Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thoughts from Haarlem, The Netherlands: 21.11.18

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here. Garish but informative.

Matters Dutch
  • Here's something about the Dutch, clearly written by a Dutch person:-

  • It reminded me that, last year in Haarlem, I was nearly hit by a scooter as - innocently/foolishly - I crossed a cycle path without looking far enough left and right. So, I was pleased to hear last night that, since October, these have been banned from cycle paths. But this wasn't totally true. Only if they have a blue number plate and have promised not to go faster than 25kph. Still fast enough to kill the unwitting, of course. And to mean you can still observe scooterists slaloming along the paths in and out of the slower cyclists.
  • Speaking of the paths . . . Such is the priority for cyclists here, the ratio of cycle path to footpath is often 2:1 but can even reach 150-200:1. Don't believe me? See here:-
  • Indeed, it sometimes looks as if there's no dedicated space for pedestrians at all. Though this was taken in a pedestrianised zone, albeit with quite a few cars in it.

 TBH, I think the bikes are expected to confine themselves to the road in this part of the city.
  • And talking of cyclists . . . They're a hardy breed here. Many riders are without headgear in a temperature of 5 degrees – with a sharp wind – and quite a few even eschew gloves.
  • Perhaps it's because they start young at being exposed to the winter elements here. A woman walking towards me had a very young baby in a sling on her chest. Well-wrapped up from the neck down but with its head totally uncovered. Compare this with the insistence of our maid in tropical Jakarta on putting a woollen hat on the bonce of our younger daughter for all of the first 6 months of her life. Admittedly most of the time under air-conditioning.
  • I heard my first All I want for Christmas is You yesterday afternoon. Here in a café in Haarlem. Far too bloody soon.
Matters Spanish
  • Spain seems determined to screw up Mrs May's slim chance of getting her deal accepted by the EU, never mind by her compatriots. Click here on this. I'd just give up if I were her.
  • More on the rise of the far-right Vox party, here and here. I would call them 'fascists' but this is a meaningless label in Spain. Whether you're on the right or the left there, it just means: “You are a prime shit and I violently disagree with your views”. Couple of extracts:-
  1. The event at Vistalegre marks a turning point in Spanish politics: the rise of a new far right, in a country once considered an exception to the global fascist menace. . . . A shift aligned to other global phenomena, and yet one which also has some unmistakably Spanish characteristics.
  2. Will Spain be able to take advantage of both Brexit and Mr. Salvini’s Italy to move into a leadership position in the European Union? Could Madrid offer Europe a vision for an even better future?
  • All of us are clueless but some - the far-right Brexit extremists - are more clueless than others.
  • A propos:-

  • Reader Perry picks up on the Spanish word Pasota from María (see the Comments section here) and cites an article with 30 more foreign word with no English equivalent. I wondered about antier, for anteayer but the Real Academia de la Lengua Española says that antier is la forma coloquial de anteayer, es decir es exactamente lo mismo, pero en un contexto muchísimo más informal. En passant,  desvelar also means to reveal, disclose, uncover. As well as 'to do one's best'.
Finally . . .
© [David] Colin Davies


Alfred B. Mittington said...

So... If a Dutchman really wrote that text on 'Being Dutch', then what may be the language in which subtitles 'incomprehensible' to him are written?

And how come he knows so extremely little of the national history that he thinks the Dutch when over to the Americas when the USA was already in existence, and bought, not Manhattan Island in its pristine state, but the actual city of New York from the Indians, who surely had built it...??

You ask me: the writer was from Fantasy Island....


Colin Davies said...

It's possible to interpret that sentence as meaning 'incomprehensible to others'.

I also wondered about the purchase comment and thought it might have been a reference to the SALE of New Amsterdam. But, in the end, gave up worrying about it.

On the issue of non-Dutch authorship, you might be right. You occasionally are. But if so, it doesn't make the comments less funny.

And, who cares?

I guess one or tw Dutch folk might.