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Holland Park Press

Charlene’s Tears

5 July 2011 Zie Nederlandse versie
by Arnold Jansen op de Haar

Rumour has it that Charlene Wittstock tried to run away just before her marriage. Albert allegedly phoned the airport trying to stop her. ‘Hello, this is Albert speaking, please stop my fiancée!’ But don’t we all know a Charlene moment? When life grabs you by the throat.

For fifteen years or so, I went to the same corner shop every day. I bought my morning paper in the morning, and they put aside a copy of the evening paper, in case I didn’t come in to collect it at exactly three o’clock.

One day I was fed up with seeing the same faces all the time: the jolly owner and the red-haired shop girl who had studied Sartre. Because after a while you get familiar with their lives. Would this routine last for another fifteen years? I wondered. In a word: I stopped short of going to the airport.

The corner shop owner has a second shop within walking distance. I frequented this shop when the first one had run out of my cigar brand. When I had ‘cleared out’ the first shop, I suspect they would phone ahead: ‘He’s coming!’

The odd thing is, nowadays I very much avoid going near either shop. Because I’d rather stay away than have to explain to the owner and his daughter – who runs the other shop – why I have decided not to come in every day any more.

But I can recommend it anyone: to get rid of a regular habit feels like the beginning of freedom.

Shopping at the same supermarket every time also drove me mad. So I now frequent four different supermarkets, sometimes all on the same day.

My mother phoned after watching Albert and Charlene’s wedding. We both admired the wedding dress by Armani. ‘In any case there was real emotion,’ I said. ‘Actually I think she is much lovelier than Kate,’ I added. ‘I don’t know exactly what it is, but she gives a genuine regal wave.’

‘You’re not putting this in a column?’ my mother asked, ‘because it is translated into English.’ My mother prefers to keep my English marriage prospects alive.

‘I actually wanted to add that at least she hasn’t got a sister who suddenly starts planting her bottom at every tennis tournament,’ I grumbled. ‘Still, I am adding that our own Princess Máxima waves as if she is cleaning the windows.’

My mother talked over this. ‘Albert is 53, so there is still hope,’ she said. Besides, Charlene had also ‘become a Roman Catholic’, a very important condition for aspiring daughters-in-law. ‘Yes, mum, I do resemble Albert somewhat, I am just as bald and I can’t wink either.’

I can really understand Charlene’s doubts. Apparently Diana’s sister once drily remarked, ‘Too late, Duch (Diana’s nickname at home), your face is already on the tea towels.’

Suddenly Charlene saw her future: the yearly International Grand Prix, the yearly International Circus Festival (with some very bad clowns), the tennis tournament, the show jumping, the marathon, the boat show, two depressive sisters, a photo of her winking husband at each street corner, the comparisons with Princess Grace and the expectation that she will found a fashion week and deliver an heir to the throne.

Personally, I think, this looks even worse than rumours about a third love child.

That’s why she cried, of course, when the girl’s thin voice took to the air in the St Devota chapel. Secretly I had to wipe away a tear when watching this at home, but don’t tell anyone. Like Prince Albert, I don’t cry in public. Besides, I too would develop an odd way of winking if I knew all my subjects.

If I were Charlene I would alternate between supermarkets. Maybe it helps. But is she allowed to do her own shopping? How many supermarkets are there actually in Monaco?

© Arnold Jansen op de Haar
© Translation Holland Park Press

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