As an Englishman I have a unique point of view on the Netherlands. This point of view is usually a foot or two low that of the average Dutchman given their extreme height.
The Netherlands is a very flat country and as such its people are very envious of any other countries with even the smallest of hills or speed bumps. Young skateboarders and go-cart racers are more bitter then most. The Dutch try to compensate for this feeling of hill impotence by giving their country two names; Holland and The Netherlands (not to be confused with Never Land. You won’t find Tinkerbell here… unless maybe you spend too long in a coffee shop).
The Dutch as a whole are a very friendly people (unless they work in customer services or you mention hills). However not everyone on the street who asks, ‘Charlie?’ is inquiring about your name. This could lead to some confusion if your name actually is Charlie. You may end up being given a small bag of what seems to be a very expensive and ineffective washing powder.
It is also a popular belief that every Dutch person wears clogs, eats cheese, is constantly stoned and knows the price and proper etiquette when dealing with prostitutes in the red light district. However this is not true… sometimes they wear trainers.
Attempting to cross the street in the Netherlands can be like taking part in a live game of ‘Frogger’ because not only do the Dutch drive on the other side of the road (to the English) but you also have to look out for trams, bikes, stoned English tourists and then try not to fall in a canal (and then look out for canal boats if you do).
There are a few important phrases that come in handy when in Holland. If you can successfully order ‘een uitsmijter met ham en kaas’ you can eat like a god. As my Dutch friends will tell you it’s the only thing I’ll ever eat when we go out for lunch. If they tell you it is the only thing on the menu that I can order in Dutch it’s all lies… lies I tell you… I can order ‘een uitsmijter met bacon en kaas’ too.
“Spreekt u Engels?” is another very useful phrase but you’ll find that asking the average Dutch person if they can speak English is like asking if they can count to three since most of them can do both. I’ve been told that most Dutch people learn English from TV and repeats of The A-Team. However I have yet to hear any of them, “Pity the fool.”
If all else fails you can always use the phrase I use the most, “Ik heb geen idee wat u zegt,” which translates to, “I have no idea what you said.”
Please state your name for the court.
Mr. Mosquito, Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god?
Please tell the court where you were between the hours of 11:00pm on July 15th and 6:00am on July 16th.
Bbbzzzzz… bbbzzzzz… bzzz.
Mr. Mosquito. Must I already remind you that you are under oath?
Then I ask you again, please tell the court where you were between the hours of 11:00pm on July 15th and 6:00am on July 16th and please try to think about your answer very carefully.
And what were you doing in the bedroom of my client at such a late hour?
Bbbbbzzz… bbzzz… bzzz… bzzz.
You were only trying to collect food for your family? I can understand that. It’s very noble. I’m a family man myself. I have two little ones of my own. I’d do anything for them. But please tell me; why the multiple bite marks on the one foot.
It’s a simple enough question Mr. Mosquito! Why did you repeatedly bite my client on the underside of his foot? You must have known this would result in it being very painful for him to walk the next morning. This hardly sounds like the actions of a concerned family man now does it? If you really have a family at all that is.
Bz! Bbzzzz bbbbzzzzzz bbzzz bz bbbbzzzzz!
I see… Well, if I was to believe such a thing then I have to ask; why keep my client awake all night? If indeed the foot was the only thing exposed from under the bed sheets as you have stated then why would you fly all the way up to the ear at the other end of the body. You did not feed there so this seems like a pointless action. Unless you were intent on keeping my client awake by buzzing around his ear.
Shall I tell you what I think Mr. Mosquito? I think you chose to bite my client on the underside of the foot and I think you chose to take your time to buzz around his ear between bites because you like your victims to be scared. I think you like to keep them awake all night. I think it adds to your twisted sense of fun.
Bzzz! Bbbbzzzz bzz bbbbzzzzz!
And what about my client’s girlfriend? She was sleeping peacefully next to him all night and yet we know you did not bite her. You did not go near her. You only seemed interested in my client, some might say obsessed even, fixated on one victim. Why is that Mr. Mosquito? Do you only like men?
But it’s not enough is it Mr. Mosquito! What about the bites along the spine during the night that followed? What’s the matter? Is blood no longer enough? Do you need spinal fluid to give you the buzz you so desperately crave? It’s becoming harder to control that insane hunger isn’t it Mr. Mosquito! ISN’T IT!
The blood found in your stomach at the time of your arrest was a DNA match for my client! We know you did it! We can all see you for what you really are! The ritualistic biting, the tormenting, the preference for the male victim, only striking during the summer months! All clearly the emerging pattern of a sexually perverted serial killer! You can’t control the hunger any longer can you Mr. Mosquito. It’s building inside of you, clawing away! How long until you kill Mr. Mosquito! Have you already? HAVE YOU! WHERE ARE THE BODIES?!
Bbbzzz. Bbbzzz. Bbbbbbzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
It’s no use crying Mr. Mosquito. All you can do now is confess.
Very well… As you wish.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the court, you have heard the defendant’s obvious lies. You have heard the evidence and you have heard the chilling events that transpired. All I ask is that you think them over very clearly when giving your verdict. ‘Guilty’ or not guilty… Thank you for your time.
It’s all happening this week.
A couple of months ago I was contacted by the host of the very funny Stuart Britton Show which broadcasts on Southhampton HBA. He (as I found out) has been a reader of my blog for some time and after we swapped some amusing stories about the fact that we were both called Stuart he asked if I would be interested in doing a cartoon of the show’s presenters for their website. Of course I answered yes and spent some time working away with photoshop.
As a thank you (and I’m really blown away by this) Stuart had my World Cup posts read professionally on the show by Alan Lambourn from Sky Sports. I cannot thank them enough. The brilliant sounding reading can be heard here…
…or alternatively by clicking here.
Check out the rest of their highly amusing podcasts (and the new cartoon) on The Stuart Britton Show website
Greetings Telegraph visitors. It is nice to meet you. How are you doing?
My name is Stuart and this is my blog. Here you will find the bizarre but happy story of my life in Holland as an accident prone Englishman, the strange and humours things that seem to happen to me on an almost daily bases and my confused and baffled observations on the Dutch culture and way of life.
Below are just a few of the kinds of stories that you can find here:
An Unexpected Beginning – The story that started it all.
Dye Another Day – How and why I once got my eye lashes dyed.
Lift of Terror – What I did while trapped in a lift for four hours.
I Do – A lovely story about how I got married… for just one day.
Administrative Error – What happens when you forget to get registered in Holland.
Confusing and Baffling – The title says it all.
Train Ticket Criminal – Never forget to buy a train ticket… never!
Putting My Foot in It – How I once mistook some tourists for a group of prostitutes.
For those of you who do not know what I am talking about and might be concerned that I have finally lost the plot I am actually referring to an interview that I was asked to take part in recently about living and working in Holland as an expat. The interview was published today and can be found on the Telegraph website: An Accidental Expat in Amsterdam
During any kind of sporting event that involves countries competing against each other it is inevitable that expats everywhere will be asked the same question. It does not matter which country they are from and which country they find themselves in, the question from the locals is always the same; “Which country are you supporting?”
This may seem like a simple question at first with an equally simple answer; your own country (or another one you really like). However, this is a beginner’s mistake and suggests that the question actually involves some kind of choice.
To be able to answer this question correctly it is first important to understand the many deep layers of what it means. If “which country are you supporting?” is asked by a Dutchman for example the question would actually mean, “Are you supporting Holland?” and, “If not, why not?” as well as, “Aren’t you grateful for everything we have done for you, letting you stay here, letting you eat our stampot, ride our bikes, enjoy our windmills. You better be supporting us.”
It seems that most European countries are happy with you showing up, taking their jobs, their money, and their women and not attempting to learn the language but if you don’t support the local football team there will be some very deeply hurt feelings that might result in you being made an example of.
Saying that you don’t follow the sporting event in question might seem like an easy way to side step this question. However, this simply makes you a free and available resource in the eyes of your host country and means there is even less of a reason for you to not show your support by streaking through the town square wearing nothing but the local flag.
Personally, I try to answer by saying that I am supporting both countries (which in my case means England and Holland). However, this brings its own set of complications and one of two questions. “Which team are you supporting ‘more’?” and, “what if England and Holland have to face each other in the final?”
And of course your team being knocked out is not the end of it. Suddenly the question becomes, “Which country are you supporting ‘now’?” You might be broken and still crying into your beer but that does not change the fact that you are a free resource once again.
At that point the question for yourself becomes, “why not?” It’s not like you have anyone else left to support and if you do they will just keep asking until you don’t. Besides, streaking through the town square might be fun.
Hup Holland Hup
(This post was also read the radio and can heard here.)