Wednesday, 23 March 2016


Regular readers of this blog will know that I go to Brussels quite often, because I have family there. None of them, thank heaven, were caught up in yesterday's attacks, but it was a bit of a moment when I read the breaking news of the explosion at Maelbeek metro station; my son goes through there on his way to work.

I wouldn't claim to know Brussels all that well. When I go, it's to visit family rather than to visit the city. But I've nevertheless become very fond of it: the Jubelpark, or Parc du Cinquantenaire, with its museums and rose beds and playgrounds and wild parrots; the forest which edges the city in the southeast, and where families walk and cycle and run at weekends; the Palais des Beaux-Arts, the waffles and chocolates, the comic book characters everywhere which remind you that Belgium is the home of the comic strip. The Brussels I know is a pleasant place, a nice place to be.

Obviously that's not how everybody sees it. I can't begin to see into the minds of young, disenfranchised men, who can not only contemplate the possibility of doing violent, indiscriminate harm to people they don't even know - but can actually carry out such acts. I don't know, what, in the aftermath of yesterday's attacks, anyone can usefully say.

I love it that part of the swift response on Twitter was to use the image of Tintin, Brussels' best known son.

I'm not going to say, 'Je suis Bruxelles', because it's not a declaration that really seems to me to mean a great deal. But I just wanted to say to the people of Brussels that I, like so many others all over the world, am thinking of you. And in the end, just as in the adventures of Tintin, the bad people will not triumph. But I know also that for the families and friends of the victims, that thought will provide precious little consolation right now.

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