There are so many things I love about my adopted country; the lack of nature, the wealth of the majority, the short commute to almost every famous European art museum.
One tiny niggling matter though that makes me reconsider my expatriation is this; the Belgium Blow, the Nasal Nasty, The Horrible Hoot, the Flemish Phlegm. Call it what you will, it is the one true downfall of continental civilisation.
If you haven’t clocked on to what I’m talking about yet I’ll give you a clue, it starts in the nose and ends in a three times used Kleenex. Perhaps it’s my English manners, I did after all grow up in the Harry Potter world of private schooling where etiquette came before knowledge.
Or it could be a culture difference, that I am not and never will be entirely integrated, but when I hear that blow the shivers go through me. It’s not that I’m a sniffer, that too is inappropriate, it’s the volume of the thing.
On trying to recreate the noise all my nose can manage is a whiff of silent wind. It’s also the fact that it apparently doesn’t matter where you are in order to blows that nose, at the dinner table, the middle of someone speaking to you, a lecture theatre. Clearing your whiffer of everything that’s been in there since last Thursday is apparently never a bad time to do.
Imagine this; you are in your philosophy lecture, your teacher’s incredibly hot and got you contemplating your own existence (and his bod). Everyone is enraptured by their own thoughts and realisations. Then some guy blows his horn so hard it drowns out the lecturer’s voice. HONK HONK HONK.
Professor tries not to flinch but gosh damn I see it in his eyes, they say ‘toot that flute one more buddy I’ll knock you right out into your own existential crisis’. But it’s no problem in the end because the phlegm offender has a clear nose, freshly honked in time for lunch.