I’m sat in a city centre park in Brussels, there’s three post grads on the grass nearby, two lads, one girl, drinking Leffe beer and smoking single-skinner joints. Their accents and conversation betray the middle-England origins of their pampered upbringings.
The girl is called Hattie, she’s blonde, probably good looking and is most definitely the Queen of Fucking Everything. I know this as she and her opinion is her main topic as the guys kind of reluctantly hang on to her every word. Dropped into that one-sided audience with Hattie is the fact she’s got a First at Uni and now has a ‘really really really good job in TV’. I’m wondering if her male listenership are thinking the same as me, and doubt that they’d actually tell her to shut the fuck up; no one ever tells these kind of people to shut the fuck up.
The original plan was to take Dec, the young Crudlet on a camping-hiking trip. He wanted to go abroad rather than the UK, and didn’t want a beach holiday. So I weighed up the options and the lack of weight in my wallet. I’d have preferred Estonia, but it was £200+ for the flights, and I wouldn’t have been comfortable taking a 12-year-old on a trip into the unknown. I’ve been to Belgium at least 30 times, so it was the safer choice. We also sacked the camping idea as a deluge of bad weather could turn it into a miserable 4 days, so quite the contrary to the original plan we stayed at the 5 Star Sheraton Hotel, 39 steps adjacent to Brussels International Airport. Again, as this was unchartered territory, taking the young lad with me, I didn’t want to be stressing at 10pm trying to get into Brussels to a hotel or B&B. Under normal ‘Boys on Tour’ circumstances, we’d’ve trawled the streets in search of the best deal in the grubbiest hovel. The Sheraton ripped us off good style; I didn’t read the small print; breakfast was not included in the price, and the twats took us for 50E – FIFTY FUCKING EUROS FOR BREAKFAST!! Young Dec had 2 rashers of bacon and a spoonful of scrambled egg. In hindsight I would have paid cash for the stay and trashed the room just to get my money’s worth. That breakfast left a really bad taste in my mouth and I quickly had to put it down to stupidity from a normally streetwise and frugal idiot!
To counterbalance this heinous crime against common decency I booked us into the Solys Midi ‘Hotel’ in the muslim part of town. 86E for two nights – that’s more like it. A reception that looked like a prison visiting room, four floors up a rickety staircase and a prison cell room. Add the thumping music from the summer fairground across the road and the mice scurrying through my rucksack and you’ve got yourself a deal!
‘I know a lot about pressure,’ announced Hattie from her park throne. I’m sure you do love, bet you’d stay at the Solys! In Hattie’s bubble, her idea of pressure is when the nail salon is closed.
The tourist shops draw the voyeur to the Manneken Pis – a little boy holding his dick having a piss! Every shop in the city centre is filled with this image. Maybe Rhyl should take up on this novel idea and sell fridge magnets of a dog having a shit, or postcards of seagulls ripping apart bin bags!
French is the language of Brussels, with 80% of the residents conversing in their chosen tongue. Linguistic tensions do remain, and coming from Wales you do get the odd bit of friction when some ignorant twat from over the border starts telling you your language is dead etc…
Not a lot to do in a European city centre with a 12-year old without spending money. So we spent money on the theme parks, the science Atom thing and tried to get into Heysel Stadium to watch Belgium take on neighbourly rivals, Holland. Tickets were like rocking horse shit and we soaked up the atmosphere with thousands of Belgian fans pre-kick-off and scurried to a nearby pub to watch the game and surprisingly see the home side thump the Dutch.
We also took in the Flower Festival in the city centre (top pic), which was staggering to see… Went past in the morning to see the square all fenced off and a bit of flower arranging going on, to later find the whole square a mass of bright natural colour amazing!
I hope Hattie’s nails don’t grow back and her really really good job in TV is really filing documents at Channel 5.