Sweet dreams #7: How did you know?

Her boyfriend turned up about then. He was in love with the world too, but not enough to want to hug me. He looked at me. He was twenty too.

He gave me a quizzical smile. He thought I was probably okay, but I was a complete stranger he’d first met with an armful of his girlfriend. Even young men in love and in love with the world are unlikely to be sure of that stranger.

eccyI sort of disengaged his girl, gently and with compliments, and she headed back to him. I said, “It’s beautiful here. Have a great night, you two.”

“It is a very beautiful night. Where are you from?”

I told him, and said, “Take care. Take care of her. Eccies are great, aren’t they?”

The girl looked at me, open-mouthed. “How did you know I was on eccy?”     

[The end. Back to the Probation Officer’s Tale tomorrow.]

Sweet dreams #6: Lovely, lovely

bridge at nightBut I was walking near the restored Old Bridge a little after one in the morning, the drink and drugs part of a Mostar night.The bridge was still crowded, lovers looking down into the river, some drunk tourists looking for whores, skinny old men with grey moustaches. They wear baggy trousers, the pants they wore when they were younger and bigger men.

And their hats are grey. Fedoras, I think, with black sweatbands. The men get skinnier as they get older. The women get fatter. There’s nothing wrong with that. I just don’t know why. 

A beautiful girl emerged out of the crowd, dancing and walking towards me from the darkness. She looked at the mist shining round each of the bridge lamps, dandelion spheres of light. She was entranced by them. She was trying to dress like a scary goth, but she looked like a girl in her mother’s clothes. She was twenty, blonde, ridiculously pretty, sweet-faced and struck by the beauty of everything around her.

She veered my way and into my arms. I was wearing black pants with hose and a russet-red frock coat, in the manner of Van der Decken, the captain of The Flying Dutchman. I had my reasons, which seemed perfectly good at the time.* So I stood out a little, though though not quite as much as the lamp posts.

She said something questioning, which I didn’t have the language for, but I guessed she was asking permission to put her arms round me. Anyway, she did, and then leaned in, getting Cleopatra black eyeliner on russet silk. I hugged her back, keeping my hands well clear of her ass because I didn’t think this was driven by lust.

Not even though I was dressed as an eighteenth century Dutch sea-captain and had such fine legs. Maybe If she’d been a girl stowaway pretending to be a cabin boy,  then she’d have been overcome by lust. I said, “Ah, you’re lovely.” 

Because I’d spoken English she said, “lovely, lovely. Ahhhh. Beautiful.”


* I was looking for a girl wearing a hooped green crinoline dress and no knickers. I hoped she’d have some sort of thing going for romantically cursed members of the Dutch merchant marine. Mostar has everything. Sometimes.

Sweet dreams #5: Mostar bullet holes

Taking a break from the Probation Officer story. 

I’m leaving Mostar this afternoon. It was a beautiful city once, before evil nutcases started killing people for evil and stupid ethnic and religious reasons. The bridge over the Neretva river was one of the most beautiful things in the city and for a hundred or so miles in any direction. So evil morons blew it up, with, I expect, a passionate sense of righteousness.

Every so often I’d be sitting in the sun of the new peaceful Mostar, having a rakia in some coffee shop. Rakia made of fermented fruit, and it will burn a couple of layers of the skin of your mouth or throat every time you have a sip. And leave claw marks all the way down the throat. So it’s wonderful. You can relax, eye off girls, and talk about not talking about politics with people who speak English.

mostarBut if you’ve in a shop and you look behind a hanging cloth, or you’re in a market and you happen to see behind a piece of three-ply wood that catches the wind, you’ll see bullet holes in the stone or the old wood. And you can only hope that whoever tried to kill someone there, just a few years ago, missed. But it takes away some of the summer cheer.

Écrasez l’Infâme. In particular, écrasez religion, all of it, including the supposedly harmless stuff that gives cover to the murderous stuff. And the ideologies that work like religion, like communism and fascism. Fuck them all. Fuck ethnic nationalism, too. 

On the other hand, they’ve rebuilt the Old Bridge. Using as much of the original stone as possible. Hope, I suppose.