Brussels perambulation

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 23.10.41The capital of Europe combines the greyness of bureaucracy with the gaudiness of modern popular culture’s worst aspects

Finding himself in Brussels, Dalrymple stays in a hotel

among whose amenities was 24-hour access to pornography.

In the room is a hotel copy of The Golden Book, which Dalrymple peruses. It includes an article on the place of women in the Belgian armed forces, illustrated by

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 23.26.53young female mechanics in overalls clambering over a jet fighter plane

and bringing to mind

the era of Soviet propaganda.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 23.41.35Stepping out into the littered, crumbling city, Dalrymple is

invited into several sex shows by men who did not easily take no for an answer. Drunks were sleeping in doorways, and very large numbers of male youths loitered.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 23.43.29Belgian beer

is the best (and most varied) in the world.

But

not even this could lend charm to the scene. One had the impression of walking through an updated print by Grosz.

A very large proportion of the loiterers

were Moroccan in origin, dressed in the international uniform of the modern slum. They seemed drawn to this seedy environment as flies to a carcass.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 23.55.23Not a single woman of Moroccan origin was to be seen.

Where were they, the women of Moroccan origin? The answer was evident after the sun came up. Large numbers of women of Moroccan origin, dressed in a non-European way, were in the streets, as if a nocturnal curse had lifted. Fewer men of Moroccan origin were now in evidence.

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