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THE Lowly Peon

The Compernolle Women 
04 December 2010, 1:40am

A few years back, an old relative of mine, proud to be a Compernol, told me the secret to why Compernolles are so good. "Do you know why Compernolles are so good, Peter?" he asked me. "Because we pick good womens."

I too am proud to be a Compernolle, and I think I've succeeded in carrying on the tradition. Now that Daisy and I have had some time to settle, learn our different rituals after moving in together, I can say with certainty that I picked a good womens.

But I suppose this calls for a quick background story, since this statement, though wise, surely implies that Compernolles are all men, and kind of that women are only for making more Compernolles.

The Flemish Compernols

Back in 2005, I went to visit the fatherland — Compernolle, for those of you who don't know, is Flemmish, coming from the great Belgium — with my girlfriend of the time. I wasn't expecting much, except to visit my rather kooky relatives and have some good beer. But, in retrospect, I got quite a bit more than that.

Roger, my grandpa's cousin (he still speaks fondly of my grandpa, who passed some time ago, as he is not only his brother but also his best friend), was at the train station to greet us, wearing a red cap, proudly showing the letter 'C' — Compernolle — as he had told us via email. More rose garden With a brisk walk and not much conversation, he led us to his car, where he took us to the small countryside town of Huizingen, where the Compernolle family — now called Compernol in Belgium — comes from. It was peaceful, quiet, bright, and felt fresh and clean.

We arrived at his house, and he introduced us to Mary Jeanne, his wife, Peter (yes, that's right, Peter Compernol), his son, and little Andreas, Peter's son.

Immediately after the introductions, Roger turned to me and asked if I would like I beer. I turned to my girlfriend to see if she was interested in going out. Roger looked at me, confused, and after a minute of trying to understand what was happening, he accepted defeat, and said "_Okay_, she can come too." I guess beer is a man's game back in the fatherland.

After getting drunk by 9am, we went for a walk through Halle, the nearby city (which, in the countryside of Belgium, is hardly a city). Just after lunch, he turned around — Roger always walked, with his hands behind his back, twenty paces ahead of us, just to keep the pace — and asked "are you thirsty?" I held up my water bottle, still full, so as to explain that we weren't. Again, he gave me that confused look— "_Oh_! No, I mean, are you thirsty?" Now it was my turn for the confused look. Until he led us to a nearby pub. There, he asked me what I wanted (I got a Güeze, of course), and ordered for my girlfriend.

Later that night, while Mary Jeanne cooked some of the most delicious food I've ever tasted, Roger and I — poor Gwynne was sitting patiently by, Roger wondering all the while why she didn't go help Mary Jeanne cook — talked about what it means to be a Compernolle. family crestEvery time my grandfather came up in the conversation, he grew very quiet and solemn, and mumbled underneath his breath, "he was a good man, Julien." We discussed the evolution of the name — de Coppenolla, Compernolle, Compernol — and our family crest.

Honestly, during that conversation, I realized that I am indeed very proud to be a Compernolle. (Since then, I've put out an award for anyone who can find a copy of our family Crest.)

After probably the fourth bottle of wine, including a €400 bottle from the EU rail association president, Roger turned to me and told me the secret to why Compernolles are so good. "Do you know why Compernolles are so good, Peter?" he asked me. "Because we pick good womens."

Roger and me

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