Le Plat Pays

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That day, back in nineteen seventy-eight,

I had passed the exams. They did blood tests,

Heart monitor, followed by an X-ray.

I took the metro to get my eyes checked

In a leafy, windswept Brussels suburb,

Then queued in the grey, underground canteen

For lunch. For ever. The squat steaks oozed blood.

Afternoon: interview in broken French

With a bewildered man in Fisheries.

Pleasant sort, but I would have to come back.

A train to Ostend, across Le Plat Pays.

A hour to kill before the boat left;

Quite green, I drank to stares inside a dive.

Unknown to me, Jacques Brel was still alive.

 

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Comments

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raypool

Mon 13th Jun 2022 20:35

A compelling trip half disbelief and half relief with a great flavour. A mini marvel Stephen !!

Ray

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Stephen Gospage

Mon 13th Jun 2022 17:28

Thank you, John, for the very kind comment. And thanks to Greg, KJ, Frederick, Bramwell, Stephen, Aisha, Rudyard, Holden and K Lynn.for liking this one.

A word of chronology: My European adventure ( a visit for medical tests and interviews in Brussels) began in March 1978. Sadly, Jacques Brel died later that year, before I had heard any of his music. Hopefully I have made up for it since.

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John Botterill

Mon 13th Jun 2022 13:13

Fabulous memoir Stephen. No one does it better!

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Stephen Gospage

Sun 12th Jun 2022 16:47

I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Graham, and thank you for your generous and encouraging comment.

I first got to know Jacques Brel's music after I started to live in Belgium. For me, he was one of the greatest singer/songwriters.
'Le Plat Pays' is a wonderful expression of the atmosphere of the flat lands of Flanders.

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Graham Sherwood

Sun 12th Jun 2022 08:41

For me, easily the best thing you've written on here Stephen.
Quality shines out, great work! well done.

G

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