We drove past Brussels out to a canal dock area. We were stuffed into Jan’s car and I was buried in my book – Zoli by Colum McCann. By this stage I couldn’t put it down. A powerful portrait of an individual and of her people and time.
When I looked up we were pulling in to the yard of what looked like someone’s home. Boats and maritime bits and pieces were here and there. A boy of about nine appeared upstairs. We climbed to the balcony and came to a glass door. Inside were tables, a bar counter with a rope and bell. Lifebuoy and canal maps on the walls. This was our venue for the night.
Klaus greeted us. His eyes spoke for him. He showed us all we needed to be shown and put food on the table for us. I feel like we were really somewhere that is cared for and loved. This is where the canal workers, the sailors, the locks men and their friends and families come to eat drink and be merry. Klaus told us that he worked a lot with and for the Roma/gypsy musicians. This resonated with me as my book was all about the life of a brave woman who came from these nomadic people.
Luc was our man. He booked this show for us and I am glad he did. The view from the window was of the great canal which to my understanding connected much of Europe’s waterways. It was all about the nomadic today!
Peter and I felt completely at home here and played for around two hours. Later we sampled beer made by the Trappist monks and played some more at our leisure. This was a European crossroads. I could have rested on a couch there for some hours and grabbed a lift east or west on a barge. Who knows where I would end up! The world is small but the possibilities are infinite.
Bert sat at the bar and was all about the power of a handshake. Gurt had the kindest face and served behind the bar. He worked the canal bridge by day and said that some days no one was happy. He drew my profile with pencil and I drew his.