Lately I have become very aware of the accent I use when speaking Dutch. There is nothing wrong with the accent itself. It is very clear, strong and well articulated. As accents go it is a very good accent. If I had to give it a score between 1 and 10 it would be at least an 9, maybe an 9.5.
However, if I was forced to make one criticism it would be that it is entirely the wrong accent of the language I am attempting to speak. For some bizarre reason I have fallen into the habit of speaking Dutch with a very strong English accent.
You might think that this sounds perfectly logical considering the fact that I am and always have been English (it says so in my passport). However, it is not ‘my’ English accent that I am using. Speaking Dutch somehow amplifies my English-ness and brings out my inner upper-class posh gentleman. I don’t consider myself that posh in normal life but the moment I start speaking Dutch with a Dutchman it’s as if I am channelling the spirit of Oscar Wilde.
When buying stroopwafels at the local super market it sounds like I’m on an official trade mission on behalf of Queen Elizabeth herself. Basically, I speak Dutch like a 1950’s BBC radio news reader.
How I manage to mix the refined sounds of English high society and the harsh hacking guttural sounds of the Dutch language is quite beyond even me but at this rate it is only a matter of time before I start using phrases like ‘pip pip’ and ‘good show old chap’ in Dutch.
I am not even sure when or why I started doing this. Maybe it is out of some apologetic politeness towards the person who’s language I am butchering or maybe it is old imperial colonization instincts that are telling me, speak posh enough and you will be understood.
Either way it leads to a lot of unsurprised Dutch faces when I use phrases like, “Ik kom uit England.”
“I HATE YOU!”
Amongst my friends I have a reputation of being a very calm and polite person.
“YOU ARE HOPELESS!”
Most of them do not even believe I am capable of getting angry.
“WHY CAN’T YOU DO ANYTHING RIGHT?!”
And in a way they are right. It takes a lot to get me angry.
“I HATE YOU SO MUCH!”
“YOU BLOODY USLESS ITALIAN PLUMBER!”
I am by no means a xenophobe or a racist and I bear no ill will towards those in the plumbing profession.
“I’M GOING TO SHOVE THIS WII REMOTE WHERE THE SUN DON’T SHINE IF YOU FAIL ME AGAIN!”
But a man has his limits.
“YOU HEAR ME MARIO?! I’M GOING TO STRAIGHT UP MURDER YOU AND YOUR WHOLE MUSHROOM KINGDOM!”
And failing to kill the end of level boss ten times in a row is apparently it.
My wife watched me from the other side of the sofa, not in alarm but in fascination. She had never witnessed me in such a blind rage and she was finding it hilarious.
”DON’T LAUGH AT ME! THIS IS BAD GAME DESIGN! THIS BOSS IS IMPOSSIBLE!”
She grind even more as I waved the Wii remote around at the screen again like an angry caveman having an epileptic fit. I’d only started playing because she had got stuck and wanted my help.
“Why don’t you take a break if it is annoying you so much?” She suggested after a while.
”NO! I WILL NOT LET THIS BLOODY THING BEAT ME!”
I lost count of how many times I played the same section over and over again.
“RUN FASTER DAMN YOU!”
My fury was growing with each failure. How dare this game not let me win.
“WHY WON’T YOU JUMP WHEN I TELL YOU TOO?!”
The veins in my neck were about to pop in rage. How dare the controls not be easier.
“STOP FALLING IN THE DAMN LAVA!”
The anger was becoming too strong. I was about to throw the wii remote out the window. But then…
The tide of battle suddenly started to turn…
“YES! COME ON!”
…and I was so very close…
“YES! COME ON! YES!”
… all I need was one last successful mushroom attack.
I jumped up from the sofa and threw my arms up in the air in victory.
“FINALLY!!! F**K YOU MARIO! F**K YOU LUIGI! F**K YOU BOWSER! AND F**K YOU PRINCESS PEACH!”
I marched over to the TV, switched off the Nintendo Wii, stormed out of the room and slammed the door shut while my wife fell of the sofa in fits of uncontrollable laughter.
Like I said; it takes a lot to get me angry.
It seems as if old age has finally caught up with me and I find myself in need of glasses. The optician told me so.
I could let myself feel down about this but no! I have decided that I will embrace my eye sight assisted future (if lack of depth perception allows me to) and use it to reinvent myself! Glasses give me the opportunity for a new look and a fresh start. But which look? There are so many. Which one should I choose?
It’s gay pride parade day today here in Amsterdam. A day when men and women of all preferences come together to celebrate diversity in sexuality by dancing to the Village People’s greatest hits while trying unsuccessfully to not to crash their canal boats into another group dancing to the greatest hit of The Weather Girls (and no, that’s not a euphemism).
It’s a great parade to check out even as a straight person. The city’s canals turn into one big party of music, dancing and feather bowers. However, it is maybe not a good idea to check it out as a straight person while wearing a t-shirt with the words ‘I Like Me’ written upon it in very large letters. As I discovered three years ago it’s all about context. On any other day of the year ‘I Like Me’ is a humorous T-shirt worn for simple amusement. However, on gay pride day ‘I Like Me’ becomes a T-shirt that unintentionally declares, “I’m here and I’m quire and I’m ok with that,” to other free and single male celebrators. Especially if you start throwing shapes to YMCA like I can never seem to stop myself doing.
So waking up in the morning and deciding to put on such a T-shirt when you know you are going to watch the gay pride parade (as I did) might not be the best informed choice to make even if it is nice to find out that you have options… a lot of options (as I did).
(Originally posted on August 7th 2010)