May 01, 2007

Antwerpen: a tale of many cities

One of the purposes of traveling to Europe this year was to attend my parents' golden wedding anniversary. They live in a wealthy suburbs of Antwerpen. As a political aside: its wealth ensured it was not amalgamated with the City of Antwerpen and thus limited the damage on property values that local city taxes could inflict. But let me not harp on about those trivial issues.
Fifty years of marriage sure is something to celebrate and mum and dad did this by inviting hardly anyone of their immediate families but instead opting for a very informal reception for friends and neighbours. A very pleasant time was had by all - dad even danced with a woman who was not my mother!
Ewen and I had no need to introduce ourselves to the scores of strangers that were there and we had never met because they had all seen the documentary that Belgian television had made three years ago about our life in New Zealand. They knew all about our queer life in NZ and it was very nice to hear they (most of them being over 65) loved it. Nothing but praise about the country and its scenery too. Being queer certainly does not raise any eyebrows in Belgium - being able to legally marry was achieved without any fuss a few years ago - and I know it pleased my parents too that all their friends were embracing their queer son.

I spent several days catching up with people from my past - many of whom have been in touch since the TV show - from school and college, from the local radio station and from my infamous punk past (picture left is at the entrance of the erstwhile Cinderella's Ball Room, the best punk/reggae club in Western Europe in the late 1970s and early 1980s). I'm always interested in what people have done with their lives after school and always surprised what the outcome was.

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