Christmas arrives a week early this year. Disciples spanning three generations will converge on cinemas from Bombay to Boston to witness the seventh instalment of this planet’s favourite space saga. If a two-minute trailer can ignite the sort of fervour we saw this week – the faithful beheld mysterious images that foretold the Good News, and they were pleased – we can only wonder what forces Star Wars will awaken when the film reaches our screens.
In the community of U2 fanatics I rank somewhere near the bottom of the pile. In my 47 years I’ve seen the band only 14 times, none of their lyrics has been tattooed onto my skin, and I’ve only met the singer once if you call a handshake and brief exchange of words a meeting. That I remember the exact place on my right arm where he placed his left hand is neither here nor there.
People who want the UK to stay in the EU usually belong to one of two camps. The pragmatists argue that, for most of the British public, Europe remains little more than a common market and a major source of trade and jobs. The believers, on the other hand, plead that much more is at stake: it’s about our identity and the sort of country we want to be. The former see the referendum as a war of facts and figures, the latter as a battle for hearts and minds. Both want to win but disagree on how to get there. Both might be wrong if the old adage holds true that referendums are never about the question on the ballot paper.
Something’s in the air. No one knows quite when it began or how, but people are stopping in the street, heads are turning. What’s going on here? What’s happening to Brussels?
Once isolated, the symptoms have become a rash. Mysteriously and without warning, we find good coffee in our streets. New restaurants are no longer an annual event, they’re opening by the week; some are Tibetan. The city is kicking its dirty car habit and flushing the arteries that once clogged its heart. And a posse of young artists has moved into town, a parade of new galleries marching behind them. Even Louise has let down her bourgeois guard. Whisper it softly, but a city best known for its stodgy comforts might now be discovering its cutting edge. If the Economist ever designs a global hipster index – measuring cities’ growth in beards, check shirts and gin bars – Brussels is quietly working its way up the ranks. Craft ales? We invented them.