This is the first Christmas we’ve spent at home in Brussels for several years. At ten I head off with the dog to the Solbosch bakery, open on Christmas morning just as it used to be. I am too late for pains aux raisins.
I walk back through the park. A tree has been decorated by people who live nearby; the Amis du Parc will organise a drink around it on the morning of new year’s day. It’s raining and I think of a poem my father used to recite:
It was Christmas Day in the workhouse,
The snow was raining fast.
A bare-footed man with clogs on
Stood sitting on the grass.
He went to the pictures tomorrow
And bought a front seat at the back.
A lady gave him some chocolate.
He ate it and gave her it back.
He fell from the pit to the gallery
And broke a front bone in his back.
He hired a taxi and walked it.
And that’s the way he got back.