A Single Man – a short story from Belgium.

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In the autumn of 2004 I found myself suddenly relocating to Belgium, at the expense of an attractive job offer in Italy. It was one of those major forks in the road, the kind of big decision that could transform a life. Which, for better or for worse, is exactly what it did.

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It was a few weeks after my breakup with Lucie when I woke up one morning in my little student room and realised I was actually pretty happy! This was a surprising development on several fronts. Firstly was the accommodation itself, a dingy box of a room containing little more than a desk, a sink and a dubious bed that kept collapsing when I rolled over in the night. The toilet, bathroom and kitchen had to be shared with a pair of local girls and an eccentric Iraqi called Zaiid, who spent his days living off Belgian social benefits and failing to learn Flemish. 

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My Top 20 Albums – ‘After the Gold Rush’ by Neil Young.

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‘‘You’re a Neil Young fan?’’ a friend of a friend once asked me. ‘‘Really?”

‘‘LOVE Neil Young’’ I clarified, putting on my best ‘‘don’t **** with me!’’ look.

‘‘You don’t think his voice is annoyingly whiny?’’

“Nope’’.

‘‘You don’t find a lot of his music to be plodding, uninspiring dad-rock?’’

“Not in any way’’.

‘‘Hmm, ok. Well… Southern Man is a good track I guess’’.

‘‘Southern Man is a GREAT track!’’

If my memory serves me well the conversation petered out seconds later. ‘‘So, how about that weather?’’

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My Top 20 Albums – ‘Sea Change’ by Beck.

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I’ve always had a preference for artists that like to keep you guessing. Bands and singers that over the course of their careers have boldly jumped into the unknown time and time again. People who’ve taken their music and audiences to exciting new places.

One such artist is Beck, the incalculable singer-songwriter whose twelve studio albums to date have proved about as diverse as any discography out there. Early on was the lo-fi grunge of Mellow Gold and the sampled hip-hop-meets-rock stylings of Odelay. Later came the genre-mashing Mutations, the funky soul-driven postures of Midnite Vultures and the 1960s pop-infused inclinations of The Information.

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