We live opposite a hotel. When I say opposite I mean right opposite: we overlook them, they overlook us from a distance of the size of a one-car one way street and two narrow pavements. If they choose to do so hotel guest can see into our apartment and we can see into their rooms. It can be interesting, but mostly we take no notice and keep well back from the windows. We hope they do the same, but they don't always. Or maybe they are just exhibitionists. Visitors to our flat think it's great fun living opposite a hotel. I always know when someone chez nous has been up close and peeping by the greasy nose prints on the window glass, but that's another story.
Today the babysitter arrived to keep La Fille busy for a couple of hours while I did some boring but necessary administrative paperwork and brought with her a kind of karaoke microphone. I was not familiar with the idea, not being a great fan of singing in public, or even in private, but apparently La Fille had played with it on a previous occasion despite it costing around £200 (just the knowledge of the cost of replacing it gave me heart flutters.) So the babysitter plugs it into the television and the words come up on the screen along with the music and La Fille, who can't read but knows a tune when she hears one, starts singing something entirely unrelated and to a different tune. They seem to be having fun so I leave them to it and go to the post office.
I return 20 minutes later (the queues aren't any better here) to find the babysitter doing the washing up while La Fille, stripped down to her vest and knickers, is clutching the microphone and singing and dancing in front of the television - which is right by the living room window, just overlooking the hotel - to the music of 'Physical' by Olivia Newton John. ("I want to get physical, physical...I want to get animal, animal," warbles ONJ).
Of course it is all totally innocent and La Fille has no idea what the song is and is indeed singing something completely different and in any case the window is closed and I'm sure nobody can hear the music, but I am aware out of the corner of my eye that there are a couple of people leaning out of the hotel windows to smoke cigarettes who might be looking our way. "Why have you taken nearly all your clothes off?" I ask. La Fille, who at that moment has pulled her vest up to her neck. She says: "But you have to take your clothes off when you dance." I glance out of the window towards the hotel and say: "No. No you do not. STOP IT RIGHT NOW."
At that moment a girlfriend rings. I say: "Sorry, I can't talk; La Fille is doing a striptease in front of the entire hotel and we'll have half the perverts in Christendom checking into one-way-street rooms if word gets round. Plus she seems to think you have to take your clothes off when you dance. Where did that come from?" And my friend laughs and says: "Indeed where did it come from? Do you make a habit of dancing half naked in the window?" and I say: "Most certainly not."
Maybe we should just get curtains.
Why I love Belgium
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