Last Sunday me and Brotherman were let off the leash by his bird to have a farewell rave at the Summerjam; then after a chill out day in Cologne I hit the road. I was escorted as far as a tramstop by Bman, then leaving him to his fate I found myself trainjumping through Germany towards Brussels. 15 years ago I was jumping between Brussels and Cologne. I was sharp back then and hit Nuremburg Vienna and Budapest before I finally got caught on the Orient Express heading back To Vienna. This time I caught a few steady slow trains and indeed found myself in lovely verdant and hilly city of Aachen for free.
There were no trains to Holland unfortunately so I paid 5 euros for a bus ride across the very southern tip of Holland that juts into Belgium, like the nobbly bit of a jigsaw puzzle. I suddenly found myself in Maastricht, another gorgeous city with the sun in the low 30s. I almost paused and took a youth hostel. But on discovering that to get to Belgium, I had to buy a train ticket that then put me on a bus to Belgium, and to even buy this ticket I had to spend 7.50; then I though fuck it and kept walking.
Maastricht is right on the Belgian border, which I soon crossed; passing memorials to brave Belgian soldiers who defied the epic forces ranged against the, at the start of two world wars. Breaking off into the Belgian countryside; I was delighted to find it rolling and full of bright agricultural colours + even stumbling across a great battlefield I had never heard of before = The Battle of Lafelt.
After 20k of hiking in glorious sunshine I hit a charming town called Bilzen… and a few moments later I was heading north on a train to Hasselt only two stops and a few minutes away. Now; when I was younger I would have hid in the toilets or something, but Im rusty as hell and was intercepted just before we arrived at Hasselt. However, on enquiring about Brussels tickets in order to stall him he replied that there was a summer special on which meant I got could get all the way to Brussels for only 7.50: A great result seeing as if Id have stayed in Maastricht I would have had to pay 7.50 just to buy a ticket.
So there I was; whizzing through Belgium chasing the sunset, and hit the city just before nine. By this point I was determined to spend a night under the stars on the fields of Waterloo. I had last been here thirteen years ago, writing the first stanzas of what would eventually be my epic poem Axis and Allies. Having recently placed it alongside my other poetic epics in a piece called the Parnassiad and given the whole thing a poetic introduction, it cane to me that it would be appropriate to write an epitaph/epilogue at the place where it all began. So jumping trains to Braine L’Allaeud and picking up wine, snacks and plastic sheeting from, a building site, I slipped through a hole in the perimiter fence and found myself climbing the steep slopes of the Butt de Lion. This is a great brass lion perched upon a grassy pyramid, defiantly facing in the direction of Paris. As the sun set I guzzled down the wine and began to write, the first lines being;
This poem I present, Parnassus sung,
Reflects those pleasant days when I was young
And focused my hearts world view on an art
Whose special moments set my world apart
For as I gaze upon these midnight lights
Good men are sleeping as a poet writes
The plastic sheeting kept out the worst of the night chills, and waking at dawn I pottered around the battlefield, eventually falling asleep again in the sun at the village of Plancenoit. This was the scene of the principal Prussian contribution to the battle (they arrived late), & thus the site of the Prussian monument. Very cheekily, however, have the French Napoleonic Foundation also placed a memorial stone in the village heaping glory on the Young Guard who defended Plancenoit. After this I meandered across the blood-soaked soil & headed north, soon entering the large town of Waterloo. In its St Josephs church can still read the marble memorials set up to honour the British who died at the battle. Interestingly, one had a Latin inscription Dulce et Decorum est Pro Patria Mori – it is sweet & fitting to die for ones country. A century later, however, Wilfred Owen, after seeing the horrors of warfare, declared it to be ‘the old lie.’
From tWaterloo I headed into Brussels and I’m currently wandering about for a few hours now before I catch the megabus to leeds where the Victor Pope Band are playing … I hope they remember my bass