At the end of 1998 I took my first venture into IT contracting. It was a Y2K contract and the contracting market was bouyant due to companies panicking about the imminent collapse of all the world’s IT infrastructure due to computer systems that could not handle the change from one century to the next.
I was living in Glasgow at the time but the contract was In the Belgian capital of Brussels and it was working for the largest telecoms company in the country - Belgacom. At the time it seemed like a mammoth challenge for me as I had so much to learn; it seemed like a huge leap of faith. Initially I commuted between my home and Brussels but eventually I took a little apartment near Montgomery Square with the occasional return to Scotland.
The square is a famous landmark as it is named after the avenue that Field Marshall Montgomery and the 21st army group took in 1944 when they liberated Brussels from Nazi occupation in their joint allied efforts to free our European cousins. A large statue of Montgomery stands on the square.
The contract lasted twelve months and I finished it in December 1999. A few weeks later, my girlfriend and I saw in the new millennium on the frozen, foggy banks of the river Danube in Budapest. We woke up the next day on 1st January 2000 in Budapest and the world had not collapsed as the Y2K fearmongers had predicted.
A lot has happened in the subsequent 20 years. Today is the 6th October 2018 and I will be returning to Brussels for the first time since I left. This time the ‘work’ is very different. I will be photographing my good friends John Fairhurst and Toby Bang who are supporting My Baby at the famous concert hall - Ancienne Belgique.
For all my twelve months in Brussels I only ever went to one gig and it wasn’t at this atmospheric venue. The band I saw was Underworld who were on their Beaucoup Fish tour and they played a gig in May 1999 at the Vorst Nationaal venue in Forest on the outskirts of Brussels. I went with my work friend Howard Davey who was also working for the same company and went on to become a great friend of mine.
I have some free time tomorrow morning during which I’m going to take the tram back to my old neighbourhood and say hello again to Monty.