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Holland Park Press

Turtle Doves

16 May 2012 Zie Nederlandse versie
by Arnold Jansen op de Haar

David Cameron sometimes signed his emails to Rebekah Brooks, former editor of the News of the World tabloid, with LOL. David was under the impression that it meant Lots of Love.

He stopped using it after Rebekah explained to him that nowadays it’s normally used to indicate something is funny: Laughing Out Loud.

Still, it is a form of flirting. Was his wife Sam aware of this? Actually, I’d like to send her a very long email; no previous British prime minister had such a lovely wife.

If I get a message or email from a woman signed off with love, it’s enough to get me a bit excited. Maybe this is a difference between men and women.

In any case, it’s quite difficult to sign off a message correctly. I rarely use ‘love’, and if I do I mean it in the romantic sense, to be used only in special cases.

I try to follow the sender, so if someone writes ‘best wishes’, I respond with ‘best wishes’. It’s rather unfortunate if someone doesn’t quite return the same wishes.

Things can already start going wrong with the salutation. Recently I received this one: ‘Dear Arnold Jansen, I’m just omitting the rest of your name.’ Whatever else they say, they’ve lost me, though it provides plenty of opportunity to do something creative with the sender’s name in reply.

The well-known Dutch writer Gerard Reve was in the habit of beginning letters to the authorities, such as the Inland Revenue, with ‘Dear Old Mouse’. Also quite good.

So according to David Cameron LOL stands for Lots of Love, maybe because he was allowed to ride Rebekah’s retired police horse. That’s wonderful, a retired police horse: you immediately want to know the details – find out its name, for example. But I think the main reason was that he wanted to stay in her good books.

That’s one of the topics of the Leveson inquiry: the relationship between the press and politicians. It’s rather a strange inquiry: there are always close connections between politicians and journalists. Besides, isn’t privacy of correspondence more important than this inquiry? Isn’t the entire inquiry a form of information hacking?

The Leveson inquiry also reminds me of Prince Charles. Twenty years ago he and Camilla were phone hacking victims, but that didn’t trigger an inquiry. It started in Australia, when just about all the newspapers reported that the prince wanted to be her tampon. He even wanted to be reincarnated as her tampon.

This fits in very well with Oliver Sacks’s book: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

The man who identified himself with a tampon presented the weather on BBC Scotland last week. Actually, he did very well: as usual, the weather was atrocious in Scotland, but nonetheless he cheered you up.

Turtle doves put odd things in writing, things that shouldn’t see the light of day. Turtle doves try to outdo each other and occasionally wreck a few metaphors. Or they write about quite personal facts, for example that you’re a … bear.

In the meantime, all is not well with turtle doves in England – I’m talking now about the genuine article. Each spring fewer of them return from Africa. They are monogamous but now, of course, they’re afraid that everything they coo to each other will be publicised.

One of the oldest sentences in Dutch is from the third quarter of the eleventh century and goes like this: Hebban olla uogala nestas hagunnan hinase hi(c) (a)nda thu uuat unbidan uue nu. Translated into modern Dutch it amounts to: ‘All the birds have started nesting, except you and me. So what are we waiting for?’

It could well have been a lovesick monk trying out his quill in the margin of a Latin manuscript. The misery began with two turtle doves.

Lots of Love.

© Arnold Jansen op de Haar
© Translation Holland Park Press

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