Four (Brussels 22/11/15).

Tonight there are two people who want to kill me.

Yes, and you too. And anyone else who doesn’t particularly want to live in their global caliphate.

They have explosives and they have guns. And they have the support of, at most, around  0.001% of the population of my city.

So tomorrow we start our working week on level four.

Our schools are shut, our public transport is suspended. Our cafes, our bars and our restaurants are closed. Soldiers patrol our streets and armoured cars guard our institutions.

But surely only in Belgium could the very worst that could ever happen be ‘four’.

Not ‘nine’ or even ‘five’ let alone ‘condition red’ or some such anglo saxon movie convention but ‘four’. Just four.

Four. Ah, the land of compromise.

Tonight I went for a drink with my friend Archie. He suggested that he come round to mine and we drink some wine. But in the end we were agreed that we should go out.

That we should walk our streets. That we should go to our bar. That we should not be terrified or terrorised.

In the town where we grew up, after all, ‘fore’ warned of no more than a miss hit golf ball. And hey, here at least four’s the very worst that can happen.

So as we take a cigarette together (we like to live dangerously) there is an ‘incident’. A car is stopped on the Rue Leon Lepage. It’s a black car. And just like in the movies black cars are the baddies.

We wish.

The police tell us, in no uncertain terms, to go inside and to stay there.

The street is sealed. Soldiers arrive.

And inside our bar ashtrays are produced.

The landlord kickstarts the air-conditioning with a broom.

So we smoke our cigarettes. And we drink another Wesmalle Triple.

Well at least it’s not a quadruple.

But I, for one, am sad for my happy town.

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