October 17th, 2010


Ypres- or Ieper, as the locals prefer- got trashed in the Great War. The British were in and around the town and the Germans were on the higher ground to the north (There is no really high ground in Flanders) and the bombardment was continuous. Look at pictures taken towards the end of the War and just about the only thing still standing- only it's a shapeless lump of weevil-eaten brickwork- is the hollow stump of the Cloth Hall tower. Afterwards there was a proposal to leave things exactly as they were- as a monument to the dead- but the people of Ypres understandably wanted their town back- and took the extraordinary decision to rebuild it- medieval Cloth Hall and cathedral and all-  exactly as it had been. When it came to the cathedral- which was- as churches often are- an accretion of many hundred of years- they rebuilt the Romanesque bits as Romanesque and the early Gothic bits as early Gothic and the late Gothic bits as late Gothic. Modern Ypres looks like a miraculous survival of the high middle ages, but is, in fact,  almost entirely a creation of the 1920s. 

Shifting Stuff

The guy who works the weekend shift at the storeage facility has a nice job. When we arrived this morning the place was shut up. He was a half hour into his shift and had just popped out to buy some milk at the corner shop. We were the first people to sign in. I'll bet he goes some Sundays with no traffic at all.

The metal box we've hired is beginning to look like home, but we seem hardly to have dented the accumulation of stuff we need to shift. How on earth did I ever come to own so many books?

There's a big roofed space that'll hold a couple of vehicles- perhaps three. You raise the metal shutters and drive in and load your gear onto a flat-bed trolley with front wheel drive. To get to the corridor that holds our box I have to pass through a solid wooden door that slams behind me with a sound like a gangland hit. I take care to close it very gently.