Saturday, June 18, 2005


Back from Belgium. Two days into the recovery from the sensory onslaught, and all is happy memory and pure, lasting contentment.

Truly one of the most fantastic weeks in my history. From Guevara-style discussions that scaled the "heights of philosophical conjecture" over Monte Christo cigars to ridiculous and fortuitous encounters that only coarse travellers have experienced. Miraculous and wonderful.

Rarely have I felt such a consistently overwhelming sense of being so alive, imaginative, and carefree. Consider some of the following incidents of a three-day bender, the last trip for some time to the continent: following the marvelous Cymbeline in Regent's Park and spilt red wine at McDonald's, a random meeting with a Torontonian on the escalator out of the Brixton tube station that results in a date at the Mannekin Pis in Brussels 20 hours later.

Consider: random briefing on the state of the Canadian military from a Kingston, Ontario 2-star General who just finished up a conference in a Belgian bar while the arms dealers at the next table buy your round and the local girls staggette party rages on at the table beside (on a Tuesday) and your buddy gives the waitress a hug on the stumble out to similar ridiculousness at the Van Gogh hostel.

Consider: returning to your hostel in Bruges after a solid 6 hours of sampling Belgian beer, including one named Kwak served in a bar named after J.R.R. Tolkien that comes in a special test-tube type holder, only to be locked out of your hostel room which might be frustrating if not for a hilariously random lady from Victoria to laugh away the time with on the cobbled streets for who knows how long...

Consider: having timed the Eurostar exit to perfection after a lazy afternoon of grapefruit beer and Belgian chocolate, drinking some cans of Juliper beneath the English Channel and then proceeding to the banks of the Thames for a nightcap jug of Pimm's... and THEN... when the trip has all business being well and truly over, heading to the bathroom and challenging your friend to find out the names of the girls at an adjoining outside patio table after last call. Turns out one is a legendary girl named MacBeth, which precipitates classic photos in a tree underneath Shakespeare's Globe, and the other is a fantastically magic Aussie Beat Poet who pens an ode to your insanity and joins in for late night Guinness at a classic O'Neills lock-in and a chance encounter with a 40 year old furniture mover for the West End musical, The Far Pavilions, who leads you on a wild goose chase toward Burrough Market and sunrise on London Bridge, then coffee in the station, and a merciful bus ride back to Oxford at dawn, happy for the chance meeting with like-minded, would-be artists dedicated to the Road.

Sometimes life can make you gasp at the marvels of its random charm and seemingly infinite possibility.

Hope all is well in everyone's world. Now less than one month to go on this Oxford odyssey. Retreating to the studies until Canada Day. Until then, dust off the Sondheim musical CDs and play Pretty Women from Sweeney Todd. And check out the lyrics of a song that contains all the above, just in different words: Estelle, by Dan Bern -
"Yeah I was sittin' there updating my list of enemies
When this girl walks in and the universe kind of stops
Turned out she drank the same tea as me
Don't take more than that to start a conversation sometimes."


"Sometimes it seems like there's so much that you need
Sometimes the world is upside down
Sometimes it seems like the only thing you need
Is holdin' someone's hand as you walk through town "


Blogger The Tiger said...

MacDuff meets Macbeth? Whoa.

10:31 PM  

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