Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Writting prize

Here's a nifty writing prize, open to everyone the world over, worth fifteen kilobucks in all, but sadly not open to those who "only" blog, which is a shame. All they're looking for is eloquence and wit, should be a breeze. Here's what I'm submitting:

Eagle-eyed Bulletin readers will have noticed a story in last week's Weeks in Brief of a man in Blankenberge who's been reported to the bobbies for stalking, because he sent "hundreds" of letters and emails to the commune complaining about this and that.

I've seen some demos on the street of Brussels in my time, so how come I haven't seen any demo in support of this Hero of the People? Why has no slim youth with shopping-bags stood in front of the tanks, Tiananmen-style, to support Henri Vandenbosch, the man who should immediately and by public acclaim be designated Top Citizen?

I give him his full name, even though Belgian law says that with a case against him he shouldn't be identified. And I do it because rather than being a common criminal skulking in the shadows like, say, the whole communal administration of Charleroi, or the Parti Socialiste, say, he has nothing to be ashamed of.

Henri's problems started when the pétanque club of which he's a member was obliged to shift their premises out of the Leopoldpark in Blankenberge. The commune washes its hands of the matter, which it claims is a matter between the concessionary of the park and the club. This is nonsense, of course, and rather as if the government were to send those Tiananmen-style tanks onto your lawn and then claim it was a matter for the Sherman Company of Illinois. The Pilate-like hand-washing is further exposed by the fact that the commune continued to poke its snout in, doing what burgomaster Ludo Monset, a man whose first name is the Latin for "I'm playing with you", calls "arbitating".

According to the commune, the torrent of emails and letters that came from Citizen Henri made the officials who work for the commune "upset". You can imagine how that might be, if you've ever visited your commune looking for some service. Anything that forces those shabby pasty-faced functionaries to do anything to get off their arses and serve their employers – the people – is enough to put a kink in their whole week. Henri De Groot also had the temerity not to be Turkish or Moroccan, thus depriving the commune's wretched staff of a means of abusing him.

Their problem is that the law says all complaints the commune must be dealt with, and he had sent in hundreds. His problem was that he was dealing with people who can't even be bothered to wash their own clothes or brush their own teeth, let alone do anything to serve the public. So he never got the satisfaction he was after. And he kept on. That added to their problems.

Read more at the prize-winners' site later in the year, darlings.