HOBART HUGHES ........home

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Brussels is as Brussels does. Last year I was cursing Brussels as I tried to get from the German Post Office a camera that I bought on the net off an Australian web site. Bringing that camera through the postal service rather than in my luggage had incurred an importation tax from the EU of over 100 Euros. I fought that battle and won by sheer stubborn bloody mindedness. (see the entry in Berlin) I will not forget however the postal worker throwing her hands up at one point saying “What can we do it’s Brussels” I’ve kind of had it in for poor old Brussels ever since. Perhaps my film is a bit over done in that regard.
After Amsterdam Brussels did seem like a conglomeration of ideas that everyone was trying to ignore. There is an imposed order that is not quite a comfortable fit. Much like the hotel in which I was staying. They had joined two buildings together. On the first floor there was a room that had no other function other than to join the two sides. When I passed it I thought it was an open room that someone had just left. I saw a mirror and the hallway I was in reflected back. When I stepped into the doorway I was confused, there was no reflection. What I thought was a mirror was the hallway of the other building. It was a deeply odd moment of spatial confusion. It seemed to add to my sense of confusion about the whole city.

If space and its abstraction and contraction that occurs in a modern urban mindset is made possible by measurements then Brussels is very important. More than anything else the EU measures, it measures trade, people, bandwith, sheep, toasters and money. How Brussels got this task does not seem clear. It didn’t really go tooth and claw to grab it. My first impression was that it was the compromise decision. It lay between the Latin and Germanic power centres and it had enough space and housing to cope.

I can see the point of the EU, I think it really made sense to me when they held out against genetically engineered maze being brought into the union. That battle is still being fought but it is a point that there is strength in numbers. The Euro itself seems a blessing and a curse depending on who you talk to and what you do. Fishermen in Napoli (the Greek town not the Italian city) cursed it to hell and back. They longed for the return of the Drachma and their local economy

The area I was staying in was full of Arabic restaurants and cafes. Just near the intersection that marked the end of this area was a sculpture of a horn. There was a set of steps leading up to the mouth piece end. It looked like if you wanted to say something this would be the place. It pointed towards a huge glass tower. Tour du Midi Brüsse that is the tallest building in Brussels and was the tallest in the European Union till 1972. It dominates that quarter of Brussels.  I never saw any of the locals going up the steps of the scuplture to have their say. Perhaps they wouls say "Don't worry you are still very tall"

The music in the film is of course the unofficial anthem of the EU just like Brussels is the unofficial capital. Officially I’m not commenting one way or the other but I was not unhappy about leaving.