Countries we really don’t hear enough about #1: Belgium

23 05 2009

I am often intrigued by the amount of information that hits the press from some countries, whilst others languish in obscurity in our sound bites. The first in this series that we’ll address is Belgium.

Let’s face it, this country ought to sack its PR department if, indeed, it even has one! Now my knowledge of Belgium is, comparatively vast, given my early penchant for Asterix books. “Asterix in Belgium” the third Asterix book I read, after “Asterix the Gaul” and “Asterix in Egypt”.

125px-Flag_of_Belgium.svgimagesimages-1

Now there are those feisty types that would dispute that my knowledge is still up to date. Are you trying to tell me that Flemish clans no longer wear wings on their helmets, parade in patchwork pants, eat boar and enjoy having a good biffo??

Whilst Belgium is sandwiched rather like leaky corn-relish between the two substantial slabs of bread commonly known as France and Germany and boasts the headquarters of the European Union, most people are hard pressed to even think of a single food that is famous from Belgium. Yep, I caught you thinking waffles and potentially chocolate as well. Waffles and chocolate. Well you could certainly do worse, for goodness sake, the country-formerly-known-as-the-superpower-USSR, gave us Borscht and vodka!

There may be several good reasons why we have shunned this fine country, however, and I have penned a list:

1. They have funny (and somewhat gross) names for things. One of the largest cultural groups are called “Flemish”. To an English-speaker, you might as well call them “Sputumese” or “oystermen”! This is unfortunate as it is disgusting.

140px-Herman_Van_Rompuy_portrait
Now this is a photo of the current Prime Minister, whom I would confidently bet my house that you have never heard of, Herman Van Rompey. I am telling the complete truth here. The Prime Minister is named after the place and manner in which he was conceived. This is simply cruel. It would be almost impossible for any world leader to address such a leader on camera without bursting into fits of laughter which could result in an international incident.

2. Belgium is, well, a little dull. The landscape is pretty flat, the people are just pretty nice, they keep their yards tidy but it’s just a bit… bleah. This is evidenced by their most famous of Vitamin B12 rich vegetable exports, Brussels Sprouts. Sure it’s good for you but it tastes like someone smuggled fresh grass clippings onto your plate. It may have been a much better idea to cultivate this rare Brassican in Belgium but call it “Paris Sprouts”. It would have solved an economic as well as a tourist issue in one easy move.

3. Finally, we shun this country ignorantly because it is a cultural chameleon, all things to all men (and women and possibly children and dogs too). Most of you guessed the flag wrong (right?). The correct Belgian flag is at the bottom of this post. Its people speak German, Dutch and French. they like chocolate, have lots of green fields and cathedrals and quaint pubs…Yawn. Just another Eurotrash country. Didn’t start any world wars, doesn’t blow up islands in the Pacific just for fun (I mean, the only thing that ought to be blown up with a “bikini” in the name is a photo of Jane Fonda in one, right??). they don’t have cities famous for organised crimes, prostitutes and cheap Ganja, they are just decent Europeans but a bit… vanilla.

So, to counteract this, Belgium ought to seriously consider what marketing types tend to call a “point of difference”. They could start with their national anthem: “Strength through Unity”. In the immortal words of Rik Mayall: “OH! BOR! RING!”. Instead, I’d recommend the title:”The chicks here are HOT!”.

Flagwise? Go with your strength like the Canadians did. OK, now they have GREAT Maples, presumably for making Maple Syrup. So they ditched the Union Jack for the Maple Leaf. Smart. People LIKE Maple Syrup, people generally LIKE Canadians (until they find out what annoying gits they can be!).

So I’m recommending Belgium go with a purple flag (we really don’t see enough of these) with a yellow circle and a Belgian waffle in the middle, maybe with blueberries on it. Around the circle, in Dutch, German and French, the words:
“Our Chicks are Better. Our Waffles are crunchier!”.

Now, one further thing would help immensely. Investment in Football. The country should undertake a strategic plan to put the nation into calculated debt to buy the world’s best football players and have them sponsored by Belgium’s biggest waffle company. Then they can start getting their bums into gear and start winning the European cup. This way, their expensive kits will be copied the most in China and Belgium can gain the political support of the world’s largest nation without lifting a finger to invest in tricky things like international diplomacy. This also ensures that Belgium will get into the news around the world on a weekly basis, at least.

Now, I realise I should be paid for advice like this. In lieu, please send waffles to PO BOX 1430 Brisbane GPO.

Next time in our “where are they now?” country specials…PORTUGAL!!!! Just how orgasmic IS that chicken…?

125px-Flag_of_Belgium.svg

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4 responses

25 05 2009
Beck Robinson

Agatha Christie tried. Hercule Poirot, though often accused of being French, was in fact Belgian. 🙂

26 05 2009
mickovich

I am impressed, Beck, a reference to Belgium! You get this week’s inaugural weekly electronic Freddo award.. don’t eat it all at once.

27 05 2009
Alison

Geez you crack me up.

27 05 2009
mickovich

Thanks Ali, but I must confess, the name Herman Van Rompey cracks me up.. I’m giggling again..

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