Belgium breaking up? Who gets the beer?

January 22, 2007

Town Hall in Leuven, Belgium

Town Hall in Leuven, Belgium; image from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Did I really miss this last month?  A television  network in Belgium, RTBF, started out the morning reporting on the breakup of Belgium.  Rather contrary to the rules of hoaxes set up by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre, no mention of a dramatization was made for at least a half-hour.

And of course, it was all a hoax.  The network said they wanted to generate discussion about how Belgium works, etc., etc.   Not everyone was happy with the kickoff to discussion.

I have no particular dog in that fight, though I’m fond of Belgium.  My wife spent a year studying in Louvin (Louvain, Leuven) (before I knew her), and we have wonderful photos.  My own business trip to Brussells was less than 24 hours, though we conducted our business in lightning fashion and were able to spend the evening in a wonderfully lit historic square sampling several brands of beer — okay, many brands.  We all made it to the Oh-Dark-thirty airplane home the next morning (some in better shape than others).

It’s always an eye-opener to learn how little most people know about the country, though it plays a huge role in the European Union, in NATO, and in the history of the 20th century, especially World Wars I and II.

Now it appears even Belgians don’t know whether their nation would break up or not.  Jacques Brel is no longer alive and well.


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