Family: Janet Christie's Mum's the Word

Feeding an appetite for culture and food



That is probably the best baked potato you’ve ever made,” says Youngest. “Just perfect. Crispy skin, nice soft texture to the centre, didn’t even need butter. All the correct fillings. Beans. Cheese. Coleslaw. And side salad. Can I have another one? Aw better not, Eldest needs to have one.”

“He’s not here.”

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“He is. He’s in his room.”

“Nope. He’s in Belgium. Been there since Monday.”

“Belgium. He’s upstairs. I’ve been talking to him.”

“Was it a very one-sided conversation?”

“Maybe, I thought he was playing his guitar.”

I show her my phone and Eldest’s messages over the past week as proof of his absence.

Message 1: “Have arrived. Not sure if coming back cos it’s already amazing. Did not know a place named after Brussels Sprouts could be so cool.”

Message 2: “Learnt so much today. Karl Marx wrote The Communist Manifesto here. Brussels is the second most multicultural city in the world with 182 nationalities living here (apparently). Waffles are delicious.”

My reply: “And they invented mayonnaise on chips.”

Message 3: “Yeah! And the chips! French fries, so called cos the American soldiers in WW2 saw French soldiers eating them. But they were Belgium’s chips.”

My reply: “Also birthplace of Audrey Hepburn, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Tintin and Hercule Poirot.”

Message 4: “If Brussels comes up in a pub quiz I am ready.”

That tray of meat is ours.

Message 5: “Probably not coming back tomorrow. How are you and everyone?”

My reply: “Usual. Middle has new jeans. Skinnies. Tired of being asked if he’s Australian and surfs. And it’s getting too cold for boardies.”

Message 5: “Probably coming back Monday. Warm and sunny here. Going to explore vintage and music shops for anything cool! Also to buy an internet cable. Tomorrow checking out live music places, loads of jazz clubs. And going to see the Giant Atom.”

My reply: “Go see Manneken Pis and the Smurf statue also.”

Message 6: “kl.”

“As you see, he’s definitely in Belgium,” I say to Youngest. “Sprouting in Brussels. Plus I’ve just been up to his room and checked.”

“Nice. So... Brussels. Cool. French fries with mayonnaise... Then he definitely won’t be wanting this potato.”