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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 18-Dec-06


Monday 18-December-06

Six guys and a lot of champagne

It's 8:50am and I'm deep under the English channel with five other nutters. We're doing a d?a vu trip to Brussels for lunch in an echo of last year's mad day out. Roy has just opened a bottle of Dinet-Peuverel at Fils, which is about the fifth bottle of champagne already. He is still living down forgetting his passport last year ("I don't need a passport -- I'm British!"), though Al forgetting his train ticket is a great distraction ("I just hope my wife doesn't find out."). Another Al holds forth. I notice that out of six of us, three are called Al. Odd, that.


In the delightful Grand Place in Brussels centre, in the Bar Roy. Something to do with the king, I think though Roy thinks it could be named in honour of his visit. This is where he caught up with us last year after a scramble home to retrieve his passport. Armagnacs all round. Al and I go for a walk. When we get back, they others are still there.


Now in a restaurant in the lanes off the Grand Place. Plonk, soup, steak and laughter. The waiter remembers us from last year. Oh dear. Well the food is still good. Al had calf's brains last year. I still feel sick when I think of it. Slight 'discussion' later about the need for a tip when there is already a 16% service charge automatically included.


Meandering through the little lanes, looking for the meaning of life and chocolates for the ladies back home. I try to tempt Al into buying a beautiful but amazingly expensive Boker penknife. He weakens, but his resolve holds. I bet he's dreaming of that little beauty now (I am, but then you have to sell something to yourself before you can sell it to others).


Amazing son-et-lumi?e show in the Grand Place, with criss-crossing spotlight beams, spinning mirror-balls and projections onto the high buildings, all to booming, eerie music.


The delightfully Art Nouveau Falstaff bar, just next to the pseudo-Athenian Parthenon of a stock exchange. On the Leff?now -- brewed by maniacal monks, it seems. Roy's ears turn into drip mats and Al's hand acquires a life of its own, attacking its owner.


Back at the station Al has now lost his replacement ticket, and only Hari's persuasive skills gets us all through. I feel smugly sorry for Al. He won't live this one down. We casually stroll onto train just as it is leaving.


Yet more champagne and nibbles on the train. Als sing something funny together. Help another party of plonkers finish their crossword. Addledness seems not to have dulled the old grey cells. To much amusement, Al finds out that his wife has discovered the ticket he left at home.


Change trains in London and fade gradually back to Ascot, where my good lady wife does an imitation of a taxi driver, delivering Al and Al home on the way. Al gives her a goodnight kiss.


Sleep fitfully, dreaming of Als and pals. Wake up without a hangover, but digestive system takes its revenge. Hmm. Time to stop, methinks.

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