PolicemenA busy but productive week was pleasurably rounded off by a performance of the Brussels Light Opera Company’s The Pirates of Penzance. We are fortunate in Brussels to have such a thriving and professional (though amateur) production company. This was a well-sung (several excellent voices) and well-performed production that had the sprogs in stitches on several occasions. Pirates remains an extraordinarily witty piece of literary and musical writing. As often with amateur (so-called) productions, I had the pleasure of recognising several members of the cast, including one of the policemen, Simon, who was an almost direct contemporary at the European University Institute over twenty years ago now (that’s him on the right in the picture). But I never leave a Gilbert and Sullivan production without a faint sense of sadness. I grew up near Gilbert’s house, Grimsdyke. He drowned in the ornamental pond there. Now a hotel, it is still an atmospheric place, but the gardens, the pond and the menagerie that Gilbert built up have all since been claimed back by the surrounding woods. I have walked through those woods so many times and, when I come to what remains of the pond (the boathouse was burnt down by vandals in my youth), I hear faintly on the breeze the refrain ‘For I am a pirate king!’