Saturday, May 28, 2005


Met een zwaai trek ik de ijskast wijdopen. Geen cola, ook niet achter de plastic dozen. Het krat in de kelder is leeg. Roos zit op de bank voor de televisie naar Spoorloos te kijken.
Ze draait zich naar me om. Ik hang mijn ellebogen naar voren over de leuning. De eikel, die vermiste familieleden opspoort, staat blij te blaten. “We besluiten naar Bogotá te gaan, en de moeder van José in het bevolkingsregister op te zoeken. Hier hebben we geen succes.”
Terwijl die mafkikker met zijn pleeborstelhaar rondspringt in de Zuid-Amerikaanse zon, zit José zich in zijn Vinex woonkamer te verbijten achter het beeldscherm. De camera hapt naar hem van dichtbij. Zijn ogen worden groter, zijn tanden staan in zijn onderlip.
Roos zit er net zo bij: dikke ogen, Kleenex op het tafeltje.
De pleeborstel gaat nog lekker rondrijden in de zon, en vindt tenslotte een vrouw in een bloemetjesjurk met wie hij wat babbelt in hakkelig Spaans. Bingo! José slaakt een diepe zucht. Wat hij daar nou van vindt, wil die eikel nog weten. “Ja, heftig.”
“Is er nog frisdrank?” vraag ik.
Roos snuit haar neus.
“Laat maar,” zeg ik.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


I love reading biographies. They feed my voyeuristic tendencies. A good biography digs into the secrets of a known person’s private life. People hide an awful lot behind their social façade. Bullying in the office, stealing and other crimes, violence at home, child abuse. Most interesting, of course, are the love affairs.
But should one want to delve into a person’s past for the sheer joy of learning the gory details? Shouldn’t a person’s life remain private?
At the moment I am reading a biography of Marguérite Duras by Laura Adler. Duras has published numerous novels that deal with episodes in her life. They are her stories, manipulated by her. She would have liked her readers to believe that they are true stories, but in a number of instances the biography, wherever possible, reveals a markedly different version of that truth.
Things are never what they seem. Not with Duras, or anybody else. They are always more complex, more intriguing. The biography gives an insight into how Duras, as an author, has created the life she would have wanted out of the cards that were dealt her. She has changed the facts more blatantly than others. But we all do it. That is what makes reading biographies so interesting. In a way they hold up a mirror to one’s own life.
This insight overrides my feeling of embarrassment about peeking under the blankets to see the things the author would have liked to have kept undercover.
A good biography makes fascinating reading, and I will continue to enjoy it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Oriental Stir-Fry

1 bulb pak choi
handful of beansprouts
spring onions
red chili pepper
some thinly sliced gingerroot
oyster sauce
toasted sesame seeds
cilantro (I don't like it. I think it smells stuffy.)
cooked shrimp (optional)
vegetable oil, salt, pepper

Fry the ginger shortly in the hot oil in a wok. Add the chopped whites of the pak choi and the sliced spring onions. Cook for a minute or two. Add the rest of the ingredients (except for the sesame seeds), chopped and sliced where necessary. Cook long enough for the greens to wilt, but make sure the vegetables still have a crunchy bite.
Serve over rice and sprinkle with the seeds.

Monday, May 23, 2005


A new puzzle rage has flown in from Japan and taken Great Britain by a landslide. It is called sudoku. Try it. The rules are simple and it is fun.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Lentegeur 2

Zacht roze
ruikt de straat
in de zwarte nacht.

Geur van tuinen
over doffe stoeptegels
en auto’s glimmend
in het lamplicht.

Bij het snuiven
de sluier
tot herinnering.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Casper is mijn vriendje. Hij woont twee deuren van ons vandaan. Ik speel met hem op de crèche. We rijden op onze driewielers rondjes over de speelplaats. Dan bots ik tegen de schutting. Het geeft een denderende knal. Beng! Hij botst er ook tegen. Beng! “Hé!” roept juf Ellie.
We hangen over het stuur van de fiets, zó lachen we. Ha, ha, ha. Hi, hi, hi. We moeten keihard lachen.
We doen het nog eens. We fietsen weer héél hard op de schutting af. Onze benen ratelen in het rond. Beng! Beng! We schateren van het lachen. “Hé!” roept juf Ellie. “Hou daar eens mee op!”
We vallen van onze fietsen van het lachen.
We gaan het nog eens doen. Wéér knallen we met een dreun tegen het hout van de schutting. Beng! Beng! We gieren van de lach. Juf Ellie trekt aan onze armen. “En nou kappen daarmee!”
We moeten nog steeds verschrikkelijk lachen. We doen wie het hardste moet lachen.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Family Confusion

I have a mother and two fathers. My father is sitting on the couch and reading a book. He has crossed his legs. He is smoking a cigarette. My mother is standing by the sideboard pouring tea. The teapot is old and its snout is clogged with tealeaves. The tea is trickling into the cup.
My father turns the page. There is a lady in a low-cut dress on the cover of the book. A soldier in uniform is sitting on a chair in the background. My father is wrapped up in his book. He is my father.
I have another father. His name is Henk. He lives in Amsterdam. I don’t know where he is. I don’t know him. Yet he is my father. He lives in Amsterdam. I was born in Amsterdam, but I don’t know it. It is far away.
I also have two brothers. One brother is my playmate. He has a father. The father who is reading a book. He has no mother. Mother is standing by the sideboard pouring tea. The tea is trickling into the cup.
The other brother is still small. He is playing with his building blocks on the floor. He has a father and a mother. His father is reading a book and his mother is pouring tea.

I, too, have a father and a mother. And I have a father whom I do not know. Who lives in Amsterdam.

Monday, May 16, 2005

European Democracy

I have been a dutiful citizen all my life. I go to the polls at election time: for the city council, the provincial government, the European parliament. However little I am interested in politics in my heart of hearts, I appreciate the opportunity granted me to exercise my democratic rights.
So I go out, and vote for politicians whom I believe to be leaders. Leaders whom I can trust. Leaders who understand the intricacies of politics. Leaders who have an overview of what the issues are, and who are able to make decisions on the basis of their sound judgment.
I have been greatly disappointed in my trust. The politicians, for whom we have voted, do not want to take on the responsibilities with which we have entrusted them. Instead they are asking us to go to the polls and vote in favour or against the adoption of the European constitution.
I am a relatively intelligent woman. I follow the news in the press, and thus I am rather well informed. But the European constitution is completely beyond my scope. It is far too complicated a matter for me to understand. I would need weeks to study the background, the arguments, the draft itself, in order to be able to form a well-founded opinion on it. I am absolutely not equipped to make a decision on the question. Yet, I am asked to do so.
This is exactly why I exercise my right in the democracy I live in: I elect politicians whom I trust to make the decisions that are too difficult for me. I elect them to take care of matters that are beyond me. I elect them in order to sleep peacefully and know the world is in their capable hands.
But now they have confused me. They have basically told me with their referendum that they cannot be entrusted with the task of governing. That they are as incapable as I am. They cannot manage Europe on their own.
In addition it turns out that this election is not about the European Constitution at all. It is about faith of the citizens in the European Union. I am lured to the ballot box under false pretences!
O dear! All this is not very reassuring!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Roasted Green Beans

Preheat oven to 225 C (450 F).
Mix in an ovenproof dish: trimmed green beans, thinly sliced shalots, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Or: instead of shalots, one of two sliced cloves of garlic.
Or: add small tomatoes to either of the variations.
Bake and stirr occasionally until beans have brown crispy tips.
Serve with brown rice and roast lamb.
Alternately for a vegetarian variation: add feta cheese to the beans for the last 5 minutes.

Toss the left-overs (if there are any) in a salad the next day!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Fictionalization of History

Over the last few weeks we have been subjected to a lot of films about the holocaust. Most of them were fictionalized stories. I suppose they are easier to consume. They show the emotion directly. You know exactly what you are supposed to feel. I am sure it makes it all more palatable that way.
I don’t know what is correct and what is not. I am not a historian. But now and then I detect a weird distortion of the facts, which illustrates how much we are deceived.
Most remarkable was a story of Jewish persecution the other day, which I found too melodramatic to follow. Towards the end I stumbled upon it again.
Auschwitz was about to be liberated, and one of the women gave birth to a child at that very moment. An older woman (her mother?) was assisting her. Lots of wailing and crying and drama. The door of the barracks was pushed open, and two or three Russian soldiers entered. The midwife was holding up her bloody hands in joy and relief.
And guess what? They were clad in well fitting surgical gloves!
Wow! Amazing! Among all the filth, and the hunger, and the cold, and death, and decay, this woman had been able to get hold of a pair of perfectly whole surgical gloves to avoid infection!
Is that the image we want future generations to retain about the holocaust?
Congratulations, America! In the end we will believe that your Paramount picture of history is the correct one.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Liberation day 2005

four liberators going home: three landed on the beaches on D-day; one fought at Montormel, our next village in France.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Uitgezette Otters

Bericht in de NRC:
Weer twee uitgezette otters dood

Zie je wel! Je moet ook niet uitzetten. Zelfs bij otters gaat dat mis!

Monday, May 09, 2005


Blauw achter glas
pronkt breekbaar trots
vanuit een tijd,
waarin kommen
klapmutsen heetten,
en klokken slingers hadden
die tikten.

Friday, May 06, 2005

English Poem

It is time
for a poem
in English.

But I haven’t
got one.

does that
make it any less
for a poem
in English?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


De reiger heeft het baantje van de ooievaar overgenomen. Hij bezorgt tegenwoordig de pasgeboren kindertjes.
Nu is de ooievaar uitgeroeid. Hij gaat eindelijk zijn ware roeping volgen. Hij voelt zich meer thuis op het water dan in de lucht. Logisch toch, voor een ooie-vaar?
Dat hij vleugels heeft, dat moet een vergissing zijn. Hij heet toch niet ooie-vlieg? Nou dan!
Als je goed kijkt, kun je hem nog net zien in zijn bootje, verdwijnend achter dat eilandje midden in de plas. Zijn vlerken trekken verbeten aan de riemen. Zijn snavel kleppert ten afscheid. Dan is hij weg.
Naar Zuid Laren natuurlijk. Naar zijn vriend Berend Botje.
Die komt nooit weerom.
Omdat hij er tabak van heeft. Altijd maar weer die knoop van de luier tussen zijn tanden met zo’n blèrend kind erin.
Hij niet gezien!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Croustillant de Chèvre

slices of french bread (Wholewheat, if possible)
slices of goat's cheese, not too young
slices of a tasty apple

Rucola or other green lettuce
vinaigrette with honey

Lay the apple slices on the bread and cover with the goat's cheese. Slide under a hot grill and leave until the cheese is golden (doré) and the edges of the bread crispy and dark.
Serve on salad, dressed with vinaigrette, sweetened by honey.

Bon Appétit!

Monday, May 02, 2005

Kralen Rijgen

Dagen rijgen zich om nachten
als kralen aan een koord.
Tijd drijft voort.
Hij spint gedachten
om de raadsels,
maar vat ze niet;
ze blijven alsmaar
een stap vooruit
in het verschiet:
te dicht,
te ver,
en nooit eens quitte.