The bars haven’t changed much in the 11 years your correspondent has been in Brussels - apart from the smoking ban malarky. What has certainly changed, though, is Denzil.
He was a chipper 34-year-old when an already raddled Tippler first got here but, somewhere down the line, Denzil morphed into a curmudgeonly old git who gets up early and grumpily from his bed each and every day - presumably because he’s shat in it.
This has resulted in eye-bags the size of Lara Croft’s knockers and a face that looks not so much lived-in as ransacked by squatters.
Curmudgeonly he may be, but depressive he is not. For example, certain folk will try to convince you that too much beer leads to black thoughts, but Denzil is not one of these people. His view is that a lack of beer leads to such musings. Tell these tree-hugging nobheads to sod off, he says. Better yet, cry all over their Blackberries.
This sort of ‘beer is best’ attitude leads to Denzil being regularly wankered by 7pm, to the point where this writer now does his bar reviews alone. It’s bad enough wearing a stupid hat without your mate chucking barmats at the landlord’s blind cat. And then expecting it to chase them.
Anyway, as it happened, your writer was in his local Oirish bar the other day and said to the barman: “Shameless. Where’s Denzil?” (His name’s actually ‘Séamus’, but ‘Shameless’ suits him on account of his exaggerations.)
“On me sainted fadda’s memory, the fat wee fecker got mugged,” came the reply.
‘Shameless’ may well have exaggerated the recent canonization of his dearly departed dad, but he was telling the truth about Denzil, as we discovered three days later.
Our Hero had been tottering past the Bourse late one night when he was set upon by four blokes of the variety that reads from right-to-left, doesn’t drink alcohol and robs drunks instead for a good night out.
Unhurt, but minus both dignity and wallet, Denzil had been resigned to staying in till payday listening to Classic 21. Until...
“A song came on last night,” he said, “with the line: ‘What ya gonna do when the money’s all gone?’ I thought, OK smart arse singer-man, the obvious answer is ‘sit here with three cans of crap, supermarket lager listening to your shite record when I should be drinking decent beer down the pub.’
“So this morning I sold the sodding stereo...”