Bruges and Bavaria Babes1 January 2011 Zie Nederlandse versie
by Arnold Jansen op de Haar
I spent Christmas in Flemish Bruges. I had plenty of time to think back to events in 2010. This is the question that hasn’t been asked: why would a beautiful, intelligent young woman aspire to be a Bavaria babe?
Last summer, the Dutch beer brand had thought out a smart marketing strategy for the Football World Cup in South Africa. Fill the stands with attractive girls in skimpy orange dresses (Bavaria dresses). A splendid cleavage can be displayed to great effect but who is willing to prop up a cheap beer brand?
If I was the editor of the Dikke van Dale (Dutch equivalent of the Oxford English Dictionary), my entry for Bavaria babe would be: ‘Someone with plenty of talent but who wants to advance with a minimal amount of effort’.
Ask children what they want to be and many will answer, ‘Rich and famous.’ Instant success, becoming rich and your image are key concepts. What happened to perseverance, commitment and passion?
A little while ago I watched an excellent documentary about stand-up comic Eddie Izzard. He had aimed to study at Cambridge so that he could join Footlights, the famous university theatre group; in which case he would have joined the ranks of Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson.
However his A-levels results were not good enough and he ended up at Sheffield University. It became the starting point of his quest to conquer the world. He even performed as a busker on a monocycle. According to him he was left out in the cold during the eighties.
His mother died when he was six years old. He maintains, that he always believed his mother would come back provided he did his best; wonderful. Eddie Izzard regularly dresses up as a woman but he is certainly not a Bavaria babe. He has remained true to his talent.
Unlike Stephen Fry, who was terrific in A Bit of Fry & Laurie and Blackadder. I think he was brilliant as Oscar Wilde in the film Wilde but he wastes his talents by hosting the IQ quiz. At first he was an intellectual, now he plays the role. Whereas Hugh Laurie has continued to develop in the TV series House, Stephen Fry has become the equivalent of a Bavaria babe.
In 1995 Stephen Fry fled to Bruges after starring in the play Cell Mates for just three days. It may well be time to repeat this exercise, if only to prepare for a terrific comeback. I can recommend this to anyone who wants to avoid lapsing into a Bavaria babe.
Besides I didn’t go to Bruges with Bavaria babes but with my mother and sister. We stayed at Het Gheestelic Hof (The Spiritual Court) hotel in Heilige Geeststraat (Holy Ghost street). You can’t dream up names like this. Bavaria babes were nowhere to be seen at the hotel. There was however a couple resembling The Carpenters; but I digress. Bavaria beer wasn’t available anyway; of course there was Belgian beer. And Belgian beer has nothing in common with Bavaria.
After attending High Mass at the cathedral – my mother was in tears because ‘it was so beautiful’ – we made a brief visit to the coast. In the village of De Haan, seated in a restaurant with sea views, I spotted Herman van Rompuy, EU President, at the next table. I nearly shouted ‘Haiku Herman’ across the room. I have once written a column with this title. Van Rompuy actually writes haikus.
In the end Herman van Rompuy and his wife departed by tandem bike. ‘Watch Haiku Herman on a tandem,’ I said to my companions. Occasionally my columns follow me around.
Bruges is an ideal hiding place. During the evening I smoked my cigars at the foot of the tower of the St. Salvator cathedral. The streets were deathly quiet. Only every now and then you would hear footsteps. I dreamed of misses Westmalle, Affligem and Leffe. Naturally they are named after Belgian beer brands, proper beer; not Bavaria. Of course they have long since married a Straffe Hendrik (Stiff Henry); also an excellent Belgian beer.
© Arnold Jansen op de Haar
© Translation Holland Park Press
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