Back in the early 1960s my parents went on their Honeymoon to the Benelux. Neither of them left Ireland again until a trip to France forty years later. Having spent a week coming and going from their hotel their taciturn conseierge finally spoke with them over breakfast on their last day ‘You English?’he enquired. ‘No’ my father replied ‘Irish’
The conseierge paused thoughtfully, he starred into the distance, he made a pistol with his fingers ‘I been Ireland. DeValera Bang Bang!’.
Well 50+ years later I’m going to travel in springtime to take on two of the classics. The tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
Last year I watched Mathew Hayman surprise everyone in the Velodrome (including himself) as I kept vigil over my father in his final days. This year I hope to spend time in Belgium, I’ll happily explain to anyone who asks that I’m Irish not British and I’ll tell people my father’s favourite annecdote about the Belgian Black and Tan even though they won’t understand it (I’m not sure I do)