Brussels Pate and the Fat Cat

The other day a long-standing friend reminded me that I have a tendency to say sorry when there is little need to be apologetic. So this blog post was going to start with an apology for the late arrival of this post but it isn’t. I have a vague notional intention that a post should appear on a fortnightly basis – my life’s not that interesting to merit more frequent postings, not that I’m stuck for things to write about, and my maternal grandmother maintained that everything would be different in a fortnight. And I have found this to be one of life’s truisms. There should have been a post about 10 days ago but I was having an existential crisis with my methodology (gross exaggeration) and mother’s care home so felt obliged to resolve those issues.

Anyway, enough with the waffle – I’ve been away to Brussels for the weekend and it was très bien. The occasion was the launch of the album (proper vinyl of course) of the soundtrack for le film: FatCat, all music written and mostly performed by the brother, Wilf Plum. But the adventure started on Thursday with an afternoon train to King’s Cross then a quick scoot to St Pancras and a packed Eurostar to Brussels. My carriage seemed to be full of Flemish businessmen from Antwerp and some ladies from Lille. They enjoyed each other’s company and a number of bottles of champagne. I had thought I would have to find my own way from Gare du Midi to the little apartment I had booked but of course brother was there to meet me and Gélise was outside in the car for a speedy getaway. The little apartment actually belongs to their insurance man, Phillipe, who Gélise was at school with. Officially, it is La Conciergerie, henceforth Dee’s wee flat in Brussels, wee flat for short. To make a wee flat you need one medium sized room with a high ceiling that is then divided vertically into a downstairs living room and an upstairs bedroom. The living room undergoes further shrinkage with the essential addition of a well appointed shower room and best of all an Ikea kitchen in a cupboard. Posing as two double units, it contained a fridge (wee of course) two burner hob, microwave, sink, poubelle and all other necessities. The living room has a sofa bed which was very handy as W & G thought they might have a night in Brussels … more of that in a minute.

So once we were at the wee flat, all checked in, wifi enabled and enjoying a late night beer, instructions and ticket were issued for attending the gig – no help  needed setting up, so enjoy the day in Brussels. It was very late and very cold when I eventually got into bed. The next morning I figured out how the heater worked and after a hot shower and breakfast, set off for visits to various shops and areas, some with fond memories while others were new finds. After an as always delicious lunch at an Exki I decided to visit the Kandinsky and Russia exhibition. Essentially, Kandinsky goes to Moscow to study law and economics, then decides to be a painter, is inspired by colourful Russian folk art and becomes abstracted. It was very interesting and well curated. I also found the many extracts from Kandinsky’s book ‘Concerning the spiritual in art’ quite stimulating.

After a lonesome beer in a quite bar I met a friend for a Turkish pide (pizza) – delicious as ever. Then a quick walk through the red light district (necessity over desire as it was the shortest route in the cold wind) to the gig in the Ateliers Claus. Wilf was in fine form and dress, the were many friends from both the Batiment and Amsterdam. Back stage a band of besuited musicians with a heady that usual heady mixture of excitement and nerves. Then all were assembled on stage and they were off! Biased as I am, I did think the gig was excellent and I was (and am) immensely proud of my wee brother, his many talents and the warmth of so many fellow musicians and friends. P1040088.jpg P1040089.jpg P1040100.JPG

By the following afternoon they had all recovered (I’d been up and out from early on); Wilf and Gélise came back into Brussels to spend their planned night with me in the wee flat. But not before we went out for dinner at a charming restaurant, l’Huitrière – croquette crevettes, lobster and Belgian chocolate music – divine.

Sunday morning and it was time to catch the Eurostar. I had allowed sufficient time in London to nip down to the very excellent Walk-in Backrub in Neal’s Yard for 10 minute shiatsu session – well worth the walk. Once back at King’s Cross, a final surprise was the train waiting to whisk me north: the 007 liveried Skyfall train. It being Sunday, Mr Bond was off as were the cocktails but at least the passengers were stirred not shaken.

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