Sunday, 2 May 2010

Liberty gets her bus pass

This Wednesday, May 5th, it will be 65 years since the end of the Second World War for The Netherlands in Europe - August 15th for what is now Indonesia.

According to my calculations, looking back four centuries, we're not due another invasion until 2070.

Sunday, 25 April 2010


Here are a few - more and less - traditional haiku that I've written recently. Most English haiku are written in seventeen syllables (divided into phrases of five, seven and five) or in a free style, but still very short. These poems ar then often printed on three lines.

As you can see, I do not like the presentation in three separate lines, I feel the structure should be evident from the poem - which has made me very reluctant to share my flawed attempts - and I prefer to stick to certain traditional forms

But anyway, here goes nothing:

Ancient tree
A pile of timber, or a living monument to eternity?

Above the Rhine
Misty, viny slopes rolling voluptuously; I can almost reach.

Pink sky
Candyfloss floats: it's lighter than the colours of a spring sunrise.

Duck on a bus-stop: is nature's time-table screwed up too?

However, in trying to apply myself more and more to the art, I've found that I'm much more in my element in a category called senryu: (darkly) humorous poems with the same structure as haiku, but concentrating more on human nature rather than just nature. I don't know if there's a name for :

Without sunglasses, looking out of train windows is such a headache.

Important advice to those with long toenails: don't cut to the quick.

My foot!
There will be a day when plantar fasciitis is eradicated.

Here's a quick diversion into a different structure (5-3-5 instead of 5-7-5):

World hunger must end! Honestly, I didn't eat that much...

And finally one for the internet age. For clarity's sake this one is presented over three lines, internet-speak has rather weak grammar...:

For the win!
A/S/L... LMAO!

Friday's child

This rhyme has been doing the rounds on the blogosphere lately, so I felt I might as well chip in

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for his living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

I'm not so sure about this "loving and giving" lark. Can I change my birthday? I'll take Monday instead.

Best friend K. was born on a Sunday and he's definitely gay.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

My IQ is < x >

One out of two isn't bad... (Point your mouse at the picture and read.)

And while I'm at it, this is so true. Back to the story I was reading!

One more and that's it, I promise. Awwww!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Pride goes before the fall

I wrote this over a week ago, forgetting to post it. There may be a couple more of these "lost posts".

I should have used my crutches. I had them in my hands before I left for work this morning. But I figured I hadn't been out all day Monday and I'd used them during the weekend, so my foot should be rested enough. It wasn't hurting...

Except that ten yards from my front door I did start to feel the pain again.

Never mind, I'll hop on the bus and I'll walk slowly and carefully on the other end.

Eight days later, I'm still on crutches. These things heal slowly and painfully.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Lousy drunk

Thank goodness for Easter Mondays off work. Even though I'm actually feeling fine, it's good to be able to take it easy after last night.

Church was good, we had a visiting minister from the States who made some interesting points and left with an open ending. UUs like it when a church meeting makes you think.

Afterwards I went out with the president, vice president, the visiting minister, his wife, the lady they've been staying with, her boyfriend and their son for dinner and a few drinks. We ended up forgetting about dinner and just having snacks - and quite a few drinks. During the service the minister's host had mentioned that this was the first time her son had attended a UU service. A little later he got up to light a candle too, starting with: "I am the son." It was Easter...

It was so much fun just hanging out and joking. The minister's wife was a revelation, so funny and quite a bit naughty. She learned a few words of Dutch and immediately applied them to the bartender. Indeed he was quite a "mooi lekker ding". Their hosts left, but the son - quite the dish himself - stayed. He's a mix of Dutch, US and Mexican and he's in real estate. If Lynette hadn't already found her dream home, he might have been the man to talk to. Although he's further north than where she is going (there's about a seventeeen hour drive between them, he thinks).

She also told us how she got stopped on the Canadian border once, at the start of a trip around the US and Canada. Ladies will know there's always a compartiment in your purse that you never really know, I'm sure there are equivalents for men too. Well, they found a roach, not even this big (indicating a quarter of an inch) that she had completely forgotten about in that compartiment that you never use. I believe the irony of an American trying to smuggle something like that into Canada didn't escape them.

I can't temember how the conversation turned on to the subject of bathroom vending machines, but apparently the men's room sells breath mints and condoms, while the ladies sells breath mints and miniature toothbrushes. So the son suddenly holds up The packet of condoms he's bought in ther and I guess it wasnly fair that I came clean and showed the toothbrush. The latter come in a little plastic tube that also contains a tiny tube of toothpaste.

We were quite rowdy and our bartender didn't wa t to believe we'd just (okay, I told him around 10 PM, time went by so fast) come from church and he seemed fascinated by the mixed composition of our group. Not something I'm too surprised at, older UUs seem amazingly 'with it'.

The minister and I exchanged ideas on iPhone apps, his wife convinced me that there are situations in which you might want to buy an iPad, plus her mind is almost as dirty as mine.

At eleven thirty it seemed as everyone suddenly started thinking of getting home. I thought about crashing at K's, but he was probably comatose by then and I don't have my keys to his place anymore since he lost his.

They all walked to the tram stop next to the Westertoren with me - the minister's wife saying how she'd been to the pink triangle, the gay monument across the street - and waited for me to catch one.

I wasn't drunk enough to get into any real trouble, but I was operating a pair of crutches to keep my plantar fasciitis down (did I mention it's been acting up again?) and if it seems to you that crutches might help stabilise the intoxicated, you're wrong.

I got home, took a happy pill and started getting ready for bed and what happened? Out it all came. Usually you're not supposed to just take your meds again, but this time there was no chance of a double dosage.

Back to work tomorrow, but only for three days and the it's off to the EUU retreat. Damn!

Had to wash my hair and get out of the bath there, I heard the starting music of University Challenge.

Sunday, 7 March 2010


In a last-gasp effort, I have increased the number of Oscar nominees that I've watched to twelve, which - as I've never been that much of a movie freak - is probably a personal record. This weekend I saw Avatar (the less said the better... Okay, I will say this: it's like a screensaver, pretty, but no plot), In The Loop (an unfunny version of The Office against a backdrop of international politics and the threat of war) and Invictus.

Now, Wikipedia and IMDb both say the title and the plot point the film was named after are incorrect, in that it involved a different text (Theodore Roosevelt's 1910 Man in an Arena-speech, but this poem works so well I am inclined to forgive the makers. Also, Mr. Freeman appears to still be friends with Mr. Mandela and François Pienaar recieved Matt Damon at his house so the actor could study him, so the main characters involved did not seem to object.

And of course, it's such a powerful little poem:


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

-- William E. Henley

I remember watching Nelson Mandela walk to freedom, I remember following the amazing '95 World Cup and therefore I may be biased, but this is one awesome movie. And apart from a few minor details it's all true!

Damon and Freeman and completely made me believe they were those who they portrayed, which is always harder when the subject is still alive, and deserve their nominations.

P.S. If you're able to watch BBC2 tonight, you can judge In The Loop for yourself. Dutch viewers with a subscription to Film1 or Caiway digital can watch animated short nomination A Matter of Loaf and Death, a Wallace and Grommit film, at 23:45 - with the coverage starting at midnight.

P.P.S. It's been a busy weekend, I also saw the better-than-average disaster movie 2012 and the very funny animation Planet 51.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Even more commandments?

Actually they're pretty good. "Borrowed" from Joe.My.God.: Christopher Hitchens discusses the old Ten Commandmends and suggests ten new ones (#8 is good, but I'm not sure I could keep it...):

Friday, 5 March 2010

Less than 28 years to go

I don't know if I'll have this job until my pension, but I'm enjoying myself. I make a lot of unbilled hours because I like certain things to be done a certain way (and if you want them done right, you have to do them yourself) and because they're helpful in expanding my skills. I'm also finding out a lot about office politics from my direct boss.

Apparently job prospects are looking up, but job-hopping is out - according to some other train commuter's free newspaper front page yesterday. A tenuous excuse to post this. I grew up listening to Donovan, my mother was a big fan, I could sing songs like Universal Soldier, Mellow Yellow and Colours by heart (still remember most of it now...)

Gold Watch Blues

I went up for my interview on the fourth day of July.
Personnel he questioned me until I nearly cried,
Made me fill in forms until I shook with fear
About the colour of my toilet roll and if my cousin's queer.

Here's your goldwatch and the shackles for your chain
And your piece of paper sayin' you left here sane.
And if you've a son who wants a good career
Just get him to sign on the dotted line and work for fifty years.

He asked me how many jobs I'd had before.
He nearly had a heart attack when I answered, four.
Four jobs in twenty years, oh, this can never be
We only take on men who work until they die.

Here's your goldwatch and the shackles for your chain
And your piece of paper sayin' you left here sane.
And if you've a son who wants a good career
Just get him to sign on the dotted line and work for fifty years.

He took me outside to where the gravestones stand in line.
This is where we bury them in quick-stone and in lime
And if you come to work for us on this you must agree,
That if you're going to die please do it during tea

Here's your goldwatch and the shackles for your chain
And your piece of paper sayin' you left here sane.
And if you've a son who wants a good career
Just get him to sign on the dotted line and work for fifty years.

This story that you heard you may think rather queer
But it is the truth you'll be surprised to hear.
I did not want no job upon the board,
I just wanted to take a broom and sweep the bloody floor.

Here's your goldwatch and the shackles for your chain
And your piece of paper sayin' you left here sane.
And if you've a son who wants a good career
Just get him to sign on the dotted line and work for fifty years.

-- Donovan Leitch --

PS. When I was typing in the label "pension" the predictive text thingy suggested "penis". How did this blog get so dirty?

PPS. No bananas involved, but I am quite mellow right now. Word of advise: don't get the munchies when one of the few things around are wasabi peanuts.

An Ideal Hypocrite

Remember to what a point your Puritanism in England has brought you. In old days nobody preferred to be a bit better than his neighbours. In fact, to be a bit better than one's neighbour was considered excessively vulgar and middle-class. Nowadays, with our modern mania for morality, every one has to pose as a paragon of purity, incorruptibility, and all the other seven deadly virtues - and what is the result? You all go over like ninepins - one after the other.

Mrs. Cheveley in: Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband

Wednesday, 3 March 2010


Is the BBC trying to tell us something? Are they preparing us for another return of The Master? He's only just died, saving The Doctor's life in the grand finale of the Christmas special...

Now this Thursday, thanks to the programmers of BBC 1 and BBC 2, I plan to watch Masterchef, followed by Mastermind, then a brief interlude for QI and finally capped by Mastercrafts. They're doing stained glass this episode, even better (I think) than thatching and blacksmithing.

I took some pictures of the polling station as I was waiting in line for the local council elections, but I was trying to do it surreptitiously (the photography, not voting) and they didn't come out too well. It's in the chapel of a no longer existing monastery. After that it was used as a tannery or some such industry and then well into the twentieth century as the town pawn shop.

Saturday, 27 February 2010


Two of the top ten headlines on the website of one of the major Dutch newspapers today:

"One in five children too afraid to play outside."
"More and more Flemish priests move to Netherlands."

Thursday, 28 January 2010

English and its allies

I use too many -ally words when speaking English. Basically, practically, actually...