I’m not one for Halloween: a tradition where the youth of society visit their neighbors with threats, coercion and menace. It’s like having the Mafia living next door to you, only they’re normal human beings who work as car mechanics and fill the supermarket shelves. Only now they’re in masks with skulls painted on them and they’re about to damage your property.
I prefer the Dutch tradition, and yes, there are things they get right! St Martin’s day is the 11th of November when your neighbours’ children parade around the village with lanterns, singing carols to us all. Which would you prefer? Being coerced into giving them treats, or thanking them with treats because they sung you a lovely carol?
This is my tale, written originally for the Creative Writers. It’s my way of getting back at the people who think it’s nice to have your neighbours’ children acting like the terrorists their government funds.
Warning: this is not for the faint hearted. I published something of this sort, albeit a factual piece, but did so on my private blog because of the content.
Note: if the following does not chill you to the bone, read it again because you missed the point.
Between visiting galleries at the weekend and being at home, my life doesn’t speak of much. In fact, yesterday I was extremely bored, so much so that I really couldn’t get anything done. Anything I turned my hand to was met with a ready excuse that it didn’t need doing.
I din’t know it when I trotted off to Tilburg today, it was on a whim and mainly because they’d pulled up the tracks to Rotterdam which was my intended destination today. I rarely do any fact checking before leaving, but that’s part of the fun of having so many galleries to visit in the Netherlands. It was a small and little known painting by Hieronymous Bosch that I wanted to see in Rotterdam, or at least photograph. I saw it last weekend, but what with my capacity for forethought, I’d left my camera at home. Its only importance – the Bosch, that is – is that it contradicts something Rudolf Steiner said about Goethe’s Mephistopholes. Never mind that, it’s not for public consumption. My other thoughts about Bosch will be, but that’s for another of my fabled upcoming series. Anyway, I visited Tilburg, got lost, found myself again and having turned in the other direction to which I was merrily cycling, found the gallery.
I’m using my old Mac at the moment, which I think dates back to 2004. Or something like that. Whatever, it’s old and it crashes with a regularity that is my new normal. I did buy a Minimac, but what with Apple’s ideas about older equipment and newer operating systems, it gummed up and remains gummed up to this day. No doubt there’s some malware masquerading as a solution – in the way you can stop the silly bubbles on Windows – but this is not something I want to enter into. I did try Linux, but that’s been trodden on with a vigour that has to be seen to be believed. Linux is for the people who want a cheap playstation and not a small office at home.
As you can imagine, twenty cent coins in Europe abound. Even in the areas that are not officially the Eurozone, where the Euro is the official currency, twenty cent coins can be found. They can be found in Africa, too, because the Francophone areas of Africa lent towards the Euro as a sub-denomination instead of the dollar (as was the case when the Zimbabwean dollar fell to pieces).
Twenty cent coins aren’t anything special, then. So, when in my local supermarket the cashier handed me one, it should have dropped into my purse unnoticed. Only this one was shiny, a blikvanger as they say in Dutch, it was eye-catching. It interested me because here in Holland, any new coin usually means one of the newly minted Dutch coins with the head of the new king, Willem Alexander. He’s been maltreated by having his head divided to tell us who he is, but I doubt if it would make any difference to him. After all, he’s Dutch, and whilst a nice enough guy and all that, I’m pretty sure he’s as dim as the rest of them.
So, here I am, leaving Germany the day before the fun of the elections. But then, this is Germany, where elections are staid affairs, so missing one isn’t going to be the end of the world. What will be interesting will be to see if the AfD – the “Alternative für Deutschland” (Germany’s alternative) – increase their share of the vote. No, this isn’t how America does things: it’s not “if” but by how much they improve their share of the vote.
Britain is, and always will be a very odd place to live for anyone who is used to the way Europeans live. Storms in the English channel that stop the ferries running between Dover and Calais are always headlined as “Continent Cut Off”. The British point of view is nothing if not eccentric. Britain, that small island just off the northern coast of Europe, is something of an afterthought in the mind of the average European.
Now I have lived in Europe for the better part of my life, and if there is one thing that has been consistent to any of the countries I lived in – Denmark, Germany and latterly, the Netherlands – it is the lack of understanding about Britain’s place in Europe. Here in Europe, it is necessary to register one’s place of abode, and on no few occasions, that is to say, in each case of registering, I had been asked to show that I, as a Briton, had the correct papers to allow me to live and work in their country.
I pleaded that Britain was a member of the European Union.