Wednesday, October 04, 2006


I was invited to a birthday party in Brussels which was to take place on a boat in one of the canals. Memories of the south of France flashed before me, sitting on the gleaming white decks, flowing champagne, foie gras served by white gloved waiters as a sting quartet serenaded us en route to Monte Carlo. I love yachts and whoever says size doesn’t matter is lying. Size does matter. And the accessories too. A yacht just isn’t a yacht anymore unless there is a helicopter aboard. I would even go so far as to say that helicopters are the new dinghy. So it was with these images in mind that I quickly accepted the invitation. Imagine my surprise as we came upon a mustard yellow barge docked in an area of town that is undergoing that transformation from ghetto to glam where one still expects to be the victim of a celebrity drive by shooting.

I had dragged Joe along with me kicking and screaming as he actually wanted to stay holed up in his flat watching Lord of the Rings. It took a bit of convincing and a bribe of a cocktail to get him to make like Frodo and partake in the fellowship of the boat. As soon as we set eyes upon the flotsam and jetsam upon which we were supposed to be hobnobbing with our glittery and glamorous friends we both let out a bit of a groan, took a deep breath and hobbled aboard. First stop was the bar as neither of us was willing to deal with this on an empty hand. Two drink minimum and make mine a double! The only cocktails they knew how to make were gin and tonics, which contained a lethal amount of tonic. I had the feeling that Toto and I were no longer at L’Atelier. The people throwing the party all work together and so everyone there was a colleague. Image the fun conversations one can overhear on a boat filled with P&G engineers. Business process breakthrough, 6 Sigma, hand wash, auto wash, surfaces… Fun!

Suddenly and quite out of the blue some demented Irishman (I know, it is a redundant statement) starts talking to us. “Belgium is a fucking shit hole. You don’t want to live here. Take my word for it. All the shit from Eastern Europe flows through here. I hate this fucking place.” And then as suddenly as he began, he stopped. We stood there, stunned into silence. I thought about giving him some hair gel, but didn’t want to be branded a terrorist in the event he should explode. There were also no Glocks around. There never is a drive by when you need one. Why can’t random acts of violence be more planned out? Of course, he was drunk enough that a little push on the shoulder would have had him swimming, but I didn’t think about that until it was too late.

Well, all good things must come to an end and after an action-packed hour or so, we made our way into the city center. It seems there is a new beer du jour on the market named ‘Propoganda’. It is supposed to be a cross between beer and red bull with an aphrodisiac thrown in for good measure. Just what a bunch of testosterone oozing men need - more incentive to shag. We threw caution to the wind and ordered up a couple of Propogandas. I suffered through mine while others just chucked them as soon as they could. If I am not mistaken, it is simply a rebranded and repackaged beer I had several years ago in Paris.

But my beer and cocktail days have temporarily come to an end. I am back at the gym trying to whip my body into something that flows a bit less in the breeze. I do hate to admit it, but even with my spectacular DNA, I too need to give it a little assistance every now and again.

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