Legends from our own lunchtimes

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The day we might have bought a wallaby.
Monday 13th August - Bossuit to Kortrijk

NIne years ago to the day we visited Kortrijk for the first time.  Then, few people spoke our language, and we barely understood a single word in one of theirs.   The “internet”, particularly “free internet” was mostly only to be found in that particular kind of Scottish hamburger chain that calls “frites” “fries” and it is there that we tried to purchase a coffee to pay the rent for the use of the internet.

While one of us busied himself logging on to check the state of the working world, the other set off to order a coffee. This may not have been a problem had we spoken Flemish, but we didn’t.  Every time she corrected her misunderstood French, pointed at something else by way of explanation, or even gasped a contradiction in English, another item would be added to the tray.  Thus this first attempt to order in French was a little too successful, and she returned with half a dozen coffees in four different kinds, a couple of brownies, some cake and a cup of tea.

A salutary lesson learned, we have been particularly careful ever since, lest a careless glance at an object should lead to unintentional purchase.  How times have changed.  Today armed with a confident smattering of at least one alternative tongue and carrying the entire internet in our pocket, we were poking around among what once would have been called “Curios”, but are now “Concepts for Living” when we were compulsively drawn to what appeared to be the remnants of a former marsupial.  “Do you like the wallaby?” came the voice of Christophe, who had heard us speaking in our usual whispers. “Perhaps you would like a coffee while we arrange the packaging?”

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