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    How nice it was to escape this ever more petty joke of a nation, occupied as it has been by the USA since WW2. If you want to get away from this rotten island then a great place to go is Belgium. Its not too far by coach through the tunnel. Brussels is beautiful. The streets smell of coffee and chocolate, the people are jolly and kind and there is great art everywhere. No wonder Colin and Malka made it their home. There are also lots of Belgians with little noses straight out of a Tintin book. The food and beer are amazing. I thought Brussels was wonderful but then I made it to Ghent and was pretty damn glad the trams had been aborted by a flower festival because I walked along the canal to get back to the station and realised that this is architecturally the most beautiful city I have seen. I haven't made it to Prague yet though! Antwerp looks like a low rent Barcelona copy, in the same way Manchester tries to be European but always ends up looking like a post-industrial dump. Tilberg is very boxy but the people were partying hard and late and the Dutch all seem to think the rest of Europe is crap just because they don't all speak perfect English! "Those crazy Dutch!" said Lewis but I can't remember why. Maybe it was something to do with the hotel WIRE rejected in Tilburg. Margaret the guitarist said it was so grotty she didn't even want to put her bag down in it let alone sleep in it!

    Berlin is a great place to explore, full of impressive sites and large enough to spend years there I'd warrant. Tiergarten is the largest and most lovely park I've ever strolled through. German venues also make a mockery of British ones in terms of the sound.

    Strasbourg has a fine market where I found a sabre for a mere twenty euros, a light sabre for two euros and a tiny plastic Obelix for twenty cents. Lewis loves the trams, but the modern art gallery, watched over by one of Lovecraft's Forgotten Ones, is even better. I spent too long there so got to Paris 23 minutes too late. My Cologne friend Dirk from the Gathering reckons Strasbourg is cool because of the huge German influence. Cancel your order, crossing the border, changing the menu!

    The Eyefull tower is good for a stroll but Paris is full of too many slow people and the prices are obscene. Jus d'orange? Mai non je pense que je WAIT until ich gehe zu Belqigue! Paris hotels are the worst. Unlike Germany and Belgium, the beer is worse than Britain. French computer keyboards were designed by a retard and the showers go some way to explaining why the English have often mocked the French for being hygenically challenged. The redeeming feature of the French is that many of them seem to really love WIRE and gave the most enthusiastic response of any crowds on this tour.
    I luv Belgium. Used to go every year when a youth. My Flemish mate stayed in Aalst betwen Bruges and
    Brussels, so that where we headed all the time. They have a great Beer festival in Aalst. oh and the Maes Pils
    tastes luvely.
    This was the route of my rail and road trip:

    I arrived in beautiful Brussels in the middle of some kind of medieval WARDANCE pageant. I had time to visit the city's most mainstream record store just opposite Ancienne Belquique which Killing Joke would conquer by and by. I was rewarded by finding a copy of one of the few PJ HARVEY singles I didn't yet possess, 'A PLACE CALLED HOME.'

    After a couple of hours I caught the train to gorgeous Ghent for the WIRE gig at Democrazy.

    Next day I took trains via Antwerp and a bus NORTH OF THE BORDER to Tilburg just in time to catch the seismic riffin' PELICAN and Dutch hardcore heroes SEEIN' RED before WIRE blasted off at around 7pm. Later I was also entertained by the double breasted PRE and a Satanic black metal band who gave the crowd the finger for watching them, all of which was unexpected.

    On returning to Brussels I witnessed a lovely WIRE gig at La Botanique, a venue which could verily call itself NICE STREETS ABOVE if it so desired. I struck up conversation with a charming photographer and graphic designer called Violette who sent me eight great photos of WIRE from the gig.

    After the gig I had to START TO MOVE pretty sharp and jumped on the night train where I was entertained by conversation with a former theatre director who had just aborted a trip to Turkey. He recommended a trip to Tiergarten which proved very good advice. My first police encounter was with two cops on the Ostbahnhof platform who took a rather long time checking to find out if Interpol have a warrant out on me for listening to music in my living room. Berlin is also very cool and well worth a visit in its own right, but smells worse than Brussels.

    The first night was free before the arrival of KILLING JOKE so I checked out the SO36 venue where they and WIRE played, which was immortalised in a song on the first KILLING JOKE album. The sound was excellent as are all other German venues I've ever been to. The soundman played KILLING JOKE before the headline act, a comedy punk trio who weren't very funny but probably liked DEVO. We talked after the gig and I run into him again at the KILLING JOKE gigs.

    After the amazing KILLING JOKE regeneration in Berlin, with Big Paul's drum kit illuminated and smoking ritualistically, I planned to head to Paris to see them there. The train times were TOO LATE so at the last minute I rerouted to Strasbourg for more WIRE and this proved a wise choice as the COMET hit very late and I caught the whole set in front of a very young and enthusiastic crowd at a festival that went on until 6am. Next day I picked up a light sabre and a real sabre in the market outside my Strasbourg hotel, and even a little Obelix chaos avatar. I guess he'd be good to imbue an invincible element. My second run in with cops was with two French transport police who ask me to wrap up my sword so that it couldn't be seen before I caught the train.

    Paris next for more WIRE, on a first class train where I started downing some of the left over Heineken from last night's rider and upset a French idiot who had a tantrum because I couldn't stop belching even when she kicked my chair. She complained to the guard and he clearly thought it was a bit silly having to ask me not to belch when I couldn't help it. In the end she started complaining I was playing the BUTTHOLE SURFERS too loud on my headphones and he came back, again embarrassed, to ask me to turn it down. Then she had a stroke of genius and moved to another seat. Perhaps its a good job the sword was wrapped!
    If you ever feel like going to Paris my advice is don't bother. Go in a cafe that advertises coffee for a Euro and they greasy waiters will charge you five.

    My favourite songs to listen to on a speeding train were
    KILLING JOKE - Pssyche
    WIRE - Drill (DJ F*ckoff Version)
    oh dear the moderate Craig won't like that will he?
    KILLING JOKE - Timewave
    PJ HARVEY - Taut
    BAND OF SUSANS - Guitar Trio
    KILLING JOKE - Empire Song
    WIRE - Germ Ship
    WIRE - Spent
    BUTTHOLE SURFERS - Who was in my room last night?

    More to COME