For a 6 year old boy, scrumping apples for the purpose of feeding goats is a bit of a hoot. And so yesterday George and I headed for the Maximillian Park, a city farm in the centre of Brussels.
When we arrived it was closing. This was 7 hours earlier than the advertised time, but in Brussels this is quite unremarkable. Nobody here can do a full day's work, which explains why the country is so poor. George was a bit disappointed, so we visited a shop where I bought him a lolly. This was a bit of an unusual lolly in that it came with a large pair of joke lips attached. I was thinking of getting one for myself, but instead I settled on a can of Saudi Arabian Vimto.
Leaving the shop, we passed the gates of the farm, and this is where it gets good. One would assume that before closing for the day the staff might actually check that there was nobody still on the premises. But remember - this is Brussels.
And so we found a distraught young woman and an equally distraught child trying to get out of the farm. We went to help.
You really have to see this from the perspective of the mother. She is trapped, with a girl who I would guess was about 4 years old, surrounded by goats and sheep, and it is starting to rain. All is lost - but wait - here comes help! At this moment, probably the last thing a lady in distress needs is a bloke in a lurid Hawaiian shirt and a Stetson hat, accompanied by a 6 year old Mick Jagger impersonator. At this point both mother and daughter began to weep.
We were able to give her the telephone number posted outside the farm for emergencies.She got through to a voicemail message that informed her that Jean-Luc would be on holiday until August 25th.
It is very important at such times not to laugh. Sadly I let the side down a bit at this point.
Then her family began to arrive.The lady, who I was starting to get rather fond of, appears to be descended from what I can only decribe as a line of pantomime Arabs. Only Peter Ustinov was missing from the cast now, and even George was starting to realise that we were living through moments that could never possibly have been planned better, and that were unlikely ever to be repeated.
Then the wailing started. To be fair it was not much of a wail, and it was only one lady, but to me it signified the pinnacle of a marvellous afternoon's entertainment. I suggested that it might be appropriate to call the police, at which point two shifty looking guys vanished at great speed.
Eventually George and I said goodbye to our friends. Fortunately the rain passed in minutes, and I hope they managed to escape. I may pass by later today just to see....