Magic hours: that time I went Brussels to meet my European literary agent

10 things I found/lived/loved in Brussels:

1. There is such a thing in the world as a mobile music box, pushed around on cobblestone streets by a singing troubadour, who gives lessons, songs, and kisses for spare change.

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2. Should you ever visit Brussels and come down with a urinary tract infection within hours of landing, there is a pharmacy open until 10pm near Rue de Senne, which dispenses antiseptic tablets without a prescription that must be taken four times a day, but do the job.

3. Fighting an infection makes your body and mind exhausted, super sensitive to crowds, and unable to make decisions/cross the road safely/leave a train without nearly knocking yourself unconscious on luggage racks. However, margaritas opposite the love of your life at Lord Byron cocktail bar under a dusky sky make it all better.

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4. Meeting my European literary agent was like greeting an old friend. Sharon enclosed me a bubble of warmth for four hours while we talked through editorial feedback, and left me speechless with her passion and investment in my book as if it were her own creation. Would you mind a comparison with Isabel Allende? she asked me. I fell off my chair. Then she whipped out her phone for a selfie and angles be dammed, all I cared about was fitting my smile into the frame.

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5. Dogs have doppelgängers too: I made friends with Roman who delivered vicarious licks from my Tilly, just in a Belgian coat.

6. The hour before sunset makes magic everywhere in the world.

7. Passa Porta International Centre of Literature has an English selection to die for. I bought myself copies of The Virign Suicides and Their Eyes Were Watching God that were so beautiful I may have dribbled.

8. Brussels and Bruges have insanely beautiful tucked-out-of-the-way bookstores. And, art nouveau restaurants. We wholeheartedly loved both. Though, when I say “we”, it has to be said Sam was *slightly* more excited by his ‘Game of Thrones’ pork knuckle dinner than wandering bookshelves, if you can believe it.

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9. Love is the only thing we have to fight for.
9a. Fuck terror.
9b. Minds are like parachutes, they only function open.

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10. Deep gratitude for this ride, a squad (that’s you!) who cheer me on with your generosity of spirit that makes my heart spin, and a cosy home to return to, never, ever shallows.

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