Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Ze hebben op de voorpagina van de NRC een foto geplaatst van gevaarlijke darmbacterie├źn. Als gelukkige penissen dartelen ze door de prut. Op de NRC nota bene! Die toch al gekrompen is in de was. Waar het nieuws zich verwrongen een plekje verovert: hier kan wel wat, en dat hoekje is ook nog vrij.

En nu darmbacterie├źn. Waarom? Wat voegt het toe? Hoort dit niet eerder thuis in de spreekkamer van de internist?

Het doet me denken aan de kreten van de kinderen, als P en ik tevreden uit bed stapten, en we lieten doorschemeren dat het daar heel prettig was geweest. “Too much information,” riepen ze in koor, zich walgend van ons afwendend.

Inderdaad NRC: teveel informatie.

Friday, May 27, 2011


This is strawberry season.
So now the magazines are full of recipes: strawberries with cream, or sprinkled with pepper or soaked in balsamico vinegar. With merinque, as bavarois, or dipped in chocolate fondue. The possibilities are endless.
However, the best way to serve strawberries is as they come.
That is right! As they come, but not the way they come out of the supermarket: in a plastic container, on plastic bubble wrap, multi coloured -- half white/half red with a greenish stalk. No, those are not strawberries, those are imitations, childish drawings of how they should be.
They should be dark red, juicy, succulent. So you can suck in their sweetness, and their warm, promising summer fragrance.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Shopping makes one happy. It must be a truism, because I have never met anyone who does not become cheerful from the quest and the conquest.

It begins with the intention: deciding one needs a new dress, saucepan, or pair of shoes. Then the search can begin. On the net or in actual shops or market stalls.

Trying on the skirt, examining the antique bowl to find it whole; selecting, discarding: these are all steps in the process that leads to the climax: the hit. The object is desired, the price is right, now is the time for the final move: the acquisition.

So yesterday I went to the simple house in the inner city, where I was allowed to operate the sewing machine on which I had set my greedy eyes: it works beautifully, it is a steal.

O! How blissfully I cycled the streets with the purchase in my bag. How I glowed!

Once home I unpacked the machine, cleaned it with a soapy cloth, and cleared out a shelf in the cupboard,

Mission accomplished: I am now the triumphant owner of a second hand sewing machine! Hurrah!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Wasted Morning

* Breakfast with newspaper
* turn on laptop
* open e-mail: read; respond; delete
* try writing
* decide to find the 7 basic storylines:
1. love story (Romeo and Juliet, Troilus and Cressida)
Quest (Odyssee, Tom Jones)
3. Search for power (Faust, Macbeth)
4. Generation conflict (Oedipus, King Lear)
* get stuck in the search
* fiddle with toolbar
* get it messed up
* pour fresh mug of coffee
* play game of spider solitaire
* win, no, lose
* try again
* and again
* unload dishwasher
* and so on

Where is the purpose?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mobile Phone

When P. had his first mobile phone, many years ago, he forwarded our landline and took the phone to the restaurant. I protested vehemently, to no avail. But after he had answered the most inconsequential call, it had lost its glamour, and he is now behaving in a very civilised manner.
After all these years I still don’t see its attraction. I have one, and value it for emergencies, but I don’t see the charm of being disturbed on my quiet walk in the woods, or while I’m contemplating the landscape outside the train window.
Nor do I like calling people on their mobile. “Sorry, I can’t hear you very well. I’m in the car, in a meeting, in the pub with friends.” Too often there is background buzz, or a crackling voice.
O boy! How I hate this means of non-communication!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Hector Livius Komt uit de Kast

Hij mag zijn verhaal wereldkundig gaan maken.
Dat is niet zomaar gegaan. Hij en ik gaan al best lang terug. Hij begon als man met een zenuwzieke vrouw, die verliefd werd op haar naaister. Toen dat thema afgebrand werd door de schrijfclub, begonnen zijn perikelen pas echt serieus te worden: hij bleek homoseksueel te zijn. Herschrijven dus. Daarna moesten de nevenplots nog met de hoofdplot verbonden worden. Dat viel uiteindelijk best mee. Want als de karakters van de hoofdpersonen met alle goeie en kwade eigenschappen helder in beeld zijn, dan is het leuke dat het verhaal zich verder bijna vanzelf schrijft. Dus dat kwam wel goed.
Maar ja, vind dan maar eens een publiek dat Hectors geschiedenis lezen wil buiten mijn eigen familie en vriendenkring. En zo kwam TenPages te hulp. Wel moesten Hector en ik (om zo te zeggen) met de billen bloot, want we moesten proberen aandeelhouders te strikken om in zijn verhaal te gaan geloven. Ook dat was een hele klus. Maar het is gelukt!
Nu is er een uitgever gevonden die enthousiast is: De Brouwerij.
Een brander in een Brouwerij? Kan dat wel?
Jawel! Dat kan. Dat gaan we laten zien!

Sunday, May 01, 2011


When I was teaching I was school councillor for gifted students, the ones who threatened to fall between the cracks of the normal school systems.

One day a young man came to speak to me. He was sent because he was skipping lessons. He told me he was completely uninterested in school. He was 17 years old, had done poorly in his previous school and he was so demotivated that he feared he would have lost his stamina for anything at all if he continued for the 3 more years that were required before graduation.

I asked him what his interests were. His eyes lit up. He was running a small company that helped people design websites, and he was already successful enough to earn his keep. That was where his passion lay.

“So why are you at school?” I asked. It turned out that his mother had never had a high school diploma, and had always regretted that.

“In that case I suppose I ought to talk to your mother rather than to you,” I concluded. I explained to him that I did not see any reason why he should not pursue his self-made career. That, if at some point in his life he discovered that a degree of some sort became mandatory, he would find the motivation to get it.

He nodded, and left the room. Within 2 weeks he had left school, without giving us a chance to wish him all the best.

I suppose he did not need it.