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Brussels; ENUSP/MHE Capacity Building Conference


Wednesday 18 May 2011.

Marion Jordan picked up Rosanna at Ballymascanlon before 14.00 to go and play in The Miele 4xball competition in Nuremore. They were beaten on the 13thand Rosanna was livid with Marion’s “attitude” on the course. “You’d think she was playing against me not the others,” Rosanna fumed. I lit the fire in the WEL early and got a few blow-downs. I think I did not shower or exercise a.m. Trimmed around the big tree and one or two other shaggy spots left over from yesterday around the lawn. Called on Mary McGeough by arrangement at 11.15 and collected the adaptor for the mobile phone charger for use on the continent. Bought one as well in Boyd’s for €2.49. Bought in Tesco; tomato and lentil soup, egg fried rice. Long Walk Shopping Centre. Purchased bananas in the vegetable shop. The groceries cost a little over €5 in total. Put the soup in the microwave. Then ate it cold (the microwave did not work?) with 3 richly buttered old slices of Hovis. For tea I consumed; sardines in tomato sauce on toast, a sliced tomato salted, 8 pickled onions, 2 flat pieces of red cheddar, a mug of tea. I went to bed at 20.00 but did not sleep. Got up and ate Bixies, sliced banana, milk. Listened to Rosanna ranting about the golf. Slept when I went back to bed c 22.30 and woke at 03.00 having had a few neuroleptic dreams about white VW beetles. Bixies, banana, milk; for breakfast this morning. I did a thorough washing up including the small rubbish bin after tea: swept the kitchen. Peeled and ate a small Valencia orange from the fridge after tea. Dressed the same as yesterday except that I wore tan John Evan boots today. Pissed in a field inside an open gate on the way “back” from McGeough’s.

Thursday 19 May 2011.

Left Jenkinstown at 04.15. Piddled at the fence and then beside my car in the darkened service centre at Lusk. Departed the Carlton Hotel at 6.15. Departed Dublin airport 10.50. Paid €22 for a return shuttle bus ticket from Charlerois to Rue de France, Brussels. €2.75 for 100g of smoked cashew nuts in Dublin airport. Double Snickers + Pepsi cost €3.30 on the Ryanair plane. €1.80 for a subway ticket from Gare du Midi to De Brouckère. 26c left in my purse which came to my rescue at every point along the journey; My Rosary purse. Paranoia about a noise in my 2010 white Toyota iQ on the way to Dublin. A fit of sneezing in Dublin airport; on the plane; and again on the coach from Charlerois. Lost my cool searching for WC in Central Station, Brussels. 50c (gratias to my purse!). Reached Astrid Hotel at 13.00. Text’d Rosanna. Is she dead? Paranoia. All my goods intact, I think. Lunch of dark vegetable soup, roast beef, crepes suzette, coffee; in Restaurant La Petrus opposite the hotel. Glass of white. €21.50 total + €2 tip. Paid cash. The lady of the house a formidable and astute waiter would not accept a credit card for “€14” menu. Wandered lonely as a cloud lost after dinner where I sat opposite Mary Van Dievel and Gabriela Tanasan. An MHE sponsored event. Starter, lamb chops, sweet apricot tart, 2 glasses of red. Sleep deprived I babbled on until Mary led me into a few catty remarks about John McCarthy. “I should not be talking like that about a man from my own country!” I blurted spontaneously and clammed up for the rest of the evening. Enquired my way at an hotel from a negro concierge who treated me kindly. Talked to a few down and outs asking directions. Despaired. Asked a bus driver who consulted a map. He pointed out a general direction. It transpired Astrid Hotel was < 100m away. Used €1.50 in coin to buy a bottle of cold water from the machine in the foyer. Got to bed exhausted and disorientated at 22.00. Nightmares about the metro, De Brouckère, Central Station; and making the connection in Rue de France on Sunday morning at 07.30 for the return to Charlerois. My composure had returned somewhat by morning.


Friday 20 May 2010.

Up 07.45. Showered without difficulty. Nice tame shower. Same underwear as yesterday. Tricot Marine plum and blue striped long sleeved shirt, silver Robbie slacks, black/red/green braces, black/grey/pink Argyle Tesco socks (Debra Shulkes liked them), brown Loake brogues, glasses. Yesterday I had worn a white FootJoy golf jacket with a handy inside breast pocket for my passport and a zipped left-hand pocket for my car keys, over a white short-sleeved golf T-shirt. Wore black FootJoy golf socks yesterday. I facilitated a 5 person discussion before lunch. Me, Jo (an English social worker, an assessor), José́e Van Remoortel (senior policy advisor MHE), Gabriela Tanasan (chairperson of ENUSP), and an English woman of Polish origin who chaired MHE for many years. I was the last to “report” before lunch and I felt I acquitted myself well although I may have come across as cocksure and smug? Mary Maddock spoke too and again in the afternoon. Lunch where we had dinner last night. Starter, fish (salmon?) on a bed of mashed pea/potato mixture. I went out after waiting a long time for dessert. Mary Van Dievel prompted me to go back in. The desert eventually materialised, a light pink and white sweet creamy confection. The capacity building joint ENUSP/MHE seminar continued in the afternoon on CRPD and the UN. Maths facilitated the debate at the end from 16.00 to 17.00. I made a few half-hearted attempts to get in but failed. Quite a few ENUSP members spoke. A lady from Finland opposite me at lunch, Anna a young girl from Bulgaria on my right, Gambor Gombos to the NE. He does not drive, he confessed. Walked as far as De Brouckère and looked at the ticket machine. Emilija Borchers helpfully suggested that she would look on-line when she got home to confirm that the metro runs early on Sunday. She remembered and told me tomorrow, “It starts at 05.30.” Dinner solo in Restaurant “La Petrus.” Goose liver paté starter, chicken and prawns, ice-cream cream chocolate, coffee, ¼ litre white wine. €41 paid to the formal, exact, correct, stylish, slightly owlish waiter, the lady of the house; with my MBNA credit card. No servility, no disdain. Excellent transactional analysis. “Where are you from?” “Czech Republic.” “Where are you from?” “Ireland.” Talked to Erveda Sansi, her partner and Debra before dinner. Text’d Rosanna after dinner c 20.30. Aisling there. Seán Óg coming. Good day today but by no means tropical. Community services. Quality?

Saturday 21 May 2011.

I am writing without notes at 10.18 on Monday 23 May. I was in good form this morning although I flooded the floor of the bathroom when I was having my shower. I must have made some kind of error with the shower concentrating as I was on opening and using both a sachet of body gel and a sachet of shampoo. Anyway I mopped it up fairly well. I washed and flossed my teeth and brushed my dentures last night. Trimmed around my upper lip with the Remington beard trimmer which I brought with me from Ireland. I put on clean underwear, a white Ralph Lauren semi-polo long-sleeved shirt, my silver Robbie slacks, fawn cotton non-elasticised socks, chocolate Loake brogues, glasses. Felt ship-shape and optimistic. Brought my Fuji FinePix 9500 S down to breakfast with malice aforethought. Drank coffee; masticated 2 beautiful croissants; consumed 4 slices of salami and a generous helping of pitted green olives: the same menu for breakfast as the one I concocted yesterday. Brought systematically all the diners I knew to their feet, snapped them in pairs mostly – under the roof window at the top of the dining room where a lot of the food for breakfast was laid out. Collected the autograph of every individual I photographed. Some of them were truly organised and gave me their cards as well. Anyway I was in great humour and enjoyed the crack. I continued to take photographs during the day but more informally without lining people up. Fortunately the room where ENUSP were working all day had glass down one side and enough soft light to work the camera fine on a natural light setting. The rectangular open space outside was shady with an umbrella and soft light which was very suitable for photography. The energy of the day dipped seriously in my opinion and the mood darkened when Mary Van Dievel came into the room before lunch proposing, almost as a fait accompli, an alliance between MHE and ENUSP and a sort of fairly formal coalition between that alliance and some members of the European Parliament in some kind of “interest” group. I was sitting opposite her and felt there was legerdemain going on so I cut fairly harshly into her almost immediately. However I did not pursue my line to the bitter end. Neither did I apologise. Elizabeth Winder decried the argumentative tone and Mary petered out pleading her voice was getting weak. My voice was strong but I did not want to continue the argument. Later during lunch Eric approached me. He is a senior man and he has reservations, too, I think. I suggested to him that it might be a good idea to slow things down. Actually I like Mary Van Dievel. I think she is a pro and I am not afraid of her. But I am not going to tell her that. The lunch in the deep pink walled restaurant MHE has been using for us with a beautiful mahogany female nude statue was a slow-motion affair. Starter, chicken and small potatoes casseroled in a plastic bag, chocolaty desert, glass of white wine. “Mary Van Dievel is not all bad,” I remarked to Eric during our short discussion, “She is paying for that,” I said pointing to the half full glass of white wine in front of me. Stefan stuck to me at lunch and later back at the hotel telling me very witty soviet jokes. I was grateful. He is a supportive person and he boosted my spirits which were low after the encounter with Mary Van Dievel. Anyway the air seemed to have leaked out of the ENUSP balloon and the energy of the morning evaporated. Then a strange thing happened. Berthold Koësel who was a little tense and keyed up beforehand ran a workshop under an umbrella in the quadrangle outside. Him; me; another Stefan, chairperson of Uilenspiegel. A Lithuanian woman who was there at the start deserted after 20 minutes or so dissatisfied with the lack of detail in Berthold’s proposal. “Peers in Progress.” I suggested contacts in Thessaloniki, Bavaria (where Berthold’s 76 year old father was a pedagogy professor), Maynooth. Get mental health services out of a medical context and into the area of education and personal development. Mentors: assistants. 2 ½ days x 12 training over 12 months. Anyway I found the workshop very stimulating, requested the honour of reporting back to the assembly in the room. Although none of the markers worked totally satisfactorily on the flip chart I enjoyed making a presentation and explaining the scheme. “You have very good teaching skills!” Debra remarked to me in the pancake house where Raphael brought us to celebrate the 20thbirthday of ENUSP. “I was a teacher,” I replied rather tersely to Debra. But I was grateful for her remark. I had finished my presentation with a reference to John Carty RIP. I ate crepes de patron, a pancake filled with a mess of prawns and creamy sauce. Drank a glass of white wine as well as a little sweet cider. Good chat with Jan Verhaegh who was sitting beside me. Biology and mental illness. But my stomach was acid and when Mats was giving his historical talk I was restless and worried wanting to get back to bed in the hotel in preparation for an early start in the morning. I put on my black Calvin Klein golf pullover outside but took it off again. It was still warm and it had been a warm sultry day. I took a chance and left with the eastern European man who has very little English, wears glasses, nice stature, serious mien, smokes. I trusted he knew the way; I certainly didn’t. Elizabeth Winder joined us in cheerful mood. We made our way hesitantly to Hotel Astrid without going astray. Elizabeth, who has time to sleep in the morning, went off for a walk on her own. I did not pack. Donned my short black and white pyjamas. Brushed and flossed my 5 ½ remaining teeth. Got in to bed 11.10 and slept till 02.00.

Sunday 22 May 2011.

I lay awake until 04.00 and then got up. I felt reasonably composed and fairly confident. Washed my face. Dressed the same as yesterday except I put on black FootJoy golf socks that I had worn on Thursday, my white FootJoy golf jacket and sky blue Nike golf cap. Packed everything. A little difficulty getting my camera into the Belkin lap-top case. I sat for a while chilling out. Then a thunderstorm struck with a deluge of rain. I dithered then changed my plan. Instead of walking to the metro station De Brouckère I agreed with the young man at check-out for him to call a taxi. The taxi arrived promptly and I left the hotel with my Belkin case and Rosanna’s navy “leather” carrier bag around 06.00. Rocketed in the rain through the dark streets many of which were cobbled to Rue de France. “Ryanair,” the thin speedy taxi driver murmured knowingly. I had watched the meter in true paranoid fashion and was relieved to see it come up slightly short of €20. I gave him a note. “Ticket?” he enquired. “S’il vous plait,” I responded and he quickly scribbled out a receipt. “I have a ticket for 07.30?” I told the stout girl driving the coach. “That’s alright,” she reassured me, “It’s raining.” So I got into the front seat behind the driver. An African man helped me to squeeze my bags into the luggage rack overhead. Sitting beside me was a young clean cut sleepy chap from Mexico. The trip to Charlerois seemed to be over in an instant. No problem with my bladder. I had drunk only a glass of tap water this morning very early. The man at information told me Ryanair check-in for the 10.50 flight to Dublin had not begun. I sat down on a steel seat opposite, people watched, nodded off now and then. I should say that when I arrived at departures I drank a cappuccino and ate two semi-circular croissants. €5.30. My stomach a little acid. Passed a large and copious motion in Charlerois the only motion I passed in Belgium. Anyway I was in a dreamy state in front of information and hardly noticed the man from information approaching me from behind his desk. “Check-in for your flight has started,” he informed me helpfully. Bought a box of Guylian Belgian chocolates. Sea-shell selection. For Rosanna. In duty free. €8.50. Sat at gate 12 for over an hour watching a succession of blue and yellow decorated Ryanair planes land. Took a few snaps. Ate a double Snickers bar on the plane and drank a Pepsi. €3.30. Two attractive young hostesses. I was one of the last to board but found a seat in the second port row from the front. The Belkin case containing the white box of Guylian under my seat. Seán Óg rang as I was walking down the tunnel going to collect my bag. He was not keen and more or less advised to go straight home rather than drive towards the city to visit him. I agree because I was feeling sleepy. Bright and windy. Caught the Carlton bus no problem. Paid the receptionist in The Carlton €20 cash parking fee and she formatted my ticket which I produced from my wallet. A pile of broken glass beside my white 2010 Toyota iQ. A small mark on my offside door. I decided not to bother going back to reception about it but thought vaguely about ringing up during the week. Anyway I followed the old Swords road past Dublin airport, got out onto the M1 and sped home in the wind. The girl in The Carlton had given me €10 coin in my change so I had no trouble paying the €1.80 toll at Boyne Bridge. I nodded off at one or two points on the road home and woke with a start. So I was glad when I reached home because I was losing conscious control of my sleep function. Aisling there. I gave Rosanna the box of chocolates. “I would have got you something, Aisling,” I remarked, “If I knew you were here.” Aisling gave me her EOS Canon 350. She had no disc. I uploaded the programs for the new Canon she got in America on my Acer and I was registering her old camera in my name on the Canon web-site when she abruptly pulled the disc out of the computer and interrupted rudely what I was doing. “Fuck you anyway!” I roared, “You’re a fucking eejit. Fuck you and fuck all belonging to you!” She packed both of her cameras into their cases and the next thing I remember is walking towards the gate signalling to her with my hand to come towards me. I wanted to tell her I had completed the registration of the camera. Anyway she ignored me continued in reverse out the gate in her white 1999 hatchback Toyota Corolla luna and pulled out for Dublin. No-one explained anything to me and I never asked. Rosanna seemed, unusually, to take my side muttering something about Aisling being “impossible.” Rosanna gave me a ham salad to eat around 14.00 and two microwaved Roosters with salt and butter soon after I arrived home at 13.00. “Sorry, Aisling. I was on a short fuse. Did not mean what i said. Love. Dad.” I text’d Aisling before I retired to bed around 18.00. “Forget about it.” I read her reply when I got up around 22.00 in my black robe, slippers, pyjamas. Ate corn flakes, milk, sliced banana. Looked at the photos from Brussels. Chuffed. Looked at soccer results. Chelsea lost and Manchester United won. They are winners pulling up of the premier league. I opened the ventilator in my bedroom window. Washed my teeth, flossed, brushed my dentures. Wide awake going back to bed I contemplated the work facing me tomorrow and did not get off to sleep until the wee small hours. A phone call from Dessie late in the afternoon.

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