Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Brussels Vs Brussels

I did not realise when I decided to go to Brussels to visit some friends, that Brussels would be competing against Brussels, as I had quite blocked out that I had been there once before. It was only as we stepped out of the Eurostar, or ‘Le Eurostar’ as I like to call it, that I was hit with a sudden feeling of familiarity. And not of the good kind. Because last time I was in Brussels, I was in a bad place. Thus, it was very important to me that this trip was better than the last. And luckily, it just about scraped by with a few more points, so that’s good.

Brussels trip number one was six years ago. That was when I thought I was being really rock and roll and decided to go out with a complete and utter dickhead, who happened to sing songs and thought himself a rock star. I also thought this of him, hence my letting him treat me like crap.

Nic Dawson Kelly, or, as my friends and I soon started calling him, Dic Foreskin Crappy, (Ha! We won! My friends sure know how to nurse my broken heart) was, he told me, on the verge of stardom. I’d met him at a gig and gone a bit weak at the knees as he swooned about on the stage, looking like a cross between Bob Dylan and someone with special needs. When he started talking to me at the bar afterwards, I thought I’d hit the jack pot. Me! Out of all the women in the bar that night, he picked me! Gush.

So then me and Dic Foreskin Crappy (we actually C-bombed his last name but there’s no need to be profane here) started seeing each other. The sex was awful, he chain smoked Marlboro's in my flat even though I told him not to and he never asked me a single thing about myself. I was constantly on edge because I was so very aware that this guy was on the brink of stardom. Fern Cotton had mentioned him on Radio 1 and he was mates with Jamie T. Apparently Jamie T was a big deal. I didn’t even like Fern Cotton, but still, it filled me with nerves.

I could also see he was a tortured soul, and I really wanted to save him. The classic move - meet a dickhead, try to save them. So I stuck it out.

One week in, he suggested we go to Brussels, just for fun. Even though I didn’t want to because I didn’t really like him and being with him just made me feel shit about myself, I said yes. It could be a chance for him to see me be brilliant, I’d drink fruity beer and we’d have loads of fun in a new city. Then maybe he’d be nice to me.

So we boarded the train and he starts ignoring me slightly more than usual. We get to Brussels and he continues being the moody prick I should have politely declined on night one, only now we’re in a foreign country, and he doesn’t want to walk about and look at buildings or drink beer, or try some chocolate, or speak French, or anything fun at all. He just wants to be a jerk. I’d left my phone at home so couldn’t even send heartbroken messages back to Cesca in return for some comforting love and reminders that somewhere, back in the UK, someone thinks I’m brilliant.

The trip was a disaster. No wonder I forgot it. Blocked it out. At one point I asked him what was wrong and he poetically explained his dilemma. ‘I’m an artist,’ he said. ‘You wouldn’t understand.’

No, I didn’t understand what it’s like to be an artist, on the brink of stardom. Shortly after this, we parted ways. It wasn’t pleasant. He refused to give me back £100 he’d borrowed, so I got my big brother to open a can of whoop ass on him. (It’s terribly convenient having a big brother when men are mean to you. Jae has been protecting me since James Perry bullied me when I was nine. He doesn’t even punch them, he just gets all big brotherly on them and they run away screaming like girls. Dic repaid the £100 he owed me precisely 11 seconds after I got my big brother involved.)

As le Eurostar arrived in Brussels this time, I was accompanied by one of my best mates, Olly, and my future husband, Gareth. Well, what a difference six years makes! I’m now about to marry a man on the brink of stardom. He’s an artist, of sorts, but not a jerk. He hates Fern Cotton and had to remind me who Jamie T was for the purpose of this story. He gets me and I get him, and together, we had a great time in Brussels, with our amazing friends, drinking fruity beer, trying local chocolate, speaking French un petit peu and looking at buildings avec our eyes.

The friends we stayed with, Will and Laura, were exceptionally lovely hosts. Here's a picture of me and Laura being happy in the famous square. I can't share any pictures of Dic and I in Brussels because he was too busy being a tortured artist to smile for the camera.

 We drank Will and Laura out of house and home but they still hugged us when we left. We played Boules, we talked about atheism, families, politics, lobbying, photography, journalism and festivals. And we had a lot of fun doing it. Brussels won, while Brussels lost.

I saw the weekend as a marker of how far I have come since last time. I’d even wager I’m the more famous one out of brink of stardom Dic, and lowly fan Kim. After all, I’ve been on telly and I once spoke to Lizzy Cundy on the phone.


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