But this is the conundrum of nationalism, the wasting disease of conservatism. We want to have our homes, untouched, to come back to. But we soo want to travel and taste the delights that others take for granted.
You can have my parsley....
This petty provincialism denies our shared pasts. A little trick I used to play on my classes was to ask whether anyone had heard of Ox-tail? Ox-tail soup? Perhaps ox tongue (not many takers there) or ox heart, or, maybe, an ox-cart? But then who had ever tasted an ox steak? Filet mignon de ox? Ox sirloin?
And so, when we had agreed that steaks came from boeuf, we wondered where the boeuf tails, tongue, heart, liver, kidneys and other unspeakable bits ended up.
And, surprise, surprise, we made a discovery. The French-speaking Norman invaders, who made up and gave us the ruling class, ate the best bits, the beef. The working classes, who were more likely to speak a bit of Saxon or Old English, and who couldn't afford the good things in life, had the offal, the bits of ox, that never got near to veal or beef....
[And that's what gave us Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson! born New York, 19/06/64]
But I digress.....
When I was a child, I spake as a child, and had a school friend who spoke French. He lived in Belgium, which was quite extraordinary as we had picture books of the war and Belgium had been destroyed. But, he told us, from under his very suspicious blond crew cut, that in Belgium people spoke not only French but another language, which I thought he told us was Walloon, though no one ever corrected me on this...
He also told us that there was a thing there called The Atomium which was a giant Iron Molecule you could get inside.
Do you really wonder why we think Europe is dangerous?
This is the molecule. I couldn't get inside it because every Belgian that ever there was was trying to get in, today, because, today was the day they remembered their dead. (Or rather, it was a public holiday for All Saints and All Souls and there didn't seem to be anywhere else to take the kids.....)
But I digress....
I like fish....
But I also like rabbit.
Though for a moment I thought the cherries might have been part of the animal.
In general I prefer my road kill to be more artistically presented:
And I like to see my food participating in the rituals:
You could be mistaken in thinking that Belgians tend to be grey, and very passive,
But it's not at all true. They are very colourful:
And they love to drink, sociably:
I'll say that again.
They love to drink. Sociably:
No, really. They are very sociable. It's a real cafe society,
Where one always feels welcome:
And there would never be even the slightest hint of Russian interference.
After all, this is the home of the European Parliament (Nigel Farage et al.....ndr)
Sorry. Wrong picture.
This is the home of the European Parliament:
And this is what Belgians do at night.....
That is, when they are not lighting up the Town Hall......
Or rather not lighting it up because the Politie are preserving us from harm,
I wonder what my Grandmother thought of all this, when she recovered from her fall?
I wonder what Charlotte and Emily Brontë thought of it all when they wandered the streets as Flaneuses?
I'll ask someone.....Excusez-moi?
Nah, not interested. I'll try someone else.....
Occupied.... One more try......
Monsieur. Excusez-moi, mais connaisez-vous Charlotte Brontë?
Oriana Fallaci? Bien sur. Elle est morte depuis quelques ans....
Ah well! Sad, really, as I had brought her some sweets, as flowers are perishable....
Puis les bonbons c'est tellement bon
Bien que les fleurs soient plus présentables
Jacques Brel (again....)
Les Bonbons (1964)
Bien. I'll to confession. To join Charlotte in the great Cathedral of Ste Gudule where vespers are taking place.....
An odd whim came into my head. In a solitary part of the Cathedral six or seven people still remained kneeling by the confessionals. In two confessionals I saw a priest..... I took a fancy to change myself into a Catholic and go and make a real confession to see what it was like.....a little wooden door inside the grating opened, and I saw a priest leaning his ear towards me. I was obliged to begin, and yet I did not know a word of the formula with which they always commence their confessions. It was a funny position..... I commenced with saying I was a foreigner and had been brought up a Protestant. The priest asked if I was a Protestant then. I could not tell a lie, and said 'yes'. He replied that in that case I could not 'jouir du bonheur de la confesse'; but I was determined to confess, and at last he said he would allow me because it might be the first step towards returning to the true church. I actually did confess - a real confession....
So like Theresa May and David Davis....
My words fly up, my thoughts remain below.
Words without thoughts never to heaven go.
So like all of us, singing for alms under concrete forms while the world walks by.