2009 Review: Down among the Belgians

24th December 2009, Comments 0 comments

We have a reduced local news service during the festive period. Meanwhile, editor Paul Morris looks back on an eventful year in the life of the Belgians, as they bombed Germany, handed out ammo to Dutch children and plunged a student’s head into a bucket of cement…

"Irish pub" tax official faces fresh allegations
It is understood that a civil servant working for the Federal Finance Department may have cost the taxpayer over 110 million euros.

That’s a lot of Guinness…


Belgian roads relatively safe
According to a study published by the motoring association Touring, Belgium’s roads are among the safest in Europe.

Mark Twain borrowed from Disraeli when he said: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."  There are probably a few drivers out there who question the figures if not the sanity of those involved in this particular study.


Van Rompuy : Belgium's Mr Fixit becomes Mr EU

Leterme: Belgium's gaffe-prone boomerang premier

Cause an effect as Europe got its first president in the cuddly, haiku-scribbling shape of Herman van Rompuy but poor old Belgium got the booby prize as Yves Leterme was reappointed as Premier. Null point...

Belgian man in false 'coma' for 23 years plans memoirs
Rom Houben, a Belgian man who was wrongly diagnosed as comatose for 23 years, is planning to write a book about his extraordinary story...

Belgium is rightly renowned for its excellent health service but it’s a bit remiss to leave a bloke for over two decades in a false coma. Did no one notice him waving frantically and shouting I’m over here!


Belgian man dead on toilet for five months
The man’s neighbour decided to call the police after reading an article published last week about a mother and son who had lain dead in their house in Jette five years before their remains were discovered.

A ten-fold improvement in finding dead people in the space of one week.


Belgian press agency wrongly announces royal death
It was a case of 'The queen mother is dead, long live the queen mother'...

A mistake any of us could make. If a doctor can fail to spot a coma victim for 23 years, a mere mortal member of the press can fail to spot Fabiola jogging round Parc de Bruxelles.


Belgian 'Miss Homeless' wins a year rent-free
58-year-old Therese Van Belle from Schaarbeek, Brussels, won the first 'Miss Homeless' contest.

‘Inner beauty and strength’ were among the criteria for winning a roof over your head. Clearly a fix, how you can see inner beauty and strength? I know it’s for a good cause but there’s something a bit strange in having a catwalk for the homeless… What next best design for cardboard bedding?


Pope canonises Father Damiaan
Pope Benedict XVI has canonised Belgium's Father Damiaan, and four other individuals, at a mass in St Peter's in Vatican City.

'Extraordinary' Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize
Obama took office on January 1 and has since then sought to restore US standing in the world after widespread criticism over the war in Iraq and...

These two stories came within days of each other. The Vatican really needs to get its act together. Father Damiaan was doing his stuff in the middle of the 19th century and had to wait all that time for canonization (and incidentally had to be dead), while Obama has been around for five minutes. Prayer book or Facebook?

Belgium chooses yodelling Junior Eurovision candidate
10-year-old yodeller Laura will represent Belgium at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Ukraine this winter.

No comment.


Magritte painting stolen from Brussels museum
Thieves stole a painting by Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte in broad daylight from a Brussels museum dedicated to his life and works,...

You think police would have spotted two thieves wearing suits and bowler hats with an over-sized apple stuck to their faces. Just can’t get the staff…


Belgian girl receives EUR 3,000 to remove 56 star tattoos from face
Kimberley Vlaeminck and the tattoo artist who tattooed 56 stars onto a third of her face agreed a financial arrangement to avoid a court case.

Completely believable. Kimberley fell asleep and woke to find that her face looked like the firmament on a clear night. Almost the same thing happened to me - fell asleep in front of the telly and woke up to find… the telly was still on.


Black Widow alert in Belgium

Black panther spotted in Luxembourg

I avoid like the plague tropical countries where fierce spiders scurry and gigantic cats prowl. That’s why I live in Belgium where the most dangerous indigenous creature is the common-or-garden car-driver.


Association calls for no more drunken clowns at children's parties
A number of clowns have joined forces to form the Belgian Magical Entertaining Clowns Association. The association has drawn up a list of criteria...

I don’t know about this, I would need a stiff drink before stepping into a confined space with 50 carousing, Cola and chocolate-fuelled seven-year-olds.

Mother aids jail-break in Belgium
Two prisoners escaped from a Belgian jail Tuesday, this time not dramatically by helicopter, but just by using a ladder and with support from an inmate's mother.

Mummy’s boy!


Belgian Air Force bombs Germany
The Belgian Air Force accidently dropped a bomb during a practice flight into woodland close to the small town of Lastrup in Lower Saxony..

Right, there’s a green button and there's a red button and the pilot waits till he’s over German airspace… More worrying is the fact that they still haven't found the bomb. If you go down to the woods today…


La Boulangerie? Go straight for 400km, then left at the traffic lights
A confused Belgian pensioner went the long way round for his daily bread.

Luckily, thanks to Schengen the old boy didn’t have to take his passport every time he goes to the shops.


Glass of wine a day can stave off Alzheimer’s, study finds
See above: La Boulangerie? Go straight for 400km, then left at the traffic lights



And finally… there must have been something in the air during two mad days in the middle of the merry month of May, when…

‘Belgian teacher plunges student's head in bucket of cement’

Teacher was filmed plunging a student's head into a bucket of cement during a masonry lesson

‘Belgian soldiers hand out ammo to Dutch children’
The soldiers are being investigated for handing out volatile blanks to children in the Dutch town of Den Helder.

‘Sex deviants caught red-handed’

The men, among them a police officer, had regular meetings with underage prostitutes.

‘Thai woman bites Belgian boyfriend's penis'
A Thai woman bit her Belgian boyfriend's penis out of jealousy during sex, but doctors managed to save the nearly-severed organ, police and reports said.

Roll on 2010… have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Paul Morris
Editor Expatica Belgium

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