The Continental View by Theo Rebergen: Going Dutch

JUST back from Holland I noticed that I had two comments on my Herald columns so far. As all authors (even part-time) I don’t like bad critics.

The first commenter obviously had not understood the title “Continental View”. My English is a mish-mash of Dutch, German and Belgium.

I warned my future audience that I speak my mind and that, as many Hollanders, I can be very opinionated.

If I would really write as columnists on the continent do, in the UK I would be sued, arrested or molested on the street; in Middle Eastern countries I would be stoned.

In Holland columnists have a go at groups in our society that misbehave, are stupid, irritating or obnoxious; we mock about failing politicians, greedy bankers, abusing clericals, overrated footballers, so called celebs and raging mobility scooterist terrorising the pavements.

We even make funny remarks about certain nationalities which would make me a racist in the UK.

It is unbelievable (I hate amazing) that Frankie Boyle from Mock The Week never was arrested on camera; his blunt, rude expressions would get him a nomination for the Pulitzer prize in The Netherlands. But one thing we love the most of all: taking the ???? (alright I use the innocent word) micky out of ourselves.

The second comment on my column was very positive so that person deserves a medal; in England you only have to be a footballer earning 250.000+ a week (10.000 times higher as their IQ) to be knighted, so why not a very intelligent, perceptive Herald reader.

To more serious matters: Dutch elections in 2 weeks’ time and all the top nudge parliamentarians (some with the IQ of a footballer) are on holidays; recovering from their hard Olympic shaking hands duties.

Why on earth do we want a government? The 4 months without the indecisive, double tongued ministers were heaven; nobody to annoy us with endless, fruitless discussions.

Will we have a coalition? Of course, the only question: 3 or 4 parties. Listen to this: our overworked ministers were heading for their summer hollies on the Greek isle of Lesbos (before it is sold to the Germans) to hand over our bail-out money personally.

Why Lesbos? Our last minister of defence was “…” (other word for happy) and had booked and paid the holidays for his colleagues a year in advance; his successor, another softy called Hans, wanted to cancel but the Greek could not refund the money.

As a new state budget was is due 1 week after the election, our top governors would not be back in time; so they cancelled the holidays of the back benchers of 7 major parties, ordered them to play the online version of The Million Pound Drop, until they had an excel file full of figures that nobody would understand.

VAT up, a lot of medications taken off the health insurance (basic insurance € 100 + percentage related to income for every Dutchman) and petrol prices sky high. No protests, the Dutch accept the inevitable or they all have stashed black money away.

Back from Lesbos, the liberal candidate tried to win votes by threatening Brussels that he would not to pay penalties if Holland exceeds the 3% deficit rule. “Over my dead body!” he yelled in front of the TV cameras.

This brave man was immediately punished by the law obeying (Calvinistic) Dutch, his party plunged to the bottom in the polls and it will cost him the election. How sad.

Even more pathetic are the hideous parties like: “The party for the Animals”; they are the 3rd largest in the country. How did they teach the dogs to make a X on the election form or find the right knob on the voting computer?

Also in Holland the big shots in banking and semi-governmental organisations grab salaries exceeding € 1.5 Mill. In spite of that the Dutch economy had a 0,2% growth in the last quarter, mainly selling water in the shape of a tomato to our neighbours in Germany.

Their economy grew by 0,4 % but that is no surprise. The car industry is booming, BMW (who owns the Leyland Mini company)are selling Mini’s made in the UK back to the Brits and the profit is going straight to Munich.

My small travel tip: I flew from Gatwick to Amsterdam with BA which was miraculously cheaper than EZY or Ryan. And I did not have to pay extra for “paying” or got charged to check-in (how the hell do you get on a plane without checking in). Nobody tried to sell me speedy boarding as I had a reserved seat. Did you ever notice that the EZY speedy boarding only lasts when you drag your heavy board case up and down the steps but as soon as you hit the tarmac on your way to the aircraft, you’re overtaken by the non-speedy passengers that only carry an i-Pad. Oh, and I did not have to put a £ into the lock of the on-board toilet. You understand why I prefer to travel by car?

In the meantime I turned into a social media junkie; Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, Skype, you name it and you will find me. Actually it is a brilliant way to keep in touch with the cultural changes in the countries.

My Spanish catering supplier for events I organise on the Iberian Peninsula, declared revolution on Facebook showing herself demonstrating on the streets of Madrid against the austerity measures.

As she did not mention where the money should come from I advised her to go and pluck olives. On my last trip through Spain I counted all the olive trees between Granada and Madrid (800 KM) and came to 31.494.091.542 trees. (could be 541 at the end); that would keep 100.000 jobless Spanish waiters in work for the next 50 years.

As the Greek, the Spanish blame the Germans and Mrs. Merkel for not giving them more cash; hands of my Angela, if she wins the German election, she will come back sweeping through Europe putting here towels anywhere she wants showing who is boss.

Next week I go to Germany so I will find out why their economy grows. (Like Angela’s hips).

Maybe I can sell them some of the fantastic Sussex and Kent produces and the great seafood fresh out of the Pevensey Bay. Yes, are you getting it now?

Am I the only one who believes that you have great local products? So get off your backsides and start selling them across the channel.

There is one company that is already very successful in selling fish to the French: The Southern Head Fishing Company, with that busy wooden shop on the Eastbourne Beach. I will interview them to see how they “pull the legs of the frogs”. (did you get this?)

See you, Au revoir, Hasta La Vista, Auf Wiedersehen, Arrivederci, Tot Ziens!

Stop Press ! Bad news travels fast. I just read how an English young man who fights for his country is haunted by the press after a fun night out in Las Vegas.

Immediately one tragic date sprung to my mind: 31st of Aug. 1997! As guests in this country and as a guest columnist on this very open minded newspaper I can’t and won’t publish my personal opinion.

But for heaven sake England, put your Olympic generous mind-set back on and leave the boy alone. My real feelings will be in the blog on my website.