Work is taking me out of the country for a short while again and because of that I wont have any time for anything blog related until I get back and because of that I’m leaving you with another very funny from John Fealey. This time he is talking about Koninginnedag. See you in a few days.
If you are unable to see the embedded video above follow this link.
During my time in Holland I have taken a few Dutch courses in an attempt to learn the local language. During one of these courses the teacher decided it would be fun for the class to play scrabble. Obviously playing scrabble in English would not have been very educational so we were required to play the game in Dutch.
Trying to learn a new language is already very difficult at the best of times but trying to come up with words you don’t know from a new language you don’t know while using a random selection of letters seemed almost impossible.
However, when we started the game I somehow managed to identify a Dutch word hidden within my random assortment of letters. Unfortunately for me it was not a word I felt very comfortable putting down.
During my first couple of turns I tried to ignore it in the hope that a better word would come up but as I accumulated more letters it was still the only word I could identify. When the Dutch teacher started to insist that I must have a word “by now” I decided there was nothing for it but to put the word down.
The teacher (who was female) paused. A few students sniggered.
“Can you say the word?” The teacher asked a few seconds later, trying to keep it educational.
“Umm… Hoer.” I had to answer embarrassingly.
“And do you know what it means in English?” She asked.
There was another awkward pause and some more giggles.
My brain could have picked any manner of politically correct ways of describing the words meaning but it had decided that I was on my own and the first thing that jumped out of my mouth was, “whore?”
Damn you brain.
“Prostitute! I mean prostitute!” I quickly corrected myself before it sounded like I was calling the teacher names.
Another awkward pause. More giggling.
Without saying a word the teacher took a look at the other letters I had available. “You can make it into a different word you know.” She informed me after some thought.
“Oh.” I expressed as I looked at my letters and tried to see it for myself or any other word that would get me out of this embarrassing situation before I permanently labeled myself as the guy with the one track mind.
After a few more awkward moments she decided to put me out of my misery and show me by putting the letters down herself.
H-o-e-r-e-n (A group of prostitutes)
“It’s a higher letter score.” She informed me.
Later I realized I could have put down horen (meaning to hear something) but she was right. It was not worth as much as a group of prostitutes.
A lot of countries think that all Englishmen drink tea, play cricket, work in accounting and wear bowler hats all of the time but this is untrue. We do not wear our bowler hats on Sundays.
The average human body is made of 90% water but the average English body is made of 90% tea. Without tea we die.
Tea can solve any and every problem. Aliens invading? Have some tea! Sprained your knee? Have some tea! Run out of tea? Have some… oh wait… I guess there is ‘one’ problem it can’t solve.
Big Ben has to be wound by hand each morning and is named after Ben McFiggin (‘Big’ to his friends) who was the first man to have this responsibility. Everyone still remembers the day he overslept as, “the day without time.”
The fog in London is so thick that it is unsafe to leave your house without a bell or whistle and a long length of rope. A 24 year old man was recently found wondering around lost in the fog after a failed attempt to visit the bakers. He had been 17 when his mum had sent him out for bread.
We choose a new queen every ten years based on who looks the most like the stamp.
Shakespeare was a fictional character but Sherlock Holmes was a real person.
Each Englishman owns their own red double-decker bus.
When a group of English people are alone together within their natural environment they will still use words such as, “ye olde,” “yonder,” and, “forsooth.”
The phrase; “an Englishman’s home is his castle,” is a miss quote and is infect meant to be, “an Englishman’s home is ‘a’ castle.”
The English are constantly cast as the villains in movies because we are considered (by the Americans) to be a little bit evil. However, this is simply not true. We are not a little bit evil we are very evil. We feast upon the fear of others to sustain our own life force. Nothing pleases us more than stealing candy from small orphan children or robbing sweet old ladies of their pension. However, we are very polite while doing so. There is no need to be evil ‘and’ uncivilized.
Anyone who has lived in Holland for any length of time has most likely encountered a Dutch circle party and those who have not will eventually, it is inevitable. A Dutch circle party (the name is not a euphemism) can be best described as a ‘party’ that involves sitting in a circle all afternoon and chatting while drinking tea and eating cake. Anyone who only considers a party to be a party if someone is passed out in the corner, people are making out in the kitchen and the cops have been called at least three times is going to be sorely disappointed.
When attending a Dutch circle party it is important to know that when other attendees shake your hand and announce ‘Gefeliciteerd’ they are not introducing themselves. It might start to seem like you are being introduced to a very big family or that Gefeliciteerd is a more common name than Smith but they are in fact wishing you, “congratulations”.
“Stuart. Nice to meet you Mr and Mrs Gefeliciteerd.”
This is because it is custom for the Dutch to congratulate everyone at the party and (as I discovered) is not because they are unsure about who the birthday boy or girl is (don’t try to be helpful by pointing).
Once you have successfully found a place to sit with in the circle (not necessarily with the people you arrived with and most likely with people you don’t know at all) you will be offered a drink and some cake. If you desire a drink with a little extra kick it is advisable to secretly conceal a hip flask of alcohol about your person since the strongest thing to be served at most Dutch circle parties is chamomile tea.
It is also custom for there to be a minimum of 3 or 4 generations of family present at a Dutch circle party (the maximum limit is only set by the average human life span). This makes it entirely possible to go from a conversation about life as a member of the Dutch resistance during World War 2 to which Sesame Street character is best and why (It’s best to avoid getting these two conversations mixed up, Dora the Explore was never part of the Dutch resistance).
However, since a lot of these conversations will be in Dutch and thus impossible for a non-Dutch speaker to follow it is best to find something of interest to do to pass the time such as; staring at a wall, listening to the clock tick, trying to guess how much Dutch ‘worst & kaas’ you can eat or simply going to your happy place.
However, you must also stay alert! As a non Dutch speaker it is possible to go from being unintentionally ignored to suddenly having the entire room focus upon you within a split second as everyone waits silently for your answer to a question that you might not have heard because you were too busy watching a bug crawl across the window. This can happen because a Dutch attendee simply wanted to practice their English, ask you what brought you to Holland or simply know the current prices of the UK housing market. Whatever the reason, everyone in the room suddenly wants to hear the English speaker talk and they never seem to realize what a shock to the system this sudden intimidating attention can be or that testing us on our Dutch under the watchful eye of a room full of native speakers is not necessarily the most comfortable of situations.
But do not worry. Most Dutch circle parties have a set end time at a very respectable hour which the host or hostess will politely remind you of by starting to clean up around you.