The Belgian national symbol is perhaps the Manneken Pis, the fountain of the boy taking a pee. The boy’s attitude is roughly that of each Belgian community to the other, and, for that matter, most of the peoples surrounding them (the statue is much older than the country). It’s not as bad as it seems; those two Belgian communities have been united and bickering since 1830. It’s expressed in a dry, evil sense of humour, which is half the reason I liked the place.
My first Belgian client had offices in Ypres, with two conferences rooms. The second overlooked a German WW1 graveyard. Visitors were always put in the first conference room … except Germans: they went next to the graveyard. Those German visitors who got the joke appreciated it, apparently.
Belgium isn’t boring, it’s subtle and funny. It was an interesting place to live. But my work’s taken me to Ireland.
My first impressions of Dublin are pretty negative. I’ve seen some sober locals, but I’m not convinced they’re in the majority. Admittedly, I’ve only been here three days; hardly time to form a proper impression. The Irish company with whom I’m working seem sober and effective. But if you can judge a country by the people on its streets, and I think you can, then Ireland, with its many drunks and beggars, has a bloodshot, unhappy face.