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On Being Boring

I moved from London to Brussels with my husband nearly 10 years ago. When I told people we were moving, the news was greeted with bemusement: why did we want to move to a city that was possibly the most boring place on earth? Ten years later and I can honestly say that I've had more fun here than I ever did living in London. It might not be the most exciting city in the world but it is a fantastic place to live. It is full of hidden treasures that you probably never get to see as a tourist: wonderful shops, amazing food, great museums and galleries, beautiful architecture, a forest (yes, a whole forest), and so much more... And if that doesn't convince you, well, get on a train and you could be in Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne or, yes, London in no more than a couple of hours... Which other city can you say that about?


That’s an interesting word, isn’t it? I wonder where it comes from. In French, “pondre” means “to lay” (as in “la poule a pondu un oeuf” – the chicken has laid an egg). When you ponder something, are you “laying” thoughts, giving birth to new ideas? Or could it be linked to another French word: “poids” (weight)? I’m sure there must be a Latin verb somewhere… something like “pondere” (I never did Latin, can you tell?)… which means “to weigh”. So that when you ponder something, you are, in fact, weighing it up: weighing up the pros and the cons, one option against another… Or maybe it comes from the English noun “pond”: a small murky body of water, often teaming with life. My brain is quite like a pond: small, murky but teaming with life. And when I ponder things, it can seem like trying to swim to the surface of a dark, muddy pond, with weeds wrapped round my ankles tugging me down. I could solve this riddle, of course, by cracking open an ethymological dictionary, but where would the fun be in that? Sometimes, I quite like the warmth and mystery of my over-sized puddle, the reassuring weight of the unknown, and the thought that any of those little eggs might turn out to be golden. Sometimes, the pondering is better than the knowing.

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