Thursday, January 18, 2024


The station restaurant in Tilburg overlooked a broad wet confluence of streets, and it was good to have another cup of tea while smoking one's pipe. Grim, overcast. At the far edge, it looked like bugs with umbrellas occasionally scuttled past before disappearing from one's field of vision. I've always preferred Tilburg over Breda; more collegiate, less military.

It was near the end of term. For several days I had read colonial era literature in the digs of a friend. His upstairs apartment reeked of dark shag tobacco (his many hand-rolled cigarettes) and strong coffee. So much that one scarcely noticed the staleness or the mildew. I myself stuffed a Balkan blend into my pipes, and when that ran out I switched to Maryland ribbon (Baai Tabak), because I did not know any tobacconists in town with the stuff I preferred.

In the smoke and permanent twilight of the season I dreamed of somewhere warm.

He was studying for his tests, I had finished school already.
Where I stayed I lived on cheese for that week.
I could feel the casein in my veins.
Needing a break from the environment of Rue Vielle De La Vache and the crisp pages of his hardbacks, I walked several streets over to the station and purchased several newspapers.

Indonesian food later -- and I knew of a toko where one could get dodol for after -- but in the meantime, news and the strong unfounded opinions of serious weighty columnists, respected intellectuals, who pontificated in austere prose about the world from within their blinkers and sunglasses. Because Dutch political views then tended towards tunnel vision.

At the edges of my vision there was flickering, and holes in the scene. I became aware of my bladder, and realized that my apartment mate had just shut the door behind her when leaving for the day. Wiping the cobwebs from my mind I went in to the kitchen to put on the water for coffee and the bathroom to take care of business. Washed down the morning pills with coffee, and filled a pipe.

Mild blonde Virginias instead of Balkan or Maryland.
Dutch political thinkers still pontificate.
In print, and on the internet.
Chinese food later.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

1 comment:

Alcyon said...

You've done a few lovely bits of writing lately. This is one example.

Search This Blog


Remarkably, over a thousand people yesterday evening discovered a post I wrote fourteen years ago in which I took issue with New Zealanders ...