Brussels Women's Club

Passport February 2023


Celebrating Women – Martina Navratilova
By Sheila E

Even those who are not particularly interested in tennis cannot fail to have heard of Martina Navratilova. Probably the most successful and well-known player of the Open Era, she spent 332 weeks as World Number 1 in Singles (second only to Steffi Graf) and a record 237 weeks in the top slot in Doubles.

She was born on 18 October 1956 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Her parents divorced when she was 3 years old and her mother remarried in 1962. She took her stepfather’s name, Navratil, adding the female suffix ‘ova’ to give her the name which is so famous. She came from a family with a sporting background. Her mother was a gymnast, tennis player and ski instructor, while her grandmother had played tennis for the Czech Federation before the Second World War, reaching the rank of no 2. She began playing tennis regularly at the age of 7 and her stepfather became her first coach. She won the Czech National Championships in 1972 and played in the US the following year, winning her first Singles title in Orlando in 1974, but only turning professional in 1975.

From 1975 onwards her talent began to show through. She was runner up in the Australian Open, (where Evonne Goolagong won) and again in the French Open (won by Chris Evert). In the same year she won the French Open Doubles with Chris, winning the Wimbledon Doubles title with her the following year. Her first major Singles title was won in 1978, when she defeated Chris at Wimbledon in 3 sets. She became World No 1 for the first time.

Over the next few years a great professional rivalry existed between Martina and Chris. They played each other often, sometimes one winning, then the other. Many think that the best women’s match of all time was the 3 set French Open Final in 1985, when Chris finally won after a hard-fought battle.

Martina has won an amazing total of major titles over her career: 18 Singles titles, 31 Women’s Doubles and 10 Mixed Doubles titles (the most in the Open Era). She was the biggest name in tennis in the 70’s and 80’s, but her career didn’t stop there. She won Wimbledon a record 9 times and was a finalist 12 times.

She put some of her success down to following the advice and training plan of Nancy Lieberman, aiming to strengthen her both physically and mentally. She also began to use a graphite fibreglass racquet. Her unbroken winning spell during the years 1982 – 86 underlined her dominance of the sport. She was also very successful playing Doubles. In 1984 she completed a calendar Grand Slam with Pam Shriver, a right-handed player to her left hander.

Her final Grand Slam Singles title was at Wimbledon in 1990, when she beat Zina Garrison in straight sets at the age of 33. However, it wasn’t her last Wimbledon final. At the age of 37 she took on Conchita Martinez, but lost in 3 sets.

She concentrated on playing Doubles in her later career and continued to be successful here. She won the Mixed Doubles titles at both the Australian Open and at Wimbledon in 2003 with her
partner Leander Paes. At the time of the Wimbledon win she was 46 years and 8 months old, which made her the oldest ever person to win a major title. The Wimbledon win also enabled her to equal the record set by Billie Jean King for the most titles won at this tournament, 20 in all including Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles. She had won a total of 58 major titles.
However, her final title came in Mixed Doubles in 2006 at the US Open with Bob Bryan. She was only a month away from her 50th birthday! An amazing achievement, which broke her own record!

She retired soon afterwards. Hardly surprising that she has been voted WTA Player of the Year 7 times and was awarded a BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. She had been stripped of her Czech citizenship in 1975, when she had asked for political asylum in the USA, where she was playing at the time. In 1981 she was granted US citizenship, but has since regained her Czech nationality, becoming a dual national in 2008.

In her private life, she is well known for being lesbian and a supporter of LGBT rights. She married her long-time girlfriend, Julia Lemigova, a former Miss USSR, in December 2014.
Unfortunately Martina has suffered some health problems. In 2010 she was treated for breast cancer, which had been discovered during a routine mammogram. Surgery to remove the tumour
followed by radiotherapy seemed to have cured her, but very recently, in January this year, she was diagnosed with throat cancer and breast cancer again. Hopefully she will recover, and she has certainly proved in her long career that she has a fighting spirit!


Leopold III – a justified abdication?
By Sheila E

Despite any achievements that Leopold III may have made, he will always be remembered for his “Chamberlain moment” and his abdication.

Leopold III was the son of Albert I who reigned during the First World War and who was known as the “Soldier King”. His mother was the much-loved Queen Elisabeth.

In August 1914, when Belgium was invaded by Germany, King Albert allowed Leopold, then aged 12, to enlist in the Belgian army as a private. However, in 1915, with Belgium almost entirely occupied, Leopold was sent to Eton College while his father fought on in France.

Leopold married the beautiful Princess Astrid of Sweden in a civil ceremony in Stockholm in 1926 and then in a religious ceremony in Brussels. They went on to have three children – Princess Josephine Charlotte who married Prince Jean, later the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Prince Baudouin who became the fifth King of the Belgians and Prince Albert, Prince of Liege, who became the sixth King as Albert II. He abdicated in favour of his son Philippe in 2013. Albert was only three years old when his mother died.

On 29 August 1935, while King Leopold and Queen Astrid were driving near their villa at Kussnacht in Switzerland, Leopold lost control of the car, which plunged into the lake, killing Astrid.

Leopold then married Lilian Baels in 1941 in a secret religious ceremony, with no validity under Belgian law. However, they could not wait until the end of the war to marry, as Lilian was pregnant.

Lilian was actually born in London where her parents had fled during World War I. She was one of nine children of Henri Baels from Ostend, who went on to be the Governor of West Flanders. She was initially educated in English but when her parents returned to Belgium, she went to school in Ostend where she learned Dutch. She completed her education by attending a convent school in London and various finishing schools. The couple went on to have three children, two girls and a boy.

However, Astrid was very much loved by the Belgian people, whereas Lilian, who was from this Flemish bourgeois family, was resented by some of the Belgian population.
In 1944, the Belgian royal family was deported to Nazi Germany where they were guarded by 70 members of the SS under harsh conditions. The family suffered from a deficient diet and lived with the constant fear that they would be murdered. These fears were not unfounded. A Nazi official once tried to give them cyanide, pretending it was a mixture of vitamins to compensate for their poor diet.

However, Leopold and Lilian were suspicious and did not take the pills or give them to their children.
During their captivity, the couple home-schooled the children. In 1945, the Belgian royal family was liberated by American troops.
Following his liberation, Leopold was unable to return to Belgium due to a controversy which arose about his actions during World War II. He was accused of having betrayed the Allies by a premature surrender in 1940 and of having collaborated with the Nazis during the occupation. In fact, Leopold had rejected cooperation with Nazi Germany. Having since June 1940 desired a meeting with Hitler to discuss the situation of Belgian POWs, Leopold finally met him in November 1940. By refusing to issue any public statement about the independence of Belgium, Hitler stopped the king from being seen as cooperating with Germany, which would have forced him to abdicate when Belgium was finally liberated.

In 1946 a commission of inquiry was set up to investigate the King’s conduct. During this period, the king and his family lived in exile in Switzerland. The King’s younger brother, Prince Charles, Count of Flanders, was made regent, as the heir to the throne was underage. The King was eventually exonerated and was able to return to Belgium in 1950 to resume his duties. Political agitation continued, however, and led to civil disturbances in what became to be known as the ‘Royal Question’. As a result, Leopold abdicated in 1951 in favour of his son, Prince Baudouin.

In retirement, Leopold followed his passion as an amateur anthropologist and entomologist, travelling the world and collecting specimens. Some of these specimens are still on display at the African Museum in Tervuren.

Leopold died in 1983. He was interred next to Queen Astrid in the vault of the church in Laeken. His second wife was later interred with them.


BWC Golf
January Update
By Carol J

January began with the sad news of the death of our Honorary President, Margaret Latham, on 30 December. Her funeral took place on 6 January and at least 6 BWC members joined the short
ceremony. Margaret had been a driving force as member and also as Lady Captain of the BCWCB Golf Club when we boasted around 100 members. Sadly, we can only count about 40 paid-up
members today, including 5 new members.

Our main social event in January was our New Year’s Day Lunch on 10 January at the Clubhouse. It was a dark, wet and windy day, so the 20 ladies who attended were more than happy to be indoors in convivial company, enjoying a Lebanese buffet – organised by Lynette – with Viennetta ice cream and blueberries for dessert. Several trophies were awarded during lunch: Janice won the Handicap Trophy – her handicap went down 6 points in 2022! Ester won the Autumn Knock-Out Trophy in Category 1, and Janice in Category 2. The Trophy for the 4 best Stableford scores in 2022 went to Sybil in Category 1 and Barbara in Category 2. And finally, Sybil won the Trophy for the most Birdies in Category 1 and Carol won in Category 2.

Our 2023 Fixtures List was distributed to all the ladies at the lunch. They were happy to see that we have included 8 afternoon 9-hole competitions at Golf Park Tervuren and a picnic, plus a number of Fun Format events.

The good news is that we are delighted to welcome five new members, two of whom — Suzanne and Gabriella — joined us for our New Year’s Lunch. Link

Our Winter 9–hole competition continued with a fixture at Bercuit. The weather was blustery and showery. The course was muddy after all the rain but the scores were reasonable, considering how tricky this course is. Lynette came first (13 points) with Sybil second (11). The next two competitions were cancelled because the courses were closed due to the extremely cold weather in the middle of the month. Nonetheless, the Winter Training Courses began at Pro Golf in Louvain-la-Neuve and Brabantse on 17 and 18 January. The weather was freezing, though with brilliant sunshine and blue skies. The cold conditions didn’t seem to affect the professionalism of the Golf Pros, who instructed their classes of ladies with their usual good humour, stories and jokes.

As we continue through the winter trainings and follow up with some practice, we are confident that our games and confidence will improve. The Committee is looking forward to increased sign-ups for our varied fixtures this year, and to seeing you all at our AGM on Thursday 16 March at 19:00 at the Clubhouse.


BWC Charities
Discover Mala India
By Lilian E

On Tuesday 7 March, Mala India will come to the Clubhouse for a Tea & Talk so that we can learn more about this fascinating non-profit organisation and the specific project we are supporting this year.

Mala India finances many different projects to help underprivileged children in India, but one project in particular needs our help: to provide schooling for children who work as slave labourers in brickyards. Link:

For many generations, a region near the city of Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh) has specialised in the manufacture of bricks. These are baked underground using a special technique and the conditions
are harsh. Besides the intense heat of the Ganges plain and the furnace of the brickyards, the whole region is highly polluted, charcoal dust is everywhere and causes serious damage to the lungs, especially of young children, and accommodation is rudimentary, often without running water or electricity.

Immigrant workers come from neighbouring states to work in the brickyards during the 5 or 6 dry months every year. They are illiterate, underpaid, indebted and fearful seasonal workers, whose children are forced to work for free. The continual displacement of their parents not only deprives these children of any education but forces them to work from an early age. They cannot escape the system under pain of cruel revenge against their families.

Since 2008, Mala India has been financing ‘learning centres’ for these children and this is where we will focus our fundraising efforts on this year. These ‘centres’ are one-room schools located next to the brickyards, each accommodating 20-25 students, and offering a school programme compressed into 5 months of instruction.

So come along to our Tea and Talk in March and find out more about this very difficult, risky but critically important project that will help to improve the chances of a better life for these children.


BWC Recipe
Turkey Tetrazzini
By Jane K

This recipe is from the website ‘Ahead of Thyme’: which aims to help busy people eat real food that tastes good.

This recipe has been a huge success at the Club. A long chain of acknowledgements are due:

a) Carol H & Andrea for the Book Sale
b) Constanze for making me buy the book
c) Donna Tartt for writing ‘The Goldfinch’ and mentioning ‘turkey tetrazzini’
d) Me for figuring out that an American recipe for left-over turkey might be a good thing since they have turkey twice a year, and hunting this down on Google
e) Our customers in December last year who said it was delicious and clamoured for the recipe.

Serves +/- 10, depending on hunger.

• 1 x 500g packet of green tagliatelle (or spaghetti)
• 3 tbsp (at least) olive oil
• 500g white mushrooms, finely sliced (buy ready sliced ones to save lots of time)
• 1 large Spanish style onion, finely chopped
• 2+ large cloves garlic, finely chopped (or more to taste)
• Salt & freshly ground black pepper (fgbp)
• 60g flour (plain or self-raising, both are OK)
• 750 ml chicken stock
• 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
• 300g spinach (or more, to taste)
• 400 – 600g cooked turkey, shredded
• 2 x 150g pkts of grated mozzarella (not mozzarella di buffalo, but the drier kind used on pizzas)

Pre-heat oven to 180° (170° fan)

1. Bring large pan of salted water to boil, add tagliatelle and a dollop of olive oil (to prevent pasta sticking); cook until barely al dente. Drain, rinse under cold tap to stop cooking and set aside.
2. Place a large saucepan on medium-high heat and warm remaining olive oil, add mushrooms and sauté until golden brown (4 to 5 minutes), stir in onion and garlic, continue to sauté until
fragrant (+/- 2 minures), add salt and fgbp and stir well. Mix in flour and as soon as wellblended, add chicken stock and lemon juice, whisk until sauce is smooth and uniform. Lower heat and stir in cream, simmer until sauce is thickened (this make take no time at all or a few minutes). Sauce should be the consistency of gravy, and thick enough to coat the back of a
spoon. If too thick, add milk (semi- or skimmed, or even white wine) to thin it down a bit.
3. Remove from heat and stir in spinach until it has all wilted. Add pasta and finally turkey. Toss well to ensure it’s all properly mixed and turn into a lightly greased(or non-stick) roasting pan, cover evenly with the grated mozzarella and bake for 25-30 mins until heated through and the topping turns golden.

NB: If you are making this in advance, bake for 45 minutes and protect topping with a very lightly greased foil for the first 15 minutes.


Carnival – from Debauchery to Abstinence
By Ann E

What calls to mind when thinking about Carnival? We usually think of a Catholic festival, known for being a time of great indulgence before Lent with drinking, overeating and other indulgent activities.

Nowadays, it is mainly practised in Catholic countries and countries that were colonised by Catholic colonists such as South and Central America. Carnival celebrations may include mock battles, social satire, mockery of the authorities, over the top costumes, abusive language and a general upheaval of rules and norms. The Italian tradition of wearing masks dates back to the Carnival of Venice in the 15th century.

But the origin of this celebration goes much further back in time.

It is believed that the characteristics of Carnival date from ancient European festivals such as the Greek Dionysian or the Roman Saturnalia. These festivities reflected a release from social obligations, making way for the overthrow of order, joking or even debauchery. In ancient times, winter was regarded as the reign of the winter spirits which had to be driven out in order for summer to return.

So Carnival was thought of as the passage from darkness to light, from winter to summer, a fertility celebration and the first spring festival.

In the Middle Ages, Carnival was the period following Epiphany reaching its climax before midnight on Shrove Tuesday. During the last few days of Carnival, known as Shrovetide, people confessed or shrived their sins in preparation for Lent. The feast was also a time to indulge in sexual desires which were supposed to be suppressed during the following fasting period. During this period, Carnival took not just a few days, but almost the entire period between Christmas and the beginning of Lent.

In Protestant countries, pre-Lent celebrations occur on Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras. In Germanspeaking Europe and in the Netherlands, the Carnival season opens on 11/11 at 11:11, dating back to the Advent season or harvest celebrations of St. Martin’s Day. It seems the only vestige of Shrovetide in Britain is Shrove Tuesday when pancakes are traditionally consumed.

It is interesting to note that the word is said to derive from the Late Latin expression carne levare, which means” remove meat” or carne vale, “farewell to meat”. Although carnival was pagan in origin and a celebration of folk culture, the Church decided that instead of banning these excessive celebrations to make Carnival church-sanctioned.

The first modern Carnival parade took place in Cologne when Carnaval or Fasching mixed pagan with Christian traditions. In the UK, West Indian immigrants brought with them traditions of Caribbean Carnival, which are no longer religious but are more secular. The street carnival of Rio is the largest Carnival in the world, attracting some two million people every day. The most widely known American version takes place in New Orleans: “the greatest free party on earth”.

Many parts of Belgium celebrate Carnival with costume parades, parties and fireworks. These celebrations are particularly popular in Belgian and Dutch Limburg and in cities such as Aalst, Binche, Eupen, Malmedy and Stavelot. In 2003, the Carnival of Binche was recognised as one of the UNESCO Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The Carnival of Aalst received the same recognition in 2010, although this was withdrawn in 2019 following controversy surrounding some of the virulently anti-Semitic floats that the city refused to remove, maintaining that Carnival makes fun of everyone. In 2005, the Saudi ambassador conveyed a protest from the Arab League at the hurtful depiction of Muslims in the parade after one group had dressed as terrorists in burqas. The mayor expressed displeasure at the Belgian government’s apology, saying that the Carnival had done nothing to apologise for.

During the Aalst parade, men dress up as women, a tradition that originated when the lower classes were too poor to buy or make beautiful Carnival costumes, and instead donned the old and worn clothes of their wives.

Rosenmontag or Rose Monday is the highlight of the German carnival which is particularly popular in Cologne, Bonn, Dusseldorf and Aachen. Celebrations in these cities include dressing up, parades, heavy drinking and floats. There is even a tradition whereby women cut off the ties of the menfolk on that day. You may interpret this emasculation as you wish.


BWC Art Gallery
Photography Exhibition on ‘Time’ is a Success
By Kathy Whalley

On Sunday 15 January, the photography club Viewfinders held a preview of their amazing photos in the exhibition “Views on Time” at the Clubhouse.

Largely abstract pictures, presented in very modern mounts, these photographs are well worth looking at. Viewfinders holds several themed photographic activities throughout the year, which
yield many interesting images. Smaller exhibitions, like this one, are largely based on these exercises.

The Club also holds larger exhibitions open to all of its members. The next one will be in March this year at the “GH Market” building in Woluwe, with about 40 photographers taking part. Look out for news about that one very soon!

Viewfinders is a photography club, friendly to the BWC. Enid’s son, Alun, is currently president and one of the exhibition organisers, and has done various useful odd jobs for the BWC over the years.

The common element in the photos is that time has meaning for everyone and in many ways. In particular, the time in which a photograph is ‘exposed’ to the scene when taking the picture – and
what happens during that time – can be very important. If the camera is moved, something ‘blurry’ will happen which can give very interesting results if done with purpose (it’s called “Intentional Camera Movement”). Other artists chose to render their view on time more implicitly, like the flow of a river or the strange beauty of decay, or even the life of a snail enjoying a walk on a rainy afternoon!

The vernissage was a great success. It is rare to see so many people in the Clubhouse!


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