Thursday, August 30, 2012

Jim White: Name five famous Belgians? Just look at the Premier League

One of the weariest jokes in British comedy – one dog-eared through overuse – involves the difficulty of naming five famous Belgians. A gag that must always have gone down a bomb in Brussels and Bruges, it ignores the fact that Rubens, Herge, Audrey Hepburn, Rene Magritte and Georges Simenon are names familiar in many a British household. And that’s without even mentioning Plastic Bertrand.

The sneery assumption behind the gag is that Belgium is a sort international adjunct, forever withering in the shadow of its neighbour France, contributing little to international culture beyond chocolate and urinating statuary.

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