Just back from Bruges, and just a couple of observations.
One aspect of the City that distinguished it from so many places I have visited in the last few years, in this country and abroad, was the total absence of graffiti. Apparently the City Council has a policy that they remove graffiti free of charge, usually within one hour of it being reported. A few years ago they used to charge private dwellings and people thought, what the heck, pay to get it removed now, and tomorrow it could be back. Since it became a charge-free service, and instantly removed, the spray painters got fed up first and decided they were wasting their time and effort on their ‘art’ which would never be seen. Hence Bruges is free of the scruffy mess which blitzes so many cities. I think I’ll suggest Sandwell gives it a try. Does anyone know if this instant removal service has been tried anywhere here, and to what effect?
Secondly, the Belgians appear to have a disgusting diet. In virtually every square in the City, not just around the Christmas market but elsewhere too, there were people slobbering over pies, fried potatoes and waffles, hot dogs, with enormous great sausages, and every variety of fatty meat you can conjure up. Added to which they are obsessed with… chocolate! But hey, no sign of the obesity which plagues kids (and adults) in so many places here and abroad. And seeing this on the street corners, despite temperatures at -5 degrees, might explain why….
PS: Interestingly, Belgium, famous home of the eurocrats, has not introduced smoke free public places. The interesting thing is, having got used to not breathing other people’s smoke over the last few years, the bars just seemed bloody awful. Great clouds of smoke hanging over everyone, and those daaaahlings who don’t want to bother their drinking companions sticking their fags virtually up the noses of people on other tables. Thank heavens for the smoking ban…. tonight I can see Omar Puente without having to endure everyone else’s fags.