(Photos: the view from my hotel room at the Ibis on the Grasmarkt in Brussels)
It’s Springtime in Brussels, and the city’s cobbled streets and squares are full of people in pavement cafes enjoying the sunshine, smoking heavily and eating chips with mayonnaise followed by waffles.
But the ICIS Training seminars are not here in the heart of Tourist Brussels. They’re a few stops away on the metro at the chic offices of the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) in the smart suburb of Montgomery.
The group gathered for the seminars on Tuesday and Wednesday this week is a very jovial bunch. All of Peter and Nigel’s jokes go down very well, and during the workshop sessions there are gales of laughter as the students take to spending billions of dollars like ducks to water.
A moment to savour is when one Swedish lady on the training course tells Nigel that “it is an honour” to meet him, since she has been reading all of his Chemical Insight articles on ICIS news. Nigel accepts the compliment graciously, although naturally we tease him about it for the rest of the week.
I notice that Peter has jazzed up his presentations with some very stylish photography. This is along the lines of “food porn,” lavishly photographed designer food for glossy magazines, and “property porn,” those photos of big houses to salivate over in the weekend supplements. Now there’s “petrochemical porn” – ordinary household products beautifully lit and arranged with expensive accessories, which Peter has sourced (with attribution) from the websites of Ineos Vinyls, LyondellBasell and BASF amongst others. The photos on my presentations look a bit dusty by comparison.
The Blog’s Prize For Making A Heavy Duty Industrial Product Look Green goes to one picture of a chunky black Goodyear tyre nestling in a bed of sweetcorn cobs.