About 'Alpha+Good'

Alpha+Good (a bad wordplay on Orwell's "double plus good" and old machismo - I'm the realest after all) is a side project that belongs to 'Onklare taal' ('Unclear' or 'Unripe language'), the umbrella of several literary projects in Dutch.

This section is almost exclusively in English and comprises my ongoing thoughts on progress, gender, politics and various other social themes. Why is this in English why everything else in Dutch? Because I want to gun for a much wider audience here. Also, my literary English isn't good enough, otherwise I would always write in English.

Are you a little lost? This link will take you right back to my home page.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

State of Failure: Namur

Namur is the kind of province conservative parents would approve of if their son or daughter would date it. Namur charms mum with its quiet nature, good income and cultural finesse, while dad will appreciate the province for its liberal mainstream and refined taste in regional craft beer and cheese.

But here’s the thing conservative parents would hate: Namur is gay. Namur is so gay, in fact, an entire piece of France is lodged in its arse.

Important facts

Namur’s heraldic weapon is a Flemish lion with a diagonal, red band across it. This does not mean Flemings aren’t welcome in the province. The Namurians, who were historically vassals of the County of Flanders, simply thought it looked better on the lion as an accessory.

Namurians tend to be a bit curmudgeonly. They grumble about the arrogant French, the elite from Brussels or snooty Flemings who want to dictate their way of life. The truth is that they think their laid-back, easy-going way of life is the best way of life, and they can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to live a life full of constant beer and cheese.

They are quick to scare, however. Yell “oh no, a falling boulder”, or “oh no, an invading army”, and Namurians will curl up into foetal position and yammer helplessly until someone brings them a fresh pint of beer.

Damp caves

The landscape of Namur is generally rocky and forested, but is also pretty easy-going. Now and then, a piece of rock will crash down onto a car or a roof, but that’s about it. Geologically speaking, the province is most known for its warm, damp caves. Speleologists, young people and perverts come visit the caves en masse every summer to get unforgettable experiences.

The Namurians think that’s all fine and dandy. Whatever happens in the caves, stays in the caves. Sometimes literally so. Skeletons of clumsy seniors who got stuck in the caves are not an unusual discovery.

Pacifism über alles

Cowardice and easy-goingness go hand in hand to make Namurians a very peaceful people. In both World Wars, local rulers went back to reading their newspaper or going fishing after hastily signing documents of surrender or shaking hands with some commander or the other.

Napoleon also got a dosage of the easy life between Samber and Meuse: when he threatened to annex the region, the Namurians asked him if he’d be able to tell at what time he would arrive so they could serve him cold beer. As punishment for its cowardice, Wallonia made Namur proper its capital.

To see and visit in Namur
Namur proper
Namur is Namur’s capital. Its history has always been connected with its bulky citadel. This citadel lays claim to the title of “most frequently destroyed military bulwark of Europe”. Austrian, Spanish, French, Dutch and German armies each burnt down the citadel and then rebuilt it as some sort of practical joke.

As we speak, the Chinese government is in talks with the city council to destroy the citadel, as is befitting of a rising superpower.

The name itself is an indicator, Profondeville (“Deep City”) is Belgium’s most depressing town. Its inhabitants live 87m below sea level in a complex of abandoned mine shafts and rarely get to see sunlight. Its number of suicides would be disturbing if the Walloon government hadn’t forgotten this city existed in the first place.


For centuries, Dinant has been specialized in dying. During the Habsburg era, Philip the Good tossed 800 coppersmiths into the Meuse, the French burnt down the city in the 17th century Spanish-French War, and during WW1, the Germans executed some 700 people without reason.

In the court archives of the Habsburgs, field notes from French generals as well as diaries from German commanders, there is always some variant of “In Dinant. The way these people look offend me.”

Gembloux claims the most slowly speaking Belgians. This has saddled it with the cliché that its inhabitants are dumb. This is not true at all: 50% of its people manages to write their own name, and its elementary school serve all students between ages 6 and 66.

In the caves of Han-sur-Lesse, Europe’s last Neanderthals eke out a living. As is befitting of the liberal work ethos of Namur, they fleece tourists with fake cave paintings and made-up rituals for corpulent mother goddesses. In the evening, they simply relax in front of television and have a beer in their caves that have been reconverted to spacious loft apartments.

Practicing home skills at work
Namurians can be found all over Wallonia and Brussels in quiet, unassuming offices, whiling away their time while reading up on fishing, grass-mowing techniques or papercuts. That Namur proper was chosen as Wallonia’s capital city hasn’t impressed them: it was always meant to be this way, wasn’t it?

Their greatest enemy is exhaustion. That’s why Namur’s citadel walls contain the remains of hundreds of labourers “simply having a beer” for six days, until the bricks encapsulated them.

Let’s talk about sax
Adolphe Sax, native of Dinant, invented the saxophone, a very complex instrument that also allows very lazy people to claim some degree of artistry. Pictured: “Nice.” This is indicative of the province’s sense of reclusion and indifference: blow some notes, fine. Make a masterpiece, alright. Just don’t do anything violent.

Every year in October, Wallonia celebrates itself in the city of Namur. This includes a lot of drinking, desperate sex and crying.