Eurodan in English

October 26, 2004

It finally happened. Years of waiting are over... I've finally set foot in the Berlaymont building.

The European Commission's flagship cross-shaped building has, as I'm sure you're all aware, just re-opened after years of work to remove the asbestos which was found in the 1980s.

When I lived in Brussels in 1997 the building was encased in a tight white cover a bit like a Christo building sculpture, and didn't look at all bad, it must be said.

But today, finally, I was able to finally go in, as I agreed to meet my translator friend Hugh for lunch in the canteen.

And I have to say I'm a teensy bit disappointed. I'm not sure whether it's to do with the fact that it's in Belgium or that it's a building for the Commission, but something's not quite right.

I must admit to only having seen the almost-finished common areas and the restaurant, but those are, after all, the bits that everyone sees, and they see them first.

The sliding door creaks and struggles to open when you go in, and while the public areas to try to be impressive with some nice materials (stone floor in the lobby, for example), the overall effect is very confused and quite cluttered.

The cafeteria is your standard EU institution fare, which really isn't bad at all, but they still manage to have big hold-ups when they run out of things.

I'm not really sure what I was expecting. A sense of majesty, excitement or occasion, I suppose. This is, after all, probably the most famous EU building in Brussels, and the Commission's flagship.

On the other hand it's basically just an office building, not a place of democratic representation of the people like the Parliament, and so any over-the-top drama would probably inappropriate.

Still, at least I've been. I'm looking forward to seeing what the interpreting booths are like...

Posted by Eurodan at 8:56 PM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2004

As my mother would have said, I'm "in the wars" right now, and feeling well and truly sorry for myself.

It all started the day before yesterday, as I took the Thalys to Paris for a quick break. I'd blocked a few days off my work calendar and felt I could do with cheering up. And where better?

But while on the train I noted with alarm that the dull, almost-there pain behind one of my upper molars was now becoming a lot less dull.

Of couse, once arrived in Paris the excruciating toothache blossomed in all its glory. And it started to absolutely tip it down. Gai Paris is decidedly less so in those circumstances, so I decided to curtail my trip and the very next morning whizzed back to Brussels and found a dentist.

And yes, I've got an abcess. And antibiotics. And overnight, it's swelled up and one side of my face now looks like it belongs to a chipmunk.

All of which I wouldn't mind so much, but I was planning to fly out to Oslo today for the weekend, which now clearly won't happen, as swollen abcesses and cabin pressure are a decidedly bad combination.

Oh, woe is me :-(

chipmunk.jpg

Posted by Eurodan at 8:56 AM | Comments (1)

October 9, 2004

Last night I went to the Bozar (a play on words on Beaux-Arts), Brussels' main classical music concert venue, to treat myself to a concert.

It was the sort of thing I rather like - symphonic music written by Russians - and the perky opening piece of Prokofiev had me feeling like it had all been a very good idea. Better was to come, with a Rachmaninov piano concerto, the classical music equivalent of Bird's Angel Delight. You enjoy it, but feel a bit guilty about liking something so... well... erm... obvious. "Nothing we can't hum there, then," as Victoria Wood's bitchy continuity announcer would have said.

It was nice to be back in the Bozar, though. The last time I listened to a concert there was in my previous life as a record company person back in 1997, when I spent six months seconded to EMI Belgium and had to go backstage, shake the hands of the artist and say "Darling, you were wonderful".

I rather prefer just being a punter.

But one thing that seems to have changed for the worse since I was last there is audience behaviour. So much coughing! And always at the most dramatic moments. And some people were even talking (or whispering) to each other at times. Needless to say they benefitted from a Paddington stare from yours truly.

It's things like that which convince you you're getting old...

Posted by Eurodan at 10:36 PM | Comments (3)

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