La Poulette

Tastes like chicken.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I did always wonder what it would be like to brandish a nightstick, some handcuffs and deliver the Miranda.

There I am, nursing my happy hour beer at the Place Luxembourg - the after work Eurocrat congregation area - and everything seems just fine and dandy. The unusually warm temperatures and scorching sun have brought all the Eurocrats outside and a keen observer will soon notice that each bar located in the square has its own special brand of the Eurocrat creature hanging out in front. O'Reilleys caters to the old fogey who's been pushing the European bureaucratic wheel for the past twenty years and needs to drown his boredom in afternoon pints. Q is a tad more classy in an empty sterile way, just right for the likes of former European Parliament president Pat Cox (you gotta love my casual name dropping) to sneak in for a quick beer, safe from prying eyes. The newly opened Coco boasts a somewhat "hipper" crowd, whereas the anglophile Grapevine is a veritable incarnation of Little Britain (but where is Vicky Pollard?). At the very edge is classy Ralph's, trying hard to attract Eurocracy's beautiful people, but only coming up with young wanna-be's who've turned it into a meat market with European attitude extraordinaire (classic pick up lines include: so whadd'ya think of the Commission's green paper on the Services of General Interest?).
Anyway, so there I am at the Grapevine, pint of beer in hand, a perfect view of the crowd from each bar within my line of vision and I just know, I know that something is missing, but I can't quite put my finger on it. At which point my gaze stops on my British drinking buddies, each one sporting a cheap faux silk tie that probably came in a pack of 3 for 9.99 euros at H&M and it hits me: where the hell is the fashion police? Because the place is just teeming with hard-core criminals, fashion arrests right and left waiting to happen and atrocious crimes being committed as I speak. And yet everyone seems completely oblivious, as though this were just the normal state of affairs, as if they had every right to sit there in their ridiculous outfits, as though their little Eurocrat bubble was self-sufficient enough to stand taking absolutely no heed of real world developments such as Couture (say what?) and Dress Code (come again?).
I won't even bother touching upon the can of worms that the old fogey's by O'Reilley constitute. Suffice it to say that they entered the institutions back in the 70's at which point their concept of time froze, trapping them in their double breasted tweed suits forever. What worries me more is the younger crowd, the people who should, by rights, still be linked to the real world by at least the thinnest of threads. I can forget and almost forgive you the eurogeek speak pick-up lines. But could you please invest in a pair of leather shoes without those practical rubber soles if you want to converse with me?! The rain in Brussels, it never ends, but do you see me coming to work in a practical pair of green wellington's? Na-ha. Permit me if you will, to return to the subject of cheap H&M ties for just a sec. Hot on a high-school graduate pauper donning a suit for the prom. Not on a seasoned Eurocrat who earns triple the average Belgian wage on a bad day. Particularly when paired with polyester suit from selfsame store. The list goes on. Flips flops to the office anyone? Why not, it's a free Europe, the Eurocrats cry. And flood their offices in flip-flops they do, flipping and flopping away, revealing all manner of cringe-worthy nail shapes, toe lengths and in one memorable case, foot fungi. I have witnessed dark-haired girls walking down EU institution corridors with knee length skirts that revealed unshaven legs. I have laid my eyes upon gipsy skirts at serious meetings, mustard coloured men's shoes paired with black socks, holes in the sweaters of high powered officials (what business do they have wearing a sweater to work in the first place!), navel revealing shirts on girls who obviously were not simple interns, I have witnessed - wait for it! -slippers in the workplace (you heard me: slippers).
And then suddenly the lightbulb goes on, revelation strikes. My ranting and raving? My Puma's, kitten heels and lack of mascara? IT AIN'T THE PRODUCT OF AGE, GIRLFRIEND - IT'S BRUSSELS, BABY.


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