Change of circumstances

August 22, 2007


I just moved to Brussels to take on employment, from September onwards full-time, with the world-economy think thank ECIPE.


The move explains the recent neglect of my blog. Flat-hunting, organising the move across the Channel and finding my way in the new town were more urgent matters. Let’s see how the blogging itself evolves with the new position and the new location. After having started blogging in ever-stimulating, exhilarating London, working in a global financial media environment, the risk is that my writing becomes boring. The new dullness might be reflecting the comfort of a cosmopolitan but small European capital with much more affordable quality food and housing. If the quality of life doesn’t kill the inspiration, then perhaps Brussel’s slower-paced, less frenzied, bureaucratic and diplomatic environment that stands in complete contrast to London’s hectic fascination as the world’s global financial centre. Myself am feeling like I am starting a serious process of embourgeoisement (“gentrification” is not an ideal translation) over here. I will be based in the elegant parts of the borough of Ixelles and no longer in a flatshare in London’s poor but fascinating immigrant-dominated area Finsbury Park. To say good-bye to it, here one of the finest descriptions of the area I used to live in made by the FT’s Stefan Wagstyl back in 2006:

“Astring of eateries on the Seven Sisters Road offers an instant glimpse of the ethnic mosaic that is London.

In quick succession along this main thoroughfare of Finsbury Park, a suburb in the north of the city, stand the Alban Cafe (Kosovan), Kostas (Greek), Hana (Japanese) and Fassika (Ethopian). A few yards away are a Somali social centre, a Turkish convenience store, a Chinese massage parlour and a newly opened Polish food shop.

All that within hailing distance of both the Rainbow Theatre, a former rock venue that now houses a black evangelical church, and the Finsbury Park mosque, former base of Abu Hamza al-Masri, the extremist cleric jailed this year for inciting hatred.”

My neigbourhood here in Brussels is certainly cosmopolitan, but of another type dominated by the diplomat and the bureaucrat. Elegant houses in Art Deco style and fancy shops in calm quarters along leafy avenues… But I know that if my bourgeois neighbours end up boring me, I can go and have a look over at St Gilles or the Congolese quarter Matonge

So, is that the end of it?

No, there is hope. The content I will be dealing with is in principle so interesting (to me at least) that my blogging might in fact take a more interesting turn.

Let’s see! Readers you must watch out and warn me at the first signs of dullness. And don’t be shy!


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