Before I got involved in the games industry and moved to Holland I spent a lot of time working in the theater business in England. However, I never got to play Romeo or even Juliet because I was one of the many people working behind the scenes as a member of stage crew. It was a great job but for someone who can be a little accident prone it was work that should have come with danger money.
I’ve been made deaf for two days after working on a music concert, I’ve fallen into a lighting rig and I’ve had a speaker dropped on my hand which in itself was not as worrying as the rather camp first aid person who tried flirting with me as he bandaged my hand.
However, the most cringe worthy incident probably happened during my work on ‘They shoot horses don’t they?’ It was a show about a marathon dance set during the 1930s great depression. Since the stage crew was going to be seen quite a lot as they changed the scenery the director decided to incorporate us into the show by having us in costume as janitors. It was a chance to move from back stage to center stage.
My real chance to show my star power came when the crew got to play an integral part in one of the scenes. I got to play a post, a boxing ring post to be more accurate. The scene required the actors to race around the inside of a boxing ring so four of us (the crew) stood in each corner and held ropes between us. It was my big chance. There might have been talent scouts in the audience looking for someone to play a tree or lamp post in the next Robert Deniro movie.
During the rehearsal the director warned me that several members of the cast would collapse at my feet as they ran around. Using my method acting I stood as still as a post should when this happened and resisted the urge to flinch. Every night the scene took place with out a problem… Until the night my parents came to see the show.
The actors fell at my feet with out incident as they had done every night but on the following lap one of the cast members tripped for real and fell towards me. It is a natural human instinct to reach out for something to steady your self with when caught off balance but another person’s genitals are not a good choice. Her arm flung outwards in an attempt to break her fall but her fist connected very hard and painfully with an area that she did not know me well enough to be touching. She had twisted her ankle but was not in as much pain as me who suddenly had a new career option as a Bee-Gee impersonator. I had to stay on stage trying to look like I was not in deep and intense pain. Dogs from miles around probably heard my high pitched sounds of suffering. When the scene was over we both limped off the stage but unlike her I could not sit down for a while.
Sitting behind a desk might not always be as interesting as working back stage but at least it means my genitals are a lot safer.
If anyone ever told you that they started their weekend by going down to Amsterdam’s red light district you might get a very strange impression of how they spend their Friday nights. There is a natural association that comes with a statement like that. So if I told you that last Friday night I was walking through the famous sex industry area myself with a case of beer under one arm you might think this is about to turn into the kind of bizarre story you don’t want your children to read. However you would be wrong.
I was in fact on my way to a normal house warming party that just happened to be in the red light district. One of my friends had recently moved to an apartment that over looked the area and had decided to throw a large party.
The location was an interesting conversation point and the apartment’s large floor to ceiling windows gave great amusement as party members took it in turns to strike sexy poses in view of passers by on the street below. Those who noticed gave us strange looks that were either puzzlement due to the weird sight that greeted them or a curiosity about how much we cost per hour.
The house was also just across the road from one of the red light districts famous live sex shows where tourists can watch two people on stage getting very friendly with each other. Any awkward silence at the party was suddenly interrupted by a loud announcement of, “live shagging,” as the doorman outside tried to tempt another group of passing English tourists inside. Anyone who did not realize the voice was coming from the open window might have received the wrong impression of the party and got worried or started searching rooms excitedly when they heard the voice suddenly announce, “girl on girl action.”
It was a fun party but as the night went on the worst thing that can happen at a party eventually transpired. The alcohol supply started to run low. People were visibly worried (and drunk). The party was in danger of coming to a slow dieing end. Drastic action had to be taken so a friend and I took it upon ourselves to bravely stumble into the outside world and search the red light district for more alcohol based supplies. It was not an easy task but eventually after much hunting we found a place that would sell us what we required. We returned to the party victorious and triumphant. Everyone was happy. Everyone was inebriated. We had saved the party. We were heroes.
At least we were for the short moment it took everyone else to realize what we had not. We had just bought non-alcoholic beer.
What better way to launch the new site then with something a bit new. This one is a slight experiment. I hope to make the comics a semi-regular appearance during my on going writing. How often that will be I don’t know yet.
It took a little while to finish the site but Invading Holland has finally grown up and moved away from home and into its own domain. Along with the new domain are a few other improvements. There are now additional pages (Profile and Gallery) which can be accessed via the tabs along the top of this window. Plus there are a few other new additions here and there in the side bars. If you see any errors or mistakes I might have missed please let me know.
Politics has never really been my subject. It’s one of the topics that makes my head hurt if I think about it too much. Maybe that is one of the reasons why I decided not to run for the position of Student Council Class Representative when I was at college (as a theater design student). I left that responsibility to my fellow class mates who had more political ambitions. There were three candidates but only one clear winner once all the votes had been counted, Malcolm.
Malcolm had won by a land slide but there was one small problem, something that made it difficult for him to for fill his new position in student politics (or any thing else for that matter). Malcolm was an inanimate green amphibian, a stuffed toy frog to be more precise. He was our class mascot who had been nominated because we needed a third candidate.
He would have been more at home on the Muppet show then in a meeting room debating what should be available in the college canteen. It had been amusing to vote for him but we had to face facts. Malcolm was not capable of representing us (something that was fundamental to the position as the title suggested). His muteness would impair his abilities and influence on the student council. We were forced to take another vote.
Once all the votes were counted again the winning student was awarded with his new title. However it was not the title of Student Council Class Representative. That would have been unfair to Malcolm. Instead the chosen student was crowned, “The Voice of Malcolm.” He became Malcolm’s emissary, his vessel, his voice.
The Voice of Malcolm took Malcolm to every meeting of the student council and spoke his wishes aloud for them all to hear. I never attended one of the meetings myself but often imagined Malcolm perched on his shoulder while whispering ideas into his ear like something out of a Philip Pullman book. However, some suspected that The Voice of Malcolm was only speaking for himself. No one showed any signs of being unhappy though (even if it would have been a great injustice).
Then one fateful day disaster struck. Malcolm had been left by the studio’s open window. As he sat their minding his own business (either thinking about the pond out side or his dreams to climb the political ladder) he fell out of the window into the car park bellow. By the time we had reached the car park to rescue him he was gone. We will never know if it was a simple accident or a political assassination attempt that led to his disappearance.
We tried to find a replacement but no other toy frog was worthy of filling Malcolm’s shoes. He had become more then a class mascot, he was our leader and he was mourned. You might think the story of Malcolm I have told you is far too strange to be true but we really did vote for a stuffed toy frog to be our Student Representative, someone really was appointed as his voice and he really was lost the day he fell out of that window (we were strange/typical students). I like to think that maybe he is still alive some where (as alive as an inanimate green amphibian can be) living like a king and leading some small country we have never heard of to a state of prosperity. Long live Malcolm.
Maybe it is because I am English and the stereotypical politeness that comes with it that courses me to ask a Dutch person “Spreekt u Engels?” before I bombard them with the language. Whatever the reason may be a lot of them reply with a very simple, “Yes, a little.”
However, when a Dutch person suggests they only know a little bit of English it is usually the equivalent of Albert Einstein claiming he only knows a little bit about mathematics or Steven Hawkins saying he only understands some Physics. In contrast to this when most English people say they can speak Dutch it’s usually the equivalent of claiming to be a gourmet chef when all they can do is burn toast.
English seems to come easy to the Dutch but most (not all) expats struggle with Dutch. Attempting to learn Dutch often feels like returning to school. This isn’t because every Dutch person runs around in school uniform, scraping their nails down any available chalkboard and making out with the girls from the neighboring country behind the bike shed (although some probably do). It’s because it’s like trying to learn reading, writing and speaking all over again (especially if you are dyslexic like me).
Counting has to be re-learnt. The system for telling the time is different. There are new names for the letters of the alphabet. You even have to learn how combinations of different letters make new and unfamiliar sounds that will course you to talk like a Klingon with a cold.
During the first few months of learning a conversation with a Dutch person is like trying to understand Scooby Doo. You might be able to figure out what they are saying from their hand gestures and the noises they make but the words themselves are impossible to understand.
Every conversation becomes an exam that you have not studied for enough, possibly because the X-Box or PS2 provided too much of a distraction. A simple solution to this might be to write the answers on your arm and have a sneak peak when no one is looking.
If you get caught however you might end up getting sent to the head masters office along with the Spanish kid who did not realize his Dutch friends were only teaching him swear words (which would make him seem to have Dutch tourettes) and whenever he thought he was asking for directions he was in fact asking for something that would make most prostitutes in the red light district blush.