So Nigella can’t cook, according to her former assistants, the Grillo sisters. This made me think about the members of the Royal Family. Actually, members of any royal family. They aren’t good at anything either. Well, Nigella can lick a spoon in a most sensual way, and the Royal Family is good at cutting ribbons. I think I’ll have to explain this first.
This week a hacker published some doodles by Bill Clinton. It transpired that the American ex-president had drawn, not only a large limousine, but also a penis in classified documents, the latter item next to a sentence about Bob Dole. Was this related to Bob Dole, or was it a selfie? Monica Lewinsky would say: ‘Not a good likeness: it was bent. I’ve seen it myself.’
5th instalment: Hidden under his father’s overcoat on the bike’s back seat, Axel has entered a different world.
19 Dec, 18.15in the Great Western Studios
When I was a child I owned a cowboy outfit, which I wore until it burst at the seams. Later, when I was in the army, I would, in a similar way, burst out of my gala uniform.
I’m rather quick to show compassion. For example, you walk past a school playground just when it’s break time. Obviously, there’s always a child that’s separate from the group. This one is trudging all alone through the fallen leaves in a corner. That’s when I take pity. Not that I was a child to be pitied. I was quite popular at school. So what brings this on?
4th instalment: When grandma’s warmed up salad oil no longer does the job, the wide
brown bottle with the red rubber stopper makes an appearance.
Last week I visited an exhibition in London. The house was located in Mayfair and nothing showed on the outside. My female companion and I stood on the doorstep in the pouring rain. The door opened before we had managed to ring the bell.
3rd instalment: They’re after Liesje Loverman who takes no notice of the floor tiles rule.
I no longer feel at ease holding a telephone conversation. I’m afraid of being bugged. Simply discussing the news by telephone or Skype feels uncomfortable. It hits me when I say words such as ‘Afghanistan’ or ‘Syria’. Then I think: Oh, this will trigger the NSA computer programs in Maryland.
2nd Instalment – A fluffy Axel hums in the morning sun between crispy clean sheets patterned with blue-capped gnomes.
Wonderful, this Netherlands–Russia year: 400 years of bilateral relations. It was supposed to be a celebration but it has deteriorated into quite a disaster. Like two drunken uncles having a punch-up at your wedding. Well, the Netherlands has apologised for arresting a Russian diplomat.
‘I was easily lured by the prospect of dancing in a dirndl and sampling every wurst imaginable.’ For a moment I imagined I was reading Helen Fielding’s new book. By now, Bridget Jones is 51, exactly my age. But no, it’s Pippa Middleton writing in her column for the Daily Telegraph.
In the UK parliament you aren’t allowed to call an MP a coward. In Canada, calling someone ‘a trained seal’ is frowned upon. In the Welsh Assembly it’s better not to refer to the Queen as ‘Mrs Windsor’. And in the Irish parliament using the word ‘buffoon’ seems to be considered an insult. But the Dutch parliament has no problem with MPs calling each other a ‘gormless person’.
A Dutch master captured in English
On September 6, the Syrian national football team played a friendly match in and against Lebanon. So, the Syrian national team still plays football, even though home games take place in Tehran, courtesy of its ally Iran.
Last week the Daily Mail reported that Scotsman Jim Dunbar suffers from ‘chronic lateness’. Jim Dunbar had tried everything – even wearing a watch, for example! Still he continued to be late. It’s thought that the condition is related to ADHD. This was diagnosed at the Ninewells Hospital in Dundee after he naturally arrived twenty minutes late for his appointment.
Last week the Dutch newspapers reported that Diederik Samsom, leader of the Dutch Labour Party, one of the governing parties, is getting a divorce. The fact that one of the quality papers broke the news caused an outcry. It was, after all, a private matter. In the Netherlands you can look right into people’s living rooms as you walk down the street but people don’t report private matters.
It’s a war for the silly season. Spain is angry with the British about their actions off the coast of Gibraltar and that’s why the Spanish are making things difficult at the border. The UK is threatening to take the case to the European Court of Justice.
You know, every football club should have two gays in its first team. Wouldn’t that be wonderful: a gay striker or a gay right winger? Well, or a gay goalkeeper at least.
Short shorts are in – well, for women. Men wear Bermuda shorts. Apart from on holiday, the last time I sported Bermuda shorts in public was on the day I celebrated my First Holy Communion. Actually, that coincided with hot pants being the in thing.
In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence, according to the Peter Principle. This would mean that everyone within an organisation, with the exception of the shop floor, is working above their grade. In other words: people get one promotion too many. This may immediately bring to mind your boss, but this week I came across the term in connection with the Tour de France.
Enjoy this report of the discussion in the Mitre on 30 June
‘Doug Engelbart has died.’
‘Who has died?’
‘Doug Engelbart, the inventor of the computer mouse. The man who is responsible for my mouse thumb.’
For fifty years you could phone the MOD to report UFO sightings, until 2009, when they closed the hotline. This week they released the UFO files. A Cardiff man had reported that a UFO took his dog, car and tent. A caller from Carlisle reported he had been living with an alien.
I easily break out in a sweat. Just last week I wanted to climb into a hot-air hand dryer.
This Sunday 30 June – Find out why nothing is what it seems . . .
This week I read about psychological research which proved that three-quarters of our conversations consist of gossip. Other researchers concluded it was more likely to be fourteen per cent. Social psychology isn’t science, it’s a rather sophisticated form of astrology.
Closed – Deadline 31 Dec 2013 24.00 GMT – A poetry competition to celebrate your neighbourhood
Angela Merkel, wearing a low-cut dress, sings a song of praise to the euro. In Germany they’re starting to talk about ‘Brustwarzen Gate’ (Nipple Gate). Because of her tight dress, Angela’s dressing room is located near the stage. Before her performance Angela declares: ‘I look like a sausage.’
If you live outside the Netherlands you probably haven’t heard of Dutch singer Patricia Paay, unless your name is David Bowie.
Beatrix opened up during the handover of the throne. Her face appeared to be far livelier than before. Willem-Alexander had not only become more dignified in his ermine cloak, but from this moment on his face represented the entire nation. He was ready for it, and MÃ¡xima was a magnificent Evita of the polders. The people played their role with gusto, as if instructed by someone: ‘You’re the crowd.’
Mao regularly swam in the Yangtze to prove that he was still perfectly fit. Putin rode a horse bare-chested and performed some judo throws, if necessary with the horse, and two weeks ago David Cameron rescued a sheep that had got stuck.
Next time I promise to write again about events in North Korea, and how this relates to a prime minister rescuing a sheep, or something along those lines, but those rings had to be removed on doctor’s orders.
For the election of a pope they prepare his white robes in sizes small, medium and large. For Francis I it turned out to be large. Francis is so huge that he barely fitted into size large. The other Francis could talk to animals, but this one seems to have eaten a few.
Last week I spent two nights away from home, and felt as parents must do when they have to leave their children behind at home. ‘But you don’t have any kids,’ I anticipate you saying.
This has been a week in which we have come to see a few things in a new light. According to Hilary Mantel, Kate is made of plastic. It also transpired that we’re eating quite a bit of horse, and in Amsterdam they have abolished the word ‘allochtoon’.
When a plane makes its descent over the Netherlands, the landscape is laid out like a painting by Mondrian, neatly divided up into rectangles. From up in the sky you can see that everything is well structured. Down on earth, too, everything feels highly organised; people like to be part of a group. It’s even more Dutch if your group is actually a trust.
Last week even dyed-in-the-wool republicans joined the chorus of approval for Queen Beatrix and pledged their trust to Willem-Alexander (the Dutch Crown Prince). ‘And to MÃ¡xima (his wife),’ they added quickly.
Poetry & Translation series – February event
I still feel like a young person, but of course I’m really middle-aged, and this middle-aged man found himself in the lingerie department of a large store looking for socks with grip: anti-slip socks.
Sometimes I find myself longing to write a self-help book. The most wonderful challenge is to write a self-help book about something you don’t know a thing about, such as: How to Survive as a Princess.
Someone recently asked me what defines Dutch literature. For a moment I found myself in a tight spot: I had to come clean.
Poetry & Translation series – January programme – it would be lovely if you could join us
‘Wie zegt u?’
‘Doug Engelbart, de uitvinder van de computermuis. De man die verantwoordelijk is voor mijn muisduim.’