Wednesday, January 25, 2012


“We hadden een uur vrij. Van gym. We hadden geen gym. Meneer van Haver was ziek. ’t Was het uur voor de grote pauze. Dus we zijn met een stel naar het winkelcentrum gegaan.”
Zout ruikt het. Het is ook benauwd hier. Zout, en wat zurig. Jobs handpalmen wrijven plat over zijn dijbenen naar voren en weer terug. Ze laten donkere vlekken achter op zijn broekspijpen.
“Kun je namen noemen? Wie waren daar bij?”
Hij schraapt zijn keel. “Nou Dennis, Michiel, Armin. Chantal en Eva, maar die verdwenen meteen in een geurtjeswinkel.”
Hij drukt zijn handen met gestrekte vingers stevig tegen zijn knieƫn terwijl hij over ze veegt. Op, neer. Op, neer.
“En toen?” Jansens ballpoint bouwt wankele torens van blokken in de marge van het formulier. Ik haal voorzichtig mijn neus op, maar verroer me niet.
“We gingen een platenzaak binnen. Nieuwe singles kijken. Maar we hadden geen geld.”
De pen van Jansen begint de blokken in te vullen. Niet allemaal. Als het pak van een harlekijn. Hij kiest telkens een ander blok dan ik.
“Het was er druk. Met mensen die lunchpauze hadden. Er lagen nieuwe cd’s van Amy Winehouse. We stonden ernaar te kijken. En toen staken we ze in onze zak. Voor de grap.”
De pen stopt. “Ik vind diefstal niet zo grappig.”
“Wie waren dat, die dat grapje uithaalden?”
“Dennis en ik. De anderen waren bij de videospelletjes blijven hangen.”
Jansen buigt zich nu over zijn formulier en begint te schrijven.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I am now connected to the universe via Facebook. Suddenly I plunge into the worlds of artists, writers, publishers and ordinary citizens. To my surprise I am now friends with well-known journalists and novelists, who are apparently not too proud to add me to their circle. Or are they too careless to check? Only one person so far reacted cautiously: “I don’t know you. Why should I want to be connected to you?” A valid question. When I gave her my reason she sent me some kind words.
It feels like walking in a market place.
“O hi. I am telling you I have just moved.” (Or “had a new baby”, or “painted the shed”, or “bought a new car.”)
All very friendly. Not very deep. Never about the death of the cat or the canary. Or a gloomy walk in the rain. No one is depressed.
All on the face of it. A happy face.
It is a tool. A fun tool, so far.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Did you realise that possibly the most distinguishing feature of man is that he can imagine things that do not exist? Unlike animals we can conjure up people, machines, occurrences that are sprouted entirely from our brains; that have no match in the existing world.
This is by no means a revolutionary thought. But it is an interesting one to pursue for a moment.
Animals have memory. They remember what time of the day they are fed; they recognise acquaintances, dogs, their owners and their friends. They can even have these memories without being triggered. We know this must be true, when we see a dog lying on her bed, asleep, and in her sleep she is barking, slapping her tail on the floor, and even sometimes making running motions with her paws.
Humans can go far beyond that. We can conceive what is not there. And we do it all the time. Thus we prepare ourselves for a job interview, thinking of the kind of questions we may be asked beforehand. We dream of the partner we believe would suit us best. We decorate a room. It is called creation. We are little gods, inventing our own new world over and over again.
Some are better at it than others. Way better. These are the artists, the composers, the sculptors. However, in order to appreciate them, we, too, need imagination. Otherwise form and sound would have no meaning. They would not move us.
Imagine how it works. It starts in the mind. It starts with memory, i.e. the ability to store previous images. Without memory one cannot imagine or create. The mind would remain an empty slate and there would be no identity. Memory offers the building blocks for new forms: a poem, an abstract painting, a song with words. Bit by bit they take form, first in the mind in which they are kneaded and shaped, this way and that. And then, carefully, abstract thinking can become more concrete. Still kneading and scraping away, like a sculptor does with a granite rock. Sometimes going back to the drawing board, the mind.
It is an arduous process for the artist, however logical the outcome may seem. It is an arduous process for all of us.
Because after all we are all artists: creating our lives from day to day; the story that holds us together.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Minestrone Soup

I was not in the mood for the small pumpkin that was waiting in the vegetable tray, and P. hadn't liked my Brussels sprouts concoction, so I could not make them the main charaters in my next meal. The fridge held some more left over veggies which I turned into a delicious minestrone.

Fry in olive oil what left over vegetable you have, chopped. For me it was leek, carrots and Brussels sprouts (!) and a peeled potato in chunks. But onions, mushrooms, broccoli etc. would do as well. Add some water and a stock cube, if you like, but salt and bay leaf, parsley, celery, sage etc. would even be better. Add a can of chopped tomatoes. This is allowed in winter. In summer I believe the tomatoes should be fresh. Add some macaroni if you have it, or a can of borlotti or other white beans.

Simmer until soft.

Check for salt and pepper. Serve with grated cheese.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Key to her Heart

A woman with a key ring in her hand is in a powerful position. She stands at the pedestrian crossing, erect, sure of herself. She is willing to wait for the cars and bicycles to pass.
She is not in a hurry. Ready as she is to unlock her car or the door to her house in her own time.
Nor is she going to let anyone in who has no business there.
Her heart is her own.

(So trespassers will be . . . .)