Selective Diligence

More abiding Bruges memories include the rather nice ‘blond’ beer, and I don’t usually care for the stuff. Local brand has a jester on the label.

Also: the weak Pound to Euro rate making everything conspicuously more expensive. Wasn’t too long ago when 1 Euro was about 70p. Today, you just change the Euro sign to a Pound sign, and that’s close enough.

Plus: Smoking in the bars. Children in the bars. And no McDonalds or Starbucks to be seen anywhere, unless they’re tucked away under the medieval prettiness of it all. Makes me think of a cynical Marxist friend, who when travelling abroad takes bets on how quickly you can last before seeing one of those two logos of US world dominance. He’d have trouble in Bruges. Instead, every other shop seems to be a chocolate shop. Maybe some of those are ubiquitous Belgian branches, but even foreign franchises seem exotic.

Bruges does have a branch of C&A, but I’m not sure if this counts in the global homogeneity stakes as C&A closed their UK branches years ago, while the firm is Dutch in the first place. I suppose the pejorative phrase ‘Man At C&A’, used in the 90s to indicate a blokishly bland taste in clothes, might now have an air of continental glamour. ‘Ooh –  get him in his C&A clothes! Isn’t he the Eurostar playboy…’


Last night: drinks at Browns in St Martin’s Lane for the artist Stephen Harwood’s birthday. Chat to him and his partner about Tangier. They’ve stayed at the Minzah there and loved the place. Also note that one of his presents is Huysman’s Parisian Sketches, published by Dedalus.  Some shared Decadent connections there, then.

One friend of his is a musician who’s played the Boogaloo. Another knows someone who’s seen me DJ at Latitude: I suppose I must be a visibly memorable DJ. But otherwise it’s a gathering where I only really know one person there, and so I have to answer that dreaded question ‘what do you do?’ a few times. This time I actually have a job, except it’s not really what I think I ‘do’.

The trouble is, on night shift weeks like this I find it hard to summon the energy to do very much but recover from the night’s work before, or prepare for the night’s work to come. But this is surely a self-deceiving lie. If my sleeping hours are 8am-3pm (in theory), and work is 9.30pm-7.30am (adding travel there and back), that still leaves six hours a day to get things done, and write. No excuse, really. And of course, when I was jobless before I wasn’t doing much then, either. A yawning, sleepy slug of a man whatever I do. And yet I do get things done when I absolutely have to – or am trying to get out of doing something else.

Get in to work, where Rhoda says Charley has been trying to find me. It’s only at that point I look for my mobile phone and turn the thing on. Turns out I’ve missed my own Fosca rehearsal. Even though it was me who actually booked the (v. expensive) rehearsal and emailed the others about the details. Somehow I managed to copy the wrong day into my pocket diary, the thing which actually runs my life. Meant Tuesday, wrote down Thursday.

(And I wonder about the subconscious meaning of this oversight. Since starting the new job in October I’ve not once been late, or told that I’ve made some terrible error. If I’m perfectly capable of diligence and discipline for one thing, why I can’t I apply it to everything? Including this diary? No excuse, again.)

So the upshot is Rachel and Charley sitting in a rehearsal room in Old Street all evening wondering what’s happened to me, while I’m merrily sipping 1 coconut daiquiri followed by 3 cranberry juices at Browns, entirely oblivious. It’s fair to say I owe them.

They say they went through a few songs without me, but it’s just as well we have one more rehearsal booked. The last ever.

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