alas. My worst fear had been realised. I grabbed the Princess and put her on the changing mat, which was sand free, however, the strong wind ensured that this was not for long.  She had produced what was, even by her high standards, an impressively large poo. She wriggled, I struggled, the wind blew, the GP commented from a safe distance – you’ve nearly got it all now – um, I think that’s some on her knee/your elbow/your t-shirt/um, is that some on the back of her neck? As I worked, the GP regaled me with some of her own great poo stories. Like the time baby L, naked, produced a perfect poo in front of a family group on the beach at Guadeloupe. Hard to know what the etiquette is there, I grant you.  Or the time the GP went in to baby L’s room to get her up for the day and heard her cheerfully singing to herself as she went in the door. That’s nice thought the GP. When she went in she found that baby L had stripped off all her clothes and produced a big poo which she had been busily smearing all over her person and the cot. “Poo” she said happily pointing to her arm as the GP recoiled in horror. Apparently it was like a dirty protest in there.

Anyway, I finished my labours, we finished our day at the beach and we all went home. When I got back, I had the revolting contents of a number of plastic bags to deal with. I decided that the best thing to do would be to suspend her togs in the toilet and flush a number of times before putting them in the washing machine. Can I offer some advice here?  Don’t try to clean togs in a toilet with a cistern which takes ages to refill while simultaneously trying to keep a toddler away but yet within view (so that she doesn’t kill herself on the million and one booby traps around the house). This advice is free. Anyway, once the flushing was over, I put my filthy cargo in the washing machine in the kitchen and put it on straight away, I mean, you wouldn’t want that to sit dirty in the washing machine for any appreciable length of time. Then after a thorough scrub for both of us, I began to prepare the Princess’s dinner. In the kitchen, with the washing machine on. She is scared of electrical appliances. Even very silent ones. She demanded to be held. Trying. I put her into her high chair with her dinner in front of her. She looked dolefully at the washing machine and held out her hands to be lifted up.  I encouraged her to try her dinner. She was hungry, she compromised.  Flushed with success, I decided to unload the dishwasher. She didn’t like that much.  She tossed her dinner from her and stood up in her high chair, I zoomed over and rescued her.  Mr. Waffle arrived home at that moment to find me covered in egg with a plate in one hand and a howling baby in the other. He hesitated on the threshhold of the kitchen.  “Nice day at the beach?”

Well, on the whole, yes.


on 10 September 2004 at 17:16

Can’t see the appeal myself, silver. Poo on the hem of a t-shirt does nothing for Princess’s street cred. And then exposing the royal bum in an attempt to have the offending substance sand blasting off…. god, some mothers are fierce cruel altogether.
[Wonder who won the bickering over those buckets and spades – waf or the glam potter?]


on 10 September 2004 at 17:19

Jack – you’ve not lived until you’ve sat in the highest chair in the room and just chucked your food any darn place you please.


on 10 September 2004 at 17:44

Do the liquid resources of a three-day party distributed from a mezzanine floor count as ‘food’?


on 10 September 2004 at 17:55

Probably not my first choice of repasts for, say, your in-laws. But then again…


on 10 September 2004 at 18:13
Comment Modified) Oh good! I’m covered so. Or rather just about everyone else in the place was.
Funny what seems funny when you’re there…. and shameful everafter!! (Of course that was the Older Me — I’m much better behaved these days.)


on 12 September 2004 at 22:24

Hey guys, glad you like the food throwing…

Further information on the linguistic regime

8 September, 2004 at 8:10 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle says it’s dodo not do do, so now you know, just in case it ever arises. Dodo in French is one of those false friends.

He further points out that her first sentence was a French one.  She said “Meunier tu dors“. In fact she says “Meunier tu dors” a lot. This is the first line of a French song her papa sings to her. It means “Miller, you sleep”. It goes on to describe the terrible consequences to his windmill.  I’m guessing here, but I suspect that she doesn’t know precisely what it means, so I’m not sure that counts. I therefore submit that the jury is still out on the first sentence.


on 08 September 2004 at 23:40

To be honest Loco, I thought it was something you trod in – not that I’m in the habit of treading on dead birds. Anyhow, I think it’d be so cool if the first words a child of mine spoke were French. Actually, I’d be quite chuffed if they weren’t swear words, but still – big up the Princess.


on 08 September 2004 at 23:41

I’d comment on this entry except that I’m still miffed about being stuck in the corner; lonely and unloooved…. And anyway, I reckon what she said was ‘moon ear two door’.And that’s not a sentence, even in Cork.


on 09 September 2004 at 19:57

Lucky Princess, I was very jealous of friends at school who were bilingual – it’s so exotic…


on 10 September 2004 at 10:59

Loco, I was hoping for the Banks, obviously. Silver, touched by your enthusiasm and, yes, swear words are a problem – we’re doing good work with darn now though. Jack, come out of the corner, we still love you, it’s only for your own good, it hurts me more than it hurts you etc. Lauren, early days really, so far she’s not even monolingual, but hope springs eternal.

Linguistic regime

8 September, 2004 at 4:41 pm by belgianwaffle

I’m going to tell you something I have been keeping from you. Mr. Waffle spent his very early years in Canada. French Canada.  And then when he came home, he went to the French school and he stayed there when his parents went to South America (except he went to the Venezuelan French school, if you see what I mean – as he tells it, it was all kind of similar, lots of stuff about “our ancestors the Gauls”). And so now, he speaks perfect French. And this is very handy. And we do live in a francophone country.  And it seems a shame to waste all this knowledge. So, to cut a long story short, before the Princess was born, I persuaded him that he should speak French to her. He was reluctant, but I was a pregnant juggernaut.

This has led to a number of difficulties which I had not anticipated. Firstly, Mr. Waffle spends a lot of time worrying over “bringing up your child to be bilingual” websites and secondly, whenever we meet Irish friends (from whom my loving spouse has spent a lifetime concealing his perfect French, for reasons I can’t entirely fathom, something to do with not showing off, I think) my husband communicates with his daughter in grunts.

A third difficulty has just emerged. The Princess is starting to talk. Before our holidays, she had a range of English words but due to intense hot housing from her father over the summer holidays, there’s no doubt that la francophonie is pulling ahead. You may think French is hard but there are a lot of easy words like “l’eau” for water and “la” for there and “dodo” for sleep (important note here, in case you might be hoping to use this expression in France – now that you regard this website as an authority on the French language – grown-ups say dormir but do do is permissible for the under 3s). And “oui” for yes.  Despite my promotion of the English alternatives, she is very taken with the French. Our conversations go like this:

Princess, pointing at fountain: L’eau, l’eau

Me: Yes, water.

P, in tones of impatience: L’eau, l’eau, l’eau.

Me: I see the water.

P, with pathetic sigh: L’eau.

Or another favourite:

Me: Would you like to go for a nap?

P – Blank expression.

Me: Nappedy wappedy (stop sniggering at the back).

P – Continues blank.

Me: Lie face on hand and make snoring noise.

P, in tones of delight: Ah, dodo, oui.


on 08 September 2004 at 20:12

Well, before we undertake that kind of commitment I’d like to know what your nap schedule is like.


on 08 September 2004 at 23:32

2-6, noon and night, occasional dribble naturally, and I get kind of needy if I’m not given a bottle of an evening.



on 09 September 2004 at 15:54

My husband is German and I am American and we adopted a baby (now 4 months) and will have a little boy in December. My husband ONLY speaks German to her and it is a race to see if she speaks the German or English first. We have many friends that raised bi-lingual children and the only disadvantage I have ever seen is a slight delay in speech in the beginning but it is amazing the advantage they have later on. Our friend’s (French/American)children know exactly who to speak what language to! Anyway, it is an interesting topic to explore. Feel free to follow our blog too, if you like.

on 10 September 2004 at 00:45

We have neighbors that did that, but once their little boy went to school he lost all his French. His mother, who is from Normandy, is devastated.
on 10 September 2004 at 10:56

Silver, you’re on. Thanks Krista, fingers crossed and all that. Beth, this is ominous. Maybe we’ll just have to send her to the French school so that she can learn about her ancestors the gauls..

No thank you, doctor

6 September, 2004 at 2:51 pm by belgianwaffle

The Princess and I are traumatised. I knew that there was going to be trouble when she took one look at the metre stick he was going to use to measure her and started to bawl hysterically. Her sobbing increased in intensity as he measured her head, weighed her, looked down her throat, put a stethoscope to her chest and shone a bright light in her ears. She looked at him dubiously as he paused in his labours to lay out his two shots and sobbed quietly. Her indignation increased ten fold when she discovered that he was going to give her one in the leg and then one in the arm. She only stopped sobbing as we were leaving and waved bye bye to the doctor in a feeble kind of way. She is now napping to recover from the trauma and I am having a cup of tea. Wait until I tell her that she has to go back for a booster shot in February.


on 06 September 2004 at 15:09

I remember going for a vaccination and being given a plaster for my teddy – I was so impressed that I forgot to cry.


on 06 September 2004 at 16:58

A free plaster always does that for me too Lauren.


on 06 September 2004 at 21:44

So.. why was he sobbing quietly after laying out his shots?
And can I have a plaster too, please?


on 06 September 2004 at 22:40

Do you ever think about the terrible shiver caused by a cold stethoscope one puts on your chest ?
For this reason at least, poor Princess’s anxiety is totally understandable. (^_^)
on 08 September 2004 at 16:15

Thank you chintzy. You are kind and good. Lauren, you were obviously a more sophisticated child than our Princess. Jack, that should be Silveretta’s line. Silver, are you feeding Jack lines? Thierry, the doctor says it’s a special paediatric non chill stethoscope but I don’t know why we should believe him, he made my baby cry.


on 08 September 2004 at 16:29

the princess and the pea …

Mostly about luggage

6 September, 2004 at 10:04 am by belgianwaffle

We had dreadful trouble with luggage this holiday.  Especially the buggy.  Considering that every time we took it to the steps of the plane every time, it was impressive that it was lost returning from Ireland to Brussels and then once recovered, lost again on the way from Rome to Palermo.  I must say, this cast a pall over the first couple of days in Sicily.  Lugging around a 10 kilo baby will tire you out.  Also, due to my superior Italian skills, I spent a lot of time on to lost luggage in Palermo airport.  This also cast a damper. After 3 days there was great news, the buggy had been found.  Mr. Waffle and his papa drove into Palermo (an hour and a half from our guesthouse) and tried to pick it up.  In this they were somewhat hampered by Italian bureaucracy. As they kicked their heels in the baggage hall waiting for someone to come and deal with them, Mr. Waffle senior saw a familiar purple and pink elephant.  Yes, it was Dumbo, attached to the buggy, you understand. Showing the kind of enterprise which has made him a captain of industry, he tucked it under his arm and walked out, dragging his son behind him.  The whole rescue was achieved without filling in a single piece of paper.  This was perhaps why Mr. Waffle was nervous when we checked back in for Palermo Rome and they said suspiciously “Hmm, I seem to recognise your name, did you lose some luggage?”. I’d say that the amount of paperwork associated with the buggy heist has made our name mud around the greater Palermo area.

For greater economy, we were flying point to point airlines and we had two hours in Rome to rescue our luggage from our Palermo flight and get it checked in for the Brussels flight.  In retrospect, this was too short.  Our Palermo flight was delayed by an hour and it took a good 35 minutes for the luggage to arrive off the plane.  We were busy formulating emergency overnight in Rome strategies, when Mr. Waffle decided that the Princess and I should go ahead and stall the Brussels flight.  Again, in retrospect, this was not a great idea.  We scooted off to the international terminal, a brisk 20 minute walk just in time to see 2 besuited Virgin officials leaving their post chatting amicably.  Frantically, I cut in front of two innocent souls at the top of the adjoining queue and panted “is the Bxls flight closed?”  “No, madam, you can check-in here”.  Fantastic. Now all I had to do was wait for Mr. Waffle and the luggage.  “Madam, you need to check in immediately”. “Um, yes, just need to make a quick phone call”.  Zoom off to sound of despairing sigh behind me.  Arrive at phone booth to find that it will not take 2 euro coins.  Reckon that this is the minimum I will need as Mr. Waffle has Belgian mobile. Curse at great length. Princess looks shocked. Appalled Italian lady presses 20 cents on me in the hope it will help. Go back and stand in front of check in lady. “My husband is just coming with the luggage.”. “I’m sorry madam, but we can’t wait any longer, you’ll have to check in now”.  Princess begins to wail in sympathy. Forgetting that I am in English speaking land say “Not now darling, Mummy is very tense”.  Mummy is not made any less tense by smirks of surrounding English speakers and reluctantly hands over passport and tickets and then – insert Chariots of Fire music – Mr. Waffle comes running around the corner, dripping sweat and carting our luggage.  Hurrah.  Nice check-in lady says we will have to run.  We do and arrive in good time to queue with other punters. And miraculously, all our luggage makes it to Brussels too.

Wedding Guests

At a wedding, you often get friends of the happy couple’s parents and so it was here.  I remarked to a nice Canadian lady, a friend of the Waffle seniors’ for many years that Mr. Waffle looked very handsome in his best man gear. Inocuous comment, you might feel.  She considered the remark carefully and said “You know, he is, he used to be very geeky, but he’s grown out of it”. As a friend of Mr. Waffle’s said later when I related this to him “I would never have said that – I might have said that he was good at maths or excelled in classics…” Clearly, the Canadians believe in telling it like it is.


on 07 September 2004 at 20:47

On behalf of the rest of the people of Ireland who blog on 20six, I would like to apologise for what Locotes has just said. You are not, in the eyes of the vast majority of us, a baggage.
Arrangements are now being made to have his green knee-socks, russet kilt, waistcoat and green hat taken away for storage in a safe place.


on 07 September 2004 at 22:31


on 08 September 2004 at 16:12

Hello lads. Locotes, I am touched by your comment and accept it in the spirit in which it was offered. Jack, go and stand in the corner.


on 08 September 2004 at 18:18

You’re most welcome.
*points and laughs at jack in the corner*


on 08 September 2004 at 23:26

Oh this is more of it… he gets to call you a baggage and all I get is the kind of treatment a tense mummy resorts too when the Cork Dry runs out…


on 10 September 2004 at 11:39

Now now lads, let’s put it all behind us..


4 September, 2004 at 12:29 pm by belgianwaffle

To celebrate the arrival of our new fridge, Mr. Waffle has taken the Princess to the supermarket to buy lots of frozen food, leaving me here all alone. Most thrilling. So let me use this time productively to tell you about our Sicilian odyssey.

Let me group my observations:


Do not for a second assume that by handwashing clothes you can clean them to the same kind of standard as a machine does. After ten days of handwashing, our clothes were filthy and revolting. My father-in-law, the captain of industry, also resorted to handwashing but, somehow, he never looked quite as grubby as us. On the plus side our clothes never blew away (held down by weight of accumulated grime). However, my mother-in-law determined that the capt’s clothes would never dry in the shower and put them on the balcony, from whence “a garment” drifted down into the private area of the guesthouse. A couple of days later I was witness to the exquisitely embarrassing moment when the lady of the house asked my poor mortified father-in-law whether the garment she was holding between outstretched finger and thumb belonged to him.

The Princess

She had the time of her life. There was not a moment when she was not surrounded by adoring admirers. One of our guidebooks said that the Sicilians worship children.  They’re not kidding. And then there were all the relatives. Dutiful grandparents who babysat and obeyed the imperial will. Publishing exec who was perhaps less instantly obedient to the royal will but still did her bidding on most requests.  She was strangely reluctant to fetch the Princess’s ball from wherever it was thrown. She explained, as she tried to catch the ball and missed, that she was never one of those hockey girls. Well no, I can see that, if she thought that you needed to catch the ball, that shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the game.

I regret to say, however, that the Princess was not in her best looks. On the first night she was eaten alive by mosquitos and she has, even now, not entirely recovered her looks. Then she looked like a small pox victim. In fact, someone at the beach asked whether she had chicken pox. This was not great for wedding pics. Oh well, she didn’t care.

And she loved the beach unconditionally. She loved swimming in the sea and playing with sand on the edge of the water. It was wonderful to see her little face light up when she saw the water. Due to her parents’ diligence she was not sun burnt once (smug face). On our last day an Italian lady came up to worship at her shrine and asked, looking at our milky white bodies, whether it was the first day of our holidays. No, I said, the tenth. She called her friends to come and look at us. It is difficult to maintain smugness in these circumstances.

The Food

Inexpressably fabulous. Best part was the wonderful Villa Raino where the food was the best we had in Sicily (and that’s saying something) and the people were fantastic. We may have been assisted by the fact that the bride’s father is a mate of the owner, but really, they were marvellous. The ten year old daughter of the house entertained and looked after the Princess, the mother ironed my going out dress for me. The father whipped up delicious meals at odd times and short notice. And they had a pool. When we go back, and we will be going back, we will spend all our time there.

Sicilians also do ice cream in a brioche bun which I thought was great, others were not so keen. My saintly father-in-law bought me some and then he watched me eat it through gritted teeth (his, not mine, you understand).

The wedding

My new sister-in-law is a very good looking girl and tall and thin and she dresses beautifully. I try not to hold this against her as she is also a really lovely person but you can imagine what a trial it is to me. For her wedding she surpassed herself, she looked unbelievably beautiful. And the church was gorgeous.  And the Italians played with the Princess at the back of the church while Mr. Waffle carried out his best man duties at the front. And the publishing exec sang and her cousin played. It was all lovely.

And then off to the reception. Italian wedding dinners tend to have many courses. The bride’s da wanted 12. She wanted 4. They seem to have settled on 8. My God, what a lot of food. We sat down about 8.30 (having first had some antipasti outside to take the edge off our hunger) and ate solidly until 1.15 in the morning.

Then for the speeches. This took the Italian relatives a bit by surprise as, given the length of dinner, they don’t go in much for speeches. All the speakers spoke in English and Italian. No surprises that the bride and her father spoke Italian, but I think everyone was amazed by Mr. Waffle’s fluency and his father’s. The groom had studied Italian, so less amazement there. In fact, Mr. Waffle is a con artist, he can speak a bit of Italian, but his vocabulary is minimal (he got an Italian colleague to help him with his speech). However, he has a brilliant Italian accent. So even though I speak far better Italian than he does, people always turn to him expectantly given his fabulous pronounciation. Life is full of injustice. Though all the speeches were very good, the big surprise was the groom. Like his brother, when asked to name an emotion, he will usually say something like “hunger, does hunger count?” In fact, more often than not, he will deflect questioners by saying “ah, you know yourself”. This is surprisingly effective. So, it was all the more touching to hear him speak affectionately about his bride in public and enumerate some of her many fabulous qualities. The publishing exec who, like her papa, is “made of reinforced marshmallow” wept copiously and a number of us shed furtive tears.

So then at 2 there was dancing. The brother-in-law used to play in a band and he imported them for the event. The lead singer described how he (b-i-l) had asked would they play at his wedding and they said – of course where is it, Dalkey, Killiney, Dun Laoghaire? No, Sicily. But they were committed by then. And they were a great band. Wedding bands are usually pretty awful. After they finished I told the lead singer that they were the best wedding band I had ever heard. He smiled politely. Mr Waffle hissed in a furious undervoice that they weren’t a wedding band, they were just doing this wedding. Oh well. Thrillingly, the groom joined them on keyboards for a while and we got to see him in action.

At 4.00 the disco started, but secure in the knowledge that the Princess would rise at 7 we reluctantly went to bed. This is officially the latest night we have had since she was born. And, we would have loved to stay later. Fantastic.


on 06 September 2004 at 09:38

Hmm. Pero, non credo che sia giusto…
Liked your post about your cv by the by.


on 06 September 2004 at 10:42

Triste, ma allineare…. 😉

Are you right?

3 September, 2004 at 10:23 pm by belgianwaffle

I’m looking for a CD of someone singing Percy French songs. Not hard you might think. Surely, it should be easy to find someone singing the work of the man who wrote such classics as the following:

You may talk of Columbus’s sailing
Across the Atlantical Sea
But he never tried to go railing
From Ennis as far as Kilkee
You run for the train in the morning,
The excursion train starting at eight
You’re there when the clock gives the warnin’
And there for an hour you’ll wait
And as you’re waiting in the train,
You’ll hear the guard sing this refrain-

Are ye right there, Michael, are ye right?
Do you think that we’ll be there before the night?
Ye’ve been so long in startin’,
That ye couldn’t say for startin’
Still ye might now, Michael,
So ye might!

They find out where the engine’s been hiding,
And it drags you to Sweet Corofin;
Says the guard, Back her down on the siding
There’s the goods from Kilrush comin’ in.
Perhaps it comes in two hours,
Perhaps it breaks down on the way;
If it does, says the guard, be the powers,
We’re here for the rest of the day!

And while you sit and curse your luck
The train backs down into a truck.

Are ye right there, Michael, are ye right?
Have ye got the parcel there for Mrs. White?
Ye haven’t, oh begorra,
Say it’s comin’ down tomorra –
And well it might now, Michael,
So it might.

At Lahinch the sea shines like a jewel,
With joy you are ready to shout,
When the stoker cries out, There’s no fuel,
And the fire’s taytotally out.
But hand up that bit of log there –
I’ll soon have ye out of the fix;
There’s fine clamp of turf in the bog there.
And the rest go a-gatherin’ sticks.

And while you’re breakin’ bits of tree,
You hear some wise remarks like these –

Are ye right there, Michael? Are ye right?
Do ye think that you can get the fire to light?
Oh an hour you’ll require,
For the turf it might be drier –
Well it might now, Michael,
So it might.

Well, devil a bit as my mother would say. The ignorant young people in the record shops in Dublin asked whether he was a solo artist or in a band. When I explained that he was a long dead lyricist (but very famous, truly), they looked at me blankly. I had discovered from my internet searches that he was also an inspector of drains but I didn’t go into this. I even went into the Irish music shop on Nassau street and the girl there had never heard of him but she summoned a more experienced man from the back of the shop. He was familiar with the great man’s works (we are not talking obscure here, everyone in Ireland must know the tunes, even the people who had never heard of him) but said that I would find it impossible to get them on CD. He was right. Even Amazon have failed me. OK a couple of websites do seem to offer PF CDs but only in exchange for your firstborn child and all your bank details. I hesitate.

Not anchored down in Alaska

3 September, 2004 at 10:01 pm by belgianwaffle

I’ll be back to Sicily later but in the interim, must tell you about my sister who is off on a cruise from Vancouver to Alaska. She has gone alone (this is the problem with earning twice as much as your contemporaries, you want to go on holidays they can’t afford) and is almost the only single person on board. The other passengers consist almost entirely of couples on honeymoon and elderly souls spending the inheritance before their kiddies get their grubby mitts on it.

Highlights have included lots of glaciers, icebergs and a plane ride around Mt McKinley (I told you that it was an expensive holiday).

Lowlights have included the singles night when she and 7 ladies in their sixties were the only attendees. Apparently the event ended earlier than scheduled.

Paying a positively obscene amount of money for a single supplement (of course, she now understands why they discourage singles).

Seeing staff remove the two beds from an adjoining room, remove the carpet and enter with a new one – only possible explanation someone has been very violently ill (my suggestion that a wave may have come through the window was dismissed with scorn – “we don’t have windows down here”. Mother of God, for that kind of money she doesn’t even get a window.).

Hearing an elderly couple who have adopted her for the trip describe attending an event entitled the marriage game. Given the demographics of their audience, she feels that they could easily have skipped the “where is the most exciting place you ever had sex” question.

I bring you this news from Juneau, Alaska from whence she just rang me on her mobile. I find that a little weird. She tells me that for a place that is connected to nowhere by road, Juneau has a lot of traffic. So now you know.


1 September, 2004 at 1:36 pm by belgianwaffle

It’s all so long ago now. First Dublin, grandparents were dutifully wonderful and, as far as I can remember, it was all about abandoning the Princess with her unfortunate grandparents while skipping off to town or to dinner or to shop. Princess had a fabulous time as did we. She became very interested in the picture in our bedroom (which is the pub exec’s room when she comes home) which was “The Fall of Icarus”. This enabled Mr. Waffle to do some work on his “Greek myths for the under twos” project. “Icarus flies like a birdie, cheep, cheep. Icarus is too close to the sun. Hot. Hot. All fall down. Into the water, splish, splash.”

Cork involved two trips to the beach. On both occasions the Princess threw up due to what Mr. Waffle refers to as my exciting driving style. It also poured rain. While the rain and the vomit significantly dampened our enthusiasm, they in no way impeded the Princess’s enjoyment of events. So keen is she on her bucket and spade that she has been known to sit on concrete and play with imaginary sand. The sight of the real thing and sea made her a very happy girl. Other than the rain and vomit, Cork was a lot like Dublin. My loving parents minding the Princess while we ran off and disported ourselves around the real capital. Also, we met more babies. A lot of people in Cork come pre-equipped with babies. Including one old friend who was duly mortified when his three year old spent his time with us weeping and clutching his (the father’s) arm saying “I want to go home”.

So, to summarise, we met a range of people in both locations, all of whom insisted on paying for our food and drink. Since leaving Ireland we appear to have lost the knack of paying for ourselves or anyone else. We will spend the time between now and December trying to pay for other people’s meals to get in training for the rematch over the Christmas holidays.



on 03 September 2004 at 21:49

Jack, a sweetie, I’m overwhelmed. Ta.

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