dinsdag 29 juni 2010

MAY part 1

For the duration of my illness, this blog is continued at this link

The Queen's Birthday

The camera being full of images that are obviously reports of events of great moment, I am forced to divide the month owing to the liimitations of blogger. The first Great Moment that I have to report, is the Queen's birthday. The biggest street market, involving as it does the whole country.

People turn out thier attics and pour the contents onto sheets op tarpaulin and sit in the sun to get rich. Meanwhile, thier children are touring the other stalls and buying up stuff to ensure that what is taken home at the end of the day is different in content. but equal in volume and weight to what was brought. The result is that all this stuff moves from one attic to another ready for another year.

These people know how to party

The city of Alkmaar believes in Art for the petite bourgeoisie. As we see here, an artworkcan also be functional. In this case, a receptacle for waste products. Note how a citizen with panache has used his discarded ice-cream to enhance this three-dimensional collage. The grouping around the base is electrifying, and as for the crown, well, it takes the breath away. As does the smell. The Dutch word for art is 'kunst'.

We have been doing the Queen's Birthday for about 30 years, but the stuff on offer is always the same. I am sure there is a factory in a third world country turning out broken and obsoltete stuff and filling shiploads of containers for Holland. Wherever you look there is half an oar for a rubber boat with dodgy patches, a relief plate for the wall, a bedpan on a long pole, Scalextric tracks with two wheeled cars, thermometers with bleached scenes from a Costa somewhere. Polaroid cameras. Floppy disk and zip-drives for your computer. Cassette players by the million, VHS tapes by the trillion, little boys painted on velvet with tears rolling down the cheeks, a defective electric fire from the thirties (element of doubt perhaps), Commodore computers, hamster cages with dessicated hamsters without food or water ('buy me, and save my life'). Flippers and snorkels with no ping-pong ball, ping-pong tables with three legs, toasters, coasters, plastic coat hangers, plastic coats, bicycles with oval wheels and no saddle, Chanel nr 5 in jerry cans. And everywhere, drunken youths in orange shouting Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé before falling over. It is all very joyous. It also enables the Royal Family to travel around amongst thier subjects, smiling radiantly and letting everyone see how popular they all are. Last year someone tried to run them all down with a car. The royal family continued to smile radiantly as they fled for thier lives. The best part is the music. Great rock bands with megawatts of power down to 7 year-olds with little music stands and a saucer with five cents. Aah,  the scraping of the flutes, the squeaking of the fiddles. I always go out with enough money to spread around any  kids playing, or trying to play an instrument.  

You can see Bernadet about halfway across. She is trying hard not to be sold the bridge.

Flower Mosaics in Limmen

At this time we also have the Limmen Mosaic days. Limmen is the next village down, and for about four days the whole place goes mad to produce flower sculptures. They take months to plan and to get the flowers at thier best just at the right time. And the its all guarding against birds and cats and drunken youths shouting Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé. Preening and fussing to straighten out any bent petals, constant spraying with mountain spring water for extra freshness. It's all a bit like the Vegetable Competition in Wallace and Grommit  The themes are mostly local issues or national politics. The sort of things the Sun wouuld have as headlines a few years ago. "Gotcha" "Come off it Wilson" "Never had it so good"etc.

Local singing duo honoured. Fame at last. 

Something about Iceland going bust, the Ash Cloud and either Nuclear Waste or Please Buy a Mercedes
The Wave Prikkers. Ideas anyone?

This was the big daddy of all flower mosaics. No idea what it is about except that Himeji in Japan is famous for being mountaineous and having lots of feudal castles and no cycle paths or snackbars where you can get a frikandel in a roll. Limmen on the other hand is totally flat, has no castles and is full of cyclists using the cycle paths to travel to and from the many local snack-bars specialising in frikandel rolls. Not difficult when you put your mind to it.

And finally, we have a new face on the farm. this duck has a damaged leg and is presumably not in the running for success in his own community. He found a hole in the net that protects Opa's pond from birds. didn't stop this one, did it. He is king of his own world now, or he thought he was. The fish got miffy with him and attacked. (some of the fish are twice his size), and for a long time he stood on the slippery glazed flower-pot to avoid contact. He is now accepted and follows people around hoping for his favorite snack, toast and marmite.

woensdag 23 juni 2010


April came and went without much to write about except for the visit of Paul Stephenson to Amsterdam. Old friends wre invited to an evening at a little pup/restaurant in the Centuurbaan . It was more like somebody's living room. As you come in, there is a counter with a range of  two different snacks, and a small fridge in which the entire stock of beer is kept. The barman/owner was obviously out of his skull and had to ask people several times what they had ordered and what was owed, because he was totally incapable of working anything out. Great to see and hear Paul again, and the old Over The Moon band members. Some of these people we hadn't seen since Folk Fairport days. Splendid music and atmosphere.

And it's no, nay, never......

That's Michelle singing her heart out
Another event of note was our Emma's trip to England as part of the Anglia project. Designed to help kids  with a high level of English to get even better. Four girls in each group assigned to a family in London. Unfortunately everything they wenrt to see we had already done when I took her to London last year. Apart from the Billy Elliot musical which is apparently fantastic. Not much else to report. I really must keep up with this blog so that I don't have to depend on my camera to see where my life went. With the impending world cup looming, I have ordered a monster TV. England and Holland will probably go out in the first round, and I will be glowering at Macedonia against Bourkina-Fasso. Bye all. How's the blog Stef? Still stuck at 2004?

MARCH part 2

After a refreshing night at Auntie Anne's and a shower in her beam-me-up-Scotty ablution tower, we departed for Aldershot, loading our stuff onto the back seat having found no way to crack the security of the boot. There were few problems, unlike my past visits to Aldershot via South Wales.  We did have a set-to with Bernadet's Mobile navigation system, which was totally lost lost but too proud to admit it. It kept saying things that sounded like "That's funny, I could have sworn this went through...well, never mind, just bear with me for a minute, I thing you need to take a right, or maybe a left, but it's still 50/50". We all managed to get to the pub and after much embracing and cooing over babies and my isn't she getting big and lots of men all knowing how to open the boot but failing miserably - we all sat down to eat. A really good meal and it was warming to have all these lovely, happy people. 

A picture being worth a thousand words, I leave you with these photographic mementos of a lovely day, even if we only saw everybody for three hours. Southampton Airport is shitty.

Four generations if you include the cameraman.

vrijdag 18 juni 2010

MARCH part 1

Emma having had her baby, it was decided that I and my espoused would travel to England to pay our respects at this nativity. We only had a weekend and would not have enough time to satisfy all as it were. We would therefore fly to Southhampton and hire a car, spend Saturday at Auntie Anne's and Sunday to Aldershot, where Young Stef and entourage, including the new baby plus family Cris would assemble for Sunday Lunch at an establishment suitable for tiny children. A pub. We would have only a few hours before we would leave for the airport to fly home. And hope that our own house was still intact and not also become a public house under the stewardship of our teenage daughters. We went on a bus to get to the plane, and found that the plane was just like the bus inside. No room for catering, although a bag of nuts could be purchased for a modicum.

When do we take-off?
The problem with these cheap flights (17 euros per person - Amsterdam to Southhampton) is that they are not cheap. Hidden extras were piled on until we could have chartered the plane for less. It was also extremely noisy because of the whirly things where one would expect a sleek jet engine to be.

The same confusion over the price of a hired car. A new Peugot with so many gadgets that we were afraid to touch anything. We also could not get the boot open, partly because there is no handle. The frogs know that you have to put your hand on the rear window just above where a handle would be. You are required to sign a bit of paper that allows Avis to plunder your credit card if anything happens outside The Agreement. Like driving it. When I say sign, it is more a question of having a biro thrust into ones hand, while a brylcreemed sycophant moves some papers under the tip to form a signature. Apparently the tank is full on delivery (but the needle apparently stuck at half-full) and is filled again on return. From my bank statement it would appear that a fleet of tanker-lorries were required to make up the difference.


To Auntie Anne's to enjoy her bountiful hospitality. Even giving up her bed, while she slept in her office under teetering bookshelves sagging ominously. I am never allowed to sleep here when I visit because the whole lot might plummet earthwards. She herself is immune, it would seem.

Off to Stourhead, a National Trust stately home in 3000 acres of gardens with a lake in the middle that is often mistaken for the Mediterranean. In the past, rich people toured the world gobbling up artifacts and treasures from the servile populace. Stuff that was 
too big was copied and built anew in places like this. The lake is ringed by temples of all the worlds religions. Apart from a south-pacific island where they worship the duke of Edinburgh.

The house is a bit run-down and staffed by old ladies in tweed who lurk in the shadows, gliding out to confront the unwary tourist with reams of knowledge. "Yes, it is a conundrum, isn't it? I can tell that you are puzzed to see rococco cupolas atop a byzantine colonade. The explanation will certainly surprise you! In 1723, Sir John Poddles returned from the second Frog War ....". We see an escape route. "Good Lord, look at the rampant scullions on that magnificient DOOR." We rush, and from behind ..... "Aah! Scruttocks Portico! In 1713..". We shake her off and hide behind a conjugated arris of the ninth dynasty.

A ghost in tweeds looms. "Aah! Scruttocks Portico! In 1713.." while from the room we have just left, a careless traveller groans as he as he is dragged unwillingly into the mystery of rococco cupolas and byzantine colonades. The row of cottages are for the ostlers, although there has not been much ostling for a century or two. 
The gardens are magnificent, but I fear a day or two, strong shoes and thorn-proof trousers are needed to see it all. We have spent a pleasant day here. We make make our way to the carpark, fending off old ladies. "Aah. The Lord Hoare Memorial Car-Park! In November of 2004, the Incumbant ordered Gravel to be strewn in bays 4 through 16, and later that year a Rubbish-Bin to be.....' Go away.
We drive back to Salisbury, half expecting old ladies at zebra-crossings to waylay us. "Aah! The B3092! Originally called Crab-Lane, the Norton-Ferris to Maiden-Bradley section was completed in..."

Anne underestimates the University Challenge speciality for her first dish. It turns out to be a starter for ten.

Saturday night and we are off to a Thai retaurant. It looks like somebody's front room, but then you are led upstairs and through lots of other little rooms, each with two or three tables. It's as if the thais bought a basement flat and then took over rooms in other peoples houses one by one without them noticing. "Surely, Cynthia, we had another bedroom hereabouts?" "Indeed Charles, and I can't seem to find the trapdoor to the loft. These houses need accoustical insultation my dear. I can hear the sounds from that Thai restaurant four doors along. It's almost as if people are eating their Kaeng Karee Kai right above our heads!" 

Sunday .... went to lunch with the families of Stef, Emma and Cris. Owing to the limitations of Blogger, I refer you all to March 2, which is the entry before this one and which you probably have already read. In the meantime some photos of Bernadet getting broody.

maandag 7 juni 2010


Good Lord! There are no pictures in my camera for February. Therefore I did nothing of note in February. The camera does not lie. The only things I find in the camera are millions of pictures of Emma and Rick, a love that will last forever. However, it is now over and is not to be talked about. A nice enough lad who quickly found himself at home at mine. It is a very short journey from Hello, so pleased to meet Emma's parents, and I say, what a lovely garden and did you paint those jugs in that picture on the wall and what a clever use of the nuances of the light and after three weeks its feet on the coffee table and click with the remote control and get me a beer while you're up, parent chappie, would you. I think that teenage behavior is contagious. Went twice to the hospital for tests about my COPD (any disease of the lungs from asthma to cancer of the universe). The first time, I was asked to answer questions from a couple of girls who looked about 14 who were apparently training to be doctors. They looked up at me with their clip-boards and ball pens, and kept blushing and stammering and looking to each other for support. I confirmed that my breath came in little short pants, but it doesn't come over as funny in Dutch. They ran out of questions and stood looking at the floor and squirming as if they wanted desperately to pee. I said nothing for a bit, and then asked if I had adequately satisfied their thirst for knowledge. They ran away. The lady doctor came in and asked I had been unkind to them. She made me blow into things that made wavy blue lines on the computer screen until I was exhausted and totally outpuffed. The second time was with Adam for company and support in case of bad news. I had been called back because her colleague, a black belt in lung x-ray photos, had seen a spot where a spot is not normally seen. I wonder if they all get bored in the lung department and play 'spot the tumor' for fun. Old photos had been retrieved from other hospitals, and it appears that the spot has always been there. An old scar she said. What on earth gets into your lungs to create such havoc that it leaves scars? Pulmonary termites? Lung beetles? It was a much more interesting trip and good fun with Adam there as well. I had to clamber into high-tech spacey glass chambers and take deep breaths while many wavy lines formed in a whole palette of colours and lots of apparatus said ping and gdunk. There was neither good news nor bad. They always look at pages of data in astonishment, as if the fact that one has made it to the hospital at all is miracle. She said something reassuring along the lines of it would probably be alright and perhaps there was nothing to worry about just yet. I now have three different medicines with apparatus that needs blowing and sucking that I feel I shall soon have lungs like a small horse and may well apply for the brass section of Jan's Harmonie Orchestra. The Tuba has always managed to draw my attention.

Emma's baby has arrived and we have booked a weekend to England.
P.S. Why is there an advertistment for "Hot Sexy Photo Ads?"

Bye now.

zondag 6 juni 2010


The major event in January - the arrival of the kiwis. It being summer in New Zealand, it will be hard to reconcile the Christmas barbie on a sweltering beach with this icy road. Well, they are here now, and another lot of Sprenkelings nestles in the Hoogeweg, bringing the number of households up to 5.

Adam's New House

Not much else to report for January, except that Adam is concentrating on the right priorities, joining the snooker club and getting involved as a new and very competetent team member of Trickshot. Chicks with Sticks, be afraid. Looking for work can come later. He also has inclinations to become a priest which is most comforting to an old man. If there is anything up there when we pass away, al little insurance will not come amiss. "Let me in, my boy's one of your lot". 

I leave you with more wintery pictures. I love taking photos, although my little Sony may not be the greatest camera in the world. See you next month, which, in this working-off-the-backlog mode, should be in about 5 minutes. 


Dear all,

Again, should there be anyone out there who reads this apart from my sister Anne and Young Stef, my apologies for the fact that the maintenance of this blog has grown as lax as my bowels as age descends upon me. What once seemed an amusing game of spotting the subtle changes now seems like a stampede towards the crematorium. Things you once read about as happening only to aging gits, nothing to worry about for yoinks, now seems  acceptable. Hello, that bit's gone, and something over there just fell off, but there’s lots of stuff left, still going sort of. My problem is that I don't feel or accept it, and I don't know anyone as old as me to talk this through with. Most of them are dead anyway. Always the jolly family doctor lady, but more of that later. I feel better when I think that Stef's blog was last updated around 2004, and that Adam's never got further than two words. Hi there, or something. I have lot of photos which my camera sorts by date, so I shall post them and try to recall what was going on at the time. And if my memory serves me incorrectly, I shall just make something up. I have set up entries with only the names of the month and shall fill them over the coming days, having promised Stef that I would do so.


Lots of pics of snowy wastes, but the main thing that happens in December is Christmas. This year however, Christmas passed us by. High-jacked it was. Normally we have a house full of family and tables have to be brought in and laid end to end in a medieval castle scene. Days spent preparing the feast. This year, everyone went to Tineke and we found ourselves alone. Even Merel was off to Thijs. I can’t remember what we had. Egg on toast, or a hamburger probably. No crackers, funny hats, slaving at the stove. And no washing-up. It was wonderful. Next day, a great meal with Karolien and Bauka. 
The most important event to look forward to is the coming of Adam and family in January.  A house has been found for them in the Hogeweg, number 40. You can imagine what it feels like to have my son back here, and Carolien. And eventually Anna and Tony. The Sprenkelings and Ricketts's are coming home.  

Some winter pics to enjoy. Meanwhile I shall try to recall what I did in January.

zaterdag 26 december 2009

Hello All. Sorry a bit late with the blog this week/year. A number of problems amongst which a vist to Buggered Computer Land and ailing health, more of which later. I have put a few pictures up on Bookface using another computer in case people in the colonies may be waiting for Daguerrotype evidence of the new grandchild/ cousin/ niece or whatever relationship you may have with the lovely Tallulah Pixie. An uneventful trip to Harwich, I am now an experienced traveller on the Stena Line and know all the pitfalls.Apart from not remembering that you can go up 9 floors, forget your soap bag and money, but cannot find your way back to the car deck. All doors are locked with a notice that says AUTHORIZED PERSONELL ONLY, with a key pad. I tried a few combinations until an authorized person arrived, presumably having been alarmed by the random numbers on his security system. He glared at me, also having had to skip down a few decks, but eventually let me back to my car.
I pictured this fancy model, which probably should be in a glass case rather than exposed to the clumsy backpacks and kiddy buggies. Note my humble Ka in the background. It's not all about length, you know.

The cabin was fine, but I did not sleep well. I went to the buffet earlier and did not fancy much until I spotted the prawn dish. Lots of rosy prawns in a salad with slices of lemon. All covered in a plastic film with a misty condensation that made it look like mountain spring freshness. I sat down and removed the film. A most unpleasant odour arose from the prawns. The mountain dew turned out to be condensed prawn sweat. Nevertheless I consumed them and spent the night regretting it. Mama-Mia on all three cinemas, I retired early with a large Heineken. All is forgiven when, Bing Bong, English breakfast is now being served in the Starlight Lounge ... This is rather splendid, except that one gets as far as the the scrambled egg, bacon and sausages but there is a hold-up. Should she go for the mushrooms, but the baked beans look tasty, and what about the plum tomatoes and dither dither, counting calories and cholesterol units while those behind watch the yellow of the egg film over and start to wrinkle and the sausages look like body parts that have lain in the bath too long. A recommended technique is to yourself cause a hold up before anything hot goes onto your plate, wait until there is a clear run all the way to the coffee for a fast sprint. No problems at customs. I told the Customs lady that I had two cheeses from Holland. Inexplicably, she waved a finger at me as if I were a naughty boy, and said not to tell fibs and waved me through. The usual confusion at the first roundabout in Harwich, the English going round one way and the dutch the other. We all meet on the opposite side and without mishap and then remember where we are. An awful journey round the M25 in the rush hour. After four hours I escape onto the M4 because it said it was going to the West country, and my first visit would be to Auntie Ann. I am feeling stodgy by now as I have had two more breakfasts at Burger Kings and Little Chefs. I had a bad feeling about the M4, and turned off, but got back on it when I found myself in The Slough Industrial Estate. I was hoping to see a sign for Salisbury, it never came. When I reached those for Swindon, Bristol and South Wales I knew that a mishap had occurred. Swindon is a lovely place, but is not Salisbury. Eventually arrived at Auntie Anne's. If Auntie Anne says would you like a simple lunch, be prepared for a huge meal followed by a home-baked apple pie. Breakfast will be cereals, and before you know it, eggs, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans, sausage, fried bread and black pudding. And two of toast.

Bald Pussy

Auntie Anne has a cat that spent to long on the hot tin roof sunbathing. Cancer of the ears - no kidding.

A pleasant time walking around the beautiful cathedral. I include lots of pictures here as this place is just magical. The churchyard has a lot of stones like a giant game of hopscotch, which I happily skipped over and about, until I noticed names and dates and knights helmets and stuff carved within.

The font is about the size of the Serpentine, and with an army of vicars from Temp-Team you could baptise hundreds of babies at the same time. Or hold boat races.

Looking up the columns can be quite frightening as the pillars are all bent as the building slowly subsides. Well it is 900 years old.

There are gigantic paper angels ready for Christmas. Truly awe-inspiring. Talking of angels, Auntie Ann says that the Christmas play was cancelled in the Cathedral because of the words "Why are you reading the Times? Are you not a Guardian Angel.

A comfortable night in Anne's massive bed with electric blanket, and off to Young Stef's. First call to Emmah, there to admire developments in the belly department and the forthcoming great granchild. And of course the adorable Aiden.

A night at Stef's with reasonable ammounts of bevvy, and then off to Cris and Cheryl to be confronted with the miracle of Talullah Pixie. Following Cris's instructions to make my way down the M4 (which he later admitted should have been the M3) and look for a turnoff to Aldershot. Driving can be monotonous, and the time and miles simply roll away with a good CD and a clear road. After a very long time, I noticed that a lot of fuel had gone into the ozone layer, and that it all looked familiar round these parts. A sign said Swindon, Bristol and South Wales and Deja Vu. Eventually arrived at Cris and Cheryl, there to worship at the crib.

Tallulah Pixie already has a social life. Study of the photographic evidence leads us to the conclusion that half of them originate in licenced premises. At one of these I consumed this giant yorkshire pudding trough filled with liver and bacon. Wonderful.

The pub also contained this 'no-excuse' prophylactic vending machine. Five kinds of condoms. AND headache tablets. I would be staying in Scarletts's room. It was very cold and the blanket was made of gossamer. Each time I farted, it inflated, rose about six inches and landed futher down the bed and more to the left. Lots of fun getting a Christmas tree and generally shopping. And becoming a fan of the amazing Tom Stade. The baby is, of course, angelic. Half a Ricketts load of genes ensures perfection.
Bye-Bye Tallulah Pixie et al, and back to Stef's. With the precious CD of Tom Stade in my pocket. Many thanks Cris for this gem.
With Jasmine to the bowling with her school friends. All bright, top of the class maths types. Make-up? Boys, Fashion? Rather work out a few theorems and what was that hilarious joke about the quadratic variable and the cosign of zero? All chose to use the guiding barriers. I did not, and was soundly beaten, getting only half the score of the next worse player, a nerdy indian girl of nine (the one wearing the pink bubble-gum). 'He's right pants at bolin, innit. Betcheezeevin werzat diffrenshul Kalkerlus, innit'. I even resorted to using this natty bombsight, but to no avail.

My last day, and one of the high spots of this trip. I called at the high court to see Young Stef at work. There she was, one bench down from the Judge, with rows of computers and telephones and bundles of briefs, advising His Honour, calling witnesses, reading charges, and looking so beautiful in her gown and ribbons and putting it to people that on the night of the third, it being a Tuesday, they did wilfully and with malice aforethought commit grievous offences to one Mabel Grommit at or near her premises...... It was like an episode from Judge John Deed. I felt very proud. I wanted to nudge learned friends and point out 'that's my girl, that is'. One case had nine bewigged barristers nodding and bobbing, your Honour this and my learned friend that. They each represented one of nine defendents in the same case and one by one they explained thier client was not in court: fled, arrested, already in prison, in another court facing more serious charges, helping the constabulary with their inquiries or failed to return from Serbia where his mother was not feeling well. One horrifying case involved a little boy (12) who had raped another little boy (9). The charges hade been reduced from rape to attempted rape because the victim was 'too small' and thus could not have been raped. The accused, a viscious little chap with a face like Chucky, sent shivers down my spine when he stared at me. His council asked if it were possible for this poor lost soul to be able to spend Christmas with his mother, instead of a juvenile remand centre. His mother said she would love to have him for the festivities, provided he was constantly in the presence of a remand centre thug handler with a face like Vinny Jones and a zero tolerance level. And only if he would be frog-marched away again on boxing day, at sunrise. In a magnificent gesture of motherly love, she also said she was dropping all charges against him and forgave him for breaking her arm in that other little 'misunderstanding'. I felt proud that Stef was part of this gentle court that helps bring families back together, healing the wounds.

And so off home. The boat would be leaving Harwich at 10 pm, so get there about 9. It being 3 pm when I left Stef putting it to people and blizzards threatening, it would seem wise to get off towards said boat. There would be chaos and carnage round the M25, blue flashing lights and reflecting triangles, barriers, cones, breakdown vehicles and ambulances. The radio told of arctic conditions approaching from all directions. Penguins seen huddling together for warmth at Hemel-Hempstead, an Albatross in Cheapside. Because of the fear of an impending ice-age, everyone stayed at home apart from myself and a Morris Minor. The weather was all around us, but not upon us. Consequently I arrived at the ferry at 6 pm, 4 hours early. Until I looked at my ticket. The boat would be leaving at 12 and not 10. Six hours early. The 24 hour Tescos, offered little entertainement, although the purchase of 10 king-size boxes of Shredded Wheat relieved some distress. The rest of the evening mooning about Tesco's until I spotted a restaurant. Having no English money (it having been exchanged for Shredded Wheat) I showed my Platinum Credit Card. No problem Sir with sycophantic scraping and beaming. The entrecote with trimmings arrived and was consumed. My credit card was produced and fed into a machine. Would Sir enter his pin-code? Pin-code? I don't know the pin-code. Sir has forgotten his pin-code? Restaurant staff take up strategic positions at exits. It would seem that I have been getting a new credit card every year, but have only used it once, many years ago. I have failed to notice that progress has added stripes and chips and who reads all that stuff from the bank anyway? 'So, sir has no money and does not know his pin-code. Sir is in a quandry, is Sir not'. The staff are looking less friendly and more menacing. 'Wait, I have this' and produce my Dutch post-office card in triumph. 'Sir has found another card?' 'Well yes, but it probably only works in Holland.' 'We, Sir, being in England, may therefore, geographically so to speak, have reduced the positive impact that your, er, post-office card may have upon our unfinished business, but as it would appear to be Sir's last haven of hope, let us proceed. It is to be hoped that Sir is familiar with the pin-code of this, er, post-office card?'. Nerves and tensions. A message. 'It says incorrect pin-code'. The bar is silent. Knives and forks hover between plate and mouth. I plead for one more chance. One number at a time, wiping palms between each. All is quiet apart from the cracking of knuckles of the waiters and the swish of sleeves being pushed up tattoed arms. We wait. Payment accepted. I cheer. The knives and forks and plates resume thier clatter and tinkle, the bar stirs back to life. If I had expected a clap on the back and a free drink from the waiters, I was mistaken. They glared. I had robbed them of a good thumping. Or was it that having only my life-saving Dutch Post Office Card my tip would be limited to verbal advice. I removed myself.

Another uneventful night, declining each of the Mama-Mias but early to bed nourished by a pint of Heineken. And to the other bosom of my family in Cold Holland.

Many thanks to Stef, Cass, Jazz, Emmah, Aiden, Cris, Cheryl, Scarlett.
And the most beautiful Tallulah Pixie.