Cherrypicked stories

Cherry

For What It's Worth

It hardly seemed worth it in the end. Two minutes after I had started, my excuses dried up. In the arid soil of your stare, any shoots that might...
Cherry

H) Italy v Mexico... from Venice

I retired late in Ljubljana facing an early start ahead, but I simply could not sleep. Poland played on my mind. I felt uneasy about my sudden decision to skip the Pole's game against the US and go to Italy instead. I have been a little coy about my World Cup allegiances. While an Australian by birth, I am one of a first generation. My parents are European. I am half Dutch, a quarter Ukrainian and the last quarter, Polish. I grew up celebrating Wigilia over Christmas, eating borsch and pierogi. I even know how to order pancakes ('nalesniki') for breakfast ('sniadanie'). That's about it, but it comes up more often than you would think. In my mind, I knew Italy presented the game of interest, but in my heart dwelled a sad little Pole. There was only one thing to do. Try and do it all! I stayed up half of the night studying timetables and maps, plotting routes around Europe. With my mind and body already starved of rest, I cut my sleep from eight hours to four. I wanted a way. Finally, I eurekad a route which I believed would allow me to travel to Italy, double back some way and then traverse the thousand odd kilometres to Poland with time to watch both games! I slept with delirious satisfaction. If I had had the energy to dream, I would have dreamed of Poland thumping the US out of the Cup in a monumental battle of old East versus THE West. A few days earlier, I met the most offensive Californian who believed it was proper to nuke half the world. He belittled all around him including me and my World Cup adventure, telling me to get to Japan and Korea like everyone else. It only served to galvanise my passion and I wish he had given me his card so I could defame the man now (though I imagine he his doing quite a nice job of it himself). I rose predawn as I had planned to discuss my scheme with the bemused train station staff. No amount of explanation appeased and I felt more and more like a doped up drug runner making convoluted reservations to Italy, Poland and beyond. We agreed my schedule should work, or at least could work, providing that I was a machine. My journey would entail trips on ten separate trains over the course of some thirty six hours. It would require an average of three to four hours per leg and up to twenty minutes between each to find my connections. My tightest changeover would be but a few minutes long. That, my dear American, is why I think my World Cup experience really is something special. I was chugging through Trieste on my way to watch the match in Venezia. It would be quick and dirty, with just enough time to take in the match and then leave. I endured my journey alongside a Slovenian who walked and talked with the swagger of a proud self made man. I passed the time listening and nodding, very nearly missing the sheer beauty of Trieste passing me by. And now, I feel so proud to say, I know the directions to a whorehouse in every major city of Europe! Not bad for a bloke with a body so knackered he can barely hold himself, let alone get anything, up. After we said our farewells and shook hands and I gave mine a good wash, I placed my backpack on the seat opposite, seeking the quietest of company. It was not to be. Three Italian ladies trundled in and my be-seated backpack attracted their playful aggression. I made room for all three. Actually, given that they all had thighs for ankles and God knows what for thighs, there was only room for the one, but they all squeezed in anyway. They gabbed with great gusto, thinking their secrets safe with me. Little did they know that Italy is the country in which I am most qualified to operate having had a full semester of Italian back in grade three. I stealthily learned that they were two daughters and Ma. I would soon be swiping their recipes and brands of hair dye, but it was time for Venezia. Time for the match. For the benefit of the hopelessly naive, they don't have trains running into the waterways of Venezia, but rather keep the train station out on some desolate land, much as is the case for most every town. I was so deeply disappointed. I stood barefoot at the station, trousers rolled up for some wading, wondering where I'd gone wrong. Perhaps I had taken a wrong train, but no, the departure board was already counting down the minutes until my next departure. It was indeed Venezia. It may have been Venezia, but I'd be damned if I could work out where all the Venezians had gone. There were a great many licensed premises, ristorantes and pizzerias, canopied cafes, booze in most every shop window, but nowhere seemed to have a gathering of more than a handful of people. Even the whorehouse looked bare. With not even five minutes until kick off, I felt at the lowest ebb of my adventure. As so frequently happens, I just tried to do too much. I felt I had sold Italy and probably Poland both short and took to punishing myself with a full backpack run. I was rewarded with everything: a jazz bar, cocktail bar, party bar, an everything all in one bar, or so the sign said. With the match due to start, it was indeed everything, or rather the only thing, for me. A bit of a group had gathered inside the ill-defined premises. It attracted quite an array of patrons, all classes, colours and genders well represented. Most were sitting and enjoying food, drink and a smoke. All happy, except for one woman sitting with her back to the game, complaining it seemed, but refusing to leave all the same. I was heartened to see a few in Italy's colours and also to see that beer was on tap. I managed to get stuck into one just before kick off, backpack still on my back. The game had an exciting opening and the room was quietly attentive, showing their disconnection, shared history not there. Then, not far into the game, we had something to celebrate together: a great early goal! There was arm waving and yelling. Mad gesticulations not quite enough for a few slapping wildly on walls. All were so pleased, but from pleasure grew pain. That funny little flag went up for that funny little rule. The one they call off side because it so pisses sides off. No goal. One of the blue shirted teens put his hand on his heart, his mouth open, his face reddening. And then they came! Tears! Without hesitation, he shed genuine tears. The game had barely begun and this poor delicate soul was crying, making no attempt to hide the agony he felt on behalf of the room. As the half progressed, Italy was barely worth watching and I found myself focussed on this tearful lad. It was like sand in his face when Mexico secured a goal! He uttered never a word. Always looked straight at the screen. Coffee, short black and untouched. Moving only to draw smoky comfort. Ever more slumping and sliding down in his chair. And, of course, quietly shedding the occasional tear. It may not have been the most active of rooms, but it looked as if this young man carried the suffering of all of his country. Italy seemed to be on the road to a loss as the first half wound up. I left the bar in search of another closer to the station. Even on the streets, there seemed resignation in the air. It was a little unsettling and messed with my mind. If Italy were to win, there was little point in having killed myself to be there, but given I had done so, I hardly wanted to see them lose. A conundrum I contemplated as half time counted down. I located another bar almost opposite the station. A few grey haired gents sat before an old screen. Their faces were long and forlorn. No signs of tears, but I still thought them aged versions of the young lad in the bar down the road. I felt like I had done something wrong walking in and ordering a beer. I might as well have been speaking Spanish for all the death stares. Feeling so conspicuous and trying not to be, I hid in the back. The shoddy game continued and the old men consoled themselves with many litros of wine. Italy created a few chances for itself, but the match was very much Mexico's. I concluded it was set to be a disappointing conclusion to a disappointing day. I had one eye on the clock, my train's departure remarkably well aligned to the time left in the match. Things looked hopeless and so I ducked across the road to check my train's platform. I was gone less than a minute, but returned to discover I had missed Italy's equalising goal! Things were different now. I was everyone's friend. We all laughed at my misfortune which nicely capped off a day of misplacement. The game was winding down now. Both sides happy with a draw, they used up the clock and I dashed for my train. Italy? I am afraid it was all a bit of a non event for me. Just desserts perhaps. I would very much like to return and expect that I will, but next time I'll make sure I'm right in the middle of Roma! In the meantime, I must continue my train journeys, having just discovered that a booking error means that I have no couchette, but rather a chair, for the night. Nevertheless, exhausted, I am sure I will sleep well, safe in the knowledge that tomorrow I will be in Poland...
Cherry

G) Slovenia v Paraguay... from Ljubljana

I had many hours on trains during which to come down from Koln with a planned arrival in Ljubljana at 5:55am (unless I overslept, in which case I would probably end up in Zagreb). I needed some rest and so for the last leg of my journey I booked a second class couchette, a short narrow bed. It was my first sleeper train and so I approached with apprehension. A kindly guard treated me with some affection and led me to my bed. Then, a moment of panic! The guard ran off with my ticket and out of my sight. This broke all the rules! That ticket had cost me a fortune and was crucial to my endeavour. I could not let it go. I chased the guard down the train's corridors to find he had locked my ticket away! I insisted I have it. He insisted not. We argued and tussled. It became quite a feud. We reached a kind of compromise and it was with embarrassing distrust that I made him give the ticket back for a moment so I could note down its booking number. The relationship had been tested. I did not like my chances of being woken on arrival at Ljubljana. I nodded off nervously, contemplating possibilities in Zagreb. It proved to be a rough night of five hours broken sleep at best. At about three thirty, an armed Austrian checked my passport with such vigour that I would swear he was the one who blew the whistle on the family von Trappe. I went back to bed for not even an hour whereupon a policija man with unmistakably Eastern European jowls repeated the process. About one hour more and then my friend from the night before appeared at my bedside. Our puffy eyes met and we shared a moment of silence. He reached out to me and I think his bottom lip quivered as he clasped the neatly folded ticket into my hand. I turned to the window. A single silent tear. I resolved we would never fight again. I stared out the window long after he left. I felt like death warmed up, then spilt on the floor and licked up by a goat. I took a quick shower, or rather splashed cold water on my face and under my arms and returned to gaze out the window. I had head that Ljubljana was lovely this time of year. Actually, I had not heard anything of the sort. I had barely heard of Slovenia and never heard of its capital. Two hundred and eighty thousand people whose lives had never mattered to me and whom I intended to get to know intimately. In twenty four hours. On a few hours sleep. First impressions? Impressive! After planning onward journeys with the train station staff in a lengthy exercise in ignorance and patience (my ignorance, their patience), I stopped at a cafe. It was barely seven in the morning. I selected strong coffee, but all about bottles of beer were being drunk. A sexy, surly waitress sauntered around pouring out rum. Neat. Now, that's what I call impressive! As I admired my fellow patrons, and admired is the word, I started to feel a little self-conscious about my casual attire (a sensation I feel not nearly as often as I should). I had savoured the likes of Paris, London and Brussels, but none seemed to match Ljubljana in style. Men with short tidy hair sat in well fitting suits sipping rum with women wearing short skirts and fish nets and actually pulling it off so early in the morning. I was down to my last shirt, socks and jocks. Though, if I had swapped outfits with anyone nearby, I'm sure they would have still looked the shit. And I? Well, I'm sure I would have still looked just plain shit. I found a bed for the night in some student dorms. The morning sun streamed through my window and I basked for a while and watched the world go by, my chief practice as a student. It made me want to sleep, my other main student pursuit. I decided to do my washing, showing my student days to be very clearly over. I returned to hang it just in time to miss all the sun and immediately regretted doing it all. Last shirt, socks and jocks, you may have to stretch a little further. Its amazing what you can do when forced out of bed before dawn, but it was finally time to chase down the match. I had been told that the best place to watch was the nearby 'Tivoli Park'. I arrived there about an hour before kick off to join the overeager faithful. Ljubljana had done itself proud creating a wonderful community celebration of the World Cup. In the park, there was a small football field with a pitch of soft sand. Stands had been erected around the field to hold the thousands to come. Further out, were the lush trees of 'Tivoli Park' and then the glorious mountains which seem to cradle the city with ever present affection. In the centre of it all: a super big screen. Ljubljana, I remained very impressed. It was an especially hot day and the young were the first to arrive, exam time just ending, or so I'd been told. Small groups of lads had gathered in the corners of the stands, stripped off their shirts and started sinking beers. The scene felt familiar. It reminded me of home. Summer days spent at Adelaide Oval, with surrounds no less serene, enjoying the beer and company of mates. Alas, with most of my friends far away, it was time to turn to my most faithful. It was time to seek out a beer. The 'Union Beer' tent had been filled by a band, which reminded me of a certain Ompah Band I have seen leave some fine marks on fests. It was of course no Ompah Band, but it certainly drank like one. As a match wound up on the mini pitch, the near-Ompah Band took up its place in front of the screen. The next phase of the festivities had begun and it was time for another beer. A near-Ompah Band Omp gets me going every time. I've smiled a lot over the last week or so, but perhaps never so inanely as in Ljubljana. I'd seen the Parisians gather around a big screen, but all they did was gather, watch and leave. Here, the whole city came together in celebration and they weren't even in the World Cup anymore! They had already been knocked out! I was worried that this would flatten the mood, but it seemed to merely relax it. The football now seemed just an excuse for a good time, though I considered they would still quite like to win. At last, it was time for kick off and the crowd, now in its thousands, grew quiet. The fun and games were over. It was time to get down to the business at hand. I mean foot. The mood was not what I expected, but all that I hoped. The Slovenians were keenly attentive. They seemed to be real connoisseurs of the game, never overreacting in pleasure or pain, but watching it play out and sharing the odd thoughtful exchange. They politely applauded potential success and quietly gasped when disaster loomed near. Pride was still at stake and viewed as well worth salvaging. I must confess that Paraguay looked pretty strong, but Slovenia hung in there. They made some great late attacks and in time were finally rewarded with some glory in the form of a Slovenian goal! There was a sudden ocean of noise. Those transfixed on the screen bounced up and down. The kids playing in the park all did the same. It was great to see them all so happy, so naturally so, and now with good reason. The half closed with Slovenia the one goal ahead. A great many wandered off, their job done for the day. I did the same, but my task had only reached half way. I strolled to the nearby 'Lepa Zoga', which promoted itself as the key World Cup venue with soap scrawled on its window. I swung open the door, blind in the darkness of what was a much grittier scene. It quickly became clear that I would have to reassess my analysis of lovely Ljubljana. I suppose everywhere has an underbelly and Ljubljana's had certainly burped up in there. The group of thirty or so seemed to make enough noise to drown out the thousands outside. Drunken and rowdy, almost exclusively male, they sat calling like brutes for Slovenia to win. I found a pint and a stool, pleased that my sunburned flesh could finally cool. The match resumed and for a while, Slovenia just peppered the goal. The crowd called 'shoot' anytime their men neared the ball. It became a fun game to watch with all the attacking. I suppose Slovenia had nothing to lose, or at least so it thought. Paraguay returned with its own attacks and secured a goal. For the first time, the room fell very near silent. It was one-all for a while, and then there was another for Paraguay and the score grew to two-one. The room sulked and I felt it a shame. C'mon Slovenia, make me proud, keep me proud, win, lose or draw. But with the third goal for Paraguay, up went a sarcastic "Gooooooooooooooool!" (as they say in Slovenia). I'd had enough of 'Lepa Zoga' and went back to the park. Sure enough, the stands were now partway empty and I recognised a few early arrivals who had become early leavers. They knew what was to come. Paraguay the victor. Three goals to one. The crowd gave polite applause which I was pleased to see and then they all slowly shuffled away. The pain was evident. The final insult I suppose. Perhaps a fitting end to Slovenia's World Cup campaign, but I did so enjoy watching them while they were up. Slovenia may not have qualified for the next round, but, I'm starting to feel qualified to say, it put on one of the best World Cup shows in Europe. Great practice for next time around. May it go that little bit better. I leave Slovenia in the morning. Poland was the plan, but plans are for changing. It pains me, but with Poland already out of the Cup, there is another country facing the same fate that I feel I simply cannot miss... Italy, here I come...
Cherry

Peggie

Here was my chance to cross gross obesity from the list of body types I hadn't yet scored.cored.
Cherry

River of fur

someone going another direction
Cherry

Two Fascinations

I. Leather suits you, fag smoke becomes you, haloes in a strange way. Other than that, you don't seem bound to much; your seasonal image wax-wains,...
Cherry

Lurve Thoughts

Snail Lurve Poetry
Cherry

In Remembrance of Things Past

A man from the past gives a woman a difficult choice to make.
Cherry

Why Men Marry Younger Women

And How it Benefits Society
Cherry

You will find me

You will find me. In the cold grey halls, Down the broken stairs, Through the empty rooms Full of deserted desks. This is your prison. This is your...
Cherry

F) Germany v Cameroon... from Cologne

I departed Belgium with a head feeling full of left over beer, leaving from the very same station that had caused me much anguish just two days before. Again, being a unilingual ignoramus proved to be a great problem as I skipped between platforms, just making my train. I hope to make all my remaining journeys by train and it is at this juncture that I should be extending gratitude and platitudes to Rail Europe for sponsoring me. Except that they didn't sponsor me. A short-sited Marketing Manager rejected my pleas and I was forced to purchase an Inter-Rail ticket for the month. So, while I could rave about the efficiency, cleanliness and comfort of trains and Rail Europe's professional, helpful and well-informed staff, I will not. Instead, I have mastered their uninspired brochures, all gloss, and will wager that never will another Inter-Railer screw so many journeys out of a month. And, in order to make up for the added cost to my venture, I will implement the oft-used traveller's strategy of simply not eating. Should I wither and die, may it be on Rail Europe's head and my body found rotting somewhere on a train. After passing from the gorgeous greenery of Belgium into that which is Germany, my train pulled into Koln where I would wait again for a train. The station was crowded. Almost too crowded I felt. Then, I noticed one spot where hundreds stood staring up at a screen. Could it be? Surely not. It was! Germany v Cameroon! The match had just begun and my wait at the station allowed me to watch! If I ever had any doubts, they were now completely dispelled.... I am the luckiest man alive. The score was nil all with only twenty minutes passed. The locals' faces were focussed. Serious. Germanic? Those sitting at the front fidgeted and sprawled. Those at the back stood upright and tall. Tins and bottles of beer were being drained all around. The sun streamed into the great hall revealing smoke filling the place to its ceiling, some thirty feet tall. There was a sort of festivity, yet solemnity, in the crowd full of frowns. I was not yet in touch with the game, but Germany seemed to be doing quite well. A near miss at goal inspired some burley youths, wearing 'German Pit Bull' jackets, to stand and lead the throng in an abrupt German chant. A great many joined in. Leathers and black dominated the dress and the same sense of darkness was fired up at the screen. The crowd barked at the injured to get up or stay down, depending, of course, on who lay on the ground. There was some international blood present to give the crowd a little colour. A few Corats, an Italian, some Japanese happy snapping and the bravest of all, a woman who removed her jacket to reveal a union jacked bosom. I admired her gall. A weak Cameroon corner brought a round of applause and the first half to a close. The group reshuffled. The media swooped in. The Pit Bulls played to the camera like the thugs that they were. Half time and I needed every minute. I had business to deal with. I needed to change money, find some food and tend to a newfound priority. I wanted a beer. I chose to stretch my luck a little further and left the station for a quick look around. There had to be a pub nearby. I walked into 'Alt Koln' where there was no football being shown. I hit 'The Post' and was pointed to a screen in the corner where sat one lonely old gent. 'The Ice Bar', I was tempted, but was scared off by the nuts on the bar. Surely, an indicator of prohibitive pricing which I judged the nearby 'Bier Bar' to share. I decided I had started in the very best place and headed back to the station in a clumsy, loping, backpackered jog. I was thinking that I would kick myself if I missed any goals and just as I rounded the corner there was an earth shattering roar. I fought my way through the great wall of sound to rejoin the now rejoicing crowd. A German goal had been scored! The Pit Bullshitheads stood before the screen so proud of their country (would it be so of them?) waving their flags. Fists in the air and smiles all around. Possibly the first I had seen in my hour in Germany, save for one from the coy corn girl who had just sold me my lunch. The celebrations dissipated and normality returned. The mood had not really lightened and again all were transfixed and playing their part in the group solemn stare. Something was missing. Of course, silly me. I left for a moment, making a move for my beer. My whistle now whetted, I returned to the crowd. I wanted to see them win, but after some quick calculations, I was worried whether my luck would stretch quite that far. I bring it all on myself, there can be little doubt, but I wear a time-pressure-albatross. One I am never without. My train was leaving in about twenty two minutes. About the same amount of time that remained in the half. To miss the end result and reaction would give a slight bitter end to this moment of, thus far, most miraculous luck. 'Let's keep the game clean', I implored the big screen as I nervously swigged away at 'Dom Kolsch'. I decided to move a little closer to my platform where I had noticed a smaller screen stood. It was surrounded by punters. I joined some hefty security in craning for a view. It eluded us all, so I bought and ate a banana and moved back to the big screen. It took me back a little further away from my platform and potentially a whole lot further way from Munich and my connecting train to Slovenia. One more risk, just to spice up the game. It was getting terribly late in the match. I held such hope for the end that it seemed impossible, but, suddenly, there was another German goal! Another round of cheers. Emphatic this time. Not as fever pitched as the last. The game seemed to be dead. Germany, winning, two goals ahead. I stood watching, fidgeting, checking and rechecking my tickets, the departure board and my planned path for exit. There were six minutes to go. Until my train departed, that is. Finish! Damned game! Finish! The sentiment was shared. There were no more nerves in the crowd. Rather, all were hungrily awaiting the end, the great moment of celebration, though none in more desperation than me. Then, with not even two minutes to spare, it finally came... Whistle! Cheer! Run like hell! As I stood on the platform (for just a minute mind you), I heard the shouts from below. Overwhelmed and exhausted, I boarded my train. I was soaking with sweat, but had a broad smile all the same. As we pulled away from the station, the driver announced the result to the delighted passengers who, until then, had all remained ignorant. All, of course, but one. Now, back on my way to Slovenia...
Cherry

Like Montgomery Clift

It's building this angst thick black bile a heavy weather avenues empty paths harden this heat haze can be grabbed i sit in profile staple clopping...
Cherry

Them and Us

A letter to the one that got away.
Cherry

E) Belgium v Tunisia... from Brussels

The game was beginning in less than twenty four hours. I sat waiting obediently for what was proving to be a most disagreeable means of transport. I'm comfortable enough sitting in a plane. I don't mind flying. What really bothers me is sitting in a plane and not flying. Or, even worse, neither sitting in a plane nor flying, but lounging in a departure lounge from where no one departs. It seems to be the biggest part of flying. Not flying. I suppose some unexpected delays are to be expected. We eventually took off and after our host, Pierre, worked his camp continental charm, I sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the flight. I quietly contemplated that which awaited. I had arranged to stay with the parents of an old work mate, now friend. (Thank you so much Emily Roche.) It seemed fitting to be staying with people I did not know in a country I knew nothing about. I must confess that all I heard of Belgium was that it was terribly boring, but had very good beer. Incongruous though the two notions seem. I had come to Belgium to watch their team play Tunisia. It was not supposed to be much of a match, with Belgium so strong and the press describing Tunisia as, well, boring. Feeling desperate for distraction from imagined boredom ahead, I buzzed for Pierre, just to watch the man mince. Touch down in Brussels. I could feel that the challenge was truly set to begin. Bumbling my way onto the coach to Midi Station had seemed hard enough, but was nothing compared with the challenges that awaited. I had greatly underestimated barriers de linguistic. I had arranged to call my hosts from the station to come pick me up. Making a phone call. It is something so fundamental, I would have never thought it a hurdle. But in Belgium, it was. For about an hour or more, I fed coins into phones. While they sat chirping in French, I punched numbers and groaned. I fought so hard to master them, those bastardised versions Bell's great invention. I felt beaten by nothing. Slumped in frustration, I felt so very small, begging and cursing that damned box on the wall. Then, an elderly gent staggered over and adopted my pose. He eyed up a phone and loosening his trousers gave it a well aimed splashing and me a satisfied smile. I felt so tempted to join him, but no. Instead, I queued for information and, feeling the full schmuck that I was, sought detailed instructions on how to make one measly call. They took pity on me and finally the ordeal was over and I was in my new temporary home. I was spectacularly wined and dined by my fine hosts, retiring late and feeling almost too full of hospitality to face the game that lay ahead. I awoke early the next morning and headed to central Brussels. 'The Grand Place' was said to be where the action was. The area was crawling was tourists. I'd been told to expect little passion from the Belgians and I felt I might need the visitors to give me a show. As I weaved through the narrow streets, my nervousness grew. Did I have the schedule wrong, or was I the only one for whom the game mattered? I had been led to expect 'boring', but did not expect 'nothing' and yet nothing presented. I picked up my stride, now in my usual pre-match jog. I tightened my gaze, searching for some love of the game. Then, I saw them. Viking horns in black, red and gold! They cared! They really did care! Perhaps I would find a game after all. I followed the Viking past the enticingly named 'Drug Opera'. It was a gruesome venue which looked like a tripped over Trump had spilt glitz through the room. 'Christian's Bar' gave the same presentation, though without all the patrons. I was moving away, when suddenly a flag caught my eye. 'Tavern Jupiter' said the sign. I ducked through the flag that hung from the door and was greeted by about a dozen locals all grinning and crammed with backs to the wall. A necessity, as the tavern was no bigger than a caravan with a bar barely six feet in length. We eyed each other with mutual amusement. The laughs rose up as I ambled into the room. I smiled with deep satisfaction, dropped my bag, ordered a pint and took my place against the wall. The television was perched atop an old wood finished pinball machine. Faded photos competed with stapled butterflies for space on the wall which also displayed a picture of Belgium's national team. From 1992. I felt a little conspicuous scribbling at the back of the room (mere metres from the front), but the Belgians cared not. The game was soon to start. Kick off and all was quiet. They watched the game in silent appreciation. As did I them. The game made me nervous. I had not worked out which team was which and did not want to risk the faux par of supporting Tunisia. The room was good-natured, but its low profile and size made it feel the sort of place that could in an instant disappear with me along with it. This was possibly the fate of more than a few lost butterflies who merely stopped for directions only to find themselves stuck up to the wall. At this juncture, I was offered a snack from a plate of sausage which I was sadly forced to decline by my dietary dictations. The kind gentleman merely sighed and stared up at the wall, looking straight at a butterfly which I could have sworn gave a twitch. Perhaps vegetarianism is a policy I may have to reconsider. The silence was broken by an early Belgian goal! The room burst into a cheer and all tried to stand, restricted by tiny tables and no space in the room. There was shared joy in the moment. There was not the rapturous hysteria of a room of unknowns, but the warmth of good friends sharing in a success. All smiled and joked and though I understood naught, the mood was infectious and I coyly giggled and laughed. Sadly, shortly thereafter, Tunisia scored causing the room a deep pain. It slowly subsided and when another foreigner walked into the room only to immediately turn back out, we all shared a laugh and a butterfly twitched. The mood was subdued and casual, but surely not boring. Rather, it was warm and relaxed. The tavern had nothing but time. Nothing could move these folks away from their pews or rush them through their half-pints of Belgian's best brews. Sadly, the clock stood not still. As the half drew to a close and a Tunisian was stretchered off to not even a cheer, the barmaid took orders for more food and more beer. I drained my pint knowing that I would soon move on, much as it pained me to do so. I had to see how other Belgians were enjoying the match, but I knew that none could be so&;#8230; so&;#8230; perfect. I jogged lightly to 'Lop Lop', an international pub, with a mixed crowd to match. There were finely groomed 'suits' whom looked like they could have owned all of London. There were face painted fanatics, with drinks by the jug. I saw a number of students and I think a few foreigners. We all gathered together to wait for the match to resume. An air horn announced the start of the half. The multi-accented waitresses toted great trays of beers negotiating the bodies strewn on the staircase - my own included. The place provided some action and with some close Belgian goals, the locals released their crossed arms to give a good cheer. Indeed, Belgium dominated the half. The room was aroused, though only semi so it seemed. There was a certain flaccidity. A flatness. A droop. I mean, these boys knew how to drink and tie a half-windsor, but the ruckus was restrained and the cheers intermittent. There was never a chant, yet so much that deserved it. I really wanted a goal, just to see what they could do. It was never to be. The game petered out and ended in a flat draw. I missed out on the opportunity of seeing the Belgians at their best. As they downed their drinks and all filed out, 'I Will Survive' blasted from the stereo and indeed Belgium would. The locals were nonplussed, but their team had made it through. Their campaign would continue. I might be in Belgium again and I knew where I would drink. 'Tavern Jupiter'. It is probably one of a hundred, but still one of a kind and that's exactly where I headed to while away the day until it was time to move on. On to Slovenia&;#8230;
Cherry

Blue skies

Blue skies. (my thoughts crowded) Under the largest sky I had ever seen, my thoughts crowded. Sifting the sand through my fingers in a continual...
Cherry

Spinebending

Spine-bending. The room was beginning to fill with shadows but neither of us seemed to mind. A cool, wintry light lay where it pushed back the gloom...
Cherry

V) The Gnome

Nobody knew where he came from the odd little man just appeared in the pub one night.
Cherry

R)Psychometry

The house was ransacked, she sunk to her knees in the wreakage.
Cherry

Q) Who Is Tulovski&;#063;

He was the man of her fantasies.
Cherry

Post impressions

The Aftermath.

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