Like man of his generation, as a youth Anthony Mason had almost no contact with Belgium, apart from hitch-hiking though it on the way to somewhere else. On one trip he and his travelling companion were picked up by a friendly Belgian driver who invited them home for a meal, a generous act but also alarming since he drove at top speed and insisted on turning round to address long pieces of conversation to the back seat. This reinforced certain prejudices about Belgian driving, which, along with other prejudices about the Belgians, the author has been monitoring closely ever since and, one by one, shedding.
This task has been greatly assissted by fate. In 1975, on the French island of Martinique, he met a beautiful Wallon. He didn't really know what that was at the time, and it didn't seem to matter. She later became his wife. They now live in London with their Anglo-Belgian son, but make frequent visits to Belguim — to Wallonia, Brussels and Flanders — with ever-increasing pleasure.
Anthony Mason is the author of some 50 books on travel, exploration, history, antiques, architecture, house plants, espionage, volleyball… In 1995 Cadogan Books published his Cadogan City Guidfe to Brussels, with Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp, the product of three years' work which tested the forbearance of his Belgian family to just short of destruction. He feared that the present book would prove to be the last straw. But like true Belgians, they have displayed admirable tolerance — and total bemusement with the whole enterprise.