Unearthly din here. A couple of guys in cleaning our ancient gas heaters. My laptop is on the fritz or I'd take pictures of the things for you, they're fucking museum objects that roast you if you're close and seem to suck all the warmth out of the chilly fucking air if you're far. But I have some fondness for them. Just a general concern that one day they'll poison us. Hence the entretien.
They arrive five minutes early, and after the pleasantries (because Belgians are pleasant, no matter how badly I've been annoyed from time to time over the last year because of moments I felt were evidence proving the theory that Belgians are the Newfies of the old world - having laid into Paris and northern France all week I should really point it out: when I bitch like that I'm bitching about the French, when I'm prejudiced like that I'm prejudiced about the French, and not about Francophones, who aren't so much peas in a pod as a big international smattering of incredibly diverse people who make Anglos look like a race of identical, overweight cyborgs) they've got straight to work. In a way I wish they'd slow down, dwaddle a bit. The longer they take, the more of today's all-day meeting with the yankee marketing team I can miss. I've tried offering coffee but they've said no. I think they're in a rush.
One of the guys just held up a pile of crap he'd taken from inside the living room one. 'That's ten years," he said, laughing, "since the last entretien". I made an angry/disgusted face - tenants are supposed to get these fuckers cleaned out every year for safety's sake - and then he laughed some more and held up a fuckin' cigarette that had been in there for god knows how long (our friends who smoke tobacco roll their own, for obvious practical reasons). Gag. "This thing is old," moaned the other, working in the dining room. "It belongs in a museum," I confirmed. "You heard that? Straight to the museum!" he moaned at the heater.
Now he's banging it. This is much better entertainment than a yankee marketing meeting. I don't think they're going to be able to re-light it. They're getting that resigned look Belgians get five minutes before they announce something's impossible.
Anyways, while they wrap up, onto something completely different. I've been putting it off because I've got such a strong resistance to spending the money and because I'm a little nervous about driving again, but I've found a place here that rents out dual command cars, where the business owner will drive around with me. You see, I have my provisional license now, and towards the end of the month I can get my full license if I pass my exam. In the meantime, to practice either I need to buy my own car - not fucking happening, mainly because the parking is impossible and the insurance costs the earth, and I live a twenty-five minute walk from work - or buy more Euro 50/hour sessions from the fucking driving school, or take my driving instructor up on his backdeal offer of giving me half-price Sunday sessions, which wouldn't be a bad idea, but he smelt like wine a lot of the time and that made me nervous. So the dual command rental it is. I start again on Wednesday. Shit, this shit is expensive.
Anyways again. The heater guys have wrapped up and managed to re-light the dining room museum peice, but there's bad news. "The heater in the bedroom and the dining room are fire hazards," said one. "Talk to your landlord, they've got no safety controls." Fucker. My landlord is a fucker. But I'd been expecting to hear it and the longer they talked, the longer I didn't have to go to the yankee marketing meeting, so it didn't blow my mood. "You're very lucky," said the older heating repair guy on his way out the door, "because you're really beautiful. Isn't she?" he said, turning to the younger man. "Whhhhhhhaaaeeeeee," he said in that long drawn out Gallic way, like it was wearying him to have to point out the obvious, "very lucky." They ran off to the next job and here I am, thinking about what to do with my fire hazards and typing out this final sentence in the seconds I should be using to pack up and fuck off to the office.