Where no one's in the saddle
In the centre of a roundabout going into Vilvoorde, on the outskirts of Brussels, is a statue of a horse, a monument to the tradition of buying and selling the beasts in these parts.
Until the advent of the tractor, farm-horses were one of Belgium's biggest exports. But the Belgians aren't such expert horse traders in modern times. Ever since the election in June, coalition talks have dragged on and on but without a resolution.
It is now 170 days since there has been a Government and some are beginning to notice the effects. My colleagues on BBC News 24 are doing a series of broadcasts all day on Wednesday 28 November to illustrate this.
Belgium is two very distinct places. The French and Flemish speaking areas have different attitudes, cultures and, above all, economies as well as different languages.
One of the blocks to forming a Government is places like Vilvoorde/Villevorde, originally a Flemish town, where French speakers have moved in and vote for their own parties. But the main problem is the Flemish desire for more political power for their region, and a desire to stop subsidising rust-belt Wallonia, with its high unemployment and rather unfashionable, statist approach. But does not having a Government actually matter ?
The former government is, of course, carrying on, in a caretaker role. But this caretaker doesn't have the right to rearrange the furniture or even turn up the heating.
On the streets I don't find anyone who thinks it matters much. One woman tells me that it's a good thing the politicians are taking a long time to solve such difficult problems which have bedevilled Belgium since its creation. Another woman says that it's an awful thing and sends out a very bad signal.
But both agree it hasn't made any real impact. A man tells me "I think we can handle it without a government. I think it's obvious we don't need a government." A woman says "it's made no difference, we don't need it," and she concludes with a cry of "anarchy!"
But does divorce become more likely, the longer this goes on? The Flemish Christian Democrats in cooperation with the smaller, separatist New Flemish Alliance won the largest number of seats in Parliament in the June elections. The NFA say support is growing for their vision of a peaceful separation.
Their deputy leader, Jan Jambon, says: "At the end of the day there is no reason for Belgium to exist. But a lot of people in Brussels and Wallonia want to stick with the Belgium state. It's a bit of a paradox, the guys who want to stick with that framework are doing more and more things that make people in Flanders think "no, it can't work this way".
"People see when Flanders asks moderate things, to bring some powers from the federal level to the regional level, the French speakers don't want to move. So people are saying if they won't move the only solution is to split up. After this the formation of a federal government will become more and more difficult each time."
A former Mayor of Brussels, Francois-Xavier de Donnea, doesn't agree. A minister of state in the last Government for the Mouvement Réformateur, a Francophone liberal party, he says: "Flemish people would lose a lot if Belgium did not exist, but we need another Belgium.
"The request for more powers for the regions is not a silly request. If you want to live together it's good to sleep in separate rooms in the same house."
I point out that can be the first step towards divorce. He says "in Belgium it wouldn't lead to divorce, but better understanding and dialogue."
But he is worried the lack of Government is having an impact: " The increase in oil prices, the increase in food prices puts the question of purchasing power on the table and people are getting really impatient.
"Prices are going up and something has to be done, the caretaker government cannot take the drastic measures that are necessary, lifting some taxes and increasing small pensions and so on. People are starting to suffer now."
Remembering that sturdy shire horse on the Villevorde roundabout, I also talk to the politician who was nick-named "the Brabant Horse" - the former Belgium Prime Minister, Jean-Luc Dehaene.
He says "we have two communities that have been put together in 1830, nearly by accident, with a different economic situation, different languages, who live together for more that one hundred years and who will still live together tomorrow. But it's a question of agreeing on the house in which you live.
"It is clear that after such a long period there are problems. It's not very good for the image of Belgium. With the new year approaching, we need a new budget. With high petrol prices, people are beginning to feel it more. In the past they would have felt it by now because the Belgian Franc would be under pressure, but with the euro that sort of pressure doesn't exist any more.
"Those who think the Flemish people dream of going to the Netherlands or the Walloons to the French are wrong. They have more in common together than the neighbours. History has made something real and you have Brussels in the middle and that will be one of the main reasons to stick together."
What unites the people I've spoken to is a complete and absolute lack of a sense of panic. They are all pretty convinced, that somehow, despite all the failures and breakdown of talks, something will eventually be cobbled together, that the cart-horse will get there in the end.
Perhaps it's time to start organising a sweepstake.