Travel day. London to Brussels.
I couldn€™t leave London without a visit to the new Apple store. They have just opened the biggest one in Europe, set in a beautifully converted listed building and staggeringly convenient for where I live. I€™m sure the air has an extra molecule in there - it really is the cathedral of happiness. That new teeny video iPod nano is jaw-dropping and made me think that without some sense of the design journey of the past ten years, this little gadget would be utterly incomprehensible to the first-time viewer. If you€™d never seen an iPhone or Apps, or weren€™t relatively nonchalant about seeing a television the size of a match-book, you€™d just laugh and look for the hidden cameras. It really is sci-fi in action.
From the Apple store to St. Pancras station and the Eurostar to Brussels. This is the last trip on my Student Rail Card Fantasy and I€™ll rather miss these train trips. It has been an exceptionally civilised way to go on tour, though sadly I don€™t think it would be practical en masse. The Radiohead guys told me that they researched the possibility of touring by train. It might be just feasible in parts of Europe but apparently in North America it is just an impossibility. I think they had in mind something akin to the Some Like It Hot train, and there used also to be €˜scenery cars€™ that were built to carry large items of stage equipment. It turns out though that, even though you can rent the rolling stock, you can€™t travel independently €“ your carriages have to be hitched to a regular scheduled engine and the availability of routes just doesn€™t work for a rock tour. It€™s such a shame - I can imagine all sorts of fun with dining cars, club cars, sleeping cars, etc. (Though the lampie car might be one to avoid).
I arrived in Brussels and jumped in a cab to get to the Hotel Fabulous. This one really is pretty fabulous and sits in the tiny maze of cobbled streets by the Brussels ancient central square. I was most amused to see that the windows of my room, just one floor up, open to directly overlook what one might describe as €˜a gentleman€™s establishment€™ provocatively called €œHomo Erectus€. Possibilities for making some money on the side later sprang to mind, but instead I settled for a stroll out through these quaint streets. I have to tell you that the cobbles and wildly uneven paving were bloody murder for a man wearing MBTs, but that aside it was beautiful to be out in the busy early evening.
The band party doesn€™t get in until tomorrow, but on my return I did run into a posse of O€™Herlihys in the bar of the Hotel Fabulous, so joined them for dinner. Having eaten, I suggested the idea of a family outing to Homo Erectus, but in the absence of any takers we called it a night.