Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Last Sunday I was a victim of a serious crime. Grand theft, to be precise. And the worst thing is that it happened right under my nose.
The crime scene was the swimming pool. There were loads of people, and to me everyone of them is a suspect. If they weren’t actively participating in the theft itself, they were at least passive accomplices, playing the innocent fools who have nothing better to do than bobbing around in the water between me and my priced possession, which was waiting for me at the side of the pool.
I suspect the pool guards were in it too. How else can you explain that the thieves operated right under their noses without them noticing anything? They must have been bribed, I tell you.
After an hour or so of toning my body to absolute muscular perfection, I got out of the pool. It was then when I noticed: my shampoo bottle was nicked. Against better hope I looked around for it, but undoubtedly it had already been transported across the border. The bribed pool guards did their best to give them even more respite, blatantly refusing to call the Federal Police, the Special Intervention Squadron and Interpol. Valuable time was lost this way!
The theft has had a great impact, as this shampoo bottle had great emotional value. It had been in our family for… well a month at least. And it was half full too when that mysterious crime syndicate with its tentacles around the globe robbed it as a part of their scheme to get their hands on nuclear fission material out of the former Soviet-Union.
While the investigation is running, I shall have to do with a spare bottle of shampoo. Next weekend I will buy a heavy shampoo-lock. And a shampoo-bottle alarm! Which reminds me, I must call the mayor of Antwerp tonight to demand that safes are installed by the next time I go for a swim – that would be next Sunday. Better call the PM too, to release the necessary funding.
I refuse to be victimised!
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Hail King Winter!
It’s been freezing these last couple of days. Finally, you could say, because it has been unseasonably warm this winter. So much so, that I discovered a been on our front door last Sunday, when we went to the swimming pool. In our front garden, which faces south, the flowers are pushing up and showing their heads. You can hear some birds that you wouldn’t hear normally before spring singing too. So we will probably loose a lot of plants because now the temperature finally dropped to normal lows for this time of year.
I’m glad it’s cold now. Frankly I find it a bit worrying. Not that this winter is so warm, but that it’s one in a whole series. Temperatures have been breaking records for the past decade or so. This year we had the warmest July, September, October, November, December and January ever (or at least for decades). And the previous five records fell in the last ten years or so. Except May of course, when we had our marriage: it was freezing and raining with gusts of wind like in autumn. Figures.
If it continues like this, I wonder if my kids will ever be able to play in the snow here, like we used to do when I was young.
Monday, January 22, 2007
You Haul 16 Tonnes
Last Saturday, I decided to clean the rubbish out of our garden and bring it to the container park. Because of the refurbishing of the dining room (that we don’t use to dine) and our bedroom, and the reparation of the roof of the annex, we had a number of piles of various types of debris in the garden.
First the unsuspecting visitor would stumble upon a mighty hill of
wooden beams, planks, etc. some of which were pierced by huge nails.
Then there would be various smaller heaps of plastic, wiring, ceiling
tiles, etc. Scaling these, the weary traveller would see the mighty
peaks of the Mount Plaster mountain range, which stretches along the
concrete garden enclosure and dominates the garden. The brave explorer
who overcomes the dizzying heights and barren wastelands of these mighty
ridges will see the dark, foreboding heights of Mount Pungent at the far
end of our garden. Mount Pungent was formed
billions of years
a couple of months ago when we cleaned the roof. It consists of a
mixture of silt, pebbles and huge amounts of rotten organic matter,
hence its name.
In September I attacked Mount Plaster for the first time. The problem is that I couldn’t use a wheelbarrow because there are two S-curves in our house that I have to get around, which is impossible without throwing everything out of the wheelbarrow. So I shovelled everything into big plastic boxes that I have to carry through the garden, then the small hallway in the back of the house, the kitchen, the dining room and the hallway, out through the front garden where I can finally dump my load in the trunk of our car. However, there was a lot of wind on Saturday so the doors of these various rooms kept slamming shut. That meant that I had to swear, put the box on the ground, swear again, open the door, swear, lift the very heavy box, swear profusely, hurry forward while swearing and trying to make it to the next door before it slammed shut right in front of me, all the way swearing and making exhaustive lists of four-letter-words. Other reasons to swear were cat toys, cats and a number of phone calls from the wife who had gone shopping but left her keys at home.
It was much heavier than last time too. The rain had soaked the plaster/sand, which made it harder to shovel and heavier to carry. After five boxes the car’s suspension had lowered impressively. The worst thing was that after all my hard work, Mount Plaster was barely a meter or so shorter than it was before. There’s still five to six more meters to get rid off, and then there is Mount Pungent.
I stuffed the rest of the car with the wood and other garbage. Luckily, I remembered that the lady next door had asked if I had any wood for their stove, so I went over to ask if the offer was still valid. A couple of minutes later most of it had disappeared over the garden enclosure.
So at least the garden looks a lot less derelict, although I still have two heaps of rubble to get rid off. Unfortunately it started to rain profusely when I was unloading the car at the container park, so I couldn’t return for a second tour of duty. I suspect that our cats were very pleased that I couldn’t. They have been using Mount Plaster as their toilet, a fact that I discovered when I removed a piece of ‘clay’ out of the car with my bare hands.
Friday, January 19, 2007
The Mexican Dish
Today’s dinner is The Mexican Dish. Contrary to what its name suggests, The Mexican Dish was not invented by a Mexican. It was invented by my sister in law when she was in college and quickly made furore in my wife’s family. They all love it.
The Mexican Dish contains rice, peas, paprika cut in dices, finely chopped up onions and ground up beef. Oh, and loads of curry powder. To me, it looks more like Asian curry-rice than a Mexican dish, but who am I to criticise my sister-in-law?
The Mexican Dish is certainly healthy. And it’s not that it tastes awful, in fact I think it would go well with, uhm… Asian types of food. But my sister-in-law devised it as a complete dish in itself, and this is what I have in front of me. No extras.
When my wife first made it for me, she had been bragging for weeks about how good it tastes and how popular it was in her dorm at the university. Her student friends loved it to the point where they practically gorged themselves till they burst. Because our love was then still young and fresh, I succeeded in hiding my true opinion about the Mexican dish. But that was already a couple of years ago and since then my lack of enthusiasm has seeped through.
Last time it was already bleeding obvious that this is not my favourite dish. My main objection is that it is, well… bland. You just shove it in your mouth, there are no crunchy bits or something to bite through or cut up or anything. Instead of eating, I feel like am grazing.
‘Don’t you like it’, she asks kindly, like a Gestapo officer ready to beat her prisoner with the back of her hand if the answer he receives is not to her liking.
I decide to be honest. Honesty is important in marriage.
‘Well, it’s not bad’, I begin prudently – trying to soften the coming blow. ‘But to be honest I find it a bit bland.’
She looks at me in a very stern way. ‘It was a very popular dish at my dorm, you know. Everybody loved it. In fact they loved it so much that they gorged themselves till they burst. We all love this dish at home. It was my sister who invented it…’
I munch and listen patiently.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
‘Let’s go swimming today’, said my true love last Sunday.
An excellent idea! We’d been talking about having a swim for ages, but you know how it goes when nobody actually holds a gun to your head.
‘Better try on my bikini first’, she continues. ‘I’m not sure it still fits.’
A wise decision. Since she’s pregnant certain body parts have been expanding exponentially. Big boobs are definitely a plus of making your wife pregnant.
The lower part of the bikini fits without alarming stretching sounds, but then again she’s only four months into her pregnancy. The top part is another matter however. Where there was ample room before, there is little left to spare now. But it still fits, just.
‘That’s all right then’, she says, and stretches her arms up in a swimming motion.
TWAOANG !!! - goes the bikini as it shoots right under her nose.
In a reflex, I check the ceiling for boobs. But a second later I discover to my great relief that they were firmly attached and are still in place.
After howling and screaming with laughter for the next half hour we finally set off to the swimming pool. Luckily the bikini stays in place, although I suspect that this little group of adolescents in the deep end would have liked it otherwise.
Friday, January 12, 2007
Boy Or Girl
We went to the gynaecologist yesterday, and this time we didn’t forget
the bloody video tape. The
gycololo man asked us last
time if we wanted to know whether we’re going to have a baby girl or a
baby boy. At first we said we wanted it to be a surprise, but after the
last scan we started to doubt and we ended up admitting to each other
that we were very curious to know. Not in the least to facilitate the
discussion about names. We quickly agreed on a name for a girl, but we
were still bickering on over boys’ names.
So yesterday the
gylea baby man gave us a close
encounter with our child-to-be. As every, it was very moving to see our
baby. And then he showed us the baby’s nether regions. And it’s a girl.
Or a boy. I really wasn’t paying attention, what with all the
interesting machinery and stuff. I’m quite sure it’s one of both. Gee,
if only I could remember… Must review that tape some time!
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Bart’s Yer Uncle
Yesterday evening my sister gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. At least we’re told she’s beautiful, but we’re going to check that on Saturday.
Little Hebe weighs three and a half kilos and measures a healthy 50 centimetres. Apparently it took my sister only four contractions to push her out, so she was very eager to conquer this world. Mrs. Bart just hopes that her labour will be as short as my sister’s.
Marriage already made me an uncle of four girls, but this is the firstborn in my side of the family. My sister is three years younger than me, which just shows you how lazy I’ve been in the hunt for a partner and the race for offspring. My father has been leaping with joy when he learned he would become a double granddaddy in 2007. It was about time, in his opinion.
The pressure on my brother, on the other hand, will become relentless.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Dressed For The Cold
It’s January so the winter sales have arrived. Women love this time of year, men hate it and I am no exception. But I had to face facts: the winter coat I once had bought to withstand the Bosnian and Kosovar snow, ice and cold (down to -30°C) is now nothing more than a thin and ragged shadow of itself. I also needed some new shoes – desperately – as I’ve explained earlier.
First stop: Premaman, a shop for baby-and-mother-to-be-wear. I join the corps of uneasy dads and dads-to-be as we focus on the technical aspects of the trolleys and toys, trying to avoid actual eye-contact with the women’s clothes (especially underwear). My wife robs halve a shelf clean, dives into a fitting booth and summons me to put back the ones she discarded. She kindly asks my advice, which is like asking a snake which shoes she should wear.
Luckily this ordeal is quickly over and we drive to the city to throw ourselves between the hordes of sales hunters. Sales hunters live in packs and are matriarchal. The alpha female takes the lead and is followed by a very annoying looking/very angry/very bored/very passive male and her crying/whining/half-sleeping offspring. The crowd quickly got on my nerves and after two and a half shops I’m making plans for a dashing escape, leaving the wife and the other members of the buying-frenzy behind.
When Mrs. Bart realises that it is futile to keep hanging around in a store after I decided that I don’t like it from the moment I set a foot in it, we quickly find a nice warm coat. For those amongst you who want detailed information about how it looks: it is a brown coat. With sleeves. And pockets.
Finding shoes is less evident. To make things worse, my traditional shoe shop has changed its buying and price policy and only has shoes that will brake apart when I walk ten meters in them. But just when I think I will have to keep my old shoes with the broken soles that absorb water like SpongeBob SquarePants after a desert holiday, we finally find a nice pair.
So now I am all set up with my nice warm coat and my nice warm, waterproof winter shoes, global warming is making a mockery of my efforts. It’s been unseasonably warm this week. Temperatures sore up to a balmy 14°C, while they should be anywhere between -5 and +4°C. I’m sweating like a malaria patient in this coat. It’s too warm, I want my money back!
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
I should have been in Algeria right now, but the obvious lack of desert and camels and the high number of pubs and fry-shacks tell me that I’m still in merry old Belgium. The people who invited me send me the paperwork for my visa-application just before Christmas. So naturally, my application drowned in the big heap of travel documents that are requested around that period. My colleagues went several times to the consulate, but they were blocked by two cunts (hence: cunt-sulate, woohah!) that just kept on saying ‘no’, without specifying why. So a number of strings had to be pulled to find out what was wrong, and the end result is that my application is slowly rising in the Algerian consulate’s stack of paperwork.
But we still had to cancel my plane ticket, and now I’m completely in the dark about when I can leave. I do have to leave and preferably as fast as possible because another mission to Niger is awaiting me somewhere in February.
Makes you really appreciate democracy and free transit of persons, goods and services. Three cheers for the Union!
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Someone kicked my wife in the belly tonight. It wasn’t one of my feet, because they both have an alibi. The kicks came from inside her belly.
It’s a complete mystery.
Maybe we should call a famous Belgian detective to solve this case.
Friday, January 05, 2007
I took a bath this morning, to scrape away the layers of sweat, grease and dead micro-organisms. Macka, our tiger-striped cat accompanied me in the ‘bathroom’, or rather that corner in the kitchen where our mini-tub stands. I separated it from the rest of the kitchen with some pieces of cardboard and old curtains from our previous living room, so now we can at least warm it up to above freezing point.
Anyway, halfway through my cleaning process, I noticed that the little mat next to the little bath was very wet. That’s not very abnormal because when I sit in the bath, I can add just about a litre and a half of water before it’s filled to the rim. So occasionally I do splash a bit on the ground.
When I got out to dry myself, I couldn’t avoid standing on the wet and cold mat. But then I noticed a strange smell. As you know I’ve got a serious cold so smelling is not my fort right now. However when I lifted the mat to hang it over the side of the bath the conclusion was inevitable. Macka had pissed on the carpet.
And I had been standing in it for ten minutes, barefoot.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Habby Noo Yeah
10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1… Happy New Year! Mwhah mwhah! Best wishes!
And good health to you!
We celebrated New Year’s Eve with a bunch of friends who had invited other friends and their relatives with their friends. So we found ourselves surrounded with lots of interesting and less interesting people, people we knew very well, people we hadn’t seen for ages and people we didn’t know at all. So what do you wish for people you don’t or barely know? A good health of course, because after train loads of beer and champagne you’re not going to come up with anything more original. And what do you get in return? A shipload full of viruses!
So two days ago, the flue kicked in and drove my wife to bed very early. That left me with alone with a mountain of dishes to wash, and as anyone knows washing the dishes is very bad for your health. So yesterday, we both were moaning, wheezing and sneezing in bed. The advantage is that we could go to the doctor together, but the bastard still charged us for two consults. Our illness was identified as an ‘unspecified viral hotsamatotsy’ (the last word is made up as I don’t know the right English translation for what he said). It’s not a real flue, but still it managed to keep us awake for two nights with dry, rasping throats, hot flashes followed by spine chilling colds invading our bodies and feeling around for a hanky that isn’t as soggy as a wet mop yet to get that barrage of mucus out of our noses.
Mrs. Bart was feeling well enough to go to work today, but I’m still a wreck. The disadvantage is that there is no-one around to hear my wailing calls and provide me with hot drinks and loads of kisses. The cats pretend to sympathise, but I know they’re just friendly so they can lie in front of the stove all day. So I threw them out in the cold rain half an hour ago, the hypocrites.
The doctor said I’d be out until the end of the weekend, but on Monday I have to leave to Algeria for two weeks. People there are eagerly waiting for me to spread my wisdom about how to reach universal peace, wealth and democracy in ten easy steps. But since I won’t be able to prepare that mission properly, they might end up in an endless cycle of conflict, despair and poverty instead.
Better drag my ass to office tomorrow then.