Living in Brussels

WTF (part 2)

Waterloo Co-Homing

WTF (Part 2)

Waterloo’s Tormenting the French

Or When Surrealism happens to be contagious

Now that you have snugly settled in one of the Co-Homing houses, wouldn’t it be time to dive into some seriously local history and head toward a dreadful venue for a change? But not to worry, it’s only dreadful for those who were there, on that ominous and horrendously rainy Sunday of 18 June 1815, the day of the battle of, yes, Waterloo. That’s here !

WTF? Nope, I still haven’t lost my mind…or, just yet. I only want to state a fact that is widely unknown and to show that surrealism – that utterly Belgian trait – can sneakily spread beyond borders… to France, of all places.

Waterloo, the enigma

Indeed, Waterloo is an enigma. Waterloo, the city that celebrates… a loser! Let me ask you: “Who won the battle of Waterloo?”. If you know, I can only have respect for you. You rock.

Now, if I ask: “Who lost the battle of Waterloo?” Everyone knows the answer. ‘Napoleon’, right? Isn’t that weird? Everybody knows about Napoleon, the loser, but no clue about the winner. Huh!

Look, all around the humongous site of the battle, the only effigy you can see on billboards, signposts, guidebooks, catalogs… absolutely everywhere, is that of the loser of the battle! It’s unique, unprecedented. The loser stands at the pinnacle of the bloodshed. Get outta here!

I am of the opinion that this could actually be the best-ever public relations’ coup of recorded history.

The winner? The Duke of Wellington. Shocker! C’mon, he is the guy who put an end to Napoleon’s hegemony and Empire, for Pete’s sake. Is he legitimately remembered, celebrated, honored for this masterstroke? Yeah, right. Pffffff … a teensy museum in the city of Waterloo, beef Wellington – one of the most iconic dishes of English cuisine and the Duke’s favorite food -, waterproof rubber boots and, oh yes, the big one … Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. One would think that the Duke’s memory could proudly rest on this one but wait, no way, even in New Zealand, the loser lurks: there is not one but two cities named Napoleon in New Zealand! Baffling.

I won’t even get into the Napoleon “franchise”: candy, pastry, BBQs, fireplaces, numerous alcoholic beverages, casinos, underwear even, well,  174 registered Napoleon products in all.

Still, Waterloo Torments the French

2015, the year of the bicentennial of the battle.

France shuns the event: “no time for celebrating a defeat”. However, Jean-Christophe Napoléon, the emperor’s heir, is there. Queer, isn’t it?

As a token of remembrance, Belgium decides to mint €2 coins commemorating the bicentennial. France is miffed. We reach the verge of a diplomatic crisis. Belgium buckles under pressure, yet €2.5 coins will be minted but since the €2.5 coin is not an official denomination, the coins can’t be circulated. Odd, isn’t it?

Now, wait a minute, if France can interfere and ban a mere €2 coin, what have they done about… ABBA??!!!! C’mon, since 1974, the woooooooooooorld has been humming: “My, my, at Waterloo Napoleon did surrender*…” Eurovision winner 1974, 6 millions copies of the album sold, Eurovision Best Song in the competition history in 2005 and, bam … 2021 to boot! Compared to a mere €2 coin, shouldn’t France be in a crisis of nuclear amplitude with Sweden?

Can this be more surrealistic? Beats me.

Anyhow, if this diatribe tickles you somehow, I strongly recommend that you head to Waterloo and think “Wellington” while you are visiting and you will understand what I mean.

*Oh yes, actually, Napoleon did not “surrender” … he fled. Yikes!