Sunday 20th May 2007

Living in Belgium was never designed to be understandable. In England you get a bank holiday and most places are still open. In Belgium you get a bank holiday on Thursday and everywhere is still closed on Saturday. Firstly there was the Post Office. On Friday we got a delivery of post but the Post Office was closed. On Saturday I don’t think we got a delivery of post and the Post Office was closed again for good measure. It seems that Ascension is a four day weekend as well as Christmas and Easter. In England you are lucky if anywhere closes for Christmas. There bank holidays are busier for some types of business than on normal days. In Belgium clearly families have something better to do than try to spend money. So after the Post Office we drove over to somewhere out past the south side of Antwerp, called Temse, to a big car showroom that looked as though it would be really good. It would have been really good if it had been open. We drove back to the little car showroom near where we live and it was open. The logic is difficult to understand. Having got as far as deciding I liked the car we got onto the difficult questions such as “what colour would you like Alfie?” I’m a dog for heavens sake, I don’t even see in colour. Just humour her I thought, so I pointed at the one in the showroom I liked best. It was more that I liked the car than the colour but it seems to have been good enough for my mistress. The interior was more difficult. She wants a light colour and I had to say it was only going to be ok if she promised not to shout at me if I accidentally get it dirty. As it turned out the one she really wanted would have taken a year to order so we compromised. This should have been a moment of celebration, so we went to McDonalds to get my mistress an apple pie. Disaster struck. McDonalds have stopped selling apple pies here. My mistress is inconsolable. The whole thought of a new car has been utterly ruined by Ronald McDonald withdrawing apple pies from the menu in Wijnegem. Her heart wasn’t in anything else all day. In the circumstances it is my job to cheer her up, but what do you say to someone who can’t eat lots of foods and suddenly discovers that one of the few treats they can have has been withdrawn.