Where do I start?
Was up at 4.45 to catch the early flight to the airport with Ava from Brainwave (we were meeting the chief executive Mike in Brussels as he’d flown over the night before for an early meeting.)
This is the chaos that is Dublin airport at 5.50am…
Made it in tons of time, took one look at the taxi queue, saw about 400 people in it and decided that we’d try the train instead. With my functional French I was sure of the name of the station the guy behind the desk had told us to get off at. We did… and found ourselves smack bang in the middle of a red light district.
I was too embarassed to take a shot of the real actual woman sitting in the window opposite smoking a cigarette in her underwear. And yes, I know that’s an unusual place to have a cigarette before you say.
Made it to the hotel meeting point a bit early so we decided that when in Brussels…. and stopped for a coffee at a café in the Place opposite.
I’m genuinely convinced that if we had weather like Brussels did on Tuesday and a café society like they have we’d be among the happiest people in Europe. It was sheer bliss. Met up with the group and headed over to the European Parliament building just around the corner.
In scale it’s a bit like the Borg mothership (in a nice “non-threatening to assimilate all species” kind of way). Vast, vast, and then just a touch more vast, gleaming and full of corridors that look just like the last three corridors you’ve been down…
Oh, and everything, and I mean everything is branded…
I should probably try to explain why I was there. Since I became the patron of Brainwave – The Irish Epilepsy Association in March I’ve been doing what I do best, which is talk. Talk about having epilepsy since I was 16, talk about the organisation and Tuesday was just a logical extension of all that.
I was at a meeting of EUCARE which is a sort of umbrella group for organisations across the EU concerned with research and advocacy for epilepsy as a whole. The meeting brought together the European Commission, neurologists and epileptologists, voluntary groups and, most importantly, MEPs.
My part of the day was just to talk to those assembled for 15 minutes about what it was like to have epilepsy and take questions after. As goes the old truism in our business, it’s harder to talk to a room of 25 than a crowd of 25,000.
Still afterwards I would gladly have found another meeting somewhere else and barged in just to do it again 🙂
John Bowis, a British MEP, was the host for the day and along with other MEPs we had a brilliant turnout of 4 from home. We were all very suitably impressed to have Gay Mitchell, Kathy Sinnott, Mairead McGuinness and Simon Coveney all turn up and I’m hugely personally grateful to them all 🙂
Here they are in the obligatory group photo with me, Mike from Brainwave in the back and Ava over on the right…
After is just a bit of a blur – chatted for ages with all who were there and then Ava, Mike, Thanos (the Greek neuroligist you can see to the left of me who looks a bit like Santa Claus)
went off in search of the sights and chocolate shops 🙂 Spent a couple of hours wandering through what is alternately a beautiful and gleaming with new development city.
Then we came across this….
It’s a Mclaren SLR Mercedes with gull-wing doors. List price in Belgium?
Thanos wanted to see the Mannequin Pis and so we trundled off. No, he hasn’t been vandalised, he’s being dressed up for the month. This week he’s a Tibetan monk, next week he’s being dressed up as Nelson Mandela!
The day blurs after that with the heat and the fatigue… Second hand record store, café, beer, Avril, pizza in a divey yet brilliant bistro, airport, shops, home…
Simply the most extraordinary and fulfilling day of my professional life and, I hope, the start of many more to come 🙂