I’ve always said that I would never go to a reunion, but there I was, in a restaurant on a foggy December evening in Nijmegen. I had travelled from the West of England to my birthplace in the Netherlands to be among my classmates from primary school. The boys (and two girls) of more than forty years ago.
Here in Malmesbury, the place where I’ve been living for a week or two, nothing much happens apart from the fact that the first person who was eaten by a tiger in Great Britain (in 1703) is buried here. The odd thing is that I, a dyed-in-the-wool city person, really like it.
Recently, when I had forty minutes to spare and was smoking a cigar outside Brussels South railway station, I thought: these are not the most wonderful of surroundings. In other words, quite a few oddballs were hanging around, but a relaxing cigar is enjoyable.
I had wanted to write about a course in Humming-at-Important-Moments. Imagine: you are the PM and you’ve just announced you’re resigning; you point towards the building behind you, which will be occupied by someone else tomorrow, and what do you do next? You walk over the threshold humming a tune.
‘Bow Tie’ had already warned me. Bow Tie is a man of about eighty years, and I’ve nicknamed him Bow Tie after his ever-present bow tie. Every Saturday, he comes to our stall on Portobello Market for a chat. He talks to many of the stallholders. He has been a market trader himself.
I have to admit that, to kill time, I regularly watch Come Dine with Me (the way others go fishing). And I also watch its spin-off Couples Come Dine with Me. The programme consists of ‘ordinary’ people going for dinner in each other’s homes and, in addition, rating it. The winner receives £1000.
‘Doctor, I’m an Anglophile, do you think that’s dangerous?’ Every time I visit my GP I’m tempted to ask this question. But, at this practice, you keep seeing a different doctor. The last one I saw was called Georgios, and I don’t think Georgios would get my question.