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2010-08-03 21:02


With two(2) small childrens and two(2) daily newspapers, it takes more than good intentions to keep our posting rate up.

But the morning krant didn't come today, so here is a round-up of the important Belgian news.

item Won't someone think of the Cherman-speakers? (In the event of Belgian disintigration, that is: Cherman is also an official langwidge of Belgium.) Well, yes, they will.

item Prinses-to-be Charlene of the Car-Park and Principality of Monaco. You can never have enough prinsesses, isn't it? Even if they are called Charlene.

Anyway, we heard a rumour that Monaco owes its continued existence as a car-park, tax-haven and principality to the continuing existence of a direct male lineage of prinses, and certainly there has been enough hints in Bertie's direction over the years that he might like to settle down and get on with that. And now it looks like he's doing just that.

item Iceland is officially negociating to join the EU.

Now Iceland, as it happens, is only partially located on the Eurasian tectonic plate, a fact which is often held to be of insurmountable significance when it is made about Turkey.

Iceland, somehow, not so much. Possibly even the racistes are dimly aware that plate tectonics is not an especially good basis for social geography, but we for one look forward to flinging the precedent in their future faces.

2010-07-18 12:34

Moondag Review of Stuff

The Global Soul, by Pico Iyer.

It is scarcely possible to be more scathing than the front-cover blurb from Tatler, which declares it to be "definitely the book to take on holiday with your essential oils and gingko biloba memory pills", but we warn our Varied Reader that we intend to try.

As a jet-lagged Fellow at Davos he listens to "a scientist telling his groggy audience that attention skills fall 500 percent after a long distant flight" (p.13), which is certainly a lot. At the Barcelona olympics he writes of an excited Bhutanese archer that "she had never seen an ocean before" (p.178).

(And this in a book whose afterword finds space to congratulate two(2) separate editors on their acuteness.)

It's not in details that Iyer infallibly gropes for wrongness: in his chapter on England he tells of the modest crowd of the fifth-day at a Test match against the dominant West Indies and when England achieve an unlikely victory he singles out Mark Ramprakash, whose career would go on to be dogged by inconsistency, as the exemplar of a post-colonial England.

To cap it off, he contrasts the cricket with a packed Wembley as the London Monarchs play the Barcelona No-Name-Givens in the "newly popular" American football league in Europe. Which of course swiftly dwindled to a Cherman league (with an outpost in Amsterdam) of second-rate players, before its largely unmourned cancellation last year.

But the book also aspires to having a point as a whole: the eponymous conceit is born of Iyer's own status as the son of Indian parents who, lacking a shared mother-tongue, brought him up only in English in England and California, from where he attended an English public school.

The rest of the book is mostly a search for metaphors of his own condition, although in the post-national mosaic of Toronto, like almost everywhere else, he finds that whenever their are enough immigrants of a given kind (X, say) they promptly cluster together in miniature X-towns, and the multiculturalism rarely extends further than the cliches of music and food.

On the rare occasions he meets genuinely kindred spirits he portrays them as effervescing on the nature of their own post-nationalism, and we for one find that it has all the charm as a bunch of English gap year students deconstructing the Teletubbies in a youth hostel in India or Peru.

We did like the chapter on Japan, though. Iyer has set up home there, and in his exasperating way has preserved his suburb of choice as an exotic wilderness by jealously guarding his illiteracy in the language and neglecting to speak it better than a three(3)-year old. This, like so much else, makes you glad that he is out of slapping range, but also allows him to portray the superficial gawpables of Japan with an expertise and intimacy that the short-term touriste would find hard to match.

In the interest of "balance", you can still read the Observer's take from 2000, although the Graun's (also blurbed) seems to have been eaten by a grue.



2010-07-11 19:14

As the orange vuvuzelas start to blow

First things first: Dutch for the colour orange is "oranje", but the fruit is bizarrely called "sinaasappel".

Secondly, we've been here for four(4) years now, and as a spouse of a native we qualified for citizenship after three(3) years. The delay is mostly paperwork aversion, but there is also a lingering pre-regret at effectively abandoning any chance at a Belgian passport.

These dags you can barely move for Serious Bladet Articles reproaching the cosmopolitan elites for their rootlessness (sadly, we do not kid), but we do have a national identity and roots and all that, they're just not those of our various lands of birth and residence.

Thirdly, the Countess is lying on the sofa with a book, which is her preferred way to digest live sport.

2010-07-10 19:26

Uvular trill

Now that baby Egberdina is largely on the mend from her colics, she is turning out to be fairly aimiable. She particularly likes company, and seeks to express her pleasure via a voiced uvular trill. Since she is after all a baby, the family von Bladet as a whole is now expert in voiced uvular trills to encourage or respond to her.

It's a shame we don't speak any languages which call for that, really.

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