Saturday, August 19

Manneken Pis: "I can speak!"

The Manneken Pis ( stunned tourists of various nationalites on Monday by speaking. Shocked visitors to Brussels’ most famous landmark reported his words to be "what are you looking at?" As men, women and children stared on dumbstruck, the Manneken is reported to have calmly continued urinating.

In an exclusive interview with your correspondent the little fella appeared determined to make up for almost four centuries of silence. Asked about his favourite tourist nationalities, he reveals quite a softspot for the Japanese. "Or are they Chinese, or Korean. They all look the same to me." He is clearer that he cannot stand the Germans. "Can anyone?", he comments, while also lambasting the Americans who sometimes obscure his view of the other side of the road.

391 years after taking his place in the rue de l’etuve it seems the little boy wouldn’t mind a change of scenery. "To tell you the truth" he confides, "I would quite like the chance to piss somewhere else for a while. I quite like the rarified atmosphere of the Sablon." He denies wanting to move somewhere closer to female colleague Janneke Pis. "I’m sick and tired of listening to tourists call her my sister, she is absolutely no relation," he says. Asked if he could foresee a romantic relationship blossoming between the two, he frostily responds "I’m six".

The Manneke’s hard cold exterior is briefly pierced with mention of his retired costume fitter. For fifty years his daily attire was chosen by the same man. Since September 2004, however, he has had to endure being dressed by a string of different people. "To be frank its embarrassing" he says pointedly, going on to lambast the city authorities for their failure to find a long-term replacement. "It’s fine for them in their air-conditioned bureaux" he squeaks.

He is not the only person irritated at the recent turns of events. The curator of the atomium is fuming at the loss of revenue at his own tourist attraction. "Its got everything" he groans, referring to his three foot nemesis, "the ideal location, and now the gift of the gab". "What am I to do with my rusty balls?"

Inside: Danes' praying for Little Mermaid to abandon her silence

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