I've just been on a brief trip to Bruges and now fear for one of (my) life's little pleasures. After visiting the art galleries (more on that elsewhere) I like to have a cigar and a large beer in a bar by the old colonnaded fish market. There, between mid-March and mid-November they have an outside canopied space which is generally filled with locals (the bar is off the beaten track, i.e. more than 20 metres beyond where tourists generally venture) having a quiet friendly lunchtime drink and a fag. Sadly it was a bit wet and windy when I visited which meant the windows were shut and smoking was prohibited. I had to use a small dedicated smoking room at the back instead. I only mention this because it is my theory that with a series of weak or no governments Belgian smokers are not the targeted group of miscreants they are in most other places. Putting up tobacco taxes, etc., may not be the route to electoral success. But I sniff a change in the air. Another well-known smoker's destination in Bruges is Jerry's Cigar Bar which used to have a smoking room separated from the rest of the shop by sliding glass doors. But one day the plainclothes police showed up and found a door had been left open - sufficient reason then to close the smoking section. I wonder if another plainclothes cop had gone in first to open the door. Perhaps I am being paranoid. But one of the pleasures of Bruges may be under threat. It's an existential crisis.
Whilst I was away Gen. H.R. McMaster was sacked as Trump's National Security Advisor. As predicted here only a few days ago. His replacement with John Bolton isn't healthy. The 'adults' whom many hoped would keep Trump in check are being exiled.