Monday, 27 September 2010

Aux petits riens

An ambivalent weekend full of showers and flashes of sunshine. In Schaerbeek last night there was a huge explosion that demolished three houses and killed three people. My first thought was 'but for the grace of God', and my fear of leaving the gas on is back with a vengeance, even though I've lived with electric cookers for over a year now. The iron is also a serious cause for concern.

I'm more or less settled in the new flat now. It finally has a sofa (after a very long Saturday afternoon in Ikea with the new boy, culminating in a desperate stress-binge on Swedish cinnamon rolls), as well as television, wifi and a tumble dryer. My happiness is complete. I can look forward to long afternoons spent sprawled across my sofa in front of Grey's Anatomy on Vijf tv, with the blogosphere at my fingertips and the sweet scent of freshly-tumbled towels in the air.

However, I should probably get some grown-up furniture. By grown-up, I mean sensible things that you can store stuff in. Store as in 'put away in a tidy manner' as opposed to 'leave in the box it came in and pretend it doesn't exist let alone need to be filed'. Specfically a sideboard, a chest of drawers and a dining table with chairs. With this in mind, I set out towards Porte de Namur as soon as the rain held off for a few moments and was very quickly distracted by shoe shops and Fnac.

Eventually I managed to steer myself down Avenue Louise, past Place du Châtelain and onto Rue Américaine.  This is home to Les Petits Riens - essentially a five-storey jumble sale.
Now, I always thought that St Andrews was the undisputed capital of charity shops: all those rich kids casting off last season's Armani or last term's ball dress translates into some serious bargains. But Petits Riens is on another scale entirely. Once I'd wandered around two floors of furniture and got bored I found myself climbing up to the top floor: crockery, old toys and electrical equipment among other things. It's like my parents' loft on speed.
You can browse through shelves and shelves of highly useful objects, such as...

... Irish coffee glasses ...
 ... elderly (and therefore extremely romantic but highly unsuitable for blogging) typewriters...
 ... record players like my Mum and Dad used to have in the eighties...
... and things like this that I can't even identify.

It even has a book store section. All it needs now is for Costa coffee to move in and the rainy Saturday afternoon experience will be complete...

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Evensong blues

Apart from the fact that it can be typo-d into 'evensnog', which is intrinsically, childishly amusing, autumn evensong (nearly did it again) is a melancholy time of day.
Late September to early October is a time for sitting in church organ lofts, watching specks of dust suspended in the fading rays of the autumn sun. It's a minor key time, slipping back into the vaguely-familiar cadences of liturgy and response, soft notes glowing faintly like the cooling embers of the dying year. Outside, the waves break unseen against the rocks in the dark and we huddle in the empty chapel, cold shivers mimicking a frisson of anticipation: for what? The cool touch of salt-soaked grey stone, the scent of old oak, distant woodsmoke and freezing mist. Darkness falls and the sea cradles the town in huge grey oblivion.
The cycle ride downhill in the blackness, no lights, no helmet, slicing through the searing air to burst into the house tingling in the sudden warmth.
It will be several weeks before Christmas music begins, and the perils of this night are still all too real. And yet - somehow - you wake with a feeling of boundless possibility: a hot shower, a walk to lectures in the fresh, early morning air. You are not yet set in stone, you stand poised to ride whatever wave may carry you: life is a vast ocean of limitless potential.