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This is one of my favourite pieces of art. Not that it’s truly awe-inspiring in the artistic sense – more that it reaches out and slaps you right in the sensibilities, reminding us all of why city-wide approvals of artwork should not be done by doddering old men with no grip on reality, or a Google-search function to find out the meaning of certain words.
Referred to as “Santa with the Christmas Tree” by little old ladies who know no better, and commonly called the “Dwarf with a Buttplug” by the rest of us, this wonderful statue decorates an open expanse in Eendrachtsplein, Rotterdam, sharing a spot with my favourite coffee shop. You can find a Google Streetview of it by clicking here.
It stares at you with a stupid smile (buried somewhere beneath the beard), sitting so serene in the square with the innocence of a garden-gnome, and is anything but Bashful (I’m sorry, I just had to go there) of all the commotion that it causes.
Interesting fact: The organisers of the annual Gay Pride Parade requested to use this wonderful little man as their mascot. The request was denied by the now mortally offended city officials. Because – of course – it would be terribly embarrassing for the city of Rotterdam to allow the friendly gnome to be used in such a manner. As if displaying it in a public square is not bad enough already. I would liken this to wanting to wash the dishes while the house is on fire. In your underwear.
I understand that the city took around seven years to decide where to put it. And by this I am referring to the statue… Please keep your minds out of the gutter, folks.
This week has been a rather interesting one – and despite some of my best attempts at jotting something humorous down (read: absolutely none), I have been a bit distracted with the imminent move to Denmark and therefore starting this blog has slipped down the list. Unforgivably so.
However, in my defence, this week has been full to the brim of exciting Dutch madness. The kind that I have grown strangely used to – and perhaps even a little fond of (admittedly after a glass of wine and the prescription medications have kicked in).
I have a dear old (that goes without saying) octogenarian living below me. Along with her life-long companion – Dawie, the racist pug who loves white people (and does not like chocolate) – our octogenarian friend spends most of her time doing three things:
a) Getting drunk at the local corner restaurant. Life is a big-piss up apparently and should be drowned in a cheap glass of wine at every opportunity you get.
b) Convincing people that she is a naturally gifted magnetic healer. Note: numerous attempts at having her perform her ‘skills’ on my octogenarian-like back have been inconclusive and frankly downright embarrassing (a.k.a a fat waste of my precious time).
c) Appearing at my front doorstep for no apparent reason, where she allows Dawie, the wonderfully curious mutt that he is, to charge into my apartment and terrorize my two Burmese. What the woman does not realise is that the one cat could probably make mince-meat out of her beloved companion, yet repeated attempts to warn her in broken Dutch fail to strike a neuron. Stay tuned for more exciting updates on mauled dogs. And a picture if I get lucky. It’s almost worth the insurance claim..
My partner in crime made the deliberate (and rather stupid move) of giving her the number for our land-line. This probably falls on the list of “Top Stupid Things to Do”, just below “Pressing that Red Button that specifically asks you not to press it” and just above “Opening that Gay Club next to a Mosque and handing out promo-flyers during prayer-time”. So, with our number set on speed-dial, our octogenarian friend makes good use of her free minutes, calling when the fancy suits her – from early in the morning to late at night. At this point, I have to cut in and point out that even my beloved mother avoids calling me after 11. This old woman has no compunction, or her internal clock and common sense all seem to be pointing in the wrong direction.
What makes this week’s drama all the more interesting is that – as luck would have it – the washing machine decides to pack in and do a rain-dance above the old woman’s kitchen. Calling the handy-man was a cinch. Dealing with an old woman who wants blow-by-blow accounts of the repairing process when she cannot understand a word of English is not. In fact, I have created a new rule for my personal life because of this drama. Call me more than thirty times in one sitting and I will disconnect my land-line.
You stupid b**ch.
Aside from the broken washing machine and the lack of clean tighty-whiteys, our upstairs neighbours have also signed the secret contract to annoy me and my family. Perhaps we are a little sensitive when it comes to noise levels, as we had problems with the previous tenants – they tended to gallop around the apartment like it was a relay, and the fate of the world depended on them making it around the make-believe circuit. The paper-thin ceilings did not appreciate the Olympic-style event and neither did we. After numerous complaints (yes, I turned into that kind of neighbour – but for valid reasons: listening to someone do the down-and-dirty, complete with animal noises is not the kind of PG evening I wanted to have. Luckily for us, the guy was a sprinter, and not a long-distance runner) – where was I? Ah, yes, after numerous complaints, they finally evacuated the apartment and returned to the trailer park and the shallow end of the gene pool where they rightfully belonged. The landlord – now sick to death of me and mine – decided that it would be a good idea to give the lease to three med students.
As I write this, I wonder if that was a stupid decision, or clearly calculated as payback for my thoughtfully-worded emails to the landlord’s office. Whatever the case, the med students – three lovely little girls with a tendency for high heels and drunken revelry – often mixing the two, as they would their cocktails (i.e. badly) – come with their own brand of annoying, which borders on put-a-drill-in-my-ear-and-rotate kinda irritating.
We hit it off fabulously after they corrected me for referring to them as students. Having already mentioned that they were not fully-trained doctors, and that they were in the process of writing exams, I thought that it would be safe ground to tread on.
Nevertheless, these delusional little girls seem to have created a limbo existence where you live, drink and party like a student, but have a real job. Before I go on, please could I just say: Where is this company, and where can I apply?!?!
That little bit of awkwardness aside, tonight they are celebrating a birthday party and I am to expect the usual noises of demolitions and high-speed roadworks above my head. I have been invited to the celebration, but I must admit, I would rather drink toilet-water. Discussing Justin Bieber over cheap liquor just isn’t my thing. Tonight, if the fancy takes me, perhaps I shall record the sounds, and then set it as my ring-tone in the office. Annoying my colleagues is one of my few, but exquisite pleasures that I savour like a lolly-pop.
If this post has been a tad on the b**chy side, I must apologise. I have a curious suspicion that I am deliberately attempting to get mad at the collective Dutch nation in some misguided attempt at trying NOT to miss them. Perhaps this is a type of self-adjustment, a preparation for my departure to Denmark. Perhaps this will make leaving a place that I have called home for the last two years easier.
Or perhaps I am just full of sh*t.
We shall see, my pretties.