Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Belgium and the West Wing

For a tiny country, Belgium gets mentioned a lot on the West Wing.
So I thought, you know, in the interests of expat research, or something, I would start listing those mentions.

Let Bartlet Be Bartlet (season 1?) - Donna and Josh are discussing the issue of "English as a National Language". Donna just wants to check: "Are we for it or against it? I mean we’re not in favor of making another language the official language, are we? Like Dutch or something..."

Series 2, episode 7 - CJ is annoyed with Danny and quips, "well, I certainly hope we don't accidentally send your luggage to Belgium on the way back". Classic.

Series 2, "In this White House" - CJ again, she is obviously a fan! "I rode the Lifecycle this morning for an hour and a half. If it was a real cycle, I'd be in Belgium by now."

Series 3, episode 8 - countries who were partners in a UN mission are no longer taking part. Albie Duncan excuses "Belgium and the Netherlands"... because "they've got cheese and chocolate to make, I suppose"...

Series 3, "Dead Irish Writers" - Abbey Bartlet, about to get drunk with Amy and CJ: "The wine is a '95 Old Vine Zinfandel from Hog Cellars, which once belonged to King Baudouin of Belgium"...

Series 3, H Con - 172, Leo: When the British Ambassador told the German Foreign Minister that they were going to war over Belgium's violation of the neutrality treaty the German Foreign Minister said "You're going to war over a piece of paper?" (erm, I'm a bit hazy on what exactly he was referring to here, but anyway!!)

Series 5, I think - there are issues over the trip to Brussels because there are "tractors clogging up the Place de Brouckere". Which makes me smile every time I pass it on the metro.

Series 6 - Josh tells Santos' campaign staff: "Don't let him change the official language to Flemish while I'm gone." I've got to ask though, is there a reason why the only language that is ever named in the West Wing as possible contenders for the national language (other than English) is Dutch/Flemish. Odd that....

Series 7 - Josh goes on holiday (with Donna - everybody say aaaahhhhh) leaving employing future members of staff a week, because "it’s not like they’re going to take director of cabinet affairs jobs in Benelux countries" . Well I dunno Josh, Belgium is a pretty interesting place politically! No, really! You thought the US was complicated...!!

Monday, 24 August 2009

Quirky things about Belgium #353

Well, it may be a lot easier to lose your cash card in a machine here (due to very little thought going into the design of the whole process... sigh!) but it's also a lot less hassle to resolve. You walk straight into a bank and they hand over a temporary card which works till your next one comes through. Brilliant.

Of course, it has to not happen anytime near a Saturday... because the thought of a bank being open on a Saturday, or a lunchtime, or any other useful time... shudder.

But, still!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

quirky things about Belgium #352

... Cash points which give you a little advert at the beginning reminding you to take your card back.

Then at the end they don't give them back automatically.


Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The adventure of writing a book...

It feels a lot like being pregnant.

Not, you understand, that I really have any concept of what that might feel like.

But I imagine you walk around in a bit of a daze. Constantly distracted. That you pick up on tiny things that could be relevant in the future - people speaking about the topic, useful quotes, beautiful things...

That you feel like in your own little world, your happy place, that no one else can destroy for you because most people don't realise it's even there.

Not sleeping so well either... You keep having to sit up and write stuff down before you forget it.

Your thought process is suddenly one long "what if...?"

Everything, everything, even your previous obsessions, become wrapped up in this one thing.

You hope, you dream, you prepare. You know the birth will come, that it will be long and painful, that it's inevitable, but that it will be so worth every moment.

You are excited, and you are impatient. And there is work to do...

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Why I love the West Wing... (well, some of the reasons!)

- Bradley Whitford: so intense, so brooding, makes me melt in that part of the credits where he raises his head and looks straight at me
- Janel Moloney: beautiful, attractive, brings Donna to life so beautifully. If I were in the least inclined towards women, I would have a massive crush on her.
- Rob Lowe. I’m still smarting form his treacherous departure from a show which suffered its loss, but the fact that this is the case is testament to how much he brought to it.
- Allison Janney. Her character is a role model. Strength, intelligence, femininity. Wonderful acting. My favourite for a long time.
- The chemistry between Bradley and Janel
- Josh as a character – I would marry him in an instant!
- Donna as a character and her many little quirks
- The increasing romantic/sexual tension between Josh and Donna
- The understated way in which it does romance and weaves it into the plotline – never forced, and often doomed or difficult!
- The characters – so believable all of them, so lovable most of them. That’s part acting, part writing I guess. I feel I really know them as my friends.
- And speaking of writing. Oh the writing. Aaron Sorkin please be my mentor.
- The pithy one-liners
- The big storylines
- The tiny storylines
- The mini, one-episode storylines Donna gets in series 1 – they’re all brilliant. I love it when Josh falls of his chair just as she is talking about the intelligence of people who work there.
- The trivia you learn: dwell, dwindle, dwarf – the only three words in the English language that start with dw
- The Latin you learn: Post hoc ergo propter hoc – I love that. Desperately seeking a way to get it into every day conversation. Or at least a book
- The music. Oh the music is so good. I am desperate for the sound track of everything, including everything by Snuffy Walden – so brilliant. So well used. “Body and Soul” at the end of episode 713 being a perfect example – the words are so pertinent and it’s worked so well into the scene.
- The intelligent women!!
- It has made me so interested in and intrigued by the great nation that is the US. And you would not have got me saying that a year ago.
- It is not smutty: you turn off the TV feeling good about what you have just watched
- You also turn off the TV feeling more intelligent and educated
- That’s if you turn off the TV at all. I became increasingly unable to watch just one episode
- It gives me hope in politics in an age when, quite frankly, as a left-wing Brit, well you get the picture...
- It make me laugh and gasp and cry and shout things like “But Josh should be with Donna!!!!!” or “you evil Republican” or just “Aaaarrrrghhh!”
- It speaks to me spiritually. Seriously. For example, the fierce protectiveness of Jed Bartlet towards his family reminds me of God’s Father heart towards us and his “secret service” of angels at his disposal to protect us...
- It inspires me to write
- It gets my creative juices flowing
- And last but definitely not least: it inspires me toward greatness. I’m not sure how this translates yet, but it will.