Tuesday, 4 June 2002

Bruised and Broken in Brussels


I think I know what the problem is.

I think that when I was a little boy I missed a very important day of my schooling.

I think there was a day when my teacher took everybody in my class to one side and told them about life and how a man should act and behave and be. I must surely have been absent on that day.

Yes, it's me again. I'm writing to you from Brussels and I'm feeling quite weird and weary. I've been here for a day - I leave on Sunday - and I'm not sure whether I like the place, but I am happy to be here.

Before I tell you my reason for coming to Brussels, I just want to tell you about something great that has just happened to me. I've been using this Internet cafe for a while and paying 1 Euro for each half hour. I was about to buy more time when a young man came up to me and gave me a card and said something to me in French.

I've just sat down to discover that he's me given me his unlimited Internet access pass and I now have 18 hours and 40 minutes Internet access! I'm so glad I thanked him!

Anyway: Back to weird and weary and my reason for being here.

I came to Belgium to be with a young French-Canadian girl named Patricia Leduc. Patricia and I met in York and spent a wonderful week together. I arranged to spend a few days with her in Brussels before she headed home.

I met Patricia yesterday as we'd arranged and at first everything was fine. At first. Then within an hour our entire "friendship" had fallen apart and it ended with Patricia telling me that she doesn't like me or my appearance and she thinks that I'm a "victim."


Patricia left Brussels today and now I will never see her again. It seems, upon reflection, that I have badly misjudged this girl. It's a shame, because I have so many beautiful memories with her from York. Memories of ghost walks, pubs, conversations that went on until 6am, a film called Sex and Lucia, getting caught together in the shower of a local youth hostel, laughs and much more.

Cardboard memories I will cut out and keep for many years to come.

I think my problem is that I simply get far too attached to people. I have friends in Eastern Europe and I know that many of these people value our friendship very much. With people from the West it just isn't the same. Many people I meet from Western countries seem content to have "disposable" friendships: Use one, throw it away, get another.

To be completely honest, I generally don't like Westerners and these horrible little capitalist societies that we've created. Eastern Europeans still seem to have something that we in the West have lost.

I know that I've said all this before and I don't mean to sound like a bitter young-old man. I just don't understand it. I think that, because I have never had a strong family backing me, I search for things in other people that I can't find in myself.

It's true that people are life. Life is nothing without people. While I'm in Brussels, I'm not taking photographs of churches or anything like that because they often bore me. They're just buildings! It's the people we meet who matter.

You can bet your bottom euro that in years to come, when this hair is grey and these crows feet run deeper than ever, it will be photos of my family and people like Katja, Tanya and Olga that raise a smile. Not photos of a museum or a church that I once visited! These will not be the snapshots that I cherish.

Soooooo. Anyway. Before I end this entry, I'd like to resolve my Patricia story. I told you everything fell apart. Well, the last hours we spent together were actually nice. I think we both understood last night that they were the last hours we would ever spend together.

We laughed. We saw the Grand Place, a remarkable piece of architecture. We jumped like Kangaroos. We danced in the street or, rather, I danced in the street.

I told Patricia that I shall keep one memory from last night. That memory is both of us standing near the Grand Place, watching two street artists playing violins. It was near dusk and there was a warm wind blowing. We stood there for maybe ten minutes as this beautiful, haunting music filled the air.

Despite everything that happened yesterday, despite Patricia's cruel words, I will never forget this girl. For seven days she lit up my life.

And though I will never write to her again, and though she will never know it, when I think of Patricia and the days we spent together I will always do so with a smile.

And now it's late. I only have sixteen hours of Internet access left!

I'm going to walk the streets of Brussels for a while, with the music of Sting in my ears, and soak up the atmosphere of this funny city. After that it's back to my hotel and off to sleep.

Thanks for listening to me ramble. I will be in touch in a day or two to let you know about any more adventures or misadventures that I have in Brussels.

If only I hadn't missed that day of school . . .

From the memory box of a Professional Englishman.

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About Me

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London, ENGLAND, United Kingdom
This is me. Read a few entries and they will tell you more about me than I can fit into these few paragraphs. Many of these entries started their lives as mass emails. That was before I discovered blogs. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for visiting my blog and reading about my life. Both a work in progress.