apologies from a smug generation

Apologies from a smug generation

Désabusé – they say in French – disenchanted may come closest in English.

We know now, we really know now how wrong we were. What a smug generation we were – living at the end of history.  We had seen off stupid wars, incl. cold ones. Our boycott had freed Mandela.  Women had equal rights and free choice. Gays could marry.  Obama became president with the audacity of hope.  Our generation had really sped up the upward march of humanity.

As always, Béatrice Delvaux perfectly captures the mood, offering her apologies for 20 years of misreading the signs on the wall.

Maalbeek, or the lost hope of cranes  

28 years ago, also just before Easter, I woke early with anguished anticipation of my very first workday in the big city. For the very first time, taking the 7.14 AM train to Brussels central station, then hurrying into the metro corridors, together with hordes of fellow commuters.

Station Maelbeek/Maalbeek was my stop – and when I emerged above the ground, turning the corner towards the office, I looked up longingly to the sky.   The sky was filled by cranes, building cranes on the site where the new European parliament was being built.  Doing their slow ballet up there in the sky,  they seemed like urban divinities of progress, far above the tetchy tedium of working life.

After two years of commuting, I moved to Schaarbeek, in the North of Brussels, and then it became the Maalbeek bus stop above the ground where I spent many a brooding moment, after work, looking up to yet other European Community buildings arising.

And now, now we must hope that Europe can hold together. We must hope that Brussels can hold together. We must hope that Maalbeek will be rebuilt. We must hope that my young colleague, injured by the bomb explosion in the metro, will recover and that she will not be scarred for life by burn wounds.


On Sunday I was still insouciantly blogging  - playing with words & sombre forebodings, musing about a Byzantine duke going about his futile business, while “the city was being encircled, […] and the new giant cannon [brought up] which was to bring down the walls “….. 

Meanwhile,  4 kilometres to the North, heavy bombs were indeed being assembled, which were soon to wreak havoc, bringing death & mutilation. 

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