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2008-06-15 14:50

Virst Vaderdag!

It is a dag for vaders - dont for the first time ever nous - also in the Nederland.

To celebrate, the Countess is going on a Girls' Afternoon Out to see Sexing the City and then have borrels and gossip the early evening away.

We, meanwhile, are looking after Boris van 't Blad at home, where we are taking the opportunity to introduce him to Test Match Special's Henry Blofeld, who has just described a shot of Owais Shah's as being like "a fleet of kicking horses", whatever that is like.

But we did also get presents, and we do after all quite like young Bu-rees, and we are going out tomorrow night - which in principle would also be our night for babyminding, so we have no complaints.

2008-06-15 14:24

Koortsbloggning: a footnote

Aftonbladet's European blogg is mostly concerned with EU questions like why so many EU officials have such a regrettably un-Zwedish perspective on the proper balance between market forces (mostly bad) and union actions (mostly good). Which is to say that, despite mass-market-tabloid values of word and paragraph lengths, it is not a particularly frivolous rubric.

With that disclaimer, we quote in its entirety the following entry:

Den hollndska mlfesten i kvll var ngot otroligt. Stackars Frankrike.

Jag sg Robben och van Nistelrooy i en av Real Madrids matcher tidigare i vras. Det var bra. Men ikvll var det magi.

Och Sneijders 4-1 ml i slutminuten - fotboll som stor konst!

The Dutch goalfest tonight was unbelievable. Poor France!

I saw Robben and van Nistelrooy in one of Real Madrid's matches early this spring. That was good. But tonight was magic.

And Sneijder's 4-1 goal in the last minute - foopball as great art!

It is one thing to see the Dutches go crazy, and another thing to see tehgrauniad's cosmopolitan neutrals give the Oranjes the nod, but when you get the Zwedishes on side - given that they remain very possible quarter-final opponents - that's something else, for sure.

2008-06-15 13:43

Oranjekoorts - we has it, you has it, everyone has it

OK, not everyone, Jean-Pierre, and neither the Countess nor Boris van 't Blad are really all that bothered.

But the comments on this tehgrauniad story has a flavour:

I have been "wowed" by the dutch this whole tournament. today's game was unbelievable football, total football, ecstatic football, I mean that was nothing less than fantastic.

Even Cruijff has been complimentary (although admittedly not so far in tehgrauniad's comments section).

About half of the doubts still harboured by silly Engleesh johnny-come-latelies are about team-spirit, in which otherwise talented collections of Oranjes past, but over here it is generally accepted that van Basten's finest achievement is creating an almost unprecedented degree of harmony and solidarity within the camp.

The other worry is the Bladerunner problem: the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and they have after all burned so very, very bright.

Predictions - especially of the future - are a mug's game, though, and we are now reserving all our spare emotional intensity to beam in due course at Zlatan's Zweden. If we could have one memorabilium of this tournament, it would be a gul-och-blaa[1] viking helmet. (If you wish to send us one, we would be extremely greatful but please to remove any young Zwedish ladies first, which will after all also save on postage.)

[1] We had to look up the zpelling of "och". Ouch! Our Zwedish can still more-or-less handle Aftonbladet - still the greatest of all 'bladets - but it is painful to hear it creak.

2008-06-13 20:37

Sorry - more foopball

It's Nederland vs. France in the foopball tonight.

We didn't know a lot of Dutch by the time of the World Cup two(2) years ago - we were fresh off the boat, is our excuse - and in the meantime we have got used to a very high standard of non-partisan professionalism in the radio commentary of competitions (lately mostly the UEFA cup) in which Dutch sides take on those from elsewhere.

But that all goes right out of the window when it's the national side in the Euros. Oranjekoorts - orange fever - grips the whole nation, apparently. (Of course, Blighty generally has to endure the radio "commentary" of Alan "Diabolical" Green, so we still win overall.)

We like the radio - it is at least three(3) seconds ahead of the TV picture, so we can wait to see the many excitements without having to watch the rest. (As we typed that, Kuyt scored and we looked up in plenty of time to see the corner taken. The question now is whether France can push forward without getting caught on the counter, as Italy so memorably couldn't on Moonday.)

We also support France, in principle, but our psychic immune system is showing signs of stress and symptoms of oranjekoorts are starting to show.

2008-06-13 20:22


De Tweede Kamer debatteert komende maandagavond 16 juni vanaf 18.00 uur in de Remonstrantse Kerk aan de Coehoornsingel in Groningen over de toekomst van Europa. Daarnaast geven de Tweede Kamerleden uitleg over de het nieuwe Verdrag voor de Europese Unie. De bijeenkomst duurt tot 23.00 uur.

The Second Chamber [of the Dutch parliament] will hold a debate on the future of Europe next Moonday 16 June from 6pm in the Remonstrantse Kerk on the Coehoornsingel in Groningen. In addition the MPs will give an explanation of the new Treaty for the European Union. The meeting finish at 11pm.

This was announced in the free local door-to-door bladets, of which we are an enthusiastic peruser - in case, in no small part, of just such an eventuality.

And barely was the ink dry on our printed-out ticket when the Irishes decided to take a firm stand against legalising gay divorcee abortion and the proposed punitive potato tax by rejecting - as was after all their right - the Lissabon Sub-Constitutional Treaty.

I don't know if even Dutch MPs can fill five(5) full hours with "Oh.", but it looks like I am going to have the chance to find out.

Meanwhile, we are seriously considering joining a political party over here. With proportional representation there's one for almost every taste. Of which, there is as far as we know exactly one(1) (D66 by name) that takes a principled stand on the current wave of Stasi 2.0 nonsense, so it would be that one.

(They're mostly socially-leftish classical Liberals; we're not really much of a classical Liberal in general, but still.)

2008-06-09 14:59


The first time we went to Bruxelles was the first time we'd been abroad as an independent adult, and we fell hopelessly in love with it - people let us talk our bad French; the bars stayed open after 23.00; the food was good and cheap and the city had clearly been grand but was now shabby and gloriously incoherent.

The second time we went to Brussel was about a week ago, and it's still great. If anything, it's even better when you know Dutch too - all the street signs were now in glorious stereo:

(Although this time we were sometimes Englished whatever we tried to speak. Bah!)

There was a posh terrace round the corner from the federal parliament, where a group of Flemishes were Friday eveninging and we had delicious sossage with our pastis and ros proseccos, and around the corner from our hotel was a handily-placed triple set of bars with conjoined terraces - we stayed loyal to the middle (Stella Artois) establishment, since the waitress was friendly in at least three(3) langwidges.

Oh, and we were glad to finally get a copy of the Francophone comics digest Spirou, if only to know that we're not otherwise missing anything unmissable.

(We have ourself no opinion about the chocolate in Brussels, since we make a habit of not consuming it, but the Countess speaks highly of it.)

2008-06-09 14:23

Hup Holland [sic] Hup

In Foopball '08, which we are following with more enthusiasm than the Countess would really prefer, our preference for les bleus is a conspicuous geographical anomaly:

Every retail outlet in the country is currently competing to offer freebies or bargain orange decorations, and many persons have taken advantage of these generous offers.

They do this every two(2) years, so as to enhance the prospects of the Dutch foopball team. It never works, but they don't seem to mind very much.

Just for fun we went shopping in Chermany on Zaterdag last - it has the advantage that you can buy bockles of Steuerad rum for EUR 5.50 - and they had quite a lot of versierings of their own, but you can't go putting up Cherman decorations round here if you value - as we for one do - the intactness of your windows. (Almost nobody would actually mind, but it would only take one somebody to object and there would mostly likely be such a somebody.)

And France is too far to drive just for versierings, so we didn't.

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