22 May

There have been times recently when I have reflected upon the recent events in my life and realized that I am no longer as accident prone or unlucky as I used to be. No bones have been broken, no lifts have I become trapped in and it’s been a very long time since I was last fooled into having my eyebrows dyed. It makes me think that I have grown up, matured and become more careful and responsible.

Then there are other times when I realize this could not be father from the truth and my horoscope might as well say, “Get extra life insurance. You’re screwed today.” The stars and planets of accident prone foolery align and everything that can go wrong does go wrong.

The following all took place with in the last weekend for example:

  • I provided target practice for bird that was in need of an emergence bowel evacuation. Judging by the ‘evidence’ I would say it was a very large and very ill pre-historic bird. I still do not know if there was a reason why it had to get it down the back of my neck other then for its own amusement.

  • I momentarily blinded myself with shampoo while in the shower. When I finally regained my sight I checked the list of contents in the shampoo to make sure acid was not one of the ingredients since it had felt like it could have been. It took sometime for my eyes to change back from stingy red to their more natural colour.

  • I knocked over half the contents of my bathroom shelf with a hair brush while still recovering from my momentary blindness. As a result I have invented a new hair gel, toothpaste and aftershave combination. The result is plak free hair that smells great.

  • A full bottle of wine was transformed into a collection of glass in a puddle of red on my kitchen floor when the simple act of opening the refrigerator door dislodged it from its secure resting place. The result looked like a peace of modern art which I decided to call ‘Unlucky Sober Man Standing in Red Wine’. Although this might have been a great addition to the art world it was a great loss to my Saturday night and did present me with the problem of safely escaping my kitchen since I was bare foot at the time. It could have been worse though, the bottle had only just missed my foot and ‘Unlucky Sober Man with Broken Toes’ does not have the same ring to it.

13 May

Most of the mishaps in this tale of dentistry and mouth care takes place several weeks before any man, woman, child or intelligent animal trained in the care of teeth set eyes up on or fingers with in my mouth.

Recently I registered with a new dentist in Amsterdam. A week before my first check-up was to take place a letter arrived through my door. This letter was in Dutch but I was able to work out that it was from my dentist (this was made easier by the big letter head that said ‘dentist’). Using my limited understanding of the Dutch language I started to translate this letter, during which my internal dialog sounded a little like this:

“Dear Sir… bla bla bla… We are writing to you about your appointment… bla bla bla… What the heck is that word?… Bla Bla Bla… 9th of May… Bla Bla Bla… Confirmation….. Oh, it’s a letter to confirm my appointment.”

I’d already written the appointment down in my diary in ink and everything so I did not really need reminding but it was nice to know they were thinking about me any way.

On the day of my appointment I woke up bright and early, only with out the bright part. In reality I dragged myself out of bed looking like an extra from a George A Romero zombie movie and hauled myself across Amsterdam while still half asleep to be at the dentist at the unholy early hour the appointment required.

When I announced the reason for my arrival to the dentist receptionist she looked at me with a little confusion. She asked if I had got the letter they had sent. I explained that I had indeed received the letter confirming my appointment for the morning. She then explained that there had been a mix-up. By mix-up I mean I had messed-up.

I now know that it is very important for me to learn the difference between the Dutch words for ‘confirmation’ and ‘cancellation’ if I don’t want to feel a bit silly and wake up at an insane hour in the morning for no reason. I made a new appointment and left for my office to sleep at my desk.

I returned a week later and was greeted by another confused look from the receptionist. She asked if I had received the cancellation of the second appointment. I explained that I had not but told her how I had looked up the words ‘bevestiging’ and ‘annulering’. She then said that this one had been sent by email. My spam filter had possibly decided that the Dutch word for dentist was too close to an English word for some depraved sexual act and had blocked me from receiving the email. I made a new appointment and left for my office to bang my head on my desk.

I returned a third time, told the receptionist why I was there and almost turned around to leave straight away on auto-pilot before she told me the dentist would be with me in a moment. This appointment had actually been brought forward earlier after I had received a phone call from them (which I checked more then twice that I understood correctly).

A short while later I was sitting on the dentists chair as she (the female dentist, not the receptionist) took a look inside my mouth. It had taken a while but after all the mix-ups and cancelled appointments I had finally been able to see a qualified dentist. Too bad I had to mentally question her qualifications a few moments later when she tried to start a conversation by asking me where I was from while she had her hands and several sharp dentistry tools in my mouth.

Then again, I had to question my own intelligence when I automatically tried to reply and ended up sounding like a yawning musician with one of his instruments stuck in his throat sideways.

I have to go back again in a few months. Let’s hope things go more smoothly.

3 May

Wednesday April the 30th was Koninginnedag (Queens Day) in Holland. As I mentioned last year Queens Day is the day that everyone in Holland celebrates the Dutch Queen’s birthday and it has nothing to do with men up and down the country putting on dresses and applying a little make-up to make them selves feel pretty.

The whole country joins in on the celebrations and Amsterdam becomes one big party, one big party that I was planning to go to. I had one problem though. Everyone wears orange on Queens Day since it is the national colour but I had no items of orange clothing. Usually I use the ‘I have orange hair’ argument but at the Queens Night Party the day before the debate had started again between my friends about weather I had ginger or strawberry blond hair. Despite being born and raised ginger it seems like it was not going to be good enough this year. I had no choice. I would have to try and find an item of orange clothing on Queen’s Day. How hard could it be?

I woke up on Queens Day, got ready and boarded the train to Amsterdam to meet my friends (there were a few more steps between that but I thought it best not to bore you with details about how many sugars I take in my morning tea or how long I spend brushing my teeth… No sugar by the way).

The feeling of excitement amongst my fellow Queen’s Days celebrators on the train was almost tangible. As we pulled into Amsterdam train station everyone started to cheer. As the doors open we all stepped out onto the platform as one. There was a feeling of charging into battle only this battle was one big party. Deep inside a primordial part of me wanted to shout out, “Charge!”

Then we got out side and hit the crowds of other orange wearing party goers and everything slowed down as our charge became a slow stroll. Part of me still felt like shouting out, “Stroll men! Stroll casually into battle! Strollllllllllllll!”

After a while I made it into the city and started my hunt for an item of orange clothing.

However, the only available options I could find came in the form of cowgirl hats or feather bowers, either of which would have made me look more like an Essex girl on a hen night then an Englishman trying to enter into the spirit of Queen’s Day. I decided it was best to keep on looking.

There was so much orange on sale that I was starting to think the colour was in danger of becoming extinct in the wild. It was as if Amsterdam had become some kind of black market where illegal supplies of orange were being sold (but then I guess you would call it an orange market) but I still could not find any thing suitable.

I decided a beer might help me relax about my lack of orange clothing. This was my first beer of the day which I purchased from one of the many street beer vendors around the city. One of my friends translated the writing on the side of the glass which said I could return it and get a euro back. I did this and felt very Dutch but it reminded me I still lacked the orange clothing to give the outward appearance. I re-started my quest.

I had lunch in the form of a hotdog in a bun. I was surprised that to keep with the orange theme that is was not a carrot in a bun and started to wonder if I had orange on the brain. I had to find something soon before I started to go crazy (if it was not already too late).

On every street around the city Dutch people sell their old belongings but in this photo you can also see the side effects of having so much orange located in one city at the same time. That’s right, the colour had evolved into a life form. I considered trying to buy it so I could walk around the streets of Amsterdam with it on my shoulder, thus solving my orange-less problem. However, I decided it was not a good idea since there was no way of knowing if this new colour life form was hostile and would try to bite my ear off.

It seemed hopeless. I was never going to find something orange and suitable to wear. I was defeated. It was hopeless. I had lost. I had failed.

But then I saw something that made me realize I had not failed at all. I saw someone else who was not wearing orange, someone famous.

The lure of the biggest party in Holland had proved too tempting even for the likes of Darth Vader who was hanging around and enjoying the atmosphere in his own moody way. I suddenly didn’t feel so worried about not wearing orange. If the Dark Lord of the Sith does not have to wear orange then why should I. I learnt something from Darth Vader that day. I realized wearing orange was not important. I could still enjoy Queen’s Day even if I was not wearing orange as long as I had orange in my heart. The father of Luke Skywalker had realized this and through him I now had too.

On the other hand, I don’t think anyone would really want to tell the Emperor’s right hand man that he had to adhere to the dress code or leave, not if they did not want to die in a very horrible way at least. I decided to learn from his example anyway and enjoy Queen’s Day and the beer, while keeping a safe distance from him just to be on the safe side.