Wednesday 23rd October 2013 – I MENTIONED A CHANGE …

CITY FACADES av jeanne 1050 bruxelles belgium… about the property just now, didn’t I? This is what greeted me when I arrived – the building is shrouded in a cover and the facade is under repair. But what a repair! There are two men up on the scaffolding filling in the holes in the wall. There are two men down at the foot mixing the cement. There are another two men fastening the buckets of cement to ropes, using open hooks, and, standing in the roadway, pulling down on the ropes to raise the buckets.

No means of security – it just wants a moment’s distraction for a bucket to crash down on the head of a passer-by, someone leaving the building, or a car on the road. Or even on what is laughingly described as a workman, because not one of them is wearing any safety gear like a helmet or steel toecapped shoes. I asked one of them what he thought about the conditions of work but he just smiled at me. Closer inspection of the scaffolding revealed that it’s from a company called Delta in Warsaw. Clearly City Facade consider workers from Eastern Europe to be by and large expendible on their chantiers.

Internet was the next issue. The sum that Marianne owes is enormous and I’ve rather had my fill of paying for Marianne’s debts just now. The good news is that being right next to the University there’s a wifi hotspot that bleeds over here. It’s payable, like anything else in this Godforsaken country, but if I go for a minimum service (which is really all that I need) it’s quite good value for a fortnight’s subscrition – much better than any other deal I’ve been offered. However, while I was at Proximus, they were selling open-network wifi dongles for just €40 and, as you know, I have the right to wifi access on my French, my British and my Canadian sim card. Canadian access is not so important now that there is free wifi at Tim Horton’s, but the rest will come in handy.

I’ve also spent most of the afternoon on the phone. There’s a guy from a troc coming round to see the furniture that is available, but as far as charities go, theres no-one interested in the rest. It’s astonishing. Most of them want me to photograph the stuff and give a full description before they come to collect it. Obviously, as my friend Erika says, beggars CAN be choosers. But one thing about this is that it all beggars belief. No wonder people don’t donate stuff any more if they have to jump through hoops like this.

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