Philosophers will discuss forever the grey area between predetermination and autonomy. Were we personally responsible for all that happened last night or was it all mitigated by forces and events over which we had arguably little control? Certainly up to a point, or more precisely up to an hour and a level of intoxication, we had complete control over what was happening, but after that point all bets were off. It was Dominick’s birthday, and it was only good manners that we – the Irish delegation – assist in the proper rituals of celebration and partake of some of the alcoholic refreshments on offer after work. To cut a long story short, according to ancient tradition it was an eleventh century monk by the name of Arnoldus (now Saint Arnoldus) who, after a pestilence, got the Belgians into the practice of brewing and drinking beer. I’m now convinced that Arthur Guinness isn’t a saint because his porter is significantly less potent than the brew devised by this hollowed Belgian brother. We were introduced to a few bottles of Saint Bernardus (known everywhere else as ‘rocket fuel’), and so the rest of the night began. Didi, the museum’s graphic designer, introduced us to the Twelve Apostles – the very worst/best public house in Ypres and from there everything got a bit hazy. It even got a bit messy.

First it was the Japanese guy. He was pretty legless on arrival at the spittoon of ill-report and left completely buckled, mumbling something about Saké, and demonstrating how his baby girl was learning to crawl. Then it was Frank. In fairness, this man is pretty fly, and said he saw what was coming like a steam train. He, like Judas, slipped away into the dark, and left us with the rest of the Apostles… and Didi. At some hour during the proceedings we relocated to a swankier joint on the Menenstraat where God only know what happened. All I can remember is Didi covering Shane’s mouth to shut him up. I think he was doing the right thing right enough. Despite an offer to crash in Ypres with Didi we made the last train to Kortrijk and landed in a few pubs and then a club there. Much ale was had. Shane thought that perhaps someone had laced his drink with Rohypnol, but I reasoned with him that he is far too ugly for that. It was probably me who had been drugged. After we took his laptop safely home, on the toss of a coin (would you believe?), we decided to head back to another club. The taxi driver understood “club” to mean something quite completely different and we ended up at a brothel trying to explain in broken Mandarin (or whatever Shane was speaking at the time) that we wanted more drink. Oh – and we left our room keys in the freezer. Long story!

Jason Michael
Blog Author

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