Mon
20 Aug

A few days ago I discovered a spider in my back garden that had spun a web over my bicycle. I don’t know if it was attempting to cocoon the whole thing but it inspired me to write a children’s story about a young ambitious spider.

Over the next two weeks I am going to be taking a short break from blogging while I am on holiday in the UK. I’ll be back again at the start of September so for now I leave you with the story of Jimmy the spider.

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Once upon a time in the far away land of Holland where drugs and prostitution are ‘sort of’ legal there lived a young spider called Jimmy. Jimmy lived with lots of other young spiders in a small garden, behind a small house in a small town.

Just like all the other young spiders Jimmy had eight little spider legs and lots of little spider eyes (too many to count but at a guess, about nine, the kind that follow you around the room where ever you go).

However, unlike the other young spiders Jimmy was a little clumsy and he had great difficulty making spider webs. Jimmy tried his hardest but all of the webs he made looked strange and did not follow the regulation EU web spinning guide lines.

This caused the other spiders to be very mean to Jimmy and make cruel jokes about him. This made Jimmy very sad (but not in an emo way).

“Jimmy, your web has no style,” they would say.

“Jimmy, your webs are not as beautiful as ours,” they would laugh.

“Jimmy, that web is in violation of at least thirteen safety codes, none of the load bearing strands are in the right place and it is aesthetically displeasing,” they would mock.

Jimmy’s webs did not catch many insects either which made the other young spiders laugh at him even more. The insects simply breathed a sigh of relief on the other hand.

Jimmy decided that he would study as hard as he could to become a better web builder. He studied all through the day. He studied all through the night. He studied for many, many weeks while the other young spiders played.

Then, one winter’s day Jimmy was finally ready to try building a spider web again. The other spiders gathered to watch as Jimmy started to make a new web using all the knowledge he had learned. They watched as Jimmy swung gracefully from branch to branch laying his web.

When he had finished he stopped to catch his breath and marvel at his work. However, he suddenly realized he had cocooned himself in the centre of his own web by accident.

The other young spiders roared with laughter. Even the insects laughed but they still kept their distance to be on the safe side.

Several hours later when Jimmy finally pulled himself free he decided to move to the other side of the garden where he could not hear the mocking laughter of the other young spiders. Jimmy found an old rusty bicycle that looked as lonely and unwanted as he felt. Jimmy climbed up to its highest point where he spun one of his clumsy webs between the handle bars and went to sleep.

Jimmy stayed there for the rest of the winter, all by himself on the old rusty bicycle in the old garden, behind the old house, in the old town. None of the other spiders bothered Jimmy.

One morning at the start of summer Jimmy was woken up by a loud sound. When he opened all of his little spider eyes he saw a small human boy with red hair coming out of the small house into the small garden.

The small boy walked over to the bicycle and started to look closely at the broken parts on it. When the small boy saw Jimmy he paused and looked very closely at Jimmy and Jimmy’s oddly shaped web.

Jimmy was very scared. Jimmy had heard stories about naughty little boys with psychological problems who like to destroy webs and pull the legs off spiders.

“That’s a very nice web you have Mr Spider,” the little boy suddenly said without pulling off any of Jimmy’s legs. “I like it very much. It is not as boring as all the other webs which are all the same. In fact, I like it so much that I think you should stay.”

Jimmy watched from his oddly shaped web as the little boy with red hair repaired the old bicycle. The little boy cleaned every part of the bicycle so it shined like new but he left Jimmy and his oddly shaped web where it was.

“That looks better doesn’t it Mr Spider,” said the small boy when he was finished. “Now we can go out for a ride. Would you like that Mr Spider?”

Jimmy who did not understand what the small boy with red hair was talking about simply shrugged. Even though Jimmy did this with all eight of his little spider legs the small boy did not notice the tiny gesture and they went out for a bicycle ride.

Every day the little boy rode his bicycle through the fields and meadows of Holland with Jimmy sitting on his oddly shaped web on the handle bars of the bicycle. Jimmy’s web was a very good shape for being attached to a very fast moving vehicle. Jimmy was able to catch lot and lots of insects and bugs during their adventures in the mid day sun. Jimmy and the little boy with red hair became best friends. Jimmy was very happy.

A few months later the parents of the little boy with red hair became very concerned at his claims that his best friend was a spider. Eventually they sent him to a child psychologist.

For many years the insects told the stories of El Arachniablo and the devil bicycle upon which he rode with his servant who has hair redder then the fires of hell.

Jimmy went on to teach his aerodynamic web building skills to other spiders. Jimmy was very famous and happy.

THE END

This story is Copyright© of ‘Invading Holland’

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Tue
14 Aug

The following takes place between the hours of 10:56pm and 10:58pm while walking through Amsterdam’s flower market with a friend visiting from England:










Friend
(Commenting on one of the flower stands)
“Wow. That is a lot of onions.”

Pause

Me
(With one eyebrow raised)
“You do realize those are tulip bulbs and not onions… right?”

Friend
(Looking embarrassed)
“Oh…”

Me
(Trying not to laugh)
“You do know we are in the flower market… right?”

Friend
(Looking more embarrassed)
“Yeah.”

I’ve been taking the mickey out of him about it ever since.

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Thu
9 Aug

At some point in their lives most people have warn odd socks. Some people place mismatching socks upon their feet accidentally because they are still half asleep as they try to dress themselves. Others wear odd socks as a fashion statement or as a way of rebelling against the fascist matching socks rules that society imposes upon them.

However, this is nothing. Today I managed to take footwear defiance a step farther.

When I arrived at my local gym today and opened my kit bag I discovered something more then odd socks inside. Odd socks would have been a forgivable mistake. Odd socks would have been normal. However, I had odd trainers. Neither the left or right trainer matched the other. I had managed to pick up my own right trainer but in my rush to leave the house I had also picked up my house mates left trainer.

Our foot size seems to be a close match so I only got a few strange looks and the limp coursed by the mismatching footwear was not too bad really.

At least my socks matched.

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Mon
6 Aug
Categories: Drugs

There are a lot of shady looking characters who hang around Amsterdam. I see them on an almost daily basis as they silently wait by street corners and alleyways. Anyone who has lived in the city long enough knows how it works. Sometimes they quietly wait to be approached, other times they advance with out warning. However, they always ask the same question in the same hushed whisper. It’s a question I have been asked many times myself. It is only a single word but we all understand what they are asking.

“Charlie?”

Since my name is not Charlie and I don’t know anyone by that name I am never able to give them the information they seek so I simply shake my head and carry on walking, leaving them to ask the next passer by (which by the sounds of it they do a lot).

I often wonder who this Charlie is. Why is he so popular? Why have so many people decided to dedicate so much time in to searching for him? Does he owe them money? Is he a lost friend or relative? Could he be their missing leader or a secret spy contact? Why is he so important to them?

Whoever he is he is a very allusive man.

What about the people who spend all their days trying to find him. There are a lot of them who appear to have been looking for him for a very long time. Are their efforts combined or are they all searching for him for their own individual gain? Do they wake up every morning truly believing that today will be the day they finally find Charlie? Do they later return home, feeling crushing despair after yet another day of fruitless searching? What keeps them going? How long will they be able to continue their search?

They have been unsuccessful in their quest for such a long time. It is finally time for us to aid them in their search for this mysterious man. It is obviously very important that he is found (otherwise they would have given up by now). This is why I am setting up the ‘Help Find Charlie’ appeal.

Do you know anything about this Charlie they seek? Maybe you have seen him, maybe you are friends with him or maybe you even are him. Any information you can provide, no matter how small, might help us find Charlie.

If you wish to show your support for the appeal you can print out the poster provided below and display it somewhere that Charlie might see (or at least someone with information about him).

At the moment we know absolutely nothing about Charlie or where he is but with a little hard work I am sure we can find him and end the search that has lasted for so long for so many shady looking people on the streets of Amsterdam.

Thank you for your support.

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Wed
1 Aug

During the last couple of weeks I have noticed a great improvement in my Dutch language skills. I can now communicate better then I have been able to before. I became aware of this progression in my abilities because of one simple fact. I am now able to really confuse the hell out of Dutch people when I speak to them in their own language.

The more confused they look during our conversation the better I am doing. This might sound odd at first but when you examine the science behind my theory it starts to make sense, let me explain. If the Dutch person in the conversation looks more confused ‘then me’ I consider it a success in cross language communication.

In my previous attempts to converse in Dutch I struggled to understand what was being said. The expression of confusion on my face during these conversational exchanges made me look like the village idiot who had just been asked a very complicated maths question by Albert Einstein. The Dutch person (who was having no such trouble) would usually take pity on my pained expression and switch to English effortlessly.

However, the balance of confusion has now shifted.

My Dutch language ability has improved to a level where I am able to understand what is being said to me. I no longer look like the village idiot on a bad day as I listen. I have successfully got past the first barrier of communication; understanding. I can even reply to their questions… sort of… sometimes.

The confusion starts when I reply using the little bit of Dutch that I know while filling in the gaps in my knowledge with English. I am not confused by this (because I know what I am trying to say) but the Dutch person I am talking to usually is. Switching between the two languages with out warning really keeps them on their toes, especially when talking with strangers.

One example of this happened recently when I tried to purchase a Cola from a girl behind the counter of the local garage shop (highlight text for translation):

Her: “Goedenavond.”
(Good evening.)
Me: “Goedenavond. Ik wil enn Cola alstublieft.”
(Good evening. I would like a Cola please.)
Her: “Anders nog iets?”
(Anything else?)
I always forget if this means, “anything else?” or alternatively, “was that all?” so I replied with:

Me: “That’s all I wanted. Dank u.”
(That’s all I wanted. Thank you.)
Her: “Hu?…oh…. That’s 1 Euro please.”

Me: (while handing her the money) “Alstublieft.”
(If you please.)
Her: (looking very confused) “Dank u… er… I mean thank you… er… wait… Are you English?”

Me: “Ya. Ik ben Engels. I’m just need to improve my Dutch. Ik probeer.”
(Yes. I am English. I’m just need to improve my Dutch. I try.)
Her: (still looking very confused) “Oh… ok… er… have a nice day??”

I think I broke her brain.

Sometimes I am tempted to throw in a third additional language to see how well they can keep up. Maybe I will start talking in a mix of Dutch, English and Japanese or communicating in clicks and whistles.

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