I’m planning a trip abroad. A long weekend somewhere in Europe, with a friend. It could be anywhere. I like going to cities, I prefer it to my trips to the country. I don’t like the loneliness of the country, I need the cling and clang, the sounds and smells of the city. They make me feel at home away from home, or at least most of them do.

Paris is not my city. Paris is a stand offish tart of a town, with hordes of uncouth men between her stockinged legs. Men that smack their lips at you, clack their teeth and sniff at you, hissing and whistling and staring. Paris doesn’t invite you in, Paris leaves you outside looking in. Paris makes you feel small. She can’t cook either – her food is downright disappointing. Paris definitely is a woman… and she and I don’t get along.

I love London. London’s a long lost friend. London’s a warm hug of a town, swilling with beer and a slap on the back. London is old world hospitality… the charm of the Irish with a touch of exotic, the ochres and purples of India, sexy businessmen sipping capucinos in the street at midnight. London’s got a wink in it’s eye, it’s a lad in a cap, a cat in a hat, a surprise of a town.

Cities in Belgium are like my relatives, so familiar and yet so different. There’s Brussels, your great great grandmother, and Antwerp – your little brother, the black sheep. Bruges, your uncle who chose the cloth and Dinant, your bohemian cousin. Gent’s your alcoholic sister-in-law, you gotta see her at least once a year.

Dublin’s my ex husband. I can’t stand the little fuck. Screw him and his family. His father was a prick and his grandfather before him. If I could, I’d forget about Dublin all together. I’d forget about the good times. The nights we went out on the piss. The afternoons walking down Exchequer Street, me with my head in the clouds and Dublin with the sign of the cross on its weathered face. Past Molly ‘how’s yer tits’ Malone, up to the Trinity Gates, down the dribbling Liffey to the Docks, I took the ferry back to Holyhead, head up high but leaving part of me with Dublin, last time I said goodbye. He’s welcome to it, I don’t want it. I’m not bitter about Dublin. I took part of him with me. I’m sure he doesn’t even realise.

On my stereo:
Page & Plant –
No Quarter