Tuesday, 22 March 2011


"Why" asks a keyword searcher in Bulgaria, very pertinently, "Belgian Waffle always looks at her navel?"

Good question, my Bulgarian friend. I would suggest that it is mainly because I (assuming you were actually thinking of me, and it's not some kind of recipe mangled by Google translate) hardly ever leave the house and there is very little to look at in here other than my navel and possibly some dust. Also, I did have a very expensive reconstruction done a few years ago, so perhaps it deserves more attention than it gets.

Anyway. In the interests of proving I am not utterly self-absorbed absolutely ALL the time, here, I will tell you about what I did outside of the house on Sunday, when I went to Mechelen to see eighties miserabilist Lloyd Cole.


1. When attempting to go to Mechelen, you should be aware that in the same general direction, there is a place called Machelen. These are not the same places. Nice trick though, Flanders.

2. The Cultural Centre in Mechelen is very impressive, another worthy destination for my taxes. Moreover it has the most exquisite public lavatories I have seen in Belgium and NO DAME PIPI. There is something very decadent about being allowed to pee for free, when you are used to being relieved of a fistful of small change by an elderly lady in the most unexpected places (Mcdonalds, the cinema, metro stations). In Botanique, a venue I love and visit very regularly, not only is there a Dame Pipi (so far so normal), but she parsimoniously doles out rationed single squares of kitchen roll to dry your hands. In Mechelen Cultural Centre you can luxuriate in as many hand towels as your heart desires FOR FREE.

3. Mechelen also looked rather nice, what little I saw of it. Medieval and so on. Very Dutch looking buildings, a castley sort of thing, a moaty sort of thing, a cathedral.

4. Lloyd Cole was extremely charming, funny and self-deprecating, and played a lovely, long set. It was just him and two guitarists and it was gentle and melodic, and the arrangements were accomplished and frequently very beautiful and his voice has hardly changed at all, but my god, it was melancholy. The old ones, which he graciously played plenty of - Perfect Skin, Lost Weekend, Rattlesnakes, Like Lovers Do - reminded me intensely of being 19 and the newer ones were full of horribly evocative middle aged pathos. I give you this, as an example:

This one too, though it's jauntier. It felt a bit pointed for me. "Do you have nothing to do on this fine afternoon but to write?"

Also, Lloyd Cole really did have cheekbones like geometry back in the day, and now, well. He looks like someone's dad. Someone's lovely, cuddly, quite sexy dad, yes, but still.

I did enjoy it though. He was lovely. Because Belgium is quite small, and the Lloyd Cole demographic quite tightly defined, I knew several people there, and did a lot of double takes with almost everyone else, since they pretty much all looked like people I knew. It was funny, looking around, and seeing us all in our severe glasses mouthing along to "She looks like Eve Marie Saint, in On The Waterfront and / she reads Simone de Beauvoir, in her American circumstance".

Lloyd said near the end, deadpan "It's getting to that time of the evening when your babysitters are all texting you" (a joke I imagine he can use every night and still get a laugh) and we did indeed all have the look of people who were slightly wary about being out so 'late' (it finished at 10:30) on a Sunday night. It was in fairly stark contrast to the last Sunday gig I went to, where a fight broke out next to me over a spilled pint, everyone looked like they should be at home finishing their homework and I was half deaf by the time I emerged.

5. Talking of pints, it once again made me wish I could get the hang of drinking beer, because the wine I got to try and shake the middle aged melancholia was spectacularly horrible. Perhaps Lloyd had the right idea with his 12 neatly arranged bottles of still water.

I do not know what dizzyingly insightful, outward looking observations I can bring you tomorrow, but I will strive to find something. Maybe I could go and stare into one of the local holes?


ItsRosnotRose said...

Oh dear God, I am now officially ancient. It was not enough that my new phone makes me feel like an incompetant OAP. Oh no, on the very day that I had been listening to Forest Fire and remembering hearing it for the first time on a mix tape from an old love, you have to show me what Lloyd Cole looks like now. Cruel.

Anonymous said...

I agree Lloyd Cile now looks cuddly and dad-like but he never realy did have cheekbones like geometry, even in that French philosopher's black polo neck jumper. What worries me now is that back in the 80s he looked like Jimmy Carr's brother, obviously the brother who remembered to eat occasionally. Maybe he is Jimmy Carr's older brother, or dad?
Ros - I also have Forest Fire on an old tape, swoon, the romance of it all.
I remember romance, vaguely!
WV - yarfea, love it, doesn't it sound so cheerful? I make it my word du jour :)

Em said...

Mmm, Lloyd Cole. One of the best concerts I ever went to was to see him play in London during the early 90s. Probably cos I was finding myself...
He still had the cheekbones and I could stay up all hours without growing eye bags overnight.

Betty M said...

We had Lloyd Cole playing only the other day. Ahh the 80s. Depressingly one of my school gate acquaintances wasn't born until 1985. Way to feel old. Lloyd Cole is playing at Latitude this summer. I can see the audience now....

WrathofDawn said...

When one begins a song with, "Not that I had that much dignity left anyway..." there is nowhere to go but DOWN. Down into the depths of despair. Thanks, Lloyd, m'love, but I already have a well-worth path to that destination. Sing me something uplifting!

I'm going to lose my licence as a middle-aged, bitter divorcée at this rate. Uplifting, indeed.

*mumbles whilst shuffling off in sensible shoes*

WrathofDawn said...

Worn. Well-WORN.


Margaret said...

What happened to his floppy black hair? Oh, I am so jealous of you.

frau antje said...

As far as insightful, outward looking observations--just tell me this, if the bottle of pills says
0.5 or something, surely it should really be 5.0, right? Am I right? It just seems like one shouldn't be left with enough strength and concentration to tell phone solicitors (even fake, criminal ones) that ripping someone's head off appears to be a distinct possibility.

Pastrami is made from navel, if I'm not mistaken, and it's pretty good...as long as you don't know that.

Nimble said...

Oh I listened to his LC album in Paris in the spring of '90. I think he was on the side of trying too hard to reinvent but still very enjoyable singing just to me. Happy sigh.

And my god! you will have to take a seminar and learn to drink beer. You live in the the world center of fabulous brews. Perhaps you could get a tutor.

Xtreme English said...

WV is "hooha" fitting enough.

I don't know who Lloyd Cole is. Talk about ancient!!

Anne said...

I don't often read the blogs of young people like you. I'm with Xtreme, never heard of Lloyd Cole. But he sounds quite nice.

This is my first visit here, and I enjoyed reading your blog.

Helen Brocklebank said...

Ah Lloyd. He was hawt, back in the days when i read cosmopolitan in search of sexual enlightenment. And yes, now he looks like my art teacher, but I still have a crush on him, and his records still make me cry. Particularly Broken Record. :(
WV: Jawkench - sort of like a nordic stiff upper lip, only more rugged, I think

Eireann said...

ha! mechelen/machelen got me too when i was first there...j's family are from very near machelen. i think. maybe it's mechelen. no, pretty sure it's machelen. ;)

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