Today was car free day in Brussels. The cold and gloomy weather in the early morning could not repress the exuberance of the city’s inhabitants as they ‘reclaimed their city’ – words I repeatedly heard throughout the day, and it really does make you realise that traffic is a form of repression. Our local council organised a number of brocantes (jumble sales) and we sent our sprogs off to earn some pocket money with bits and pieces from the attic, cellar and garage. They ended up making quite a lot of money from what was, basically, junk. Their trick was low price, quick sale. I couldn’t help but notice who was buying: very old people and people of immigrant origin – Poles, Turks, Moroccans, Algerians… I shan’t quickly forget an old (Belgian) man haggling over the price of an egg cup (twenty cents), nor a Turkish mother determined that her children should have some toys, notwithstanding their poverty. For that was what it was all about. Of course, in the early morning the stalls were scouted by antiques dealers and collectors looking for a bargain find, but for the rest it was a parade of the poor. There is, I realise, a thin dividing line between poverty and thrift but this was a reality check for me.